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LCQ6: Taking forward work on overseas Chinese affairs
     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Yung and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Erick Tsang Kwok-wai, in the Legislative Council today (January 18):

     It is learnt that overseas Chinese and Chinese people always hold fast to the good tradition of being patriotic and having a love for Hong Kong, and that there has all along been a strong voice in society calling on the Government to set up a "co-ordinating committee on the work on overseas Chinese affairs" (the committee) to take forward policies on overseas Chinese and enhance solidarity among overseas Chinese communities, thereby achieving the purpose of "engaging overseas Chinese as bridges". There are views pointing out that, to Hong Kong, the committee can facilitate Hong Kong's integration into the overall development of the country and active participation in the Belt and Road Initiative; while to overseas places, the committee can entrust overseas Chinese people to tell the story of China and Hong Kong of China well. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the government departments currently responsible for the work on overseas Chinese affairs, and the results of their work;

(2) regarding the call of society for setting up the committee in order to ascertain the functional department that liaises with overseas Chinese communities, better organise and support overseas Chinese people in Hong Kong, and enhance the communication and liaison with overseas Chinese people, whether the Government has considered when and how to make a positive response; and

(3) of the Government's plans to step up efforts in publicising the historical contributions of overseas Chinese communities to the country and Hong Kong, so as to further enhance the status of overseas Chinese communities in the country and Hong Kong?

     President Xi Jinping said: "China's reform and opening up and China's development are indispensable from the fact that we have such a large number of overseas Chinese who care about their hometown and the Motherland." The report of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (the 20th National Congress) also pointed out that a broad united front should be consolidated and developed to unite all the Chinese. The people's support is of the utmost political importance, and the united front is an effective instrument for rallying the people's support and pooling their strengths. We will build a broad united front to forge great unity and solidarity, and we will encourage all the Chinese to dedicate themselves to realising the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. It is necessary to strengthen and improve our work related to overseas Chinese to form a powerful joint force for advancing the national rejuvenation. The report of the 20th National Congress has become a hot topic in the Chinese community all over the world. Many overseas Chinese representatives expressed their wish to serve as envoys of non-governmental exchanges between China and foreign countries, and to build a bridge of people-to-people exchanges. Some of the overseas Chinese even mentioned that they are determined to give full play to the advantages of integrating China and foreign countries, build a "two-way bridge" for Sino-foreign co-operation, further tell the people in foreign countries about modernisation with Chinese characteristics, and help the world understand a more real, three-dimensional and comprehensive China. Overseas Chinese are connected with the fate of the Motherland, and an increasingly powerful Motherland is the most solid backing for overseas Chinese. On the new journey of our country, the overseas Chinese should continue to give full play to their intelligence and strengths, be the non-governmental ambassadors of Chinese culture, and better promote the Chinese culture to the world. The work on overseas Chinese is very important. As the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of our country, the Hong Kong SAR Government (HKSARG), of course, attaches great importance to the communication with overseas Chinese and the overseas Chinese community in foreign countries and the Mainland.
     Regarding the Hon Chan's question, after consultation with the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau and the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau, this Bureau's comprehensive reply is as follows:

