LCQ7: Hong Kong people living in the Mainland cities of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area
According to the information of the Census and Statistics Department, as at mid-2022, there were about 529 500 Hong Kong residents usually staying in Guangdong Province, with about 33 per cent (about 175 600) of them being persons aged 0 to 14 and about 17 per cent (about 89 100) of them being persons aged 65 or above. There are views that such persons probably no longer have any residence or relative in Hong Kong. Regarding the measures to assist Hong Kong people living in the Mainland cities of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), will the Government inform this Council:
(1) with respect to the aforesaid persons aged 65 or above, of the policy initiatives put in place by the Government to help them solve their healthcare problems on the Mainland, and to support them in ageing in place and obtaining elderly services, so that they can retire on the Mainland without worries; whether it has set up centres in Guangdong Province to provide dedicated services for such elderly persons; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) with respect to the aforesaid persons aged 0 to 14, of the policy initiatives put in place by the Government to help them solve the problems they encounter when growing up on the Mainland (e.g. on aspects of further studies, counselling and healthcare); whether it has set up child care centres and youth centres in Guangdong Province to provide dedicated services for such persons; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) as there are views that with over 500 000 Hong Kong residents usually staying in Guangdong Province, it is difficult to provide them with comprehensive services by solely relying on the existing scale of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangdong (GDETO), whether the Government will expand the scale and functions of GDETO, or arrange for a dedicated department to co-ordinate the handling of requests for assistance made by such Hong Kong residents in Guangdong Province; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(4) as there are views pointing out that while the concept of "integration" is being emphasised in the development of GBA, the cross-boundary implementation of Hong Kong's policy initiatives on healthcare, education, welfare, etc for Hong Kong people in GBA Mainland cities is still subject to many restraints and fails to fully cover GBA, making it impossible for Hong Kong people living in GBA Mainland cities to enjoy the same benefits and treatment as in Hong Kong, how the Government will promote the cross-boundary implementation of more policy initiatives for assisting Hong Kong people living in GBA Mainland cities, unify standards and break free from restraints, so as to bring greater convenience and benefits to the people; and
(5) whether the Government will consider, by means of funding support or co-operation, commissioning community groups with experience of serving Hong Kong people on the Mainland to set up offices or service points in the nine Mainland municipalities of GBA for providing one-stop assistance to Hong Kong people living in GBA Mainland cities; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has all along attached great importance to the work relating to the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), and has introduced various policy measures in different areas to support Hong Kong residents to develop and live in the Mainland cities of the GBA in recent years. The HKSAR Government has also been maintaining close liaison with relevant Central Ministries and Commissions, the Guangdong Provincial Government, and the Macao Special Administrative Region Government; and has continued to seek further policy innovation and breakthrough and strive to pursue more policy measures that are of benefit to Hong Kong while at the same time can contribute to the development of our country and the GBA, with a view to developing the GBA into an international first-class bay area ideal for living, working and travelling.
Upon consultation with the Labour and Welfare Bureau, Education Bureau and Health Bureau, our consolidated reply to the various parts of the question raised by the Hon Kingsley Wong is as follows:
Parts (1), (2) & (4)
At present, the HKSAR Government provides assistance for Hong Kong elderly persons who choose to retire in the Mainland cities of the GBA through various measures. The Social Welfare Department (SWD) implements the Residential Care Services Scheme in Guangdong, and purchases services from two residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs) operated by Hong Kong organisations and located in Shenzhen and Zhaoqing respectively. Elderly persons waitlisted for subsidised care and attention places and intending to retire in the Mainland may join the relevant scheme of their own accord. The SWD fully subsidises the home fees of elderly persons. To facilitate elderly persons to retire in the Mainland, the SWD will extend the scheme to cover other RCHEs in the Mainland cities of the GBA in the second half of the year.
As regards cash assistance, the HKSAR Government currently implements various portable cash assistance schemes, such that Hong Kong elderly persons who reside in the Mainland cities of the GBA may receive the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, Old Age Allowance or Old Age Living Allowance under the Social Security Allowance Scheme. As at end-March 2023, about 23 000 Hong Kong elderly persons residing in Guangdong Province have benefitted from the relevant schemes.
In response to the demand for education services for children of Hong Kong people in the Mainland cities of the GBA, the Education Bureau actively supports school sponsoring bodies to set up schools offering Hong Kong curriculum in the Mainland cities of the GBA. With the support of the Ministry of Education and relevant Mainland authorities, there are now schools and classes for Hong Kong children in the Mainland cities of the GBA providing primary and secondary education for the children of Hong Kong people.
