Chief Executive Carrie Lam, in Beijing seminar, says Hong Kong needs to stand firm on ‘one country, two systems’
- Speaking at a seminar with Beijing officials, Hong Kong’s leader said the principle will help the city better integrate into China’s development
- Delegation of 160 business and political figures will meet Xi Jinping on Monday
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said that the city would need to stand firm on Beijing’s “one country, two systems” governing principle to better integrate into China’s development strategies.
Speaking at a seminar with Beijing officials on how Hong Kong and Macau can further contribute to the nation’s development, Lam also said China can rely on Hong Kong’s international status as a free and open economy to counter the rise of protectionism.
Lam is leading a 160-strong delegation of business and political leaders from Hong Kong in visiting the mainland. The group will be meeting President Xi Jinping and Vice-Premier Han Zheng on Monday – in Beijing’s latest move to show its support for Hong Kong.
The seminar and the mainland visits were organised to commemorate the 40th anniversary of China’s reforms and opening up. Only the opening of the seminar was open to the media.
After the event, veteran Hong Kong businessman Chan Wing-kee told reporters that Lam stressed the importance of “one country, two systems”, under which Beijing guaranteed Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy.
“We have to strictly safeguard one country two systems … and the Greater Bay Area will have better developments,” Chan quoted, in a reference to Beijing’s integration plan for Hong Kong and its 10 neighbouring cities.
Chan said that while Lam stopped short of mentioning separatist sentiment in Hong Kong, he believes she was talking about the importance of making the national interest a priority in governance.
“Lam also said that when protectionism is on the rise abroad, the country can use Hong Kong … as a springboard to circumvent unilateralist acts,” he said.
Chan also revealed that Xi will be meeting the delegation on Monday, followed by a lunch hosted by Han.
“It shows that Beijing will never forget … Hong Kong’s contributions and the country’s old friends,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Lam had said she hoped her delegation’s visit to the mainland would give the city greater “confidence and trust” and help it better integrate into China’s development strategies. She also said that China’s 40 years of reform and opening up, as well as Hong Kong’s free economy, has helped the city to become a global trading hub.
“Hong Kong has benefited from reform and opening up. It has made Hong Kong the international financial, commerce and shipping hub it is today. This is also inseparable from Hong Kong’s high level of openness and international links,” she said.
Led by Lam, the Hong Kong group started its three-day trip on Saturday by visiting Shenzhen. A 60-strong delegation from Macau, led by Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on, also attended the seminar alongside Zhang Xiaoming, head of Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office and Wang Zhimin, head of the Hong Kong liaison office.
Lam said: “I hope that our celebratory … trip can bring more confidence and trust to the next stages of Hong Kong’s development. Let’s better integrate into the nation’s development plans.”
Chui said that Macau would integrate more closely with the mainland and grasp the opportunities brought by China’s economic progress.
At the closed-door seminar, He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said Hong Kong and Macau would be included in the nation’s yearly plans from now on, according to Chan Wing-kee.
“He said it will help the cities to integrate into the nation’s economic plans,” Chan said, adding that the official is also planning a new law on tax incentives to encourage Hongkongers to work on the mainland.
Earlier in the meeting, He also praised the people of Hong Kong and Macau for making important contributions to reform and opening up.
Also speaking at the seminar were Hong Kong businessman Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, son of the late entrepreneur Fok Ying-tung; former chairman of the Hong Kong stock exchange Charles Lee Yeh-kwong; and Professor Lawrence Lau Juen-yee, economist and former head of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
The delegation was expected to visit the Palace Museum at the Forbidden City on Sunday afternoon.