Wooing youth in Taiwan and HK

Mr Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said in a speech that China will "strengthen friendship and communication with political organisations, social groups and influential figures in Hong Kong".
Mr Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said in a speech that China will "strengthen friendship and communication with political organisations, social groups and influential figures in Hong Kong". PHOTO: REUTERS

China is reaching out to the young people of Taiwan and Hong Kong to get them to see its point of view.

While official ties with Taiwan have been in limbo since President Tsai Ing-wen took office last May, China has been busy wooing students from the island and from Hong Kong, inviting them to the mainland on immersion trips and youth exchange programmes.

Mr Yu Zhengsheng, who chairs China's top advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said at the opening of the annual meeting yesterday that it will expand these programmes this year.

As this year marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China, the CPPCC plans to host a series of events to commemorate the occasion.

Besides organising more study trips, Mr Yu said China will "strengthen friendship and communication with political organisations, social groups and influential figures in Hong Kong".

This will "strengthen the love of both region and country", he added.

Efforts to reach out to Hong Kong's youth have picked up since the 2014 student-led Occupy movement, where discontent drove protesters to fight for greater rights, primarily to elect the city's leader. Last year saw the CPPCC conduct studies on how to help young Hong Kongers who want to pursue a career or build a start-up in the Guangdong pilot free trade zone.

Similarly, China wants to deepen its institutional links with Taiwan and foster closer ties with its communities and youth, even as Beijing cut off official contact with Taiwan after Ms Tsai took office. Ms Tsai has so far refused to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus - a tacit agreement that there is one China, open to interpretation by both sides.

Mr Yu said yesterday that these initiatives "have served to enhance people's identification with the country of China, Chinese culture and the Chinese nation".

Lim Yan Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2017, with the headline 'Wooing youth in Taiwan and HK'. Print Edition | Subscribe