Youth groups have a new
mission: national service

Over the past 20 years, Macau has achieved prosperity and stability. Now the time has come for the younger generation to embrace unprecedented development opportunities, says Mok Chi Wai.

Story by GRACE GENG

As a young leader who emerged from Macau’s political culture of associations, Mok Chi Wai has great affection for his home. Moreover, he sees positive developments having taken place over the past 20 years here since the resumption of China’s control of the former Portuguese colony – developments that have laid the foundations for an unprecedented range of opportunities now being presented to the younger generation. By any standards, he says, Macau has achieved remarkable prosperity and stability since 1999.

In recent years, moreover, “Macau has actively responded to the Belt and Road Initiative, and contributed to the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area and the development of the country,” he says, noting that as a result, “Macau’s younger generation is embracing unprecedented development opportunities.”

Mok speaks from a position of influence and experience. He is not only President of Macau Youth Federation, but also Vice Chairman of the All-China Youth Federation, and he is a member of the Standing Committee of Guangdong CPPCC. To say that Mok has witnessed and been actively involved with the development and changes of Macau around its return to China would be an understatement.

Mok has seen something of the world. After growing up in Macau, he studied abroad but decided to return to Macau to pursue a career. From an early age, he was drawn to youth work. Partly this was due to his friends’ influence, but mostly it was inspired by a sense of patriotism, he says: He saw a long-term need to lead more young people to work for the development of the country and the SAR. Early opportunities came up for the aspiring politician at the Macau Chamber of Commerce’s Youth Committee, the Hou Kong Junior Chamber, and the Junior Chamber International Macau, China.

These led to work highlights in various events. One of the most memorable was as director of the preparatory committee for the 2015 Asia Pacific Conference of the Junior Chamber International, in which he took charge of coordinating all conference affairs. The conference served more than 4,000 youth representatives from around the world. Later, Mok was elected Vice President of JCI World Congress, a first for someone from Macau. The Macau Youth Federation was founded in 2006 with broad community support, Mok says. He was fully engaged in this inititiave from the start, and was elected its fourth president in 2016. The experience, he says, was invaluable. “Taking on roles in these various associations has allowed me to learn from a variety of responsibilities,” Mok says.

“After frequent engagement with young people, I developed a stronger sense of mission and have been steadily more eager to do something for Macau. The Macau Youth Federation was an ideal platform. It provides Macau youth with more opportunities to learn, practice and serve society, and to foster outstanding talent.” Mok points to one particular achievement of which he is proud – the Macau Youth Political Capability Training Program, which has been held every year since 2008.

Through a series of classroom sessions and visits, the program aims to enhance the political competence of Macau youth, develop their leadership skills and strengthen their sense of national identity. Up to now, the program has trained more than 1,000 students from all walks of life to serve in a wide variety of roles. From the start, Mok’s involvement with youth issues has been focused on developing cross-border collaboration. An example of this is the Youth 100 Social Service Training Program. Begun in 2014, the program has organized a variety of charity activities in both mainland and Macau.   

Another example of cross-border work is the Macau Youth Two Sessions Forum. Also started in 2014, the event pulls together dozens of Macau associations, and also invites Macau deputies of the NPC and CPPCC to share information and insights in order to help local youth develop their knowledge of the mainland. The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area is a high priority for Mok. To better understand its significance, particularly the impact it will have on politics, economy, culture, education and urban construction, the Macau Youth Federation has held a series of Chinese Heart – Guangdong-Macau Ties activities since 2009. The federation helped young people explore more opportunities by organizing visits to Guangdong cities. Local youth also actively participated in the Belt and Road Youth Travel program initiated by the Macau Youth Federation. Participants visited Belt and Road regions and countries, such as Yunnan province, Vietnam and Indonesia.

These trips were important in strengthening participants’ connections, and also helped broaden their vision, which, in turn, encouraged them to actively think about Macau’s future. International events have been impressive, too. With the support of the local community, Macau Youth Federation and Macau University of Science and Technology worked together to host the Boao Asia Development Forum (Macau) in 2015 and Boao Forum for Asia Development Summit (Macau) in 2017, contributing to local and regional development. These campaigns have exerted far-reaching influence in Macau and its surrounding regions.

One of Mok’s deepest impressions was gained from a program called Walking Together in the New Era. It involved local youth study and exchange trips to mainland cities, jointly sponsored by the Macau Government, the Macau Liaison Office, and the Preparatory Committee of Macau Youth Organization Activities in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Macau’s return to China. It aroused warm response in Macau and surrounding regions.

A Youth Delegation of “the Belt and Road” to Indonesia : Members visited the Chinese Embassy in Indonesia

“Preparations for the activity started in April of this year,” Mok says. “We recruited 500 young students, and are running an effective organization. The response has been impressive – people were eager to sign up for it.” Trips to the mainland have been memorable, Mok says, citing the example of the Hebei delegation that visited Saihanba National Forest Park.

One hundred youths and students planted a “Macao Tongxin Forest” in Saihanba on behalf of all the members of the “New Era Travel” program. There they took part in “I Grow up with My Motherland – Youth Exchange Forum between Macau and Hebei”. He said that during the visit, whether on the bus, during the dinner or during the formal discussion, Chief Executive Chui Sai On, Director of Macau Liaison Office Fu Ziying and Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário were always ready to discuss and exchange ideas with young people and show concern for their growth.

2019 Macao Youth Seminar on the Two Sessions

According to Mok, “Walking Together in the New Era” has organized the largest and highest level visits to the mainland ever since the return of Macau. “The entire activity showed the deep concern and attention of our country and Macau Government to youth work,” Mok says. “This event served as a link between the past and the future for youth work, allowing local youth to better understand China’s history and progress, stimulate their patriotic love for the country and Macau, sense of belonging and responsibility.” Finally, Mok points out that “One Country, Two Systems” is the “root of Macau,”.

He says local youth must uphold this policy, make use of the advantages of “Two Systems”, while consolidating the unique benefits from “One Center, One Platform and One Base”. This they can do while valuing the country’s support and continuing to improve the SAR’s sustainable development. Mok still thinks there is much work to do.

He suggests that each group and association should create more opportunities for young people, cultivate Macau youth’s national identity and patriotic love for China and Macau, thereby developing them into a new generation with sense of social responsibility and international vision. He encourages Macau youth to get themselves well-prepared, improve their competitive strength and actively devote themselves to the overall interest of the country.