19 January 2019
Hong Kong's Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Beijing on Tuesday. Photo: Xinhua
Hong Kong's Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Beijing on Tuesday. Photo: Xinhua

Xi praises Carrie Lam; reminds her of challenges ahead

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday showered praise on Hong Kong’s incoming leader Carrie Lam, describing her victory in last month’s chief executive election as “well-deserved”.

At a meeting in Beijing after Lam formally received her appointment letter for Hong Kong’s top post, Xi said Lam has unwavering love for the country and Hong Kong and is willing to shoulder responsibilities.

The CE-elect is known to be capable of handling complicated situations, fitting the central government’s criteria for Hong Kong’s top job, the president said.

In other comments, Xi described Lam as a hardworking and practical person who is highly recognized in Hong Kong society, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

While praising Lam, Xi reminded the newly-anointed chief executive of the tasks that lie ahead after she takes office in July.

Conflicts need to be resolved in Hong Kong society, Xi said, adding that there are many challenges and risks. 

He vowed that the central government will not sway in its determination to uphold the “one country, two systems” policy and “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong with a degree of autonomy”.

Beijing hopes Lam can do a good job in meeting the challenges with full backing from central authorities, Xi added.

“Hong Kong has gone through many ups and downs over the past 20 years. Especially in recent years, some long-standing conflicts and problems have emerged,” Xi said.

“There are challenges and risks along with opportunities and hopes at this stage. As the new chief executive, you have a great responsibility.”

Earlier in the day, Lam received her appointment letter from Premier Li Keqiang.

Speaking at the ceremony, Li said the central government will support the Lam administration to help boost Hong Kong’s economy and improve people’s livelihood.

The premier said he believes Lam will unify the community and help Hong Kong develop in accordance with the “one country, two systems” principle and the Basic Law.

Lam’s job comes with great responsibility, Li added.

The premier made no mention of political reforms or advancing democracy in Hong Kong.

At a press conference held Tuesday evening, Lam said she had briefed Xi on the current political situation in Hong Kong.

She said she conveyed Hongkongers’ aspirations for democratic development as well as people’s concern over the Aug. 31, 2014 decision by Beijing on the political reform framework for Hong Kong.

In related comments, Lam said there is no timeframe set for political reform at the moment since there are many external factors that cannot be fully controlled by her.

Following the news on Lam’s meetings with Xi and Li, Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, observed that Beijing clearly wants Lam and her team to focus on social issues, people’s livelihood and the economy, rather than political reforms.

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said it was good to see Lam bring up the public’s concerns about political reform during the meetings in Beijing.

But Hong Kong people won’t be satisfied if there is no progress made in this regard during the incoming CE’s five-year term, he said.

China’s Xinhua news agency quoted Lam as saying that pushing for Hong Kong independence is totally against the Basic Law and such efforts will definitely fail as the government will never allow it.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 12

[Chinese version 中文版]

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