Anniversary of Hong Kong-China handover, visit of Xi Jinping, swearing in of John Lee

Hong Kong’s new chief executive, John Lee, pledged on Friday to strengthen the city’s advantage as a financial center and create new industries.

The former British colony’s reputation as an international financial center has taken a beating over the past two years due to its continued adherence to Beijing’s inflexible zero Covid policies.

During his inauguration speech, delivered in Mandarin, Lee said he would “consolidate” the city’s “inherent advantageous industries”.

Besides strengthening Hong Kong’s current position in finance and shipping, Lee said his government will also strengthen the city’s technology and innovation industries.

“We will develop emerging industries and make Hong Kong an international innovation hub,” Lee said, addressing a gathering of senior officials including Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

During his speech, Lee touted China’s Belt and Road and Greater Bay Area initiatives, which he said have given Hong Kong “unlimited opportunities and unlimited space for development.”

Notably, Lee has failed to cope with the growing pushback against the city’s controversial policies on Covid, or whether his government would seek to break with Beijing and ease restrictions and border controls.

“We will scientifically and precisely control the coronavirus epidemic, strengthen the adaptability of the medical system, and strengthen the care of the elderly and the young,” said Lee, who did not provide a timetable for these measures.

A bit of context: For years, Hong Kong has been considered an important gateway to mainland China and an East-West conduit for global trade.

But its future has been challenged by moves by China to further erode the city’s autonomy – including the introduction of a national security law – and a growing brain drain of talent due to rigid rules. of Covid.

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