December 3, 2022

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

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The previous British colony’s reputation as an global financial center has been battered all through the last two a long time by its adherence to China’s unbending Covid constraints. They have built the metropolis fewer beautiful for expats and a great deal tougher for international executives to stop by.

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

Lee did not give any plan element, nor did he tackle rising pushback from the city’s controversial Covid guidelines and border controls that have alarmed many global firms.

Previously this yr, a study of European businesses in Hong Kong found that almost 50 % of them were thinking of relocating in the up coming year.

That tracked with a identical report from the American Chamber of Commerce in January, which uncovered that 44% of expats and companies ended up probable to go away the city.

“Hong Kong however retains organization opportunities but an array of concerns, specifically draconian travel restrictions and worsening US-China relations, weigh on sentiment,” the US report reported.

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

Hong Kong’s quarantine policies are infamous amid inhabitants and expats. At just one point, the government expected most inbound vacationers to isolate in resort rooms, on their have dime, for 3 months, a single of the world’s longest isolation intervals.

Whilst Hong Kong officials have lifted flight bans and scaled back the quarantine necessities, an outflow of expertise is now enjoying out.

Even with no the Covid crisis, headhunters ended up owning issues bringing talent to Hong Kong due to the fact of Beijing’s expanding oversight of the semi-autonomous territory.

Xi, in his speech at Lee’s inauguration ceremony on Friday, explained Beijing would “entirely assist Hong Kong” in “consolidating its standing as an worldwide financial, shipping and delivery and trade heart” and “maintaining a absolutely free, open up and controlled business enterprise natural environment.”

Apart from maximizing Hong Kong’s present placement in finance and transport, Lee mentioned his authorities would also build up the city’s technological innovation and innovation industries.

“We will create rising industries, and develop Hong Kong into an global innovation heart,” Lee claimed.

In the course of his speech, Lee extolled China’s Belt and Road and Bigger Bay Region initiatives, which he said have specified Hong Kong “unlimited chances and unrestricted enhancement room.”

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

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