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China Daily

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Friday, August 10, 2018, 14:56
Great time for HK youth to live and work on the mainland
By Ip Kin-ming
Friday, August 10, 2018, 14:56 By Ip Kin-ming

The State Council announced earlier this week that Chinese nationals living in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan will no longer be required to apply for work permits from local governments when finding jobs on the Chinese mainland. Many Chinese mainland employers previously chose not to hire talents from the two special administrative regions and Taiwan simply because obtaining work permits involved a lot of hassles; many Hong Kong youths gave up on career opportunities on the Chinese mainland for the same reason. From now on, local government human resources and social security departments will only focus on better management and regulation of their employment and welfare — including job contracts, work safety, labor rights and unemployment registration.

Well-established regional centers of industry and technology on the Chinese mainland,... have all introduced policies to attract the best young talents the country’s universities have to offer. Hong Kong college graduates now have no reason not to seize such opportunities

A few days before the above announcement, the China National Arts Fund also introduced a new policy that will allow Hong Kong-, Macao- and Taiwan-based artists to apply for financial assistance for creative endeavors on the Chinese mainland; it is also encouraging mainland-based arts institutions to cooperate with their counterparts in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

These new measures will open more doors for young Hong Kong people to explore the Chinese mainland for job opportunities or to find more space, inspiration and funding for creative work. After the central government issued new measures to make it easier for Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan residents to work and live on the Chinese mainland in August and December last year, these accommodating efforts are yet more “gifts” available for young people.

With these new measures, it is fair to say a golden era has arrived for Hong Kong young people; more of them can now spread their career wings and go north. President Xi Jinping said in a speech on July 1 last year marking the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, that the central government would soon take steps to facilitate Hong Kong residents’ desire to work, study and live on the Chinese mainland. The president has kept his word. The new measures will offer more opportunities for Hong Kong people to expand their personal development while also contributing to the nation’s modernization. Only a year later, a series of such measures have already been introduced. They are all designed to encourage Hong Kong young people to pursue career development on the Chinese mainland and to make life easier for them once they are there.

Given Hong Kong’s small area and under-diversified economy, local young people often do not have a lot of career opportunities unless they leave their hometown. For thousands of college graduates every year, only those who majored in finance, accounting and law can find jobs relatively easily. They are definitely the minority among university graduates. The majority of them find it much harder to find a reasonably paid job — which may have nothing to do with their college majors. That is why many young people are pessimistic about the future; some have even lost hope or become bitter toward society. The Chinese mainland, in sharp contrast, is a much, much larger place with infinitely more career opportunities and greater demand for a wide range of talents. The main reason why so few Hong Kong young people have crossed the northern boundary in search of a better career is a lack of relevant information and sometimes bureaucratic red tape.

These new measures have removed most, if not all, of the red tape for young talents from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan to work and live on the Chinese mainland. It has been reported that the Ministry of Human Resource and Social Security will soon introduce further policies to facilitate efforts by Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao residents — particularly young people — to work, study and live on the Chinese mainland. It is only matter of time before the number of job seekers from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao increases sharply. Indeed, as the continuing industry transformation continues across the Chinese mainland’s economy, this will boost demands for talented people from all disciplines in the future.

Not surprisingly, local governments on the Chinese mainland are trying their best to attract college graduates from everywhere to build an army of young professionals for future development. Apart from millions of new university graduates, the Chinese mainland also welcomes young talents from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan with open arms as long as they meet the necessary standards. The current excitement about this reminds people of the “exodus” north of Hong Kong businesses (led by manufacturers) in the early years of China’s reforms and opening-up in the 1980s. Today it is the younger generation’s turn to catch the new wave of modernization — preferably driven by the growth of innovation and technology sectors. Well-established regional centers of industry and technology on the Chinese mainland, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Xi’an, Nanjing, Wuhan, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, have all introduced policies to attract the best young talents the country’s universities have to offer. Hong Kong college graduates now have no reason not to seize such opportunities.

Some local young people may not have enough confidence to compete with Chinese mainland peers in first-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. But they can start with lesser cities closer to home, such as those in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

The author is a Hong Kong representative to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee.

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