Hong Kong youths have been told to look beyond the city’s borders to play a greater role in national development and broaden future opportunities.
The appeal came at a forum on Thursday organized by the local wing of the All-China Youth Federation to review major events of the past 15 years as well as cross-border communications following Hong Kong’s return to the motherland.
“In this way, their future focus will not only be on Hong Kong. It would be wider and there would be more opportunities,” said Zheng Zhi-gang, vice-chairman of the federation, which was founded in 1949 to embrace youth groups and organizations in China.
“Hong Kong has been successively ranked as the world’s freest economy for the past 18 years. At the same time, the mainland’s gross domestic product has maintained a steady 5-percent rise for the past decade.
“All these prove that Hong Kong’s development hasn’t stopped there after 1997,” he said.
Speakers at the forum, held to coincide with the 15th handover anniversary celebrations, came from a wide spectrum of society, including the business, finance and technology sectors.
Rock Chen Chung-nin, another vice-chairman of the federation, hailed the “One Country, Two Systems” concept as having helped the HKSAR weather big challenges over the past one-and-a-half decade, including the 2003 SARS outbreak, the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the 2008 financial tsunami.
Amid Hong Kong’s continued success and prosperity, other speakers cautioned against complacency, warning that Hong Kong must not be seen to be resting on its laurels.
Witman Hung, president of the Y Elites Association and representing the technology sector, said although Hong Kong has continuously remained as the world’s freest economy, there are still thorny issues like rampant business monopoly and the ever widening wealth gap.
“Most importantly, the industrial structure is simple. Except for the finance and real-estate industries, other sectors have been sliding,” Hung said.
“The salary of a college graduate working in a technology firm has remained unchanged for the past 10 years, while inflation has gone up rapidly. So have property prices,” he said.
Clarence Leung Wang-ching, vice-president of the Y Elites Association, and who represents the industry and commerce sectors, said the central government has been supporting the sector with preferential policies, such as the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) and the SME (small and medium-size enterprises) Loan Guarantee Scheme.
“Facing harsh external economical challenges, the government should adopt more beneficial policies to help the sector resist these difficulties,” Leung said.