Beijing praises Hong Kong administration’s ‘stabilising’ of society

A Hong Kong flag seen during the rally in support of the police. Tens of thousands of demonstrators gather outside of the Hong Kong government headquarters complex to show their support to the police as they fought largely against young demonstrators opposed to a now postponed plan to allow extraditions to mainland China. (Photo by Miguel Candela / SOPA Images/Sipa USA). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

HONG KONG/BEIJING, Aug 23, 2021, SCMP. A key Beijing official overseeing Hong Kong affairs expressed his support for city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Monday, hailing her administration for stabilising society after the national security law’s imposition, even as another warned of the need to advance swiftly on the economic front, South China Morning Post reported.

Huang Liuquan, a deputy director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), noted the “great responsibility” borne by local officials tasked not only with governing and developing the city but improving residents’ quality of life.

Citing criteria previously laid down by HKMAO director Xia Baolong, Huang reiterated that those running the city must not only fully implement the “one country, two systems” principle, they must also be problem-solvers and achieve concrete results for the public.

“We are happy to see that since the implementation of the national security law, the Hong Kong government has resolutely assumed the constitutional responsibility of maintaining national security and social stability,” he told attendees, including Lam, at a Monday morning seminar.

“It has effectively got the Covid-19 pandemic under control and fostered economic recovery, actively participated in the development of the Greater Bay Area, and tried its best to solve deep-seated livelihood and economic problems. It has fully demonstrated its spirit in shouldering responsibilities and avoiding no difficult tasks.”

He said Beijing believed that under Lam’s leadership, the local government would be able to unite various sectors and “lead the city’s development from a new historical starting point.”

Huang’s speech came during a Sunday-to-Wednesday visit intended to lay out China’s 14th five-year plan for key Hong Kong stakeholders. He is accompanied by senior officials from the National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Science and Technology.

The plan – approved by Chinese leadership in March – has a dedicated chapter outlining strategies to support the city’s development. Under the plan, Beijing has vowed to safeguard national security while supporting the city by reinforcing its status as an international financial centre.

It also pledged to encourage Hong Kong to develop new roles, including becoming an international aviation and technological hub as well as a centre for arts and cultural exchange between China and the rest of the world.

Huang said many of the measures had already been implemented, a process the central government would continue to aid by creating more opportunities for Hong Kong residents via the Greater Bay Area, especially in the Qianhai district in neighbouring Shenzhen.

Speaking at the same seminar, Luo Huining, director of Beijing’s liaison office in the city, also called on Hong Kong to make good use of national policy support provided under the latest five-year plan to open up a new future for the city’s development.

“The competition is fierce in the market economy. If you don’t advance, you will retreat, just as you will if you advance too slowly. The only way to win tomorrow is to do well today,” he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, the delegation is scheduled to brief lawmakers at Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on Beijing’s five-year blueprint, a meeting some pro-establishment legislators have said would be “symbolic”.

Huang revealed that Lam had written to Beijing in May inviting central government officials to visit and explain the city’s role under the 14th national plan.

Among the priorities included in the plan approved on March 11 was a deepening and widening of mutual access with financial markets across the border.

It also included for the first time a mention of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Loop, a tech-focused cooperation zone considered crucial to the Greater Bay Area.

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