Next Hong Kong Leader John Lee to Meet China’s Xi in Beijing

(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong’s next leader John Lee will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top leaders during his first visit to China’s capital since his selection as chief executive earlier this month, according to local reports.

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Premier Li Keqiang gave Lee a letter approving his appointment on Monday, the final formality before he’s sworn into office on July 1. Li said China supported Hong Kong elevating its status as an international financial, trade and shipping hub, at a press conference with Lee.

He also stressed that implementing the “one country, two systems” principle was key to the city’s long-term prosperity. Local broadcaster Commercial Radio reported Monday that Lee would meet Xi in the afternoon. He is expected to hold a press conference at Hong Kong airport upon his return from his four-day-trip on Tuesday, according to the South China Morning Post.

The former police officer will also submit his cabinet picks for the central government’s approval while in Beijing, the Post said, citing unidentified people. Lee is expected to discuss with Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng a plan to restructure the government, the newspaper reported, adding that he’s likely to meet with Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi, who oversees the Communist Party’s leading group on Hong Kong and Macau affairs.

Lee’s trip to the capital will be conducted under a closed-loop system, meaning his entourage won’t be allowed to interact with anyone outside their meetings, the Post reported separately. That mirrors a system used for the Beijing Winter Olympics and a parliamentary summit in March, as China continues to pursue a rigid Covid Zero policy.

This will be Lee’s first sit down with Xi since he was picked earlier this month by a group of some 1,460 election committee members who had been vetted for their loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party. He ran unopposed.

Lee’s meeting with Xi is considered routine. It’s common practice for the incoming chief executive to visit Beijing to be formally appointed to the role, in line with the Basic Law governing Hong Kong.

The former chief secretary will be formally sworn into office on the 25th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule. He’ll face pressure to restore business confidence in the wake of the city’s restrictive hotel quarantine rules and address the affordable housing crisis.

(Updates from paragraph two with comments from Li Keqiang.)

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