Senior Hong Kong officials said the city needs to speed up its integration with the mainland, drawing criticism from the Democratic Party that they're only "fawning" to President Xi Jinping.
Writing on his weekly blog, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said the SAR needs to be set on the right path, and that involved developing alongside what he called other "brother cities" in the Greater Bay Area.
Chan said despite the changing global atmosphere and strained Sino-US relations, China is determined to continue to open up and implement reform.
The finance chief stressed that the world's second-largest economy will be key to Hong Kong's recovery.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, for his part, wrote that there's urgency to integrate local youth into the country's development.
He said a speech by Xi last week marking the 40th anniversary of Shenzhen as a special economic zone – in which he said more young people should be attracted to the mainland – provides a clear direction for everyone in the country, including those in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong.
Cheung also expressed hope that local schools would take up their responsibility in teaching students about national security and the national anthem, in accordance with the law.
Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai accused the ministers of only "fawning".
"The government officials... have no proposals that would help Hong Kong overcome the difficulties we have today," Wu said.
He argued that Hong Kong should not only look north – but also to the rest of the world – for its future success.