Move to Greater Bay Area, Xi Jinping tells young people in Hong Kong, Macau

The push is part of measures to integrate the semi-autonomous territory with the mainland following student-led protests last year. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG - With a view to better integrate China's two special administrative regions into what will be the new economic powerhouse, President Xi Jinping is encouraging young people from Hong Kong and Macau to move to the Greater Bay Area.

Speaking in Shenzhen on Wednesday (Oct 14), to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of China's first special economic zone in the southern city, Mr Xi called for the deepening of integration between young people in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong province to "increase their sense of belonging to the motherland".

"With Shenzhen being an important engine in its development, we should seize the major historical opportunities in the development of the Greater Bay Area, promote the alignment of economic rules, and institutions of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau," he said.

Mr Xi added that China should "continue to encourage and guide our compatriots in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as well as overseas Chinese, to play their important roles in investment, entrepreneurship and two-way openness, so that they can make new contributions to the development of the special economic zones".

The Chinese President also said Shenzhen will be tasked with "enriching the new practice of One Country, Two Systems," without elaborating.

There have been growing concerns that Hong Kong has been sidelined in Beijing's Greater Bay Area plan.

But Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who cancelled her annual policy address to lead a delegation to the event, said ahead of the speech that "there need not be direct competition between Hong Kong and Shenzhen".

"We have freedom of capital flow and currency exchange, a legal system in line with international standards and a large pool of professional talent," Mrs Lam had told Shenzhen Satellite TV, adding that these can complement Shenzhen's technological capabilities and advanced manufacturing.

Her comments come as her government struggles against low public trust and an unwavering pandemic to boost a recessionary economy.

The annual policy address originally slated for Wednesday will be postponed to late November in an unprecedented move, as she meets Beijing officials this month to discuss strategies to help Hong Kong's economy.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.