HONG KONG (HPD) — Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday reaffirmed Beijing’s commitment to abide by the governance principle of “one country, two systems” for Hong Kong, saying it is the “best arrangement” to maintain prosperity and city stability.
The principle promises the former British colony the right to retain its own political, social and financial institutions for 50 years after it returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. But critics say it has been less respected, especially since Beijing imposed the National Security Law in 2020 under which many dissidents were imprisoned or silenced.
“(The central government) fully supports the Hong Kong chief executive and government to rule in accordance with the law, promote international cooperation and better integrate into national development plans,” Xi said during a meeting with the the island’s chief executive, John Lee.
This is Lee’s first trip to the capital to present his annual year-end report to the rulers.
Xi praised the Lee government for its pragmatism and dedication to safeguarding national security. He highlighted the new government’s efforts to revitalize the city’s economy and respond to public concerns.
“These demonstrate the new vitality of the patriots who rule Hong Kong,” he said.
Lee, a former security minister, took office as the city’s fifth chief executive on July 1. In an election in May, Lee won more than 99% of the votes of a commission made up of Beijing supporters as the only candidate in the race.
The Lee government has reopened the city without causing major public health problems amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and has dealt with health and housing issues, said John Burns, an honorary professor of politics and public administration at the University of Hong Kong.