Anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong and China, Xi Jinping’s visit, John Lee’s swearing in

Hong Kong’s new chief executive, John Lee, pledged on Friday to strengthen the city’s preeminence as a financial center and build new industries.

The former British colony’s reputation as an international financial center has been undermined over the past two years by its continued commitment to Beijing’s unyielding coronavirus policy.

In his inaugural speech, delivered in Mandarin Chinese, Li said he was “consolidating” the city’s “inherent profitable industries.”

In addition to strengthening Hong Kong’s current position in finance and shipping, Li said his government will also develop the city’s technology and innovation industries.

“We will develop emerging industries and turn Hong Kong into an international innovation hub,” Li said, speaking to senior officials, including Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

During his speech, Li praised China’s “One Belt, One Road” and “Great Bay” initiatives, which he said have given Hong Kong “unlimited opportunities and unlimited space for development.”

Notably, Li did not respond to growing opposition to the city’s controversial Covid policies or whether his government would seek to break with Beijing and ease restrictions and border controls.

“We will scientifically and accurately control the coronavirus epidemic, improve the adaptability of the medical system, and strengthen care for the elderly and young,” Li said, without specifying a timetable for these measures.

Some context: For many years, Hong Kong has been considered an important gateway to mainland China and a link between East and West for global business.

But his future was called into question China’s moves to further undermine the city’s autonomy, including the introduction of a national security law, and a growing talent drain due to tough Covid regulations.