John Lee: Hong Kong leader vows to shore up global business role
CNN Business enterprise
Hong Kong’s new chief John Lee on Friday vowed to improve the city’s standing as a international organization hub, but he gave no hint of diverging from Beijing’s insistence on rigid zero-Covid rules.
The former British colony’s status as an global economical centre has been battered through the previous two years by its adherence to China’s unbending Covid limitations. They have created the city less beautiful for expats and substantially tougher for foreign executives to check out.
Talking in Mandarin at his inauguration, attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the chief executive of the Hong Kong federal government explained he would “consolidate” the city’s “inherent beneficial industries.”
Lee did not give any plan element, nor did he deal with escalating pushback towards the city’s controversial Covid procedures and border controls that have alarmed lots of global firms.
Hong Kong has extensive been an vital gateway to mainland China and an East-West conduit for world wide small business. But the city’s long term has been termed into concern by China’s moves to erode its autonomy — like introducing a nationwide protection legislation in 2020 — and an exodus of talent thanks to the Covid policies.
Earlier this year, a survey of European corporations in Hong Kong located that virtually half of them ended up thinking of relocating in the subsequent year.
That tracked with a very similar report from the American Chamber of Commerce in January, which found that 44% of expats and businesses have been most likely to leave the town.
“Hong Kong nonetheless retains company prospects but an array of challenges, particularly draconian travel restrictions and worsening US-China relations, weigh on sentiment,” the US report mentioned.
Hong Kong’s quarantine rules are infamous among residents and expats. At 1 point, the govt essential most inbound tourists to isolate in hotel rooms, on their own dime, for a few months, a single of the world’s longest isolation intervals.
Although Hong Kong officers have lifted flight bans and scaled again the quarantine specifications, an outflow of expertise is currently playing out.
Even with out the Covid crisis, headhunters ended up possessing issues bringing talent to Hong Kong simply because of Beijing’s growing oversight of the semi-autonomous territory.
Xi, in his speech at Lee’s inauguration ceremony on Friday, said Beijing would “fully aid Hong Kong” in “consolidating its status as an intercontinental economic, transport and trade center” and “maintaining a no cost, open up and controlled organization natural environment.”
Aside from maximizing Hong Kong’s existing place in finance and shipping and delivery, Lee stated his govt would also make up the city’s technological innovation and innovation industries.
“We will establish rising industries, and make Hong Kong into an international innovation middle,” Lee explained.
For the duration of his speech, Lee extolled China’s Belt and Road and Bigger Bay Location initiatives, which he said have given Hong Kong “unlimited opportunities and unrestricted improvement room.”
— Alex Stambaugh, Charlie Fong, and Allison Morrow contributed to this report.