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


The previous British colony’s track record as an intercontinental financial heart has been battered during the past two decades by its adherence to China’s unbending Covid restrictions. They have made the town a lot less appealing for expats and considerably more durable for foreign executives to visit.

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

Lee failed to give any plan depth, nor did he tackle developing pushback against the city’s controversial Covid procedures and border controls that have alarmed a lot of intercontinental companies.

Before this calendar year, a survey of European corporations in Hong Kong identified that nearly half of them were being thinking about relocating in the future year.

That tracked with a comparable report from the American Chamber of Commerce in January, which found that 44% of expats and companies were being probable to leave the town.

“Hong Kong even now holds business opportunities but an array of difficulties, particularly draconian travel restrictions and worsening US-China relations, weigh on sentiment,” the US report explained.

Hong Kong has only one real rival for businesses thinking about leaving

Hong Kong’s quarantine rules are infamous between inhabitants and expats. At one particular level, the govt necessary most inbound tourists to isolate in resort rooms, on their very own dime, for a few months, one of the world’s longest isolation periods.

Even though Hong Kong officers have lifted flight bans and scaled back again the quarantine necessities, an outflow of expertise is currently actively playing out.

Even with no the Covid disaster, headhunters were being owning issues bringing expertise to Hong Kong because of Beijing’s developing oversight of the semi-autonomous territory.

Xi, in his speech at Lee’s inauguration ceremony on Friday, claimed Beijing would “fully support Hong Kong” in “consolidating its status as an intercontinental monetary, shipping and trade centre” and “retaining a totally free, open up and controlled company environment.”

Apart from boosting Hong Kong’s latest situation in finance and delivery, Lee said his authorities would also develop up the city’s technological innovation and innovation industries.

“We will develop emerging industries, and establish Hong Kong into an international innovation center,” Lee said.

All through his speech, Lee extolled China’s Belt and Highway and Better Bay Location initiatives, which he said have offered Hong Kong “unrestricted chances and unrestricted improvement space.”

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


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