Looking ahead to the city’s positive development under a new chief executive

The central government has heaped praise on CY Leung for his achievements, but his successor will also inherit a number of pressing issues, not least a sharply divided political environment

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 December, 2016, 12:49am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 December, 2016, 1:22am

With re-election no longer an issue for Leung Chun-ying, the chief executive’s duty visit to the capital may appear to be less politically loaded than previous ones. Nonetheless, it remains as much the occasion for a performance appraisal for the city’s leader as an indicator of Beijing’s policy on Hong Kong affairs.

That state leaders have taken turns to shower Leung with praise was to be expected. This was Leung’s last duty visit as chief executive. In what is seen as the final report card for the outgoing leader, President Xi Jinping yesterday highly commended Leung’s achievements over the past four-and-a-half years, ranging from tackling issues over poverty and the elderly and promoting innovation and economic development to accurately implementing “one country, two systems” and suppressing pro-independence activities according to the law. Xi said the central government understood and respected Leung’s decision not to seek a second term for family reasons.

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Leung’s meetings with the foreign ministry and the National Development and Reform Commission also underlined the city’s role in helping national development and diplomacy. While foreign relations and defence rest with the central government, Hong Kong plays a unique and subtle role in China’s diplomacy, as reflected in the controversies over US fugitive Edward Snowden and the recent seizure of Singaporean armoured vehicles. Given our historical background and status as an international city, we stand to gain by contributing to the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan and the “One Belt, One Road” trade initiative.

Beijing’s message is clear. Despite the ups and downs since the handover, “one country, two systems” remains the foundation of Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability. While there is no shortage of achievement over the past two decades, the unprecedented constitutional arrangement inevitably brings challenges. As we usher in the 20th anniversary of reunification, it is imperative that the city’s development be firmly based on the accurate implementation of “one country, two systems”.

As far as Beijing is concerned, there can be no dispute that Leung has contributed as much to Hong Kong as to the country. That said, he is also leaving behind an array of political and livelihood issues for the incoming government, such as a sharply divided political environment. The community looks forward to positive development under the leadership of the next chief executive and the support of the central government.