Chief Executive calls for local spending increase despite minimal shift of Hongkongers to Mainland

John Lee

29th November 2023 – (Hong Kong) Chief Executive, John Lee, has urged the city’s private sector to follow the government’s lead in promoting local consumption, dismissing concerns that residents spending in mainland China could significantly affect local business. His remarks come as an unprecedented 5.4 million Hongkongers visited the mainland last month, spending an estimated HK$3.6 billion, leading to concerns about the impact on Hong Kong’s businesses during the forthcoming Christmas and New Year holidays.

Speaking on a radio programme, Lee acknowledged that around 200,000 people, approximately 3 percent of Hong Kong’s population, travel to the mainland each weekend for leisure. However, he argued against the perception of this as “exporting consumption”. Instead, he contended that efforts should be concentrated on encouraging local residents to spend within the city.

Lee emphasised the government’s role in spearheading initiatives to stimulate local spending, citing the “Night Vibes Hong Kong” campaign as an example. He suggested the private sector should follow suit, contributing their efforts to support local consumption and the city’s economy.

The Chief Executive, known for his result-oriented approach, reiterated the necessity of adopting this mindset to foster a transformation in government and societal culture. He argued that a results-driven focus across society would minimise distractions and internal conflicts, promoting unison in achieving the city’s goals.

In addition, Lee addressed the term “talent grab”, utilised in the city’s initiative to attract global talent. He explained that the phrase underscores the sense of urgency in the face of global competition for skilled individuals.

Lee warned of complacency, stating that without a sense of crisis, Hong Kong risked falling behind in the global race for talent. He pointed out that many countries, particularly major ones, are offering political assistance as a strategy to attract the best talents, thereby heightening the competition.