Don’t miss opportunities, Xi Jinping tells Hong Kong’s new government

President tells officials after swearing them in that they must consider national interest, stand firm in the face of pressure and maintain unity

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 July, 2017, 4:53pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 July, 2017, 5:11pm

President Xi Jinping has urged Hong Kong’s new administration to seize the opportunities before them or risk missing out on economic development and changes, in Beijing’s clearest message yet on what the city’s officials must do in the next five years.

Xi also told the officials to “produce a brilliant report card” in the years to come by considering national interest, standing firm in the face of pressure and maintaining unity in fulfilling their duties.

The president’s detailed speech contrasted with that of his predecessors, who focused on formalities such as reiterating the “one country, two systems” principle and Beijing’s support for them to govern in accordance with the law.

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Addressing 60 Hong Kong officialsand the heads of the city’s legislature and judiciary after the new government was sworn in, Xi said: “You must serve the public with all your heart and produce a brilliant report card with no regret for the country, Hong Kong and for yourselves.”

Xi said to achieve that, the officials had to bear three principles in mind.

First, they had to consider national interest. “Whether you are the person in charge of the executive branch, legislature or the judiciary, you must ... observe and think of issues from the national perspective, and take the initiative in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and developmental interests,” he said.

Second, they had to stand firm in the face of pressure. “It is not a relaxing or comfortable task,” he said, smiling. “Whether you are ... implementing ‘one country, two systems’, solving long-standing economic and social conflicts and difficulties, strengthening young people’s national history and cultural education, or curbing ‘Hong Kong independence’ and maintaining Hong Kong’s general stability, you need to rise to these challenges and be proactive.”

“Sometimes you also need to resist pressures and stand firm,” Xi added.

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Third, they had to maintain unity. “The governing team is a whole. One’s glory is everyone’s glory, and one’s loss is everyone’s loss ... You must be self-conscious in defending the team’s unity and the chief executive’s authority.

“You must also support and coordinate with each other in your work ... Only through this [could you] ensure a firm and powerful governance, and improve efficiency,” he said.

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At the end of his six-minute speech, the president said he would be visiting Russia and Germany next week, as well as attending the G20 summit in Hamburg.

“Right now, the global economic and political situations are undergoing unprecedented adjustments ... and there will be drastic changes in Hong Kong’s internal and external environments too,” he said.

“As I have said before, if we do not ... adapt to changes and seek changes, we could be trapped in a strategically passive situation, and miss opportunities for development, or even miss an entire era.”

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He added that he hoped the city’s executive, legislative and judicial branches could do their job and produce an “exam paper with a passing grade”.

Xi was speaking after swearing in the new officials led by Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the first female chief executive to lead the city.

Xi left Hong Kong on Saturday afternoon after a three-day visit – his first since becoming the country’s president in 2013.