HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee encourages local broadcaster to ‘tell good Hong Kong stories’
Best foot forward
Published: Nov 15, 2022 11:27 PM
Promotional material for TVB documentary No Poverty Land Photo: Courtesy of TVB

Promotional material for TVB documentary No Poverty Land Photo: Courtesy of TVB

Encouraging cultural organizations in China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) such as the local broadcaster TVB, HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee aims to "promote Hong Kong's popular culture outside of Hong Kong," as he noted in the Chief Executive's 2022 Policy Address that was published in October. With diverse entertainment productions emerging in Hong Kong, Lee believes such cultural resources can continue to "tell good Hong Kong stories" and spread Hong Kong's unique East-meets-West cultural character to different corners of the world. 

Acting as a bridge 

Lee spoke at the TVB 55th Anniversary Banquet on Monday, during which he emphasized the broadcaster's popularity goes beyond Hong Kong and extends to the global Chinese community. 

Such an international nature has allowed it to become a tool to introduce Hong Kong's unique East-meets-West culture to the world. 

"I firmly believe that TVB will continue to contribute to our [Hong Kong's] development as a center for Chinese-Western cultural and art exchanges and will continue to create diverse and enjoyable entertainment for audiences," Lee noted. 

TV productions produced in Hong Kong, no matter if it is the adaptation of the popular martial arts novel The Legend of the Condor Heroes or police dramas like Armed Reaction, have always helped convey Hong Kong culture to Chinese mainland audiences. 

Conducive to the new agendas that have been set in recent years, such as the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, a new facet has been added to what makes a "good story" - a dedication to tightening Hong Kong-mainland ties by bringing real stories of the motherland to Hong Kong audiences. 

For example, No Poverty Land, a TVB-produced documentary that records the true stories of the mainland's poverty alleviation efforts, touched viewers' hearts in the city after it debuted in 2021. 

Janis Chan, the host of No Poverty Land, told the Global Times that more communication between the mainland and Hong Kong is a must to further mutual understanding between the regions.

"More cooperation between us and the mainland is also in the pipeline, and I hope I can participate in it and play a role as a bridge," she added.

The documentary series, which received a second season to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland, is only one of the many productions produced in Hong Kong that promotes cultural exchanges. 

Besides highly rated dramas such as Murder Diary being streamed on mainland online platforms, veteran actors such as Kara Wai and Simon Yam have taken part in mainland shows like Me and My Motherland to depict precious memories such as Hong Kong's return to China in 1997. 

"Such cultural productions ring a bell when it comes to our shared cultural memories. No matter how internationalized Hong Kong is, it is essentially a part of China," Andrew Lim, a Hong Kong netizen, told the Global Times.

Greater Bay strategy

Thomas Hui, chairman of TVB, said at the banquet that the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) supports Hong Kong's development into a cultural and art exchange center between China and other countries. 

Such a policy has incentivized many Hong Kong cultural organizations to gear up to make more strategic changes, in which the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay area is the main driving force. 

In 2019, Chinese authorities unveiled the outline for the Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which includes a call to give full play to the advantages of Hong Kong's film and television talent, promoting Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao film and television cooperation, strengthening film investment cooperation and talent exchanges, and supporting Hong Kong in becoming a film and television expo hub. 

Focusing on the shared cultural roots of the Greater Bay Area, beloved Hong Kong actor and TVB General Manager Eric Tsang has helped promote a new slate of variety shows, such as STARS Academy, that have attracted the attention of mainland audiences. 

Tsang told media that Hong Kong only has a little more than 7 million viewers, while the entire Greater Bay Area has a population of more than 80 million, making it a market filled with great potential for future development.

Luo Luo, a cultural critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times that these favorable policies can promote new cooperation for coproducing films and TV shows.

"The Greater Bay Area has local film and TV stars, with whom mainland audiences are familiar. To some extent, they can attract more attention," Luo said. Additionally, the unique Cantonese culture of the Greater Bay Area has always been full of vitality and charm when it comes to both entertainment and art, I believe that this cooperation will bring us a lot of excellent film and television works," Luo said.