The pilot Funding Scheme for Exchange in Belt & Road Countries, which was launched by the Home Affairs Bureau and the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education (CPCE) in April, is said to have received a total of 103 applications.
As of now, 29 proposals have been cleared, involving subsidy assistance of up to HK$300,000 per case, Headline Daily reports.
A total of HK$5.68 million was allocated for the first batch of recipients, which includes the city’s largest political party — the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB).
DAB is, in fact, the only political party that has been offered subsidy under the belt and road exchange program.
Half of the grant recipients are schools, uniformed groups or NGOs, according to Ming Pao Daily News.
DAB was handed a sum of HK$270,000 to help it arrange an 8-day exchange tour to Russia for up to 30 participants.
Participants in the group would only need to pay a nominal fee of HK$3,000 each.
Applicants for subsidies for belt and road study tours must demonstrate that there is a significant element of cross-border exchange in their proposed activities and that their events will take place as planned.
Given this, those who have had prior experience of organizing similar activities had a better chance of getting the green light.
The DAB was successful as it was able to offer concrete details on proposed exchanges with Russian groups, and the places they will be visiting.
The party is also said to have acquired the necessary permits from corresponding authorities in Russia.
According to a poster put up on the DAB website, the exchange tour will offer a chance for 30 people aged between 18 and 29 to travel to Russia from December 18 to 25.
Applications will close on October 7.
Chris Ip Ngp-tung, deputy secretary-general of DAB, said the subsidy from government will help pay for two-thirds of the tour cost.
He stressed that DAB membership will not be a consideration when they screen applicants. Ip revealed that they have received over 300 applications so far.
Ivan Choi, a senior lecturer at the Chinese University Hong Kong, said the exchange programs are like travel tours.
Citing DAB’s Russia exchange program as an example, he noted that a significant portion of the travel itineraries comprise visits to tourist spots or to trips to official institutions.
Choi suggested that universities or youth groups should be included in the program in order to help the younger generation understand the outside world better.
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