Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam has postponed until November her annual policy address that was scheduled for Wednesday so she can attend China President Xi Jinping's visit to Shenzhen, according to news reports.
Xi is in Shenzhen this week for the 40th anniversary of its Special Economic Zone, the Communist-Party run Global Times reported Monday. He is expected to deliver a speech at the event, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
Lam's policy address will now be delivered in November: "[I]'d like to be able to use the 2020 policy address to instill more confidence among Hong Kong people because Hong Kong people have endured a very difficult year - including COVID-19 and international sanctions," the South China Morning Post quoted her saying.
"The central government informed me over the weekend and invited me to form a delegation to go to Shenzhen," Lam said at a news conference. "China's economy has rebounded following the COVID-19 pandemic and Hong Kong's recovery will depend on the mainland's economic development," she was reported saying by the SCMP.
"Xi's visit will mainly further help accelerate the Greater Bay Area integration and development, which is extremely important as the COVID-19 outbreaks have put hurdles in the way of regional people-to-people exchanges," Liang Haiming, dean of the Hainan University Belt and Road Research Institute, told Global Times on Monday.
Lam will be accompanied to Shenzhen by ministers including Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu and Innovation and Technology Bureau chief Alfred Sit Wing-hang, according to the SCMP.
The postponement is the first time a policy address has been delayed. The tradition of governors delivering their policy address at the first meeting of a new Legislative Council session began in 1969. The convention continued after the 1997 handover from Britain to China, the SCMP said.
Lam was reported to be meeting Xi during the visit, however, she says that won't happen until later in the month when she visits Beijing. Xi last met Lam during protests in December where he hailed her "courage."
Lam said she would go to Beijing this month to discuss measures with the central government, including the Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong province Greater Bay area, the finance sector and technology innovation without elaborating, Reuters reported her saying.