Hong Kong leader John Lee to make second duty visit to Beijing on Sunday, analyst says talent drive and security could be on agenda

Hong Kong’s leader will head to Beijing on Sunday for his second duty visit to the capital since taking office, with a veteran analyst predicting that efforts to attract talent and safeguard national security will be high on the agenda.

The government on Friday said John Lee Ka-chiu would be accompanied by Carol Yip Man-kuen, director of the Chief Executive’s Office, and Kevin Choi, his private secretary, during the four-day trip. The group is expected to return to Hong Kong on Wednesday.

The annual duty visit, which often occurs around this time each year, provides an opportunity for the chief executive to update state leaders on the city’s economic, social and political developments.

Carol Yip, director of the Chief Executive’s Office, will accompany the city’s leader to the capital. Photo: Jonathan Wong

During Lee’s maiden visit last December, one area on the agenda was the reopening of the city’s border with mainland China, which had been largely shut off due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to sources. The border was fully reopened earlier this year.

Lau Siu-kai, a consultant from semi-official Beijing think tank the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said he expected that Lee would highlight the city’s achievements in attracting talent and efforts to safeguard national security in his report to national leaders.

He added leaders could ask Lee how he would “unite all fronts in Hong Kong to address challenges posed by external forces, especially the United States”.

“I reckon the leaders will not be satisfied with listening to what he presents,” Lau said.

Labour secretary Sun says Hong Kong talent recruitment drives have beaten targets

Lee has spearheaded several campaigns to attract talent to Hong Kong, including the launch of the Top Talent Pass Scheme late last year, following a recent emigration wave.

As of November, the city has brought in more than 70,000 people under various talent schemes, doubling the government’s original target.

Lau said Beijing would place more expectations on Lee to revive Hong Kong’s economy and improve residents’ livelihood, as the city was almost “free of opposition resistance” after a major electoral overhaul was completed with the district council election ending on December 10.

Lau Siu-kai, a think tank consultant, says Beijing will place higher expectations on Lee to revive Hong Kong’s economy. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

The municipal-level contest was the last in a series of electoral overhauls to implement the “patriots administering Hong Kong” policy as set out by Beijing following the 2019 social unrest and imposition of the national security law.

The city’s remaining opposition parties failed to secure enough nominations to put forward candidates in Sunday’s contest. It followed a similar overhaul to the Legislative Council election in 2021, in which no opposition party fielded candidates to run.

Lee has already made a number of visits to Beijing this year.

Hong Kong ‘aims to increase flight links to more belt and road countries’

In October, the city leader led a 70-strong delegation to the nation’s capital for the Belt and Road Forum, which saw the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Silk Road Fund sign a 15 billion yuan (US$2.05 billion) agreement to create an investment platform targeting projects under the belt and road plan, the central government’s trade initiative to link economies into a China-centred trading network.

In March, Lee led a delegation for a week-long trip to meet with various central ministries to discuss how the city could better integrate its economic development with the rest of the country as it more closely aligned itself with the nation’s goals.

Chief Secretary Eric Chan Kwok-ki, Hong Kong’s No 2 official, will serve as acting chief executive while Lee is away.

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