LCQ5: Enhancing national studies training for civil servants

     Following is a question by the Hon Yim Kong and a written reply by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Mrs Ingrid Yeung, in the Legislative Council today (February 22):


     Regarding the enhancement of national studies training for civil servants, will the Government inform this Council:

 (1) given that the targeted participants of the Civil Service Staff Exchange Programme ("the Programme") organised by the Civil Service Bureau in collaboration with Mainland provinces and municipalities are senior civil servants, whether the Government has considered extending the Programme to cover junior-ranking civil servants, with a view to nurturing as early as possible talents in governance with a national vision and leadership potential, thereby broadening the governance foundation of being patriotic and having a love for Hong Kong; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) as there are views that as the exchange period of the Programme lasts only four weeks, the participating civil servants can hardly gain a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the operation of Mainland's government service systems and develop a thorough awareness of national affairs, whether the authorities have considered discussing with the relevant Mainland departments the extension of the exchange period to six months or longer, so as to strengthen the exchanges between the participating civil servants and various Mainland officials, thereby enabling the participating civil servants to develop a more in-depth awareness of the overall situation of the country;

(3) whether it has discussed with the relevant departments of Shenzhen and Guangzhou regarding the national development planning of Qianhai and Nansha, so as to facilitate the exchanges between local civil servants and professional grade staff members from such places who specialise in financial tax, development planning, law, innovation technology, environmental protection, etc., thereby expediting the in-depth integration and development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area; whether it has considered according priority to arranging members of the task force on the Northern Metropolis to travel to Qianhai for short-term exchange, so as to enable the participants to familiarise themselves with the administration workflows of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, thereby speeding up the pace of co-operation between Shenzhen and Hong Kong; and

(4) given that the classes under the first Master's Degree in Public Policy Programme for senior civil servants jointly organised by the Civil Service College and Peking University have already commenced, whether the Government has considered co-organising more training programmes designated for junior- and middle-ranking civil servants with Mainland universities (not limited to Peking University), so as to enable them to develop an in-depth and comprehensive awareness of the country, and to cultivate in them an affection for the country?



     The Civil Service Bureau (CSB), through the Civil Service College (CSC), makes on-going efforts to provide training for civil servants. In particular, we accord the highest priority to enhancing civil servants' understanding of the constitutional order of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the country's development, and reinforcing their patriotic spirit. To ensure proper use of limited training resources, the CSC aligns its provision of national studies training with the training needs of civil servants at different levels.

     The Government's consolidated reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:

     The CSB jointly organised the Civil Service Staff Exchange Programme with the Mainland municipalities where officers from Hong Kong and the Mainland are attached to each other's side to share experience and expertise, better understand each other's structure, regimes, policy and operation, foster networking and communication, and even gain first-hand experience of the host city's latest development.

     Middle and senior-level civil servants are responsible for the formulation and implementation of public policies, and in collaboration with the Mainland, carrying out various projects in support of the country's development strategies. They have the practical needs to gain a deeper understanding of the country's systems and policies, and to build their professional network in the Mainland as well as connection with relevant Mainland authorities. In the past three years, owing to the epidemic, all training and exchange activities for civil servants on the Mainland had to be suspended. The CSC will first resume its arrangements for middle and senior-level civil servants to attend training programmes, thematic visits and staff exchange programmes on the Mainland. Apart from Mainland programmes, the CSC also organises local seminars and provides online learning resources to enhance the understanding of civil servants at different levels on the country's policies and latest developments.

     The Civil Service Staff Exchange Programme, jointly organised by the HKSAR and the Mainland, is under the overall co-ordination of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council (HKMAO). This year, we will first launch the staff exchange programme with the Mainland municipalities in the Greater Bay Area. The CSC is exploring with the relevant Mainland authorities possible ways to deepen such exchanges, so that our civil servants will have opportunities to stay longer on the Mainland to experience more deeply the development of the GBA municipalities. Our initial target is to extend the staff exchange period from four weeks in the past to three months. We will review the relevant arrangements later. 

     The Government is preparing to establish a dedicated office for the Northern Metropolis announced in the Policy Address, to steer and co-ordinate the development of the Northern Metropolis. One of the key functions of the new office will be to maintain close liaison and co-operation with the Mainland authorities to follow the latest development of Shenzhen and Greater Bay Area and to explore how the Northern Metropolis may best seize the opportunities brought about by the Greater Bay Area development. Besides, individual departments also arrange for their staff to participate in Mainland exchange activities to cater for the departments' operational and business needs. 

     The CSC has been making arrangements for officers at different levels to attend national studies training, and has established a systematic training framework designating training programmes for mandatory attendance by officers at different levels. This include the requirement for all new recruits to complete within the probationary period a foundation training programme to ensure their accurate understanding of the constitutional order of the HKSAR and enhance their awareness in safeguarding national security. This year, the CSC will gradually resume its national studies programme held at the Mainland institutions. Apart from the Peking University, the CSC also collaborates with eight other Mainland institutions (namely the National Academy of Governance, Tsinghua University, China Foreign Affairs University, Zhejiang University, Nanjing University, Wuhan University, Jinan University and Sun Yat-sen University) to run programmes and arranges for middle and senior-level civil servants to attend training on the Mainland as they advance in their career. The College is also making arrangements for the second cohort of senior civil servants to join the 2-year Master's Degree in Public Policy Programme run by Peking University in 2023, and will continue sponsoring senior civil servants to attend the Executive Master of Public Administration Programme for the Project of Hong Kong Public Administrative Talents at Tsinghua University, providing opportunities for deepening their understanding of the county's system, the relationship between the Central Authorities and the HKSAR, and the country's development.

Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Issued at HKT 14:40