HK, Macao play key roles, Li says
Premier tells SARs’ leaders Beijing fully endorses their work
Hong Kong’s role and needs will continue to be “fully considered” whenthe central government fashions strategies and makes plans, Premier Li Keqiang told Leung Chunying, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, onWednesday in Beijing.
The central authorities support Hong Kong in playing a unique role in national economic development and opening-up, Li told Leung, adding that translating such support into solid results will benefitHong Kong’s people.
In particular, the 13th FiveYear Plan (2016-20), the development blueprint for the world’s second-largest economy, will further play on Hong Kong’s advantages, the premier said.
Leung and Chui Sai On, chief executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region, were in Beijing on Wednesday to report to the central government on their work this year.
In separate meetings, Li told Leung and Chui that the central government fully endorses their work and the work of the SARgovernments, according to a statement issued after the meetings. President Xi Jinping met with the two chief executives earlier in the day.
The premier said he hoped the Hong Kong SAR will better link its regional development strategy with the national one, and identify which of its strong points best align with the needs of the country.
Leung said Hong Kong will support the 13th Five-Year Plan and strategies such as the Belt and Road Initiative, and will beef up cooperation with the mainland in areas including finance and technology.
In his meeting with Chui, Li said he expected Macao to seize the opportunities arising from the coming five-year plan and optimize its role as a free port and a trade and service link between the mainland and Portuguesespeaking countries.
Hong Kong’s sluggish economy will gain new momentum and offset the adverse effect brought by the declining economies in theWest, if it embraces the 13th Five-Year Plan, said Hong Kong’s top government advisers on Wednesday.
“Hong Kong’s economy can’t rely too much on the development of Western economies,” said Lau Siu-kai, a veteran government adviser and vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong andMacao Studies.
Instead, it should focus on the mainland and Asia, Lau said.
Hong Kong’s pillar tourism industry has seen a drop in visits by mainland tourists after inhospitable behavior drove them away. Additionally, the city’s major infrastructure projects, such as a highspeed railway connecting Guangzhou and Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong-ZhuhaiMacao Bridge, are facing an unprecedented risk of being unfinished due to financial and political pressure.
“This is a critical moment forHong Kong, as it will move forward or will fall behind,” said Lau, who also is a Hong Kong deputy to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative ConferenceNational Committee.
Priscilla Lau Pui-king, a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress, said Hong Kong, as China’s south gate, should have a seamless connection with the mainland through infrastructure such as the express rail link and bridge.
Both agreed that Macao, in developing pluralism in its economy, will also face great opportunities in the future if it takes more initiative in implementing the national development blueprint.