Transcript of remarks by CE at media session before ExCo (with photos/video)

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Chief Executive, Mr John Lee, at a media session before the Executive Council (ExCo) meeting today (October 18):
Reporter: Good morning, Mr Lee. I have two questions for you. The first question is that a group of Hong Kong activists staged a protest over the weekend in Manchester (United Kingdom), and one of them, a Hong Kong activist, was reportedly dragged into the Chinese Consulate in Manchester and was allegedly beaten up by some people. Some British politicians demanded an apology from the Chinese Ambassador and said that the incident was concerning. Are you aware of this attack? Would you condemn