HONG KONG (Reuters) – A top financial official from Hong Kong is set to visit Britain in April in the first ministerial-level visit by an official of the Chinese-ruled territory in more than three years, the government said on Tuesday.
The move follows the “Hello Hong Kong” promotion campaign kicked off in March to woo back visitors and investors after three years of stringent COVID-19 rules decimated the economy.
Looking to promote Hong Kong’s financial services and strengthen ties with Britain and Belgium, Christopher Hui, the secretary for financial services and the treasury, will visit Brussels from April 13 to 15 and London from April 16 to 18.
He will meet senior officials, financial and business leaders of both nations, as well as officials of the European Commission, the government said in a statement.
The visit aims to give such officials “the latest update on Hong Kong’s financial services development, in particular in the fields of fintech and green finance,” it added.
The former British colony has had strained relations with Britain since its anti-government and pro- democratic protests in 2019.
Britain, along with other Western nations, has said Beijing’s imposition of a national security law in Hong Kong in 2020 has undermined freedoms for groups ranging from civil society to the media.
Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing have rejected the claims.
Hong Kong returned to China on July 1, 1997, under a “one country, two systems” formula that guaranteed wide ranging autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including an independent judiciary.
In response to the new security law, Britain opened in 2021 a new visa programme allowing almost 3 million people to apply for a five-year British visa and eventually be offered a route to citizenship.
Both Hong Kong’s government and Beijing criticised the move.
(Reporting by Farah Master and Twinnie Siu; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)