Hong Kong’s leadership candidate pledges to save city’s competitiveness

Hong Kong hotel operators have called on the government to waive rents and even allow properties to offer empty rooms on long-term leases, or for sale, as a way of survival amid a steep decline in occupancy and rates brought on by 16 weeks of protests in the city. Photo: Bloomberg. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

HONG KONG, Apr 29, 2022, Reuters. Hong Kong’s sole candidate to become its next leader mapped out his policy platform on Friday, saying his focus will be on enhancing the city’s competitiveness and increasing the housing supply, Reuters reported.

John Lee, 64, a career security specialist and former deputy commissioner of police, is expected to be appointed Hong Kong’s chief executive in a selection process on May 8, with the backing of Beijing.

“Hong Kong is an international city, and we’ll definitely continue to strengthen our advantages,” Lee told supporters at the launch of his manifesto.

The financial hub remained a bridge between the world and mainland China, he said.

Lee said he would restructure the government of the former British colony to enhance its governance capability, and strengthen its policy research, without giving specifics.

On the perennial problem of affordable housing, Lee said the government would streamline procedures to build more houses efficiently.

“Housing is the key to solve different issues,” including poverty and youth development, he said.

No other serious contenders have come forward for the job of city leader, unlike on previous occasions since the city reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

Lee is due to take over on July 1 from Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who has governed through a period of unprecedented upheaval with anti-government protests and a major COVID-19 outbreak.

Lee and several other city and Chinese officials were sanctioned by the United States in 2020 over what it said was their role in curbing the city’s freedoms under a national security law that critics say has stifled a campaign for greater democracy.

Hong Kong and Chinese officials have rejected such criticism as unwarranted outside interference, arguing that the city needs stability to safeguard its economic success.

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