September 23, 2023

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mixed reaction from business community to John Lee as Hong Kong’s next potential leader

  • Several see Beijing’s backing of Lee as a indication that countrywide protection would just take top rated precedence
  • They expressed hope that Hong Kong’s No 2 formal would be helpful to the organization group in a bid to maintain the city’s place as a international fiscal hub

Diplomats and enterprise leaders have expressed each cautious optimism as properly as disappointment at the possibility of John Lee Ka-chiu getting Hong Kong’s major job. The city’s No 2 formal resigned on Wednesday, paving the way for a operate in subsequent month’s chief govt election as the sole applicant with Beijing’s blessing.

A lot of observed the endorsement of Lee as Beijing placing emphasis on countrywide stability, but felt the policeman-turned minister’s capability to sustain Hong Kong’s area as a world-wide economic hub would hinge on the depth of his cabinet.

A Hong Kong-primarily based consul common from a European country, who fulfilled Lee when he was safety minister, described the male as “a able and critical supervisor”.

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“My particular perception is that he does not arrive throughout as a quite political determine, but is no question witnessed in Beijing as a reliable operator who will do what he is requested to do by the central government,” the unique, who spoke on ailment of anonymity, instructed the Write-up.

“I believe Beijing desires to protect Hong Kong as an international fiscal centre but I have no question that for Beijing, nationwide safety and more strengthening political regulate more than Hong Kong comes to start with,” the consul general additional.

As it happened: Hong Kong ex-No 2 John Lee to be a part of leadership race

A deputy consul general from one more European place, who also does not want to be named, observed that Lee’s endorsement demonstrated “it is what Beijing would like a lot more than what Hongkongers want”.

The diplomat’s own assessment was that by backing Lee, Beijing would prioritise nationwide safety in the coming many years. Endorsing Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, in the meantime, would have indicated a aim on the economic system and finance.

An additional senior diplomat based mostly in Hong Kong reported that when it was not a ought to to have a leader with a qualifications in finance, it was however vital for the city’s up coming main govt to comprehend Hong Kong’s very important position in the fiscal entire world.

The diplomat explained it was apparent that to efficiently govern the town, the future chief required to have the have confidence in of Beijing. Geared up with that, and an knowledge of Hong Kong’s exceptional placement, Lee could ensure achievement as chief executive.

“I believe what is actually significant now moving forward is restoring the self confidence of both equally Beijing as properly as the international neighborhood and I believe to do that, you do have to fully grasp the worth of Hong Kong as a international economic hub,” the diplomat said.

Lee emerged as the frontrunner right after Chief Govt Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor declared on Monday she would not search for a next term, citing relatives good reasons.

Was Carrie Lam’s legacy lower quick or did she cultivate her downfall?

Hong Kong had never ever experienced a vocation policeman as the city’s No 2 official until eventually Lee took up the publish in June past year. The 64-12 months-previous experienced led the Security Bureau for four yrs from 2017 just before staying promoted to main secretary.

Stewart Leung Chi-kin, executive committee chairman of the Serious Estate Builders Affiliation of Hong Kong, mentioned he was self-confident that developers could cultivate a cordial connection with Lee even with limited conversation on the performing amount beforehand. The organisation counts all of the city’s key builders as associates.

“In our position, it really is basic. The authorities ought to tackle the housing calls for of the public, regardless of whether the requires are personal or public, and supply more than enough land for personal builders to offer with this kind of calls for,” he mentioned.

“The govt does not have to give advantages to builders, but there should really always be communication, as serious estate serves as an vital pillar for the city’s financial state.”

One diplomat said that while it was not a must to have a leader with a background in finance, it was still important for the city's next chief executive to understand Hong Kong's vital role in the financial world. Photo: Sun Yeung

© Delivered by South China Early morning Submit
1 diplomat explained that when it was not a need to to have a chief with a history in finance, it was nevertheless crucial for the city’s upcoming chief executive to have an understanding of Hong Kong’s essential function in the fiscal environment. Image: Sunlight Yeung

Entertainment tycoon Allan Zeman, who has recognised Lee for 20 years, explained the former prime police officer as a “reasonable and open-minded person”.

Zeman reported he believed Beijing’s preference for Lee stemmed from seeking a “dependable guy” to be certain nationwide stability and enact the city’s very own guidelines to employ Article 23 of the Fundamental Law.

Entertainment tycoon Allan Zeman has known John Lee for two decades. Photo: Edmond So

© Furnished by South China Morning Post
Amusement tycoon Allan Zeman has recognized John Lee for two a long time. Picture: Edmond So

An American investment decision manager and extensive-expression resident agreed that he did not check out Lee’s lack of finance knowledge as a difficulty as very long as Economic Secretary Paul Chan was in his cupboard.

“Paul Chan has the capacity. He has shown it. He is a pretty fantastic communicator. He has been an outstanding finance secretary,” he stated.

The chairman of a business chamber of a single of the Asean nations, who wished to continue to be anonymous, stated he considered Lee would be a great leader even if he experienced restricted publicity to the enterprise world.

“He is a really humble person, mixes all around, and is familiar with a ton of people today. Just one factor fantastic about him we have recognized among the businesspeople is he listens. He consults people today, he grew up with humble beginnings and did not go to college until he joined the law enforcement drive,” he stated.

The chairman mentioned he considered Lee would be welcoming to both equally the regional and international small business communities as “he is presently really immersed” in them.

Hong Kong had never had a career policeman as the city's No 2 official until Lee took up the post in June last year. Photo: Felix Wong

© Offered by South China Early morning Write-up
Hong Kong experienced hardly ever had a vocation policeman as the city’s No 2 formal until eventually Lee took up the post in June past 12 months. Photograph: Felix Wong

The head of yet another foreign business enterprise chamber mentioned he was inclined to give Lee the “benefit of the doubt,” and hoped the new chief executive would pay attention to company chambers. A crucial concern, he reported, was the ongoing journey restrictions and ban of non-people from viewing the metropolis.

“For Hong Kong to be an desirable Asia’s world metropolis and as a fiscal centre, I believe you need to have to make certain that it continues to be an desirable put for persons and their households to reside and work in, and for these people to be also from businesses, exterior of purely finance,” he explained.

Meanwhile, a senior overseas businessman stated he thought several in the business enterprise community experienced greeted Lee’s operate for the top rated task with disappointment, due to his absence of business enterprise expertise.

“You will find no sign that he has any desire in business enterprise. He is practically hardly ever been outdoors Hong Kong and has pretty little aim on what Hong Kong demands to be, which is a small business centre,” he said.

A former lawmaker, who at this time is effective in the business sector, mentioned that Lee had been sanctioned by the United States due to the fact 2020, together with at minimum a dozen of former and existing officers involved in the implementation of the national security law.

“The notion would be comparatively terrible for Hong Kong to ship this sort of a chief overseas to talk about small business prospects,” he warned.

Additional reporting by Tony Cheung

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This posting originally appeared on the South China Early morning Put up (, the foremost information media reporting on China and Asia.

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