Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged the continued support of the central government for Hong Kong’s development as he spoke highly of the work of outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
In a short speech after he stepped off the plane on Thursday with his wife, Xi said he is pleased to have set foot in Hong Kong again after nine years as “Hong Kong has always been in my heart”.
He said he came to Hong Kong for a number of reasons.
Besides conveying the good wishes and congratulations of Beijing on the great achievements by Hong Kong since the handover 20 years ago, he said he also wanted to show the central government’s support.
“The central government has always given Hong Kong strong backing for the past 20 years, and it will continue to do so to support the economic development of Hong Kong and its efforts to improve people’s livelihood,” he said.
The third purpose of his visit is to map out the future for Hong Kong by summing up the experience of the past 20 years to ensure the smooth and long-term success of “one country, two systems”.
During a meeting with Leung and other top officials later in the day, Xi praised Leung for his work during his five years as chief executive, especially in carrying through the “one country, two systems” principle and defending national security, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Xi told Leung to continue to make contributions in his new role as a vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference after Leung steps down from office.
He also lauded Leung’s team for successfully curbing efforts by some people to push for Hong Kong independence.
Political commentator Johnny Lau said it is not surprising that Xi has given Leung credit for the work he has done since doing so helps strengthen cohesion in the pro-establishment camp.
Starry Lee, who heads the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said she believes Beijing will stick to the “one country, two systems” principle based on Xi’s remarks.
Meanwhile, lawmaker Tanya Chan from the Civic Party urged Xi to spend time listening to the voices of Hongkongers who want the “one country, two systems” to stay on the right track, adding his visit has caused a lot of inconvenience for people.
Xi is scheduled to inspect the People’s Liberation Army garrison in Shek Kong Barracks and meet leaders from Hong Kong’s political and business circles on Friday before he attends a welcome banquet hosted by the government in the evening.
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