CY Leung is basking in his new role as a state leader
After five years of being the punching-bag-in-chief, who can blame Hong Kong’s outgoing chief executive for preferring to hobnob with mainland honchos than to face his legions of local enemies and critics
Leung Chun-ying is giving the term lame duck a whole new meaning. Usually, sunset leaders complain about how ineffectual they have become when important people don’t immediately return their phone calls.
But, despite having almost two months left in office, our outgoing chief executive seems to have already left his old job. Instead, Leung is relishing his new-found status as a bona fide state leader. Like it or not, he is now openly promoting mainland economic policies in the region, and has been doing so ever since he was appointed in March as a vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
He is, for example, leading a 30-strong delegation this weekend to a high-profile summit in Beijing on the country’s ambitious “Belt and Road Initiative”. He will be talking about Hong Kong’s “super-connectivity” to a panel of senior officials from the Ministry of Finance, the People’s Bank of China, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
He has been banging on endlessly about the so-called Greater Bay Area initiative, a plan being pushed by the central government for closer economic ties between Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong.
Writing in his blog, he sounded positively gaga over the soon-to-be-completed Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, the opening of a related tunnel link later this year and the coming construction of the Shenzhen-Zhongshan bridge.
True to his new position as a state leader, he even caused a bit of a row when he followed a Guangdong official and blamed Hong Kong for blowing smog over to the southern province.
Naturally, Leung has drawn flak from the usual critics for allegedly betraying Hong Kong to the mainland. Well, if you believe the city should go it alone, then he is guilty as charged.
But, if you think we have no economic or political future other than being an integral part of the country’s progress, then further and faster integration is the only way to go. As a soon-to-be ex-leader of Hong Kong, he doesn’t have to worry about provoking the local anti-mainland forces. He now has the luxury of laying it on the line without having to worry too much about consequences.
And after five years of being the punching-bag-in-chief, who can blame him for preferring to hobnob with mainland honchos than to face his legions of local enemies and critics.