Speaking at a seminar to discuss the nation’s 14th five-year plan, Leung – who’s also a vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – said he had crossed the border 36 times and visited 17 cities over the past six months because he enjoyed “special privileges” and wasn’t required to undergo quarantine amid the pandemic.
“It’s a thriving scene wherever I visited. Everybody, including officials, businessmen and residents were all motivated, optimistic and positive, and they were all so confident about the country’s development,” he said.
“I also visited a lot of rural areas and villages on the mainland. They were all beautiful and organised. Yesterday I was in the New Territories, and it was no match to how things looked in the poor, remote areas in China.”
Leung also suggested that Hong Kong’s pace of development has been dragged down by the city’s governance structure and political climate.
“The annual policy address is the closest thing to the five-year plans on the mainland, but unlike the national blueprint which can be implemented and executed almost right away, the chief executive’s annual plan is subject to the acceptance of the Hong Kong society and approval of the Legislative Council,” he said.
The former CE said the SAR must catch up with the development across the border by capturing the various opportunities on offer, and improving research and promotion efforts.