Hong Kong on Sunday dispatched its largest delegation of deputy ministers and political assistants in decades to mainland China for a week-long trip to learn more about developments concerning the country’s security, modernisation, as well as local and national laws.
Chief Executive’s Office director Carol Yip Man-kuen, who is helming the 32-strong delegation of political appointees that left on Sunday, said the group’s itinerary would start with classes at Beijing’s National Academy of Governance, before they headed over to Nanjing next Thursday.
“The exchange, study tour and learning [on this trip] is only the first step,” she said.
“It’s more important to consider carefully how we can grasp national developments in our work after our return, to bring about historic opportunities for Hong Kong and create more space for the development of the city.”
The delegation represents the first study trip to Beijing by local political appointees since Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu’s administration took office last year. Civil servants earlier visited the country’s capital and Hangzhou in June.
Yip also said the trip could also involve meeting members of the Hong Kong and Macau Works Office, Beijing’s top body overseeing the two special administrative regions directly under the party’s central leadership arm, but details had yet to be confirmed.
She described the delegation as the largest she had seen in her decades-long government career, adding that a planned reception by local authorities in Nanjing showed the importance Beijing placed on the trip.
Delegation members were expected to learn more about policies and developments, with topics spanning the country’s constitution and the Basic Law to national security, well as the country’s modernisation and national rejuvenation efforts, she said.
Yip added that the trip would help cultivate national and global perspectives among the political appointees, as well as encourage a greater sense of unity.
Undersecretary for Commerce and Economic Development Bernard Chan Pak-li said Hong Kong officials would have the chance to learn from “heavyweights” in the National Academy of Governance and deepen their understanding of the development of various sectors on the mainland.
“These exchanges and excursions will be an important reference, heightening efficiency and helping us with future policy development in the city and even collaboration with mainland authorities to establish communication or collaborative mechanisms,” he said.
Chan said he hoped the trip would help familiarise him with national thought directives and help with local efforts to open up the mainland’s economy, as well as strengthen the Belt and Road Initiative and achieve sustainable development.
The belt and road plan refers to Beijing’s ambitious scheme to link dozens of economies in Asia, Europe and Africa into a China-centred trade network.
Denise Hung Kiu-king, a political assistant to Hong Kong’s justice minister, said city leader Lee had also attended a preparation meeting for the trip as a show of support.
“The chief executive had said this was a precious opportunity for us to learn well and grasp the country’s latest situation with its development and national sentiment,” Hung said. “I believe these ties will make us more united in serving the government and the country.”
The delegation will return to Hong Kong on October 25.