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LCQ18: Telling well the stories of China and Hong Kong SAR
     Following is a question by the Hon Rock Chen and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Algernon Yau, in the Legislative Council today (February 15):
     The report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China proposes to "extend the reach and appeal of Chinese civilisation", "stay firmly rooted in Chinese culture", "better tell China's stories, make China's voice heard, and present a China that is credible, appealing, and respectable", as well as "better present Chinese culture to the world". There are views that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Hong Kong SAR), in addition to having the distinctive and significant advantages of enjoying strong support of the motherland and being closely connected to the world, is a place where Chinese and Western cultures converge and is in alignment with the world, it is therefore imperative that such strengths be put into good use to tell China's story and the story of the Hong Kong SAR well. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether the Government will enhance the functions of the overseas Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices by including a work requirement of telling well China's story and the story of the Hong Kong SAR, and formulating key performance indicators for the relevant work; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) how the Government currently employs the global office networks and personal connections of the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council to make every effort to enable the world to better understand China's development and the Hong Kong SAR's unique strengths attributable to "one country, two systems"; and
(3) whether the Government will nurture more patriotic and competent talents to become members of international institutions, or enhance the training in international affairs provided by the Civil Service College for civil servants and engage them more in international affairs, so that they can help to speak up for China and the Hong Kong SAR in the international arena; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
     In consultation with the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau (CSTB) and the Civil Service Bureau (CSB), the reply to various part of the question raised by the Hon Rock Chen is as follows:
(1) To further promote Chinese culture and Hong Kong's arts and cultural achievements to the overseas community, the CSTB sets aside dedicated funding each year for the Economic and Trade Offices (ETOs) in the Mainland and overseas to support arts groups/artists from Hong Kong in staging arts and cultural activities outside Hong Kong.
     The overseas ETOs have been proactively telling the good stories of Hong Kong to overseas interlocutors from various sectors through multiple channels. Hong Kong is back on the international stage and the ETOs would enhance promotion of Hong Kong's unique advantages where we enjoy the motherland's strong support and our close connections to the world under "one country, two systems", and also the limitless opportunities brought about by Hong Kong's proactive participation in the Belt and Road Initiative and Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development. Specific key performance indicators for telling the good stories of Hong Kong are set out in the 2022 Policy Address, among which the ETOs will increase the promotional events by 20 per cent in 2024 as compared to 2022.
(2) The National 14th Five-Year Plan and the Development Plan for the Tourism Sector during the 14th Five-Year Plan Period categorically stated its support for Hong Kong in developing into an East-meets-West centre for international cultural exchange and an international aviation hub. Moreover, the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Culture and Tourism Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area support Hong Kong in developing into an international tourism hub and a core demonstration zone for multi-destination tourism while setting out the guiding direction for the development of Hong Kong's tourism industry. Riding on Hong Kong's advantages as an international tourist destination and a bridge between the Mainland and cities around the world, the Hong Kong Tourism Board leverages its 15 worldwide offices covering the Mainland, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas to tell good stories of Hong Kong and promote Hong Kong's East-meets-West unique experience to visitors in source markets, including fascinating arts and cultural activities and attractions, as well as diverse dining, traditional and cultural experiences.
     The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) will also continue to promote Hong Kong's unique advantages under "one country, two systems" through its 50 offices worldwide, and the collaboration with 47 Hong Kong Business Associations in 36 countries and regions under the network of the Federation of Hong Kong Business Associations Worldwide, publicising Hong Kong's business and investment opportunities in the "dual circulation" development pattern, promoting Hong Kong as a two‑way global investment, trade and business hub. As the global pandemic situation eases, the HKTDC has prepared to take forward a series of promotion events in the Mainland and around the world, including organising the "Guangdong-Hong Kong Co-operation Week" in Guangdong in May and the flagship event "Think Business, Think Hong Kong" in Thailand in July.
(3) The CSB has all along, through different kinds of training and exchange activities, broadened civil servants' international horizons and fostered the sharing of experiences with officers in other places, with a view to telling the world the good stories of Hong Kong and our country.
     Starting from December 2021, the Civil Service College (CSC) under the CSB has collaborated with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (OCMFA) in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to provide training on the country's foreign affairs. A series of monthly talks delivered by relevant officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, covering various topics such as "In-depth Study of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy for a Brighter Future of Hong Kong", "China's Relations with ASEAN, Japan, India and Other Neighbouring Countries", "China-United States Relations", "Strengthening International Communication and Telling Good Stories of China" have been held for senior civil servants. The talks aim to deepen civil servant's understanding of the international scene and our country's foreign policy, enabling them to act in better concert with the country's foreign affairs policy in handling the relevant areas of work. Twelve talks have been successfully held so far with a total attendance of 3 200 civil servants in the directorate and senior ranks. In 2023, the CSC also plans to continue its collaboration with the OCMFA to organise seminars on the country's foreign affairs, so as to deepen civil servants' understanding of the relevant topics.
     The HKSAR Government attaches great importance to youth development and training of public officers and is committed to facilitating young public officers to widen their horizons outside Hong Kong. With the support of the Central People’s Government (CPG) and the assistance of the OCMFA, the HKSAR took part in the United Nations (UN) Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Programme for the first time in 2019, with five young public officers recommended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) participating in the JPO Programme. They are gradually completing their tenure since last year with outstanding performance, which was highly commended by the UN side. Starting from late 2021, the HKSAR Government has started working with the OCMFA to make arrangements for the second batch of young public officers to join the programme, and with the recommendation of the MFA, 12 young public officers have been successfully selected. They will assume different posts in the UN offices in New York, United States; Geneva, Switzerland; Vienna, Austria; and Nairobi, Kenya, as Chinese personnel, and are expected to report duty to the UN in early 2023. We look forward to these 12 young people giving their best in the international arena, serving as the bridge of the country and the world, as well as shouldering the role as a representative of the HKSAR to tell good stories of Hong Kong and promote Hong Kong's abilities, strengths, charisma and competitiveness to the world.
     The CSB also arranges attachments to regional and international organisations, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Secretariat and the Financial Action Task Force, for civil servants and sponsors middle and senior-level civil servants with potential to attend executive development courses at renowned institutions to broaden their perspectives. However, owing to the epidemic, we have suspended training outside Hong Kong for civil servants since 2020. We will continuously assess the training needs of civil servants and provide them with timely training opportunities as appropriate.
     Apart from training outside Hong Kong arranged for civil servants at different levels by the CSB and the CSC, individual departments/grades also arrange for their staff to attend training and exchange activities outside Hong Kong to cater for the departments/grades' development needs.
Ends/Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Issued at HKT 19:35
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