Xia speech ‘reminds’ HK to tackle home woes, hear voice of people

The top Beijing official on SAR affairs was reminding the Hong Kong government to focus on tackling the housing problem and communicate more with the people in a speech last week, says a mainland think tank.

Henry Ho Kin-chung, a council member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, was commenting on Friday’s speech by Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, on the national security law at a closed-door forum in Beijing.

About 300 people, including Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, attended via a video conference from Hong Kong.

In February, Xia said only “patriots” could govern Hong Kong and that positions in the executive, legislature and judiciary must follow the order.

On Friday, Xia raised four expectations for Hong Kong when China achieves its second centennial goal in 2049, where Hong Kong’s economy is expected to be more prosperous and the housing problem will be significantly improved so people can “say goodbye” to subdivided flats and cage homes.

Xia also raised five work demands for the city’s administration: implementing the one country, two systems principle fully and faithfully; solving conflicts and problems facing development; doing practical work for the people; being patriots with charisma who can unite different sectors; and being responsible in your duties.

Speaking on a radio program yesterday, Ho said Xia’s speech showed central government concerns about livelihood issues in Hong Kong, especially the housing problem.

“President Xi Jinping has announced to the world that China has eradicated extreme poverty. Hong Kong is an international metropolis. Should we really wait till 2049 for us to say goodbye to subdivided flats?” Ho said.

“From pointing out livelihood and land shortage issues in the past to now focusing on problems of subdivided flats and cages homes, these all show that the central government is quite worried about housing problems in Hong Kong.”

Ho said Xia reminded the government to communicate more with the people and listen to their opinions as it needs to do work that the public can see and feel.

Ho said unlike staff in Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, officials in the SAR government had not made a lot of district visits.

The chairman of centrist party Third Side, Tik Chi-yuen, said the five demands made by Xia on Hong Kong rulers were the local officials’ weaknesses.

Tik told the same radio program he did not think the demands targeted the pro-democracy camp but those from the pro-establishment camp as well.

He said the government should refocus its governance after its political obstacles had been eliminated by Beijing’s national security law and the electoral changes.

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