Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam gets pat on back from premier Li Keqiang for ‘proactive’ governance and pushing bay area plan
China’s No 2 official praises chief executive for taking ‘new steps’ in solving livelihood problems in city
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to find new areas for economic growth while avoiding risks, as he hailed her for taking a “proactive” approach to governance.
The No 2 official’s remarks came on the last day of Lam’s three-day maiden duty visit to Beijing. She is expected to meet President Xi Jinping on Friday afternoon to brief him on the city’s social, economic and political developments.
According to the official Xinhua news agency, the premier hoped that the Hong Kong government would unite people from all sectors to further explore how to boost economic development.
But while the city needed to develop new industries, it should avoid risks to its growth, he added.
Hong Kong should also maintain its role as an international financial centre, and its edge as a centre for commerce, with the city doing more to support China’s economic growth and its efforts to open up to the outside world, Li said.
““You are leading the Hong Kong government in fulfilling promises made, and have taken a proactive approach to governance. Particularly in solving some people’s livelihood problems, you have taken new steps,” Li told Lam when making opening remarks at their meeting.
Only the first few minutes of the meeting were open to journalists.
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Li also said he was happy to see that Lam had been “actively” and “effectively” pressing ahead with the bay area initiative. The premier praised Lam’s government for working closely with mainland authorities on the project.
He said there were several competitive bay areas overseas, but he hoped that China’s version could become an “important engine” for global economic competition.
The Greater Bay Area encompasses a total area of 56,000 sq km and more than 66 million people. Aimed at boosting cooperation between mainland cities and Hong Kong, it was first proposed by Guangdong officials several years ago, but grew into a national strategic project after Li endorsed it in his work report.
Lam told Li: “As I was writing this duty visit report, I felt that something concrete and pragmatic had been done in the last five months in developing the economy and [improving] people’s livelihoods.
“This could be achieved because we have the central government’s continued support.”
Also at the meeting were State Councillor Yang Jiechi, the country’s top-ranking diplomat; Zhang Xiaoming, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office; Wang Zhimin, head of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong; and Eric Chan Kwok-ki, director of Lam’s office.
Lam’s visit to Beijing comes at a time when her public approval ratings in Hong Kong have dropped to 55.7 points out of 100, the lowest since she took the top post in July, according to the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme.
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When Lam’s predecessor, Leung Chun-ying, met Li last year for his final duty visit, Li praised Leung for being “proactive and pragmatic”, saying that the city’s economy was in good shape amid global instability.
At the time, Li promised to roll out favourable initiatives for the city in policies formulated under the nation’s 13th five-year plan.
Hong Kong’s GDP growth this year is expected to be 3.7 per cent, the highest in six years, the city’s financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said earlier.
Phila Siu is reporting from Beijing