Foreign and Military Affairs

Vice-Premier Li wins many friends on HK visit

Updated: 2011-08-18 20:28

By Joseph Li (

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People from many quarters spoke highly in describing the accomplishments of Vice-Premier Li Keqiang's visit. A consensus of commentators, from professionals to ordinary people, said the visit reflected the great importance the Central Government attaches to Hong Kong. Another commonly shared view is that people were greatly impressed by the range of beneficial support measures in the trade and financial areas that Li brought to the city.

Lawmaker Ip Kwok-him, from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the vice-premier's whirl-wind visit brought a basket of gifts in terms of the financial arena and livelihood issues. Expansion of renminbi services and liberalization measures were of particular note, said Ip, who is also a deputy to the National People's Congress. He described these as solid measures outlined in the 12th National Five-Year Plan's support for Hong Kong's positioning. The beneficial measures included quality and price controls for vital foodstuffs imported to Hong Kong. "These measures reflect the Central Government's care for Hong Kong," he said.

Ip's party colleague and lawmaker Chan Kam-lam said the vice-premier revealed himself to be easy going and approachable during his interaction with the people of Hong Kong.

But Chan said he was most impressed with the focus on drawing maximum benefit from the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), providing Hong Kong enterprises greater opportunities in the mainland market.

"There have never before been so many beneficial measures of such magnitude that the Central Government has brought to Hong Kong," he commented. "This shows the Central Government has a very clear direction for the future development of Hong Kong."

Sung Lap-kung, academic coordinator at the City University's School of Continuing and Professional Education, said the depth and breadth of those measures came as a pleasant surprise and are very much welcomed by the business community.

From China 's point of view, he said, it is a strategic move to establish Hong Kong as a buffer and to strengthen the city's position as a 'money pool' during a time when the renminbi is growing in importance.

"It is a two-way arrangement that not only benefits Hong Kong but also the mainland, showing the Central Government still attaches great importance to Hong Kong as an international centre," he noted.

The vice-premier, in his speeches and remarks in conversations, repeatedly stressed the importance of taking care of the grassroots and the under-privileged. Sung predicted Li's placing emphasis on those issues would prompt Chief Executive Donald Tsang to respond by bringing in initiatives on housing, controlling inflation and other issues touching on the livelihoods of Hong Kong people, in his next policy address.

Sung also talked about the image projected by the vice-premier, saying that Li built for himself an open, positive, approachable persona that won over the people of Hong Kong. The impression created by Li will also help to improve the image of other state leaders in Hong Kong, Sung predicted.

Stanley Lau, Vice-Chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, described the visit as a welcome one that will provide a major stimulus to the Hong Kong economy. He noted that the support measures that the Central Government brought to Hong Kong this time are mainly to lift the financial, trade and service industries and that they will be of considerable benefit to those sectors.

The overall economic development will benefit Hong Kong as a whole although not the manufacturing sector, he said.

"These measures, especially ones that aim to develop Hong Kong into an offshore renminbi centre, will help consolidate Hong Kong's position as an international financial centre," said Lau, adding that trading with mainland partners and banking services will become easier.


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