Top Beijing official overseeing Hong Kong affairs to start 7-day trip to city on Thursday to gauge views on economic development, district governance

Beijing’s top official overseeing Hong Kong affairs will begin a visit to the city on Thursday to gauge views about economic development and district governance, the government has said, confirming an exclusive report by the Post.

Sources on Wednesday said Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), would also visit the newly established International Organization for Mediation Preparatory Office during his seven-day trip to highlight Beijing’s support for the city’s status as a legal and dispute resolution services centre.

The government confirmed Xia’s visit, saying in a statement he would inspect the city from Thursday to next Wednesday to “gain a better understanding of Hong Kong’s latest situation, including economic developments and district governance”.

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Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu extended his welcome to Xia for his second inspection in a year.

“Mr Lee also expressed gratitude to the central government for its care and concern for Hong Kong,” the statement said.

It did not provide a detailed agenda of Xia’s visit, saying only that preparation work to ensure a smooth trip was under way.

In the first two days of Xia’s trip, he was set to meet Lee, principal officials and members of the Executive Council, the city’s key decision-making body, a government insider said.

That would be followed by a closed-door exchange between Xia and the city’s tycoons on Friday afternoon, a source in the business sector said. A “handful” of attendees were expected to be called upon to give a three-minute speech specifically on Hong Kong’s business environment and prospects, the source added.

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Xia’s trip will conclude next Wednesday, the day the financial secretary gives his annual budget speech.

On Tuesday, the Post reported that the senior mainland official would visit Hong Kong to solicit views on the city’s economic situation, residents’ livelihood and proposed home-grown national security legislation.

This will be Xia’s second trip to Hong Kong since Beijing announced the overhaul of the HKMAO that made it directly answerable to the Communist Party’s Central Committee rather than the State Council.


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