The controversial One Belt, One Road scholarship programme, rumoured to be “jumping queue” for approval before the current Legislative Council ends, has been postponed until the next council session, according to a statement released by the government on Monday. The next council will begin in October.
A government spokesman said on June 27 that the proposal was delayed because “there are still many items relating to people’s livelihood to be processed by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council.”
The Beijing-led One Belt, One Road initiative is designed to strengthen cooperation between countries along the ancient silk road and form a new “maritime silk road.” The scholarship, named after the project, allows students from participating countries to study in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong students, in turn, will also be able to study in participating countries. The government has suggested setting aside more than HK$1 billion for the scholarship.
Local media previously reported that the scholarship may be placed before a bill to increase wages for civil servants in the Legislative Council’s Financial Committee’s agenda so that lawmakers would have to pass the scheme in order not to anger civil servants.
What’s the rush?
Both pro-democracy and pro-establishment lawmakers questioned the urgency to give approval to the project. The Education Panel Chair Lam Tai-fai said earlier that details such as whether the government will accept tertiary degrees from One Belt, One Road Countries still need to be ironed out.
Michael Tien Puk-sun, a pro-establishment lawmaker of the New People’s Party, told Apple Daily that “the whole thing is not fully formed yet …if you bring it out you would be extremely lacking in political wisdom.”