Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has postponed her fourth Policy Address, which was due to be unveiled on Wednesday, to discuss her plans with Chinese ministries.
Lam also said she would travel to Shenzhen to attend events to mark the 40th anniversary of China’s first special economic zone on Wednesday. Xinhua News Agency said Chinese President Xi Jinping will make a major speech in Shenzhen the same day.
“I have been putting forward proposals for the central government to consider,” Lam said. “They have responded positively lately with the suggestion that since the proposals from the Chief Executive encompass a range of subjects and some of them need further discussion, the best way forward is for the Chief Executive to go to Beijing and personally explain why these measures are important for Hong Kong.”
“It is not a matter of waiting for directions. It is a matter of responding to a positive indication from the central government that they have taken full account of the Chief Executive’s recommendations [and] that they really want to facilitate those policy measures so that Hong Kong people could have more confidence [that] the economy could bounce back earlier,” Lam said.
Lam said the supportive measures she had proposed to Beijing for Hong Kong included the opening up of the Greater Bay Area’s trade and service sectors for the territory’s professionals, the interconnection and intercommunication of the financial markets in Hong Kong and mainland China, the joint development of innovative technologies in Shenzhen and Hong Kong and the central government’s support for the territory continuing to serve as an international aviation hub.
“I proposed some economic measures that my colleagues and I think, perhaps subjectively, are good for Hong Kong while the central government has not rejected them,” Lam said.
“The central government has told me that I should go to discuss them in Beijing. I hope I can at least implement some of these measures.”
Lam said she would discuss the measures with Chinese ministries between October 20 and 31 and was aiming to deliver the Policy Address by the end of November.
“Obviously Carrie Lam was forced by Beijing to delay the Policy Address,” said Gordon Poon, a Hong Kong-based political commentator. “Although most people in Hong Kong do not have a lot of expectations on the Policy Address, it’s very strange that it was suddenly postponed.”
Poon said the postponement should not happen as it will undermine the reputation of the Hong Kong government and the Chief Executive.
Political commentator Yau Ching-yuen said it was likely that the Policy Address was banned by Beijing after Lam sent a printed copy to the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) last Saturday. Yau said Lam thought she could make all the decisions by herself but she forgot that Beijing had completely taken over Hong Kong from this year.
Yau said it would not be an easy task for Lam to sell her ideas in Beijing in late October as Chinese officials would be very busy for the fifth plenary session of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Committee between October 26 and 29, as well as the making of the 14th Five Year Plan for China’s economic development between 2021 and 2025.
In the past, Hong Kong’s chief executives used to announce their Policy Addresses on a Wednesday in October annually and printed them on the previous weekend. They usually sent the printed copies to the Liaison Office and the HKMAO for recordkeeping purposes only, not for approval.
In early this year, Beijing restructured the Liaison Office and the HKMAO and began to directly comment on various social and political issues concerning Hong Kong.
On June 30, it passed a national security law for Hong Kong. On October 1, Luo Huining, director of the Liaison Office, visited some underprivileged families in Hong Kong – a move not seen since the 1997 handover. It was said that Beijing would continue to increase its influence on Hong Kong’s local policies.
Wu Qiang, a mainland-based political commentator, said China was facing unprecedented isolation from key economies and was trying to deepen its reforms and further open its economy, particularly through Shenzhen, to reverse the situation.
Wu said Shenzhen would be at the center of these reforms while Hong Kong would only have a supportive role. He added that Lam had obviously not been informed by Beijing about these plans before she was asked to postpone her Policy Address last Saturday.
On October 10, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said in a speech that the island had discussed with the United States government the restructuring of the global supply chain in the region and strengthening their cooperation in technological and infrastructure projects.
She said the deepening economic cooperation between Taiwan and the US had entered an action phase while more and more Taiwanese companies would move production back to the island.
On the same day, Hong Kong media outlet HK01.com reported that Xi would deliver a speech in Shenzhen on Wednesday to mark the southern Chinese city’s 40th anniversary as a special economic zone.
On Sunday, the general offices of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council jointly unveiled a plan that would grant Shenzhen greater autonomy in the reform of important areas and key links for the 2020-2025 period.