Hongkongers need to adapt to the changing regional and world order and identify new ways in which the city can contribute to the nation's development, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in a speech to mark National Day.
Leung called on the city's residents to "contribute to the progress of China" while working for the prosperity of Hong Kong. He said his government "attaches great importance" to boosting co-operation with the mainland, but that a new emerging regional and global order would bring both opportunities for competition and co-operation.
But former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, Leung's rival in the election for the city's top job last year, reminded the chief executive of the importance of accepting criticism, after a number of government policies had been "questioned" since Leung took office.
Leung spoke at a National Day reception at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai yesterday, after attending a flag-raising ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square alongside his predecessors Tung Chee-hwa and Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who was absent a year ago.
The speech came amid debate over whether Shanghai's new free-trade zone will threaten Hong Kong's position as China's pre-eminent international financial centre.
"The world is changing, China is moving forward," Leung said. "Hong Kong should [identify] new functions we can perform.
"As Chinese, we, together with all people of China, should make contributions to the development of our country while doing our best to maintain the prosperity and stability of [the city]."
Outside the reception, Tang indicated that Leung had little room to feel content. He said the city had faced many challenges in the past year and "many government policies had [attracted] comments and questions from all directions". The administration must "maintain an open attitude, listen to opinions and accept criticism", he said.
Tang also countered Leung's recent criticism of the previous government, in which Tang served as chief secretary, that it had been passive in its thinking.
"Opinions and criticisms can be raised about [any government's] inadequacies, and [officials] should have the capacity to accept them," Tang said. "But if they have tried their best, their efforts should be acknowledged."
Shortly after the flag-raising ceremony, Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao Daily reported on its website that "the chief executive will resign soon" when it meant to say "the chief executive will give a speech soon". Ming Pao issued a correction and apologised two hours later, acknowledging it had "made a big mistake".
Lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, who was invited to the reception, was refused entry because he wore sneakers.
About 40 people from student group Scholarism staged a protest, but complained they were restricted to an area far from the flag-raising ceremony. Two members were taken away by security guards.
In a National Day variety show last night, Tung praised Leung for being "progressive and pragmatic" in rolling out economic and livelihood policies.
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