Leung Chun-ying

Solve deep-rooted problems, former Beijing official tells Hong Kong

Chen Zuoer says it’s painful yet necessary for city to realise the fact that its rivals are overtaking it in terms of development

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 5:52pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 June, 2017, 5:09pm

Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” model has proved a success but the city – which has been lagging behind its rivals – should also tackle its deep-rooted problems, former Beijing official Chen Zuoer says.

Chen, a former deputy director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said it was “painful” yet necessary for Hong Kong to realise the fact that its rivals were overtaking it in terms of development.

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“How can [the city] catch up with determination when it does not even have the courage to learn from its bitter experience?” Chen told the state-run China News Service in an interview.

Chen, also the former president of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies think tank, was speaking two weeks ahead of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China.

While he said the “one country, two systems” principle which safeguards Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy had proven successful, people should also be aware of emerging deep-rooted problems with a clear mind.

“Hong Kong will not be able to develop rapidly and steadily without noticing these problems,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a separate interview with mainland media, outgoing chief executive Leung Chun-ying said Hong Kong should adjust its role from time to time so it could contribute to the country.

Leung, who will be succeeded by Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on July 1, also said he had made progress on housing, poverty, elderly care and environmental protection during his five-year term.

But lawmakers across the political spectrum were less impressed with Leung’s achievements.

Beijing-friendly lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin of the Federation of Trade Unions said on Sunday that he was disappointed by Leung’s labour policies.

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Raymond Chan Chi-chuen of People Power said Leung appeared to be comforting himself, adding he had failed to solve livelihood issues and the big wealth gap in Hong Kong.

Accountancy sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung called on the incoming leader to rebuild a normal working relationship with lawmakers as he described ties between the administration and the legislature “unproductive, strenuous and quite often, plainly hostile” under Leung over the past five years.

That could be done by improving the frequency and quality of dialogue, he added.