(Adds comment, details)
BEIJING/HONG KONG, April 11 (Reuters) - Hong Kong
leader-elect Carrie Lam said on Tuesday there is no room for
moves towards independence in the former British colony which
she said needs the support of the central government in Beijing
to boost economic development over the next five years.
Leaders in Beijing have been increasingly concerned about a
fledgling independence movement in the financial hub that
returned to mainland rule in 1997 with a promise of autonomy.
Hong Kong has seen tumultuous times over the past couple of
years, with pro-democracy protests quelled, an increase in what
many residents see as creeping interference by Beijing and the
rise of a small but vocal movement pushing for independence.
"On the issue of Hong Kong independence, in line with what
the premier has said, there is no future and no room," Lam told
reporters in Beijing after Premier Li Keqiang presented her with
a letter of appointment as chief executive, paving the way for
her to take office on July 1.
"In the next five years, in particular in economic
development, there are many areas in which we need support from
the central government," added Lam, who also met President Xi
The Chinese-controlled city's former chief secretary was
chosen in March to become its first female leader by a
1,200-person "election committee" stacked with pro-Beijing and
Lam has said unifying society and healing political
divisions would be among her most urgent tasks. Making housing
more affordable in one of the world's most expensive property
markets is also among her top priorities.
Huge pro-democracy protests in late 2014 brought parts of
the city to a standstill and hindered policy-making and
The promotion of independence has long been taboo in Hong
Kong amid fears in Beijing the notion could spread to activists
in other places and become a challenge to central government
The next few months will be critical for incumbent leader
Leung Chun-ying and Lam, with Xi expected to visit on July 1 to
celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover from
British to Chinese rule, with protests expected.
(Reporting by Christian Shepherd in Beijing and Donny Kwowk in
Hong Kong, Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Nick