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Embattled Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying vowed to 'face up to the difficulties' of leadership on the day tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in an anti-government rally.
In a defiant message posted only in Chinese on his blog, CY appeared determined to put the past year behind him, saying: "People may have different memories of the year past, but 2012 is over and I, just as every Hong Kong citizen, have new hopes for the new year."
The message was posted as both pro and anti-establishment protesters marched through Hong Kong Island on Tuesday in what police described as the city's "most complicated security situation" in two years.
Pro-Leung marchers waved giant Chinese flags while anti-government protesters carried posters depicting the chief executive with fangs, and asking the question: "Can Hong Kong trust this man?"
Other key points in his message were:
- Hopes that Hong Kong’s economy "can grow at a higher speed, allowing the society to respond better to housing, poverty, ageing and environmental problems" as well as hopes that Hong Kong citizens "can reach a consensus, support and coordinate with the government’s policies, allowing the government to alleviate and resolve problems more speedily".
- Hopes that "the world’s political and economic situations can return to normal soon, so that both the nation and Hong Kong can shake off the gloom of the European and American economies".
- A belief that "my team and I can continue to face up to the difficulties, and continue to push forward policies aimed at improving livelihood, on top of the new policies unveiled in the past six months" with a pledge that the coming policies "will include expansion of land and housing supply in short, medium and long terms, and better management of demand".
- A promise to "prioritise the housing needs of permanent Hong Kong residents and let the housing market develop steadily".
He added: "I also believe that the Commission on Poverty will continue to assist the government in setting a scientific poverty line, taking an important step in poverty relief."
CY Leung made reference to his meeting last month with new Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, which took place in Beijing amid mounting calls in Hong Kong for him to step down, with pan-democratic lawmakers agreeing to jointly table an impeachment motion.
He said: "During my meeting with General Secretary Xi Jinping in Beijing last month, he praised the new SAR government as 'progressive, striving, pragmatic and promising.' My team and I will continue to work for the benefits and happiness of Hong Kong citizens in 2013."