Hong Kong's new leader pledges to shore up city's global business role

Hong Kong's new leader John Lee on Friday vowed to strengthen the city's standing as a global business hub, but he gave no hint of diverging from Beijing's insistence on strict zero-Covid rules.

The former British colony's reputation as an international financial center has been battered during the last two years by its adherence to China's unbending Covid restrictions. They have made the city less attractive for expats and much harder for foreign executives to visit.

Speaking in Mandarin at his inauguration, attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the chief executive of the Hong Kong government said he would "consolidate" the city's "inherent advantageous industries."

Lee didn't give any policy detail, nor did he address growing pushback against the city's controversial Covid policies and border controls that have alarmed many international companies.

Hong Kong has long been an important gateway to mainland China and an East-West conduit for global business. But the city's future has been called into question by China's moves to erode its autonomy — including introducing a national security law in 2020 — and an exodus of talent due to the Covid rules.