The head of Beijing’s official body in Hong Kong has said that the younger generation must correctly understand the relationship between Hong Kong and China, after “localist separatist thought” misled some of them.

Zhang Xiaoming, director of the China Liaison Office, expressed his views on the right direction for youth development at a handover celebration event aimed at young people on Tuesday.

“Only those Hong Kong youth who have their hearts in the motherland, understand its history and culture, and understand the country’s situation… will have big aspirations, big scope of vision, and understand Hong Kong’s strategic role correctly,” he said.

Zhang Xiaoming. Photo: Citizen News.

“Currently there is a strain of localist separatist thought – since this kind of thinking has misled some young people, I believe it is necessary to stress the correct understanding of the relationship between Hong Kong and the country.”

Zhang said young people born around the handover in 1997 are becoming the majority of the young generation and they will soon bear the responsibility of managing and building Hong Kong. In order to achieve their dreams, they should “understand the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle correctly,” Zhang said.

“We live in a prosperous and stable society, far away from chaos and war, free from fear of terror attacks,” he said, stressing that Hong Kong youth should look to China for future development.

The China Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Photo: HKFP.

He added that the central and Hong Kong governments care very much about youth development, as the local administration has made many efforts in the areas of education, employment, property ownership and entrepreneurship.

Zhang also said China has a goal that by 2050, the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, it will be a rich, strong, democratic, civilised and harmonious socialist modernised country.

In response to Zhang’s comments, pro-democracy Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung said there was no problem for young people to learn Chinese history, but authorities should have an open attitude towards teaching both the good and bad sides of history to the new generation. He added that “brainwashing education” would not help young people tell right from wrong.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.