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Lam meets the press on Tuesday. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam rejects concerns about city’s autonomy under China’s Greater Bay Area plan

  • Local government has been involved in planning since July 2017, city’s chief executive says
  • Lawmakers have questioned whether Hong Kong will have say over its role

A day after Beijing unveiled the blueprint for China’s “Greater Bay Area”, Hong Kong’s leader has highlighted the “active role” played by the city in its planning, rejecting concerns it had no autonomy in the ambitious mega plan.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Tuesday insisted the central government had taken on board many of her administration’s views in planning to transform Hong Kong and 10 cities around the Pearl River Delta region into a global economic powerhouse.

Responding to critics, including opposition lawmakers, who had questioned whether Hong Kong would have any say over its role, Lam said her government had been involved in the planning since she took office in July 2017. But she did not elaborate on which parts of the blueprint her government was responsible for.

“The SAR government actively took part in drafting the plan,” Lam said before a meeting of her top policy advisers on Tuesday morning.

Lam insisted the government had taken into account Hong Kong’s needs. Photo: Robert Ng

The chief executive added she had also signed a framework agreement on deepening cooperation with Guangdong and Macau.

The 59-page bay area plan covers various aspects of regional development, including the establishment of an international IT hub and construction of infrastructure.

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According to the document, Hong Kong is to strengthen its status as a global offshore yuan hub and enhance its role as an international finance centre.

But hours after the plan was published, pro-democracy lawmakers voiced criticism.

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said the drafting process lacked transparency.

“Hongkongers, who will be most affected, have never been consulted,” Yeung said.

Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said Lam had not fought for Hong Kong’s interests and the city could lose out to its neighbours.

However, Lam insisted the government had taken into account Hong Kong’s needs, and she sought to reassure Hongkongers worried about a brain drain to other bay area cities.

“We will not arrange for people or services to head to the Greater Bay Area when there is a shortage in Hong Kong,” she said.

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Further details of the project are expected at a symposium in Hong Kong on Thursday, which Lam said officials from Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong would all attend, including deputy director of China’s National Development and Reform Commission Lin Nianxiu, Guangdong governor Ma Xingrui, and Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on.

The 1½-hour event will start at 10.30am at the Ocean Park Marriott Hotel on Hong Kong Island, according to people set to be there.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Hong Kong took active role in plan, Lam tells critics