CHINA / POLITICS
Xi backs Lam in hard times
Top leader approves HK chief’s work of leading SAR govt
Published: Dec 17, 2019 12:23 AM

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 16, 2019. Carrie Lam is on a duty visit to Beijing. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)

President Xi Jinping met Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is on a duty visit to Beijing, on Monday and reaffirmed the determination to implement the "one country, two systems" principle and oppose foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs, while saying that Hong Kong faced the most severe and complicated situation this year since the 1997 return.

Xi made the remarks in his meeting with Lam at Yingtai within the Zhongnanhai compound Monday afternoon. Xi heard a report from Lam on Hong Kong's current situation and the HKSAR government's work, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Experts noted that the central government is aware of the severity of the situation and will continue to provide assistance and support to the HKSAR government and the police to restore public order. As violence subsides, the main task for Hong Kong next year would be to rebuild its society and economy from the damage of turmoil, as well as push for integration with the mainland. 

As the election of the Legislative Council (LegCo) will take place next year, experts also noted that to make sure the city's democracy and politics stay on the right track is also an important task.

Xi said 2019 has been the most grim and complex year for Hong Kong since it returned to the motherland.

"In the face of various difficulties and pressures, you have stuck to the bottom line of the 'one country, two systems' principle, governed in accordance with the law, scrupulously fulfilled your duty, and done a great deal of hard work," Xi told Lam.

Premier Li Keqiang met with Lam on Monday morning, saying that the turmoil has damaged Hong Kong society in many aspects, and that the central government will continue its support according to law, Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao reported.

Xi approved Lam's work of leading the SAR government to positively respond to social concerns, carry out a series of measures to assist enterprises and the public, and adopt a serious attitude in solving deep-seated social contradictions and problems. 

Xi stressed that he had made clear the stance and attitude of the central government on Hong Kong's situation at the 11th BRICS summit in Brazil on Nov. 14.

"We have unswerving determination to safeguard China's sovereignty, security and development interests, implement the 'one country, two systems' principle and oppose any external force interfering in Hong Kong affairs," Xi said.

"We will continue to firmly support you in leading the SAR government to govern in accordance with the law, firmly support the Hong Kong police in strictly enforcing the law, firmly support all people who love China and Hong Kong, and hope Hong Kong people from all walks of life will unite and work together to bring Hong Kong's development back on track," Xi told Lam.

The last meeting between Xi and Lam was in early November in Shanghai during the second China International Import Expo. During the meeting, Xi voiced the central government's high degree of trust in Lam and full acknowledgement of her and her governance team's work.

Lam said at a press conference at the Office of the HKSAR Government in Beijing after the meeting with Xi on Monday that she appreciates the acknowledgements from President Xi and Premier Li on the work of the HKSAR government during the tough time and also said the report this year is very different from the past, as Hong Kong is still experiencing the most severe and complicated situation since 1997.

Her report this year has focused on providing details of the latest situation and the damage that the Hong Kong economy and society had suffered from the months-long turmoil, Lam noted.

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Photo: Yang Sheng/GT

Mission for next year

Hong Kong is likely to realize the mission of stopping violence and chaos soon, as most heads behind radical violent activities were arrested, and the sanctions against foreign forces have been implemented, said Li Xiaobing, an expert on Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan at Nankai University in Tianjin, told the Global Times on Monday.

"Some minor violent incidents might remain, but the main task for Hong Kong next year should shift from stopping violence to rebuilding Hong Kong's society and economy, as the city and the people need to recover," he said.

Lam said at the press conference that the Hong Kong economy's recovery needs the central government's support, such as issuing policies under the framework of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. She expressed the wish during the meeting with Premier Li, and "the national leader gave a positive response," Lam noted.

Li Xiaobing said the central government and the mainland always provide great financial and material support to Hong Kong, but the HKSAR also needs to change its mentality to embrace the integration with the mainland.

"In the past, many Hong Kong people only emphasize autonomy but ignore or even resist integration, and this is a 'deep-seated problem' of the society. Hong Kong needs to find its position in the process of integration rather than resist the process."

Hao Shinan, an expert at Shanghai International Studies University, said that the HKSAR government needs to increase support for small and medium-sized businesses and encourage the local students to study efforts to make sure the city's democratic political system returns on the right track as well.

When asked whether state leaders sought to push the passage of the national security law, or legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law, Lam said safeguarding national security is the HKSAR government's constitutional responsibility, but the matter is very sensitive and controversial, so we need a suitable social environment and condition to discuss the matter, Lam said. "Currently, the urgent mission is to stop violence and chaos."

Hao noted that among next year's main challenges is the 2020 Hong Kong Legislative Council election, "as according to our simulation, the pro-establishment camp's seats will be reduced."

Li Xiaobing said the central government, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, and the HKSAR government should pay efforts to make sure the city's democratic political system returns on the right track as well.


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