     The HKSARG attaches great importance to the communication with overseas Chinese and the overseas Chinese community in foreign countries and the Mainland. First of all, the 14 overseas Economic and Trade Offices (ETOs) of the HKSARG engage with the local Hong Kong people and maintain communication. The five Mainland Offices (MOs) of the HKSARG also have contact and exchange with the associations of Hong Kong people in the Mainland as well as the national and regional overseas Chinese organisations, invite the relevant organisations to participate in their activities in order to unite the people who love the country and Hong Kong to contribute to the development of the country and Hong Kong, and tell the good story of China and Hong Kong.
     For Chinese nationals living overseas to travel to work in or study in Hong Kong, the SAR Government also has different schemes to facilitate their entry. Chinese passport holders living overseas who have obtained foreign permanent residence may, according to different qualifications, apply to work in Hong Kong through different schemes, such as the Top Talent Pass Scheme, General Employment Policy, Technology Talent Admission Scheme, Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates, Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, etc. World renowned innovation and technology (I&T) talents, including overseas Chinese, may also come to Hong Kong to conduct I&T related teaching and research work under the Global STEM Professorship Scheme. In terms of study, if Chinese passport holders have obtained foreign permanent residence, they can apply to study in any private higher education institutions and accredited colleges and universities registered in Hong Kong. Chinese passport holders who have obtained foreign permanent residence and live overseas can apply to come to Hong Kong as dependents. Holders of Chinese passports who have lived overseas for not less than one year immediately before the application can also apply to come to Hong Kong to join their sponsors as dependents. The second generation of Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents who have emigrated overseas can also apply to return to work in Hong Kong through the Admission Scheme for the Second-Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents. 
     On the other hand, when the aforementioned ETOs and MOs promote economic, trade and related work, they will contact a wide range of targets in their responsible areas, including Hong Kong people, the associations of Hong Kong people in the locality, etc. Such contacts involve work at different levels. For example, the Chief Executive announced new policies and measures to reach out to target talents and enterprises in the Policy Address. The newly set up Dedicated Team for Attracting Businesses and Talents in various offices will recruit talents from different places, including overseas Chinese and Hong Kong people who study or work in foreign countries or the Mainland, encourage them to use their strengths to contribute to the development of the country and Hong Kong. The Dedicated Team for Attracting Businesses and Talents will also work along with the Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises to proactively reach out to target enterprises in the Mainland and overseas by providing them with one-stop facilitation services in order to attract them to come to Hong Kong.
     If a Hong Kong resident encounters difficulties in a foreign country or the Mainland and seek help from the abovementioned ETOs or MOs, the offices will provide assistance as appropriate, and refer the case to the relevant departments of the local government when necessary, or submit the case to the local Chinese embassy or consulate, etc for follow-up.
     We also attach great importance to the communication and co-operation with overseas Chinese organisations in Hong Kong. Their members include returned overseas Chinese, relatives of overseas Chinese, descendants of overseas Chinese, and young people who have returned to Hong Kong after studying abroad. They have a network of kinship, clansman relationship and friendship with overseas Chinese in the Mainland and foreign countries. They have connection with overseas Chinese at home and abroad to form a world-wide network, with extensive social connections and influence. Many overseas Chinese organisations in Hong Kong have all along supported "one country, two systems". Many returned overseas Chinese have actively participated in the country's reform and opening up, hugely invested, and made a lot of contribution to the modernisation of the country and the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. They form an important force of love of both the Motherland and Hong Kong. The HKSARG has always attached great importance to communication with local overseas Chinese organisations, which are also important partners in the administration of the HKSARG. In fact, the HKSAR committee member of the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese is also a member of the Fifth Sector of the Election Committee, who can nominate and elect the Chief Executive and Legislative Council Members. It demonstrates that both our country and the HKSAR attach great importance to it.
     The Home and Youth Affairs Bureau together with the Home Affairs Department (HAD) maintain close liaison with all sectors of the community and various organisations. At the district level, the district offices from time to time collaborate with various organisations on community building initiatives. The HAD also provides subsidies to district organisations for the conduct of activities for the promotion of the spirit of loving our country and Hong Kong, and the sense of national identity.
     Our work in relation to overseas Chinese affairs in different areas introduced above have been effective. Regarding the suggestion of setting up a "co-ordinating committee on the work on overseas Chinese affairs", we will review the situation and work progress, and study and consider it in detail when necessary.
     The report of the 20th National Congress pointed out that it is necessary to develop and strengthen the forces of love of both the Motherland and Hong Kong, enhance the patriotic spirit of Hong Kong compatriots, and form a broader united front at home and abroad in support of "one country, two systems". The HKSARG has all along been promoting the unity of all sectors of society who love the country and Hong Kong, for contributing to the development of Hong Kong. In the future, the Government will continue to strengthen ties and co-operation with various sectors, and unite the forces of love of both the Motherland and Hong Kong from different sectors. We will work together to strengthen the integration of Hong Kong into the overall development of the country, and tell the good story of China and Hong Kong for the new chapter of advancement from stability to prosperity.
        Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Issued at HKT 18:25
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