Principal officials from the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council are in Hong Kong this week to present and explain to local lawmakers, principal officials and ranking civil servants of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, as well as members of the public, the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25). They help HKSAR government officials and legislators better understand and appreciate the enormous potential benefits Hong Kong can and will reap from intensive involvement in the execution of the 14th Five-Year Plan. To do so, the decision-makers and administrators here need to take a deep dive into the rationale and philosophy behind the nation’s strategic development program and find out where and how Hong Kong should make itself useful in order to fuel its own economic growth by playing a proactive part in the country’s overall development strategy. Through a series of introductions and Q&A sessions, Hong Kong residents as well as administrators and legislators should understand much better the profound care Beijing has for HKSAR society in all aspects of life.
In addition to outlining the country’s development blueprint, the 14th Five-Year Plan also features more specific areas of interest that Hong Kong residents and young people in particular cannot afford to overlook in terms of career opportunities. We are talking about the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development program, which will proceed at full steam in the coming years and create numerous development opportunities for individuals and businesses alike in Hong Kong.
In the 14th Five-Year Plan, the section outlining Hong Kong’s development is both forward-looking and instructive, setting several significant roles for the city therein.
The central government will continue, as stated in the 14th Five-Year Plan, to “enhance its (Hong Kong’s) status as an international financial, transportation and trade center; strengthen its status as a global offshore renminbi business hub, an international asset management center and a risk management center”. In other words, support will be provided for the growth of key industries in Hong Kong.
In addition to the existing industries, the 14th Five-Year Plan raises for the first time the support for Hong Kong to enhance its status as an international aviation business hub, an international innovation and technology hub, and a regional intellectual property trading center, and to develop into a hub for arts and cultural exchanges between China and the rest of the world. As these three centers are mentioned for the first time, they embody the central government’s resolve to enhance the city’s industrial structure, with a particular focus on innovation technology and aviation, while further leveraging Hong Kong’s East-meets-West culture to establish a hub for arts and cultural exchanges.
The 14th Five-Year Plan also mentions supporting Hong Kong’s and Macao’s participation in and contribution to the country’s comprehensive opening-up and development of a modern economic system; strengthening exchanges and cooperation between the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao in as many areas as possible; and improving policies and measures to facilitate Hong Kong and Macao residents’ development and life on the mainland. That means the central government will roll out more policies to cater to Hong Kong residents pursuing academic, employment and personal development on the mainland as Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao deepen their collaboration in various areas.
As we can see, the central government has high hopes for Hong Kong’s role in executing the 14th Five-Year Plan, with more important functions to boot and more efforts to further develop its existing and emerging industries. Indeed, the 14th Five-Year Plan presents enormous development opportunities for Hong Kong youths, such as supporting Hong Kong development into an international innovation and technology hub, fostering Hong Kong and Macao as functional platforms for the Belt and Road Initiative. Their global awareness as well as the ability to read and write Chinese and English and to speak Cantonese, Putonghua (Mandarin) and English reasonably well should prove advantageous in the Greater Bay Area.
Hong Kong’s industrial structure has been short in diversity and left many well-trained young people few if any opportunities to apply their specialties in their hometown. Now the 14th Five-Year Plan will open up opportunities in the Greater Bay Area, which will become a hotbed for innovation and technology startups as well as cultural and various value-added industries. When these industries take roots in the Greater Bay Area, they will need a steady supply of talent to thrive. It is up to Hong Kong-born talent themselves to be prepared and ready to seize the opportunities the Greater Bay Area has to offer.
As an international financial and commercial center, Hong Kong is familiar with international business practices and has extensive ties with the international market. It is also the world’s freest economy, with the free flow of funds, personnel and information. The “dual circulation” economic strategy set in the 14th Five-Year Plan will accentuate Hong Kong’s role of linking up the mainland and the global markets. The city will not only become an important growth engine for the Greater Bay Area but also serve as a “super connector” of countries along the Belt and Road Initiative, which will inject fresh impetus into Hong Kong’s economy and generate unprecedented career development opportunities for the local youths.
With such a promising future awaiting them, Hong Kong youths cannot afford to miss the boat. To better seize these invaluable opportunities, they should take the following three steps:
First, they should look for opportunities beyond Hong Kong, notably, the Greater Bay Area, the national market, or even the overseas market covered by the Belt and Road Initiative. As Hong Kong’s competitiveness lies in its cosmopolitan appeal and global reach, local youths should leverage their knowledge and skills in pursuing career development through contributions to the motherland’s overall development.
Secondly, they should learn more and better about the country and national development policies, take it upon themselves to protect “one country, two systems”, maintain Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, and safeguard the sovereignty, national security and development interests of the motherland.
Last but not the least, President Xi Jinping has repeatedly mentioned the need to create more opportunities for young people in Hong Kong and Macao and help them overcome difficulties in their studies, employment and starting-up of businesses. Such opportunities, however, will be taken by mainland youths unless their Hong Kong counterparts are well prepared to act first. Never expect handouts or favoritism when it comes to job market competition.
The author is a current affairs commentator.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.