image

Carrie Lam

We must integrate with China’s trade plans, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam warns lawmakers – or risk losing out

In a veiled reference to financial sector, chief executive also says city must establish new drivers of economic growth, rather than continuing to rely on traditional pillars

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 May, 2018, 6:51pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 May, 2018, 8:51pm

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has urged lawmakers to support the city’s integration into China’s trade and economic strategies, and oppose any move that seeks to challenge national security.

The chief executive also warned that Hong Kong must establish new drivers of economic growth, rather than continuing to rely on traditional pillars, in a veiled reference to its financial industry.

“Hong Kong must not wait for its luck to come, we need to reinforce the industries [that we are good at], establish new economic [drivers] and strengthen our external links,” she said during a 90-minute question-and-answer session at the Legislative Council on Thursday morning.

In her opening remarks, Lam said she was glad that legislators who took part in a study tour to five cities in Guangdong province last month found the visit “pragmatic and constructive”.

The delegation, made up of 32 lawmakers from across the political spectrum and four ministers, was in mainland China to understand more about Beijing’s “Greater Bay Area” plan, which aims at integrating Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong cities into an economic powerhouse that rivals Silicon Valley.

Lam said she noticed that some of the opposition pan-democratic legislators mentioned the trip confirmed their belief that safeguarding the “one country, two systems” principle was crucial to maintaining Hong Kong’s competitiveness. But she thought there was more to it than that.

“I must emphasise that one country, two systems must be implemented comprehensively and accurately and national sovereignty, security and development interests must be safeguarded,” Lam said.

“I urge all lawmakers … to take a clear stance against any remarks or behaviour that contravenes the [national] constitution and law.”

She was also glad that lawmakers, including pan-democrats, said after the mainland visit that Hong Kong had to grasp opportunities or risk falling behind.

Lam added that since taking office in July last year, she also felt that while Hong Kong had a series of economic strengths, it was also facing fierce competition from around the world.

“We need to make good use of one country, two systems and the central government’s support … Hong Kong should not continue to be embroiled in endless internal strife,” she warned.

Trip on cosy high-speed train will not sway us over contentious joint checkpoint plan, opposition lawmakers say

In October last year, Lam announced more than 250 initiatives in her maiden policy address.

She said about 12 per cent, or 33 initiatives, had been completed. Eight were slightly lagging, while the remaining 85 per cent were progressing on schedule.

Lam hoped that the legislature would continue to support her governance.

“My officials will do their job of policy explanation … This will gradually improve Hong Kong people’s trust in the political system, and their confidence in the city’s economy,” Lam said.