Focus on economy not politics, Chinese vice-president tells Hong Kong business leaders

Li Yuanchao expresses fears that political controversies might have shaken confidence in ‘one country, two systems’ principle

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 June, 2017, 9:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 June, 2017, 10:47pm

Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao said on Tuesday that Hong Kong had an irreplaceable role to play in national development, urging the city to divert energy from political controversies to economic issues.

In a meeting with a delegation of Hong Kong businessmen in Beijing, Li said the most outstanding and important problem facing the city was how to speed up its development.

He was later quoted as saying that the city needed to transform and innovate, as it had spent a lot of energy on political issues recently and this might have shaken people’s confidence in Hong Kong’s ruling principle of “one country, two systems”.

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“The central government is very concerned about Hong Kong’s development,” Li said, adding that Hong Kong had an “irreplaceable status and function” in the 2016-20 national development plan, as well as the “Belt and Road Initiative” and the Greater Bay Area plan for Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong.

“I hope different sectors in Hong Kong can grasp the valuable opportunities and tie in Hong Kong’s strengths with the needs of the country,” Li said as he hoped the city could take a seat in the “express train” of national and regional development .

Li also said that the “one country, two systems” principle was “widely recognised as a success in the international community”, describing it as the best system to ensure the city’s long-term prosperity and stability.

He assured the business delgates that Beijing would stand firm on the principle for ruling Hong Kong.

Li’s remarks came just days before President Xi Jinping visits the city to attend ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China.

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Eddy Li Sau-hung, president of the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association, said after the meeting that Li wanted Hong Kong to transform itself and innovate.

“He meant the government has spent a lot of energy on political issues, so he wanted us to look at our economic development. Be pragmatic. Think of ways to innovate for Hong Kong’s future development, and how we can cope with changes in the global economy,” Eddy Li said.

He added that the vice-president said recent political issues might have shaken the public’s confidence in the “one country, two systems”principle.

Li Yuanchao also expressed hope that the business sector would support the new administration of incoming chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and that it could lead Hong Kong’s economy to new heights.

Xi will swear in Lam as Hong Kong’s fourth chief executive at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai on July 1.

Her cabinet colleagues will be sworn in at the same event.