Chinese Premier Li Keqiang praises Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam for city’s ‘new progress’, including push for innovation and tackling of livelihood issues
- At Monday morning meeting in Beijing state leader also noted free port’s growth despite complicated and fast-changing international environment
- Premier urged Hong Kong to seize opportunities under China’s economic reform and opening up
Premier Li Keqiang has praised Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor for her leadership of the city, highlighting her promotion of innovation and efforts to tackle livelihood issues.
Speaking at a Monday morning meeting with Lam, who is in Beijing for her annual duty visit, Li also urged Hong Kong to seize opportunities brought by China’s economic reform and opening up.
Lam was expected to meet President Xi Jinping on Monday afternoon.
Only the start of Li’s meeting with Lam was open to a selected group of Hong Kong media.
During the session, Li told Lam: “We have all seen that over the past year, Hong Kong has achieved new progress under your leadership.
“Your administration put in great effort to promote development of innovation and technology and tried every means to tackle the livelihood issues that concerned society,” the premier added.
Li also praised Lam for guiding Hong Kong in “actively taking part” in the development of the “Greater Bay Area” project, Beijing’s ambitious plan to turn Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong cities into an economic powerhouse rivalling Silicon Valley in the United States.
“Under intricate international circumstances, Hong Kong maintained stable economic growth as a free trade port and a separate customs territory. This didn’t come easy. The Hong Kong government is highly recognised by the central government, we give it full recognition,” Li said.
The premier also pledged that Beijing would “unswervingly implement the principles of ‘one country, two systems’, Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong, and a high degree of autonomy”.
“We will strictly adhere to the constitution and the Basic Law. We will also fully support the [city’s] government in governing Hong Kong in accordance with the law, to maintain the city’s long-term prosperity and stability,” he said.
Li noted that 2018 marked the 40th anniversary of the start of China’s reform and opening up, and said Hong Kong needed to seize “opportunities emerging from the new round of reform”.
“It needs to suit the country’s needs. This will benefit Hong Kong’s own development and allow the city to make new contributions to China,” he added.
Lam responded by describing this year as “an extraordinary year” for Hong Kong.
“Under the central government’s support, our economy has been doing quite well,” she said.
Lam added that Hong Kong’s gross domestic product grew by 3.7 per cent in the first three quarters of 2018, higher than the average growth of 2.7 per cent over the past decade.
Several Beijing officials, including Vice-Premier Han Zheng, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office chief Zhang Xiaoming and Hong Kong liaison office chief Wang Zhimin, also attended the meeting.