Hong Kong leader ‘fully endorsed’ by Chinese President Xi Jinping for efforts during term

Visiting leader praises chief executive and his team for upholding national sovereignty and security

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 June, 2017, 12:20am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 June, 2017, 12:20am

President Xi Jinping “fully endorsed” Hong Kong’s outgoing leader for his work in his five-year term, saying his time had “not been easy”, especially in safeguarding national sovereignty and security.

As Xi encouraged Leung Chun-ying to keep contributing to the development of the country and Hong Kong in his new capacity as a vice-chairman of the nation’s top advisory body, he gave him and his team a positive appraisal for their efforts in social and economic developments.

Shortly after getting settled at the Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel in Wan Chai, Xi, who is in town for a three-day trip to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese rule, met Leung in a hotel meeting room.

Xi told Leung, who sat next to him: “These five years have not been easy for you. You have paid much effort in implementing ‘one country, two systems’ and the Hong Kong Basic Law. You handled problems that had accumulated, worked on expanding space for development, and achieved a lot.”

You handled problems that had accumulated ... and achieved a lot
Xi Jinping to CY Leung

“In particular, on maintaining national sovereignty and security and development interests of the country, you held fast to the spirit of the Basic Law and made contributions,” he continued. “The central government has full trust in you, and fully endorses your work and that of your administration.”

Xi also noted that, in two days, Leung would focus on an appointment made earlier this year: that of vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, after stepping down as chief executive.

While the president did not spell out what he meant when referring to Leung’s efforts in upholding national sovereignty and security, he expanded on the point at a subsequent event with Leung’s cabinet, top civil servants and the heads of the legislature and judiciary.

He told the group that Beijing “highly endorsed” the Hong Kong government’s work in the areas of land and housing, poverty alleviation, elderly services, and technological innovation.

“In particular, [you] have effectively tackled the Hong Kong independence forces and maintained social stability,” he said. “It’s noteworthy that you all have demonstrated good political sense and commitment. I have to say, you all worked very hard.”

One of the most significant and controversial moves made by Leung to combat localism was his launch of a legal battle to ban two pro-independence lawmakers last year.

His challenging the lawfulness of the pair’s anti-China antics when they were sworn in led to the intervention of the national legislature, which interpreted the oath-taking clause contained in the Basic Law as court proceedings were under way and before the court issued its own decision. The intervention effectively disqualified the two localists.

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Xi gave the officials two additional messages. He said “one country, two systems” had been very successfully implemented, with Hong Kong having well established its own system in accordance with the Basic Law.

The success and the “correctness” of the political model was reflected in the continued prosperity and stability of the city, which survived challenges such as the Asian financial turmoil and Sars, he added.

He also called on the officials to keep their hearts unchanged in serving Hong Kong and the country, whether they joined the new administration or took on something else. He asked them to support incoming chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her administration in upholding the law and conducting more mainland exchanges.

Xi added that he hoped young people in the city would contribute to his “China dream” for national revival.

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Leung replied that Xi had given instructions to him “in person” on many important tasks, but didn’t elaborate.

Joining Xi at the meeting were State Councillor Yang Jiechi; Li Zhanshu, head of the Communist Party’s Central Committee General Office; Wang Guangya, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office; Zhang Xiaoming, director of Beijing’s liaison office in the city; and Edward Yau Tang-wah, director of the chief executive’s office.