Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to begin five-day China trip with economic recovery talks in Beijing

Ng Kang-chung
·3-min read

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will travel to Beijing on Tuesday for her much-awaited trip to discuss measures to speed up the recovery of Hong Kong’s economy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The five-day trip will see Lam depart for the Chinese capital via Shenzhen on Tuesday afternoon. She is expected to leave Beijing for Guangzhou on Friday, and will hold separate talks with leaders of Guangdong province and Shenzhen the following day.

In a statement on Monday, the Hong Kong government said Lam would “hold meetings with relevant ministries during her stay in Beijing”.

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She will be flanked by five officials – mainland affairs chief Erick Tsang Kwok-wai, transport head Frank Chan Fan, health minister Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee, innovation and technology minister Alfred Sit Wing-hang, and financial services minister Christopher Hui Ching-yu.

A source familiar with Lam’s trip said the chief executive was expected to visit the National Development and Reform Commission, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, the National Health Commission, and the Civil Aviation Administration of China during her stay in Beijing.

According to the source, issues expected to be discussed during the trip include the development of the Greater Bay Area, the country’s 14th five-year plan, the resumption of cross border travel, and regional cooperation among various airports in the bay area.

Hong Kong’s future and its continued prominence in the national development plan were thrown into doubt earlier last month when President Xi Jinping appeared to favour Shenzhen as the linchpin of the bay area in an address at a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of its establishment as a special economic zone.

Deal to help Hongkongers buy homes, educate children with ease in Greater Bay Area

Economist Dr Billy Mak, of Baptist University, hoped Lam could make good use of the mainland trip to lobby for more support for the early resumption of cross-border travel.

“Closer cooperation with the Greater Bay Area cities could also mean more preferential terms for Hongkongers to work or live in the region,” he said.

“After Sars, the central government allowed the individual travel scheme for mainlanders to help boost Hong Kong’s economy. This time, this will not work because of the border restrictions.”

Pro-establishment legislator Lo Wai-kwok, who is chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, said Hong Kong needed to “integrate with national development to stimulate the economy in face of the uncertain global economic outlook”.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam is also expected to visit Shenzhen. Photo: Xinhua
Chief Executive Carrie Lam is also expected to visit Shenzhen. Photo: Xinhua

Lam’s trip to Beijing has delayed her annual policy address, which was postponed two days before she was expected to deliver it on October 14. At the time, the city’s leader said she hoped to incorporate some of the decisions from the Beijing talks into her speech, which is now due to be made before the end of the month.

She dismissed suggestions the delay had anything to do with waiting to take direction from Beijing.

“It is a matter of responding to a positive indication from the central government that they want to take into account the chief executive’s recommendations, that they really want to facilitate those policy measures so that Hong Kong people have more confidence that the economy will bounce back,” she said.

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