Hong Kong is launching a HK$1 billion (US$129 million) scholarship program to attract students from countries and regions along China’s planned economic corridor to study here.
This is part of efforts to foster people-to-people exchanges in line with “One Belt, One Road”, China’s ambitious plan to connect the economies of Asia, the Middle East and Europe inspired by the ancient Silk Road.
In his Policy Address on Wednesday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the government will promote tertiary education to attract undergraduate students from neighboring areas to Hong Kong, home to world-class universities that use English as a medium of instruction, and foster interaction with their local counterparts.
The government will increase the number of places to 100 in phases, from 10 a year, at a total cost HK$1 billion.
“As a highly international city with widespread use of English, Hong Kong can provide a platform for educational, cultural and youth exchanges,” Leung said.
However, the government stopped short of the spending target to allow more Hong Kong students to participate in those exchanges.
It is exploring the feasibility of expanding existing exchange programs such as the International Youth Exchange Program and the Summer Exchange Program to cover more countries.
Two-way exchanges between Hong Kong and other places will enable young people to broaden their horizons, enrich their life experience and learn how to think from multiple perspectives, Leung said.
Learning the languages of countries along the economic corridor will not only strengthen the communication skills of young people but also enhance their understanding of the historic, economic, religious and cultural development of those places.
This will in turn enable them to “contemplate the significance of the Belt and Road Initiative for the world today, its importance to the future development of Hong Kong and the opportunities it presents”, he said.
To encourage schools to develop content about the participating countries and regions in relevant subjects and activities, a priority system will be introduced under the Quality Education Fund.
Leung said more exchanges will help determine the contribution that Hong Kong can make to the program.
And more cultural exchanges are being planned to take advantage of Hong Kong’s environment which encourages artistic freedom, creativity and diversity.
These will attract artists, art groups and cultural organisations from all over the world to perform, exhibit works or participate in seminars and forums.
Leung mentioned “Belt and Road” 44 times in his speech, highlighting his commitment to China’s vision of a 21st century Maritime Silk Road.
– Contact us at [email protected]