Chief executive John Lee’s maiden speech

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee speaking at a press conference before his Executive Council Meeting on October 18, 2022 in Hong Kong, China. John Lee will release his first policy address as Chief Executive. (Photo by Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee on Wednesday announced initiatives to attract talent and investment to the city.

In his first policy address since he took office in July, Lee said the government would set aside billions to attract businesses to the city, and launch a so-called top talent pass scheme to “entice talents to pursue their careers in Hong Kong.”

Those who become permanent residents can apply for a refund of extra stamp duty paid on properties in the city, he said.

Hong Kong has lost thousands of residents since the pandemic started, worsening a “brain drain” from the international financial hub.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong advanced slightly in early trade before giving up those gains. Ahead of the speech, it was down more than 0.8%. It fell more than 1% during the speech.

Lee, a Beijing loyalist, was the only candidate in the election in May to replace his predecessor Carrie Lam. Around 1,500 members of a largely pro-Beijing election committee voted, and Lee won 1,416 votes to become Hong Kong’s top leader.

Hong Kong was a British colony before it was handed to China in 1997 to be governed under a “one country, two systems” framework. Hong Kong was promised autonomy for 50 years and has freedoms that other Chinese cities do not have, including limited election rights.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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