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Published: 01:03, August 10, 2022 | Updated: 17:51, August 11, 2022
Make good use of mainland ‘soft power’ to foster Hong Kong youth’s sense of national identity
By Jason Lee
Published:01:03, August 10, 2022 Updated:17:51, August 11, 2022 By Jason Lee

It looked promising and inspiring for the young talents in Hong Kong to appreciate ancient culture in the new landscape Palace Museum in the summer while planning for a career development tour in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in the new semester, as Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu pledged that his administration will advance youth development. 

Hong Kong should strive to create abundant career opportunities for Generation Z; it should also guide the youth back on the right track to make their path straight. That said, it would be highly expected for the youths to secure a promising career future both in Hong Kong and in the country. 

In his keynote speech marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, President Xi Jinping called on the people of Hong Kong to join the great journey of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

The exciting adventure needs the participation of the young minds in Hong Kong who cannot afford to be left out of the great rejuvenation.

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Hong Kong belongs to China, and it is an age of miracle-making for being a nexus to the world. The international metropolis boasts the success of being the world’s most vibrant gateway that bridges East and West, both economically and culturally.

Growing in a nexus city of a “gateway mentality”, the young minds in the special administrative region are liable to experience identity confusion, which leads to a painful struggle about who they are. Both national identity and cultural allegiance take time to build up in the hearts of Generation Z.

In his keynote speech marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, President Xi Jinping called on the people of Hong Kong to join the great journey of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation

Facing such woes, the Beijing authorities have made it a rule to entrust the local affairs to patriots only. Exalting the principle of “patriots governing Hong Kong” and sweeping out the hostile and misleading forces in the political arena, the SAR now wastes no time helping the young people build their national identity.

It goes without saying that cultural and national-identity building is a serious issue that deserves comprehensive efforts from all fronts with various approaches adopted for the maximum effect. 

The school education and social indoctrination, though already functioning well in place, are far from sufficient. Youngsters may have touched the concept of patriotism at school or on the billboards, but they also need to feel the pulse to be engaged in the national rejuvenation. That’s why Hong Kong should use the nation’s soft power to push forward the cause.

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Patriotism is a huge word. But breaking down the fundamentals, people love their country first because they love their lives. We also feel the intimacy with our compatriots, first due to our similar lifestyles.

China now has some of the most advanced lifestyles in the world. If the Hong Kong government can lay the groundwork for the city’s youths to try such lifestyles, they will get firsthand experience of how China develops. And I believe imperceptibly that that will strengthen their sense of national identity.

The Hong Kong government could take the initiative to purchase the broadcasting rights of the most-viewed mainland shows, TV series and movies, and air them on Hong Kong’s television channels. Or it can set up a cooperation platform, which may even include subsidies, for local broadcasters to negotiate good deals with their mainland counterparts. That would definitely help build a closer bond between the youths of different areas in an enjoyable way.

Other chic and avant-garde lifestyles, including e-games, that the people in the north enjoy are leading way ahead in the world. Hong Kong, by being well informed of the lifestyles in the country, will let go of its outdated blind supremacy. The nation’s soft power is strong enough to win hearts and minds of the youths in the SAR.

READ MORE: Future of HK youths lies in city's integration into national development

Our motherland is growing into a world-leading technology-driven nation, and many world-leading e-games are developed and operated by Chinese companies, including Tencent and NetEase. The Hong Kong government can work with the giants to develop new games and create platforms for Hong Kong youths to enjoy games with mainland compatriots, which is also a softer way to help them build up a bond of affection with the country.

The above are only very specific and small parts of China’s “attractions” to youngsters. China has a profound culture, lovely people, a beautiful landscape, a rapidly developing new economy, and a thriving national spirit. Those elements are rich sources of such “soft power”. We should make good use of that power to build up Hong Kong youth’s sense of national identity.

I firmly believe when Hong Kong young people’s lives comes closer to that of the whole country, their hearts will naturally get closer with the country too. And that is the foundation of a healthy and stable youth development. And by doing so, I am sure that Hong Kong youths will be much more motivated to join the great journey of the rejuvenation of the nation.

The author is a member of the Guangdong Province Zhongshan City Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, executive vice-chairman of the Hong Kong CPPCC Youth Association, and vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Y Elites Association.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily. 

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