© Reuters. Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee speaks during the Global Financial Leaders Investment Summit in Hong Kong, China November 2, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo
By Twinnie Siu and Clare Jim
HONG KONG (Reuters) -Hong Kong’s leader focused on bolstering the property market and stabilising the ailing economy in his annual policy blueprint on Wednesday, while confirming new national security laws would be enacted next year to counter meddling by “external forces”.
Chief Executive John Lee said Hong Kong’s economy, which contracted 3.5 percent last year, would “resume growth this year” as inbound tourism and consumption improved, and unemployment fell.
Hong Kong’s economy grew 2.2% in the first half of the year, and is expected to grow four percent this year. year-on-year.
Lee noted, however that the external environment remains challenging given interest rate hikes in some advanced economies, with Hong Kong investment and asset markets “negatively impacted.”
NEW SECURITY LAW
Lee, who was sanctioned by the U.S. government for his role in cracking down on freedoms after mass pro-democracy protests in 2019, also emphasized the need to further bolster national security.
“External forces continue to meddle in Hong Kong affairs,” he said, without giving specifics or naming any country.
Despite Hong Kong’s attempts to restore the city’s international reputation and lure more capital, further security legislation including anti-espionage laws, known as Article 23, would be enacted by the end of 2024, Lee said.
Some Western governments have criticised the ongoing national security clamp down, which has led to the imprisonment of many opposition democrats and closure of liberal media outlets.