John Lee: Hong Kong leader vows to shore up global business role

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Hong Kong
CNN Enterprise
 — 

Hong Kong’s new chief John Lee on Friday vowed to fortify the city’s standing as a worldwide organization hub, but he gave no trace of diverging from Beijing’s insistence on strict zero-Covid principles.

The former British colony’s popularity as an global financial centre has been battered throughout the past two several years by its adherence to China’s unbending Covid limits. They have manufactured the town less desirable for expats and significantly more difficult for overseas executives to pay a visit to.

Speaking in Mandarin at his inauguration, attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the chief govt of the Hong Kong governing administration reported he would “consolidate” the city’s “inherent advantageous industries.”

Lee did not give any policy detail, nor did he address escalating pushback versus the city’s controversial Covid insurance policies and border controls that have alarmed lots of global corporations.

Hong Kong has lengthy been an essential gateway to mainland China and an East-West conduit for global organization. But the city’s long run has been called into question by China’s moves to erode its autonomy — which include introducing a countrywide safety law in 2020 — and an exodus of expertise due to the Covid procedures.

Previously this yr, a survey of European companies in Hong Kong identified that almost 50 % of them were contemplating relocating in the subsequent yr.

That tracked with a identical report from the American Chamber of Commerce in January, which located that 44% of expats and organizations had been most likely to go away the city.

“Hong Kong continue to holds business enterprise chances but an array of concerns, primarily draconian travel restrictions and worsening US-China relations, weigh on sentiment,” the US report reported.

Hong Kong’s quarantine rules are infamous amongst citizens and expats. At one particular position, the federal government needed most inbound tourists to isolate in hotel rooms, on their possess dime, for three months, one particular of the world’s longest isolation periods.

Whilst Hong Kong officials have lifted flight bans and scaled back the quarantine needs, an outflow of expertise is currently taking part in out.

Even devoid of the Covid crisis, headhunters had been getting trouble bringing expertise to Hong Kong simply because of Beijing’s expanding oversight of the semi-autonomous territory.

Xi, in his speech at Lee’s inauguration ceremony on Friday, reported Beijing would “fully guidance Hong Kong” in “consolidating its position as an international monetary, shipping and trade center” and “maintaining a free of charge, open and controlled organization atmosphere.”

Apart from boosting Hong Kong’s present-day position in finance and shipping and delivery, Lee said his federal government would also make up the city’s engineering and innovation industries.

“We will create emerging industries, and create Hong Kong into an worldwide innovation center,” Lee stated.

In the course of his speech, Lee extolled China’s Belt and Road and Bigger Bay Place initiatives, which he claimed have provided Hong Kong “unlimited chances and unlimited improvement area.”

Alex Stambaugh, Charlie Fong, and Allison Morrow contributed to this report.

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