Hong Kong’s Lee to Meet China Officials as Border Pressure Rises

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee will meet with mainland officials Thursday, as pressure mounts on the finance hub to reopen both its international and Chinese borders.

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The city leader said at the seventh Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong on Wednesday that an in-person meeting in China this week had been delayed because of Covid spikes on both sides. Hong Kong is approaching 10,000 daily cases, with several cabinet ministers testing positive in recent days.

Instead, Lee said he’d hold a virtual meeting with officials from Shenzhen and Guangzhou. He said how to reopen the mainland border, which has been closed for more than two years, would be among the items on the agenda.

Lee is trying to balance reopening internationally with resuming travel ties to the mainland. Hong Kong’s economy is set to contract for the third time in four years, as isolating pandemic policies weigh on growth. The city is one of the last places in the world to impose hotel quarantine on vaccinated arrivals and an outdoor mask mandate.

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Singapore, a rival financial hub, has scrapped Covid border curbs, lifted its mask mandate in most places and announced visa plans to attract top talent in recent weeks, adding to the pressure.

At the Wednesday event, Lee called Hong Kong a “pivotal gateway” between China and the world. “The central government fully supports Hong Kong in carrying out more extensive exchanges and close cooperation with the rest of the world,” he added.

(Updates throughout.)

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