Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday vowed to introduce decisive policies to tackle the economic downturn, saying the preservation of Hong Kong's 'vitality, essence and workforce' would help the city weather the storm. While agreeing that strong words would help ease public anxiety amid a deteriorating economy, observers said only real success in avoiding the impact of the global financial crisis could help halt a fall in Mr Tsang's popularity. Likening his administration's game plan in fighting the recession, which is expected to continue next year, to a game of Chinese chess, Mr Tsang told businessmen at an economic forum that he had all the moves thought out and was confident of winning. 'For this game of chess, we already have a comprehensive strategy,' Mr Tsang said. 'The key for us to tackle the financial tsunami at this stage is to stabilise the financial system, back enterprises and preserve jobs. We will not be indecisive. 'The year 2009 will be our most difficult year. We will not run away. I will be with you. 'As long as we can preserve our economic fundamentals, preserve people's jobs and confidence, we can ... reduce the chance of being checkmated and win with caution.' Mr Tsang said making moves to preserve Hong Kong's 'vitality, essence and workforce' would lead the city out of trouble. He said preserving the city's economic vitality was most important and, by saving local businesses from closure, Hong Kong's workers would be protected. The government's HK$100 billion commitment to back companies applying for loans would help stabilise the market, he said, but he also urged banks to relax restrictions when considering loan applications. Mr Tsang said he hoped the 60,000 jobs to be created by the government through measures he announced on Monday, such as speeding up civil service recruitment, would curb an anticipated surge in unemployment next year. 'Our target is to preserve every single pawn piece on our chessboard,' he said. Mr Tsang said he was also trying to preserve Hongkongers' way of life and living standards - what he called the essence of Hong Kong. This could be achieved by not cutting back on government expenditure. Ahead of his duty visit to Beijing next week, Mr Tsang said the support promised by state leaders together with the co-operation and opportunity provided by the Pearl River Delta would be the 'castles, knights and cannons' for Hong Kong. Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said Mr Tsang's performance yesterday appeared more confident than his previous remarks on the economy. Democrat Lee Wing-tat said the chief executive had apparently tried to give people an impression that the government was still in charge amid a worsening economy and a series of recent policy blunders. 'While it is good to see him trying not to be seen as a lame duck, the public expect him to deliver after hearing his brave words,' he said.