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The government will almost triple the sponsorship for student exchange programmes for the mainland’s go-global strategy from HK$2.9 million last year to HK$8.2 million in the current fiscal year.
The move will benefit 900 people compared with the current 630 people, according to the Home Affairs Bureau.
In a reply to lawmakers on questions concerning expenditure for the current financial year, Permanent Secretary Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee said the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education had increased its budget to HK$8.2 million to sponsor exchange programmes in “One Belt, One Road” countries organised by non-governmental organisations, charities and statutory bodies for those aged between 15 and 29.
The “One Belt, One Road” scheme includes the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road initiated by President Xi Jinping. It covers about 65 countries spanning Asia, Africa and Europe.
The committee is currently promoting funding for exchanges. Its objective is to foster “people-to-people bonds”.
The Federation of Youth Groups is one of the NGOs already active in this area, having already held two exchange programmes sponsored by the government.
One is called “One Belt One Road One Friendship”, which allows young people to visit relevant countries and make friends. Projects include creative tours for 100 backpackers which allow young people to form their own teams. A tour to Myanmar has already taken place.
“I think it’s good that the government is increasing its support for young people to get to know ‘One Belt, One Road’ at an early age,” said pro-government legislator Holden Chow Ho-ding.
“At present, there is still limited knowledge among Hong Kong people about many of the belt countries, so more personal interaction is very helpful for the city’s long-term participation in these opportunities,” Chow said.