HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam will travel to Beijing next week for a three-day visit to discuss plans to revive the global financial hub’s economy which has been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic and anti-government protests.
Lam, speaking at a weekly news briefing on Tuesday, said she would leave on Nov. 3 for the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, where she will take a coronavirus test before travelling to Beijing.
“My trip to Beijing this time is solely on the economic side that is in light of the economic situation, which of course is very serious in Hong Kong,” Lam said on Tuesday.
“We need more support measures from the mainland of China, especially in light of the overall direction that Hong Kong should move to better integrate with the mainland of China especially in the Greater Bay Area.”
The Beijing-backed leader postponed her annual policy address earlier this month in order to travel to the mainland for talks on how the central government can support the former British colony’s economic recovery.
She said she still plans to deliver her policy address by the end of November.
Lam has repeatedly touted the importance of the Greater Bay area – a region that includes Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in China’s Guangdong province – as a key pillar to provide economic benefits to the Chinese-ruled city.
Hong Kong is reeling from the double blow of anti-government protests that plunged the city into its biggest crisis in decades last year and the impact of coronavirus.
Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in June that punishes what authorities broadly define as secession, sedition and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in jail, following a year of sometimes violent demonstrations.
Western governments and international human rights groups have expressed concern the law will crush freedoms in Hong Kong.
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have said the law is necessary to bring stability to the city.
(Reporting By Clare Jim and Donny Kwok; Writing bny Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Kim Coghill and Michael Perry)