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Monday, August 1, 2016, 19:13

Youth group packs off 133 B&R explorers


HONG KONG – A total of 133 local youths were set to get an extensive understanding of the Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative through personal visits to countries and regions along the strategic initiative on Monday, according to Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG).

The B&R tour group is the second batch after HKFYG sent 78 young people to experience six nations and regions along the B&R routes five months ago.

The tour program, named the Back Packers, is one of the many activities launched by the HKFYG’s One Belt One Road One Friendship program. It aims at strengthening Hong Kong youth’s understanding of the culture and life of nations along the initiative.

It will fund 133 local youth, aged 18 to 35, for their trips to the Chinese mainland and 23 countries in East and Central Europe, as well as in East and Southeast Asia.

Participants, divided into groups, can design their own journey with funding ranging from HK$2,000 to HK$6,000.

Executive Director of HKFYG Wong Yick-ming said the program has attracted over 3,000 local young people to apply since its launch five months ago. The program has seen its first round of participants finish their trips and hand in insightful reports. She added that it is worthwhile for local youth to be better informed about B&R since Hong Kong can benefit greatly from the initiative in its future development.

Cheung Lok-kan, a local travel journalist and program participant, visited East Timor in early July and spent one week with his two teammates in a village that mainly produces coffee beans.

Cheung’s team is now working on a crowd-funding project to help villagers sell their products to Hong Kong. Cheung thanked the program for serving as a bridge between resource-rich regions and less-privileged areas.

Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Ceajer Chan Ka-keung, speaking at the same venue, urged the young to take full advantage of the program as it provides opportunities for business as well as bringing more cultural contact.

The second round of the program will begin on Aug 1, while the third and fourth rounds start between November and April in 2017.

HKFYG is not the only group in Hong Kong that offers such opportunities to young people. The olive branch was also extended to young Chinese in foreign countries. The Dragon 100, funded by the Dragon Foundation, will also send another 100 young ethnic Chinese from 14 countries to visit Shenzhen and Xi’an. The trip will start this Wednesday.

One of the 100 lucky participants, Lee Jaslin, who is Malaysian Chinese, said besides visiting museums and universities, she would also like to seek business partners for importing her country’s spices during the trip. She added that ethnic Chinese in Malaysia have actively promoted the B&R, hence the policy is known to most young people.

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