Chief Executive John Lee will lead Hong Kong’s 90 lawmakers on a trip to the Greater Bay Area next month, where they will visit different cities and meet with provincial leaders.

Chief Executive John Lee meeting the press on January 10, 2023
Chief Executive John Lee meeting the press. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The matter was discussed during a Legislative Council meeting on Friday afternoon.

According to a Legislative Council document, the city’s officials and lawmakers will visit the Greater Bay Area to observe “first-hand the latest developments and opportunities” so that Hong Kong can “better integrate into the overall development of the country.”

The trip will take place during the third week of April, and will include visits to “local key facilities and projects” relating to “the areas of innovation, technology and smart city; environmental protection; youth development; as well as culture, arts and sports, etc.”

The Greater Bay Area comprises Hong Kong, Macau, and nine cities in southern China including Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai. It has been touted by Hong Kong and mainland authorities as an area of “great significance in the country’s implementation of innovation-driven development.”

Lawmaker Regina Ip reacting to the 2023 Budget on February 22, 2023.
Lawmaker Regina Ip. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

During the meeting, lawmaker Regina Ip said she had already been on a number of such visits to mainland China, including to Shanghai and the Greater Bay Area.

“The mainland authorities put in a lot of thought to arrange for us to see many developments,” Ip said.

She added: “But I have a bit of a trivial question to ask. Firstly, if [we] participate, must we join the whole trip? Secondly, what about the fees? Do we have to pay for our own accommodation and other expenses?”

In response, lawmaker Starry Lee – leading the meeting as the chairperson of the House Committee – said that “great importance is attached” to the visit, and that it was hoped lawmakers could join the entire trip.

With regards to funding, Lee said the costs would be deducted from a pool of money that each lawmaker has for the purpose of work-related travel.

Legislative Council oath taking ceremony Chan Wing-kwong
Lawmakers congratulate pro-Beijing DAB party’s Chan Wing-kwong on his election into the Legislative Council on Dec. 19, 2022. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Tik Chi-yuen, the Legislative Council’s only self-proclaimed non-establishment lawmaker, said it was “unfortunate” that there were still no confirmed dates for the trip.

“That’s a bit bothersome for me and other lawmakers,” Tik said. He repeated three times that he hoped the dates could be confirmed “as soon as possible.”

The social welfare lawmaker added that he hoped the trip would allow lawmakers to raise topics of concern with mainland authorities and undertake concrete work, rather than just “taking pictures and saying hello.”

Following an electoral overhaul in the wake of the protests in 2019, the city’s Legislative Council now consists entirely of pro-establishment figures with the exception of Tik, the chairperson of centrist party Third Side.

LegCo legislative council
The Legislative Council. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Hong Kong’s top officials have made a number of trips to the Greater Bay Area in recent months since quarantine-free travel with mainland China resumed.

Last month, Lee, the city’s leader, led a delegation to the Greater Bay Area. He said he discussed the promotion of “high value-added development” with a leader of Guangdong province, adding that he “exchanged views” with Shenzhen leaders on Hong Kong’s cooperation with the southern Chinese city in higher education, tourism and other sectors.

At least three top officials, including Financial Secretary Paul Chan, Secretary for Culture, Sports & Tourism Kevin Yeung and Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Algernon Yau also visited cities in the Greater Bay Area this month.

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Hillary Leung

Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.