SHENZHEN (BLOOMBERG) – President Xi Jinping called for new measures to encourage young people from Hong Kong to move to China, part of measures to integrate the semi-autonomous territory with the mainland following student-led protests last year.
The push is aimed at “deepening integration” between young people in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong province to “increase their sense of belonging to the motherland”, the Chinese president said in a Wednesday (Oct 14) speech in Shenzhen marking the 40th anniversary of the technology hub becoming a special economic zone.
China should “fully utilise the important platform of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau cooperation to attract more young people from Hong Kong and Macau to study, work and live in the mainland,” he said.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam was in the audience for the speech in neighbouring Shenzhen, whose skyline is visible in parts of the Asian financial centre.
She cancelled her annual policy address scheduled for Wednesday to attend the event, and now plans to give it late next month or earlier after consulting with officials in Beijing.
Business groups have expressed concern about Hong Kong’s autonomy from the mainland in the wake of sweeping new national security legislation imposed by Mr Xi in June.
The law, meant to subdue protests that turned violent last year, came as the city looks to revive an economy battered by unrest and the pandemic.
Shenzhen is a cornerstone of Mr Xi’s Greater Bay Area, which aims to knit together mainland cities with Hong Kong and Macau to establish a regional powerhouse rivalling Silicon Valley. Mr Xi’s address encouraged further overall cooperation with China.
“We should also continue to encourage and guide our compatriots in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as well as overseas Chinese to play their important roles in investment, entrepreneurship and two-way openness so that they can make new contributions to the development of the special economic zones,” he said.
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