Besides, to support cross-boundary students (CBS) who reside in the Mainland and travel daily to attend schools in Hong Kong, the HKSAR Government, in co-ordination with the relevant Mainland authorities, has been providing various transportation facilitation measures for CBS to commute via boundary control points in a safe and speedy manner. CBS may also use clearance facilitation services when entering Hong Kong so as to complete immigration clearance in a speedy and orderly manner.
In terms of the development of medical services, the HKSAR Government has all along been pursuing co-operation with various Mainland cities of the GBA under the principles of complementarity and mutual benefits, and on the premise of benefitting the healthcare development of both the Mainland and Hong Kong.
As a facilitation measure for Hong Kong residents working and living in the Mainland cities of the GBA to seek healthcare services, the Central Government promulgated the Work Plan for Regulatory Innovation and Development of Pharmaceutical and Medical Device in the GBA (the Work Plan) in November 2020. The Work Plan includes allowing designated healthcare institutions in the Mainland cities of the GBA to use eligible Hong Kong drugs and medical devices, upon the approval of the Guangdong Provincial Government (the Measure). As at early May 2023, 26 drugs and 13 medical devices have been approved for use in 19 medical institutions (including 14 institutions added in February 2023) under the Measure. The HKSAR Government will maintain close liaison with the relevant Mainland authorities and play an active role in facilitating the relevant work of Mainland authorities.
To provide convenience to eligible Hong Kong elderly persons residing in Shenzhen and nearby areas, since 2015, the elderly may use the Elderly Health Care Voucher (EHCV) to pay for the fees of designated outpatient healthcare services at the University of Hong Kong–Shenzhen Hospital (HKU-SZH). Starting from April 17 this year, the use of EHCV at the HKU-SZH has been further extended to cover the Huawei Community Health Centre, an offsite medical institution set up by the HKU-SZH. Besides, the HKSAR Government also launched the "Pilot Scheme for Supporting Patients of the Hospital Authority in the GBA" on May 10 this year such that eligible Hong Kong citizens, including elderly persons, may receive subsidised medical consultations at the HKU-SZH.
The HKSAR Government will continue to explore various feasible measures in order to support the healthcare needs of Hong Kong citizens residing in the Mainland cities of the GBA more effectively. These include actively exploring further extension of the relevant initiatives to other Mainland healthcare institutions in the GBA with similar healthcare service standards and clinical governance structures as the HKU-SZH, in particular those adopting "Hong Kong management model"; and studying the feasibility of allowing Hong Kong people residing in the Mainland cities of the GBA to use EHCV to reimburse the premiums of local medical insurance.
Parts (3) & (5)
The service area of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangdong (Guangdong ETO) and the Shenzhen Liaison Unit established thereunder covers the nine Mainland cities of the GBA, and they provide diversified services for Hong Kong people and enterprises there, which include publishing booklets on practical information about living in the Mainland, producing short videos providing information about daily life in the Mainland such as opening of bank accounts, application for residence permits, participation in social insurance, as well as information on employment, education, property purchase. The Guangdong ETO also makes use of social media platforms and electronic newsletters etc to disseminate useful and relevant information to Hong Kong people and enterprises in a timely manner, so as to assist Hong Kong residents to better adapt to living in the area. Moreover, the Guangdong ETO provides free legal advisory service to Hong Kong residents there through a telephone hotline and by arranging meetings with duty lawyers to provide preliminary advice on Mainland-related legal matters.
To further enhance the support for Hong Kong people and enterprises there, the GBA Promotion Centre of the Guangdong ETO officially commenced service on April 26 this year. Through strengthening strategic co-operation with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, InvestHK and relevant organisations and institutions in the Mainland or from overseas, the Promotion Centre will promote opportunities brought about by the development of the GBA by means of providing information on the GBA and enquiry services as well as organising seminars and study missions, etc; and provide appropriate support and assistance when needed to Hong Kong people and enterprises in the Mainland cities of the GBA. The HKSAR Government will continue to maintain close liaison with Hong Kong people and enterprises in the Mainland and understand what their needs are for pursuing development and living in the Mainland, so as to suitably reflect them to the relevant Mainland authorities and to provide assistance as appropriate. The HKSAR Government will also keep in view the effectiveness of the work of the Mainland Offices and Liaison Units, and make suitable arrangements and adjustments where necessary to achieve optimal results.
Ends/Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Issued at HKT 11:30
Issued at HKT 11:30