Xi praises Lam, boosts Hong Kong's morale to deal with challenges
Published: Jan 27, 2021 07:17 PM Updated: Jan 27, 2021 08:47 PM

Photo: CCTV

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday heard the annual duty report from Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor via video link, praising Lam on her "firm stand" on major issues such as national security, and stressed that the HKSAR must be governed by patriots.

It was the first time the annual duty report was delivered not in person since Hong Kong's return in 1997, a sober reminder that the city is still grappling with the outbreak of the virus and its severe impact on the economy and livelihood in the city. The city reported 60 new confirmed COVID-19 case on Wednesday, adding to the total infections number to over 10,200 and travel between the city and mainland is restricted due to the virus.

During the virtual meeting, Xi said that he is concerned and worried about the epidemic in the city and its effect on livelihood, and vowed that the central government will take "all necessary" steps to fully support Hong Kong in the fight against the virus and revive the economy.

The praise and acknowledgement from the top leadership is a boost in confidence and morale for HKSAR officials and patriots in the face of a series of challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and lingering social and political issues, analysts said. 

Xi said that Lam and the HKSAR government have achieved "certain results" in dealing with social unrest, the COVID-19 pandemic and unfavorable changes in the external environment. Lam has led the HKSAR government to firmly implement the National Security Law and stop violence and unrest in accordance with the law, according to the Xinhua News Agency.  

"On major issues such as national security, you have taken a firm stand and assumed responsibilities, demonstrating your love and deep sense of responsibility to the motherland and Hong Kong," Xi told Lam. "The central authorities fully acknowledge your performance and the performance of the HKSAR government in fulfilling duties."

"Praising Lam's work could dispel various unnecessary doubts and discord over HKSAR government's work… allowing the HKSAR government to enhance confidence and sustain morale," Lawrence Tang Fei, a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday.  

In a further boost to HKSAR officials, the Chinese president asked Lam to convey his sympathy to HKSAR officials unreasonably sanctioned by the US. Also reaffirming the central government's firm stance on Hong Kong affairs, Xi said that Hong Kong must be governed by patriots, a basic principle that is related to the country's sovereignty, security and development interest as well as the city's long-term prosperity and stability.

That remark sends a strong signal that the central government will unwaveringly support those who stand with the country in protecting national sovereignty, security and development interest to deal with the US sanctions, said Tian Feilong, an associate professor at Beihang University in Beijing and member of the Beijing-based Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies.

Acknowledging Lam and other HKSAR officials' work shows that the central government regards the HK government as being much more politically mature amid anti-government turmoil and US-led sanctions, Tian told the Global Times on Wednesday, adding that more efforts should be made to accelerate reforms on local governance.

Xi also heard a work report from Macao Special Administrative Region's Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng on Wednesday via video link, in which he praised the Macao government's efforts to contain the virus that have resulted in zero local cases for over 300 consecutive days.

Xi said that the central government will continue to fully support Macao in coordinating anti-epidemic efforts with economic development and in improving the legal system and implementation mechanisms for safeguarding national security. 

Global Times