Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam to Work ‘Closely’ With New China Liaison

Natalie Lung and Karen Leigh

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said she hoped to work “closely” with China’s new top local official to maintain the “one country, two systems” framework that provides the city limited autonomy from Beijing.

Lam said Tuesday she would meet later this week with Luo Huining, who the Chinese government appointed Saturday to replace former Hong Kong Liaison Office director Wang Zhimin. The choice of Luo -- a Communist Party cadre known for executing President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, with little past connection to the largely Cantonese-speaking former British colony -- was seen as a signal of Beijing’s intention to restore law and order after more than six months of protest and political unrest.

“I am sure we could work together in strict accordance with the implementation of ‘one country, two systems’ and the Basic Law to ensure the continued stability of Hong Kong,” Lam told a regular news briefing on the sidelines of her weekly meeting with top advisers.

Lam called the situation in the financial hub “heart wrenching” and said it was her duty as Chief Executive to set it on the “right track.” Apart from suppressing violence and restoring order, Lam said she and her team also have to deal with grim economic challenges this year, with unemployment expected to climb.

China’s New Hong Kong Liaison Confident City Will Stabilize

Chinese and Hong Kong officials have frequently appeared to be caught off guard by developments over the course of the protests, and communications between Beijing and Hong Kong are mainly conducted through the office.

Lam also said Hong Kong would increase monitoring of pneumonia cases amid an outbreak of the illness amid an outbreak originating in the central mainland city of Wuhan. The government on Saturday classified its response level to the outbreak as “serious” -- the second-highest scale of action in its three-tier system, with the top being an emergency.

Protests that began in June over legislation that would have allowed extradition to China have since morphed into often-violent calls for broader democracy. The unrest has crippled the city’s economy, particularly its tourism and retail sectors, and is leading some people to eye competing financial center Singapore.

--With assistance from Stephen Tan.

To contact the reporters on this story: Natalie Lung in Hong Kong at flung6@bloomberg.net;Karen Leigh in Hong Kong at kleigh4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.