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Greater Bay Area

Hong Kong’s leader to meet China vice-premier in Beijing to discuss city’s role in creation of new Silicon Valley

Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Han Zheng in hastily arranged meeting over plans for Greater Bay Area

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 June, 2018, 8:40pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 June, 2018, 10:59pm

Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will meet China’s Vice-Premier Han Zheng on Tuesday to discuss Beijing’s plan to transform the city, Macau and nine mainland cities into an economic and innovation powerhouse to rival Silicon Valley.

Commentators believe the abruptly announced meeting between the chief executive and Han, who is in charge of the region’s development as well as Hong Kong affairs, shows Beijing has high hopes for the city, as the central government prepares to announce a detailed blueprint for its Greater Bay Area project.

It will be the first meeting between Lam and Han since the vice-premier was made a state leader in March. The pair last met in Shanghai in August last year, when Han was the city’s Communist Party secretary.

Hong Kong legislators hope the chief executive will ask the state leader to consider the city’s core values, while rolling out initiatives to make it more convenient for Hongkongers to work or live on the mainland.

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said: “I hope that Lam will speak for Hongkongers that … without Hong Kong’s rule of law, the Greater Bay Area wouldn’t be special.”

But pro-Beijing legislator Edward Lau Kwok-fan, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said he was more concerned about social policies.

“We have proposed that Hong Kong people should enjoy tax incentives and other measures to make their life easier in the mainland … such as when they are buying properties,”Lau said.

Transport subsidies and an end to roaming costs needed to encourage Hongkongers to work in mainland China

In a statement released on Sunday, the government announced that Lam, who will soon conclude a two-week official visit in Europe,would fly straight to Beijing.

The chief executive will then meet Han to “report on the Hong Kong government and various sectors’ questions and recommendations regarding the Greater Bay Area project”, alongside the city’s secretary for mainland affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen.

Lam, who will return to Hong Kong on Wednesday morning, had originally planned to be back on Tuesday after visiting Germany.

Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of The Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, a semi-official think tank, said the visit showed Han wanted to address Hongkongers’ concerns over the project.

Greater Bay Area leader calls on Guangdong province cadres to take bold steps in cooperation with Hong Kong and Macau

“It also showed that Han wanted to listen, and to convey the message that Beijing has expectations and requirements for Hong Kong in the plan,” he said.

Lau added that in Beijing’s eyes it often takes longer to implement new policies, or complete public work projects, in Hong Kong than on the mainland.

“But China has been feeling more and more pushback from the Western world, and it needs the Greater Bay Area plan to help it step further on the international stage,” he said.

Han had visited several Guangdong cities in May and exhorted cadres there to take bold and innovative steps when working out measures to deepen cooperation with Hong Kong and Macau.