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Providing opportunities for students to learn more about the nature of international relations

The annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' meeting came to a close in Beijing yesterday. Before the meeting, there was a CEO Summit. Hosted by China, a major economic and trade power, this year's meeting attracted the attendance of a great number of business executives from around the world. According to the organiser, over 10 000 government officials, enterprise representatives and reporters from different countries joined the week-long event. The CEO Summit alone was attended by as many as 1 500 business executives representing 500 foreign and 500 Chinese enterprises.

The leaders of all 21 member economies, including Presidents Xi, Obama and Putin, attended the meeting, although the Prime Minister of Canada had to return to his country before the end of the meeting due to official business. At the meeting, issues of mutual concern including the economic outlook, trade, security and epidemics prevention were discussed, and consensus was reached on a number of them.

The APEC meeting was held behind closed doors, and even the entourages of the participating leaders were required to leave the venue. During the meeting, a wild idea came to my mind - if the young people of Hong Kong could watch the meeting via live broadcast, they would be able to see the opportunities and challenges arising from the development of China and other economies in the Asia-Pacific region, feel the interaction between China and other countries, learn about the nature of international relations and think more about the prospects for Hong Kong's next generation in this macro environment. What an educational opportunity it would be!

While the APEC meeting is of course out of bounds to Hong Kong's young people, it is possible to arrange for a certain number of them to attend other international meetings. Last year, I put forward such a proposal, and eventually arrangements were made for about 20 students from three local universities to attend the Boao Forum for Asia. Afterwards, I chatted with some of these students and found that they had all gained insights from the experience. I hope that the Forum will continue to reserve some seats for Hong Kong students in the coming years.

November 12, 2014