Lam may seek help from central govt on LegCo chaos, education policymaking
Published: Nov 04, 2020 12:37 AM

File photo:VCG

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) may seek the central government's support in strengthening its finances and transport between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland when the global financial hub's economy was battered by social unrest and then by the coronavirus, Chinese analysts said on HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam's ongoing mainland visit from Tuesday to Saturday.

They said political stability, the prerequisite for economic development, is also an area Lam may discuss.

This shows the HKSAR government was aware of the significance of political stability in creating foundations for economic recovery following the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong, analysts said, adding that Lam may seek advice on how to further walk out of the political dilemma, including frequent malicious filibustering from some opposition lawmakers in the Legislative Council, and policy changes for Hong Kong's education. 

Proposals may include strengthening stocks between the mainland and Hong Kong to boost its financial sector, allowing more Hong Kong airlines to participate in the aviation industry of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and optimizing cross-border transport, analysts said.

Lam is scheduled to visit Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. During her stay in Beijing, she will meet with officials from four to six ministries before heading to Guangzhou and Shenzhen. 

"My Beijing visit is primarily about how the central government could give Hong Kong more support in reviving the economy," Lam said at Tuesday's media briefing before departing.

Lam said she would seek a more integrated role into the mainland economy, and cooperation and support from the central government in aviation, financial services, innovation and technology.

Since large-scale personnel exchanges and movement are unlikely to fully recover in the short term due to the pandemic's impact, stronger financial ties could be the most effective way to rapidly revive the Hong Kong economy at the moment, analysts said.

Providing a more convenient channel for mainland residents to buy Hong Kong stocks and more Hong Kong wealth management products could help boost Hong Kong's financial sector, Liang Haiming, dean of the Belt and Road Institute at Hainan University who closely follows the Hong Kong economy, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

The SAR's economy already showed early signs of recovery in the third quarter as its GDP rose by 3 percent on a quarterly basis. However, it was a 3.4 percent decline from the same period last year.

Economists warned that the revival of Hong Kong's economy may not come that easy, as Hong Kong will need more robust commerce and tourism to sustain a return to economic growth, which it can only rely on the mainland.

Although economic measures on financing and aviation were important to Hong Kong, what many local residents cared more about was the cross-border travel resumption between Hong Kong and the mainland without a 14-day quarantine. 

"This is also what we want the central government's support for," Lam said. 

Li Xiaobing, an expert on Hong Kong affairs at Nankai University in Tianjin, told the Global Times that Hong Kong may look into optimizing and lifting measures on cross-border transport with the mainland. 

Apart from economic issues, Hong Kong also needs to break the political dilemma of collusion between local secessionists and outside forces, who destabilized the city and hampered the city's cooperation with the mainland, Li said. 

Li said that Lam may also seek help from the central government, such as officials from the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, on LegCo chaos and education policymaking. 

Days before Lam's departure, Hong Kong police arrested several lawmakers and former lawmakers who were charged with acts of contempt and interference with LegCo. Some Hong Kong media saw it as "political repression" to pan-democracy lawmakers. However, Li refuted such a malicious connection. 

Analysts said that the arrest showed the Hong Kong government's determination to maintain political stability, and served as a warning to other lawmakers that any of their illegal acts will be firmly punished according to law. 

The arrest sent a message to pan-democracy lawmakers that they cannot cross lines, and the government will change the LegCo climate to firmly curb the chaos, Li said. 

Lam will depart for Guangzhou on Friday and Shenzhen the next day to discuss how to move forward the Greater Bay Area development and Hong Kong-Shenzhen cooperation.