Hong Kong’s leader and China’s propaganda minister have given pointers to the media on covering the Greater Bay Area, stating that the media has a key part to play in promoting the regional development plan at home and overseas.

On Sunday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam spoke at first Media Summit of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in Guangzhou, under the theme “First-rate bay area, media responsibility.” The event was also attended by top Chinese officials such as Huang Kunming, Politburo member and the head of the Communist Party’s propaganda department.

Lam said in her keynote speech the media could contribute in four aspects, including publishing updates on the bay area, as well as doing in-depth studies featuring experts.

carrie lam
Carrie Lam speaking at the first media summit for the Greater Bay Area. Photo: GovHK.

“[The media] can do more interviews on the people studying, working and living in the Greater Bay Area, and use these real-life examples to tell the Greater Bay Area story well,” she said, adding that she recommended interviewing young entrepreneurs.

“Of course, the media is duty-bound to monitor the government and reveal social problems. As long as it is objective, fair and fact-based, we will recognise it.”

The bay area plan, first unveiled in February, aims to guide the development and integration of Hong Kong and 10 neighbouring Chinese cities up until 2035. The State Council said in a document that the 56,000 square kilometre area will play a “significant strategic role” in the country’s development.

On Sunday, Huang also described the media as a “participant and contributor” in the regional development plan.

Huang Kunming
Huang Kunming. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

“I hope the media can focus on the development of the Greater Bay Area, and tell the stories of joint innovation and collaborative development well,” Huang said.

“The Greater Bay Area provides a wide-open stage for the media. The role of media is irreplaceable, and its social responsibility is very important,” he added. “For there to be a first-rate bay area, there must be a first-rate media.”

Also in attendance was director of Beijing’s office in Hong Kong Wang Zhimin, who said that Hong Kong’s media had published over 5,000 articles on the development plan since February, and cited a study that concluded there was 25 per cent growth in youngsters’ understanding of the Greater Bay Area.

Whilst Hong Kong enjoys relative press freedom compared to the mainland, the city fell to 73rd place in the Reporters Without Borders 2019 World Press Freedom Index last month.

Correction 19:25: HKFP corrected a typo in this article which misstated the size of the Greater Bay Area.

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Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.