Chief executive Leung reflects on first 100 days in office
In an exclusive interview the chief executive reflects on his start in office and warns of grave consequences if mainlanders stay away
Hong Kong will suffer a serious blow if mainlanders no longer feel they are welcome in the city amid growing anti-mainland sentiment, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying warns.
Leung also vowed to be "thick-skinned" as he seeks to build his relationship with lawmakers, after most pan-democrats boycotted a lunch he hosted for members of the Legislative Council after last month's election.
Recent months have seen mainlanders blamed for everything from soaring property prices to packed maternity wards, and clashes between Hongkongers and visitors from across the border have drawn international attention.
The British flag and the colonial-era Hong Kong flag have become a fixture at recent demonstrations amid what appears to be an upsurge in nostalgia for the days of colonial rule.
But Leung said: "We have to be mindful of how the mainland looks at Hong Kong.
"The recent acts by certain people in Hong Kong, such as flying the old colonial flag or making allegations against mainlanders' activities in Hong Kong, have not gone unnoticed by the mainland," Leung said. "We need to manage their sentiments as well."
Chen Zuoer , former deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said two weeks ago he was "heartbroken" when he saw the British flag being carried at the march on July 1, while Leung said in his speech to mark National Day on Monday that it was inevitable and essential that Hong Kong's development would run alongside that of the mainland.
In the interview, Leung said there was a need to manage the relationship with the mainland
"We need to manage it but we shouldn't try to build a wall or draw a line between ourselves and the rest of the country," he said.
"It's a management issue and a communication issue. We need to communicate to the people in Hong Kong as to how we will be able to manage the situation so that people do not feel they are threatened."
Asked whether the proliferation of anti-mainland sentiment stemmed from his close relationship with Beijing, going back three decades, the surveyor-turned-politician said: "It has been around for a long time".
Leung cited the observation of Percy Cradock, a foreign policy adviser to Margaret Thatcher and John Major during their tenures as British prime minister that "it is not the other side you need to worry about, but your own".
"C.Y. Leung on Hong Kong-mainland relations" Video by Hedy Bok
While reiterating the importance of what he called "internal diplomacy" - relations between Hong Kong and the central government - Leung also reiterated the value he places on his relationship with Legco. "I [will] do whatever I can, so I'll be pretty thick-skinned," Leung said. "Obviously breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, dinner meetings are not the only ways of discussing Legco and government businesses, and I'm quite open-minded about other formats as well. Before we try to strike a good working relationship with Legco, we need to talk and meet.
"And I don't have any pre-conditions as to how we meet. But certainly legco members seemed to have ruled out the probability of meeting over a meal, that's fine with me too. After that I will … go to the Legco chamber to meet Legco members. But we need to talk."
The pan-democrats won 27 of the 70 seats in the September 9 poll, and there are no signs of a honeymoon period in the relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government.
An early sign of their hostility came a week after the election, when most of the pan-democratic parties boycotted a lunch hosted by Leung at the government offices, one of his first attempts to reach out to the new legislature.
Only three pan-democrats attended the occasion.
"C.Y. Leung on his relationship with Legco" Video by Hedy Bok
IN HIS WORDS
ON HK-MAINLAND RELATIONS:
"We have to be mindful how the mainland looks at Hong Kong … The recent acts by certain people in Hong Kong, such as flying the old colonial flags or making allegations against mainlanders' activities in Hong Kong, have not gone unnoticed by the mainland … We need to manage their sentiments as well"
ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH LEGISLATORS:
"I [will] do whatever I can, so I'll be pretty thick-skinned … obviously breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, dinner meetings are not the only ways of discussing Legco and government businesses, and I'm quite open-minded to other formats as well. Before we try to strike up a good working relationship with Legco, we need to talk and meet."
ON THE SPECIAL OLD-AGE ALLOWANCE:
"We'll stand firm, we'll explain to Legco … as to why this is in the best interest of Hong Kong, that it's in the overall interest of Hong Kong in the long term … I don't see this as a battle, I see this as a matter of responsibility, being or acting in a responsible way to balance the needs of the elderly and the ability of the Hong Kong government to satisfy their needs."
ON THE NORTHEASTERN NEW TERRITORIES NEW TOWNS DEVELOPMENT:
"We do make this plea to people who believe that we don't need [the project] - please tell us if they believe we have alternative development opportunities in existing urban areas. Please take out a map and draw circles around sites we could use ... We will be extremely grateful."
ON HOMEBUYERS FROM THE MAINLAND
"The Post carried a headline story saying some  per cent of [buyers at a new housing project] were from the mainland. It caught my attention."