Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has touted his achievements while stating that he “envies” Hong Kong’s younger generation during an interview with Chinese state media.

In an interview conducted at his official residence and published on Sunday, Leung said that his administration made a great effort in the areas of land use, housing, poverty alleviation, and improving the situation of elderly people. The interview was filmed on May 22 as a look back on the implementation of the Basic Law prior to the 20th anniversary of the handover.

Photo: Screenshot/CCTV.

He said that the biggest reason for the high rents and cost of housing in Hong Kong was that supply could not keep up with demand. He said his administration had increased the supply.

He estimated that, over the next three or four years, the housing supply would increase by 50 per cent compared to the beginning of his term, thanks to the work of his government.

Hong Kong has remained the world’s most expensive home market throughout Leung’s tenure. On average last year, apartments cost 18.1 times the gross annual medium income of Hongkongers, according to the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.

Poverty line

Leung said that the government’s spending on social welfare had increased by 71 per cent compared to the beginning of his term.

“We increased our efforts with supporting and providing assistance to the elderly and the poor. For the first time, we established a official poverty line and used it to measure the effectiveness of the SAR government’s efforts in alleviating poverty.”

However, the latest Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report unveiled by the Commission on Poverty last October showed that 20,000 more people fell below the official poverty line in 2015, bringing the total to 1.34 million Hongkongers. Last week, the Census and Statistics Department said that the city’s household income inequality rose to a record high last year.

Photo: Screenshot/CCTV.

Leung added that he envied young people in Hong Kong. “The younger generation in Hong Kong is enviable – their starting point for life and career development is better than those of our generation. I’m very optimistic about their future in Hong Kong and in the country.”

He said that, during his term, Hong Kong used the advantages provided by One Country, Two Systems to attract many of the top institutions in science and innovation across the world.

“The reason they came to Hong Kong was because they were attracted by the convenience of the two systems of Hong Kong and China, [they came] to cooperate with our entire country. So we must continue to adjust Hong Kong’s function, and contribute different strengths to the development of the country at different times.”

One Country Two Systems

Leung also said that the implementation of One Country, Two Systems in the past 20 years was very successful. To ensure that the implementation was consistent, the key was to strictly follow the Basic Law, he said.

Using the chief executive elections as an example, he said that, no matter if the leader was selected by consultation or election, they still needed to be appointed by the central government.

Even though the Basic Law did not spell out the details, this was its original intention, “So, we cannot just talk about the chief executive election in Hong Kong without mentioning the central government’s mandate and its appointment.”

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.