This past July, John Lee became Hong Kong’s chief executive. He’s known for being a favorite of Beijing and was the only candidate to replace former leader Carrie Lam. Lee gave his first policy address as Hong Kong’s leader yesterday before the Legislative Council at the ongoing CCP Congress.
One of his major economic points was to emphasize Hong Kong’s need to “proactively trawl the world for talents” to stem the brain drain that’s drawn people away from the region since the beginning of COVID. To do this, Lee said he would cut property duties for non-permanent residents and relax visa rules, introducing a two-year pass for ambitious, talented and well-educated foreigners. He also said he would make it easier for employers to hire overseas talent.
He also wants to make it easier for companies to list on the Hong Kong market. Plus, he’s interested in developing the tech industry in the city even more. To help stabilize the property market, he mentioned increasing the public housing supply. When it comes to COVID, Lee’s government is in conversation with the mainland about making travel between the two as easy and safe as possible. He mentioned the “reverse-quarantine” policy that Hong Kong has begun working on with China. Lee also said the government would lay out a primary healthcare blueprint this year and work to improve health services for residents.
“Our goal is to attract not less than 100 high-potential or representative [innovation and technology] enterprises to set up or expand their businesses in Hong Kong in the coming five years,” Lee said, speaking on expanding Hong Kong as a financial hub.
“We have to present the true picture of Hong Kong to the world and promote our strengths, achievements and opportunities, and that the city is a good place where people can make their dreams come true,” Lee said in his speech.
“The brain drain that was mentioned about people leaving Hong Kong, that flood gate is open and it’s going to take a lot to reinvent Hong Kong or bring the attractiveness back,” said Joseph Armas, American Chamber of Commerce chairman, said before the speech.
“[The address was] clearly more ideologically driven than the previous ones when it comes to governance and the city’s prospects under the Xi new era,” said Kenneth Chan, a political scientist at the Baptist University of Hong Kong.