Controversial firms to tackle ‘Belt and Road’ research, reveals former Hong Kong leader CY Leung

Ex-top official was reporting on latest work of the two companies about four months after he was accused of conflict of interests

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 January, 2018, 2:49pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 January, 2018, 3:12pm

Former Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying revealed that two controversial companies in which he holds directorships and that are tied to key mainland development plans would conduct research on the political and economic problems of “Belt and Road” countries to provide a reference for local and mainland Chinese investors.

Leung, who is also a vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top advisory body, was reporting on the latest work of the two companies about four months after he was accused of having conflict of interests by running the firms.

The companies were related to and named after the Belt and Road and “Greater Bay Area” initiatives, both of which the central government backs to expand trade and economic activity.

In an email sent on Thursday, Leung outlined new projects of the two firms, including carrying out research in Belt and Road countries to gain a deeper understanding of their political, economic, labour and environmental issues, for reference for investors and operators.

He also said the centres were working on promoting cultural exchanges with the Belt and Road countries and using different means to narrate a good story about China.

They were also introducing the developmental opportunities of the Greater Bay Area and Belt and Road countries to Hongkongers, especially youths, business communities and professional circles.

Leung also gave an update on other work, including signing an agreement with the Ministry of Health in Cambodia regarding a two-year project to help about 8,000 to 10,000 cataract patients in Kompong Cham province regain their sight. He said two mobile surgical vehicles were being built and hoped the team could carry out the first surgery in March.

He added that more than 30 schools had taken part in a plan to subsidise 1,000 pupils in 100 schools to visit Chinese businessmen in Belt and Road countries to understand their work and living conditions, which would help the youngsters with their life planning.

After news broke of his involvement in the two companies in September, the former leader denied claims of a conflict of interest, saying the roles were unpaid and the companies were non-profit-making.

Critics believed Leung could have a serious conflict of interests as the director of the companies as he was thought to have confidential information on national development that could affect the firms’ fortunes.

A government spokesman had said that Leung informed it about his appointments as director on September 11 – the same day the news broke and 11 days after he took up the positions. The following month the government said it was satisfied that they were non-profit-making organisations.