Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the government has been working hard towards implementing requests put forward by Chinese president Xi Jinping. He said people should not speculate over what Xi’s words may have meant with regards to Leung’s potential re-election bid.
Leung and Xi met for 45 minutes in Lima, Peru on Monday during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. State news agency Xinhua reported that Xi hoped Leung would lead the Hong Kong government to “continue implementing policies in a comprehensive way” and to widely gather consensus.
Leung flew back to Hong Kong on Tuesday. When asked by reporters whether Leung could complete Xi’s requests, he said: “We have been working hard towards this direction.”
“You can see that whenever there is a large policy roll-out, we work hard to conduct consultations in all aspects well. In the social aspect, the Legislative Council, the District Council and different committees of the government – to do the consultation work well, to gather consensus,” he said. “From small land planning work in districts to the macro-level long-term development of Hong Kong.”
He was asked by a reporter as to whether the phrase “continue” meant that Xi supported him to run for re-election in 2017.
“We should not be reading too much into the president’s words. In fact, we talked for a rather long time yesterday, we talked [to each other] for around 45 minutes – the president fully endorses my work and the government’s work. In the future, we will continue to do our work with the president’s encouragement.”
Leung has yet to officially announce whether he will seek re-election.
Veteran China-watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu wrote in a column on Tuesday that “implementing policies in a comprehensive way” (綜合施策) is a phrase rarely used by mainland officials when commenting on Hong Kong. It was used more often when commenting on international policies such as the Middle East, he wrote.
The phrase was also used recently in the “Hangzhou Consensus” after the G20 summit this year.
Lau wrote that some people from the mainland – suggesting people familiar with mainland politics – told him that the phrase did not only involve having concrete measures in policies, but also demonstrating planning and a design process for policies.
“Even for things that the government did not do, have yet done, or did not have time to do, it should have a long term vision, plan ahead and prepare for possible scenarios – it cannot make a last-minute effort. This is what Beijing requested,” he wrote.
Lau also said that the Xinhua report highlighted that Beijing’s requirements were not only about political stability, but economic development and seeking consensus.
“As people know, other than working hard to implement Beijing’s political requirements, Leung Chun-ying does not have many achievements in other aspects,” he wrote. “It reflected that Beijing did not want the focus of Hong Kong’s problems to be just about politics.”