For many Hong Kong representatives to China’s top advisory body, Beijing’s 13th five-year plan showed the central government’s strong backing for the city as it promised to support its technological sector
Professor Lau Siu-kai shares that feeling, but he also sees another side of it.
According to the government’s former think tank chief, who was involved in formulating the 12th five-year plan, Beijing latest blueprint reflected its concern about the Hong Kong government’s ability to execute what is planned.
“The 12th five-year plan mentioned six new industries for Hong Kong and about 10 infrastructural items [for cross-border cooperation], but they were not delivered on … so this year there was no actual item at all. This reflected that we performed poorly on accomplishing tasks,” he said.
That worry might impact the outcome of next year’s chief executive election as well, as Lau believes executive ability, popularity, loyalty and conflict-resolving skills will be the key factors to win Beijing’s blessing to lead Hong Kong in the next five years.
On popularity, Lau said: “It is difficult to find someone very popular – but you cannot find someone hated by the people.”
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was criticised by political scientists for being unpopular and provocative in face of political attacks, but Lau stopped short of commenting on how well Leung did on the four areas he named.
In the nation’s five-year plan released in 2011, the chapter devoted to Hong Kong and Macau included a list of seven projects for cross-border cooperation, including three new development zones in Guangdong and infrastructure projects such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge. None of seven has been completed yet.
Lau, then head of the government’s Central Policy Unit, was involved in drafting and submitting proposals for Beijing to adopt in the plan.
Five years on, Beijing’s plan released on Saturday mainly reaffirmed that Hong Kong will play a bigger role in the nation’s development, and Beijing will support the development of the technology sector and arbitration services. Both are areas Hong Kong is ready to explore, according to delegates.
Lau, a local delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, also criticised the Hong Kong government for lacking a long-term vision for the city.
He said whoever wins the chief executive election next year must “at least, with the backing of policy research, come up with visions, solutions and timetables for issues such as a sustainable economic development”.
Asked if Leung had done that in his election platform in 2012, Lau said: “I didn’t see that, did you see that? It is not just about what you say – you need to have a detailed and comprehensive plan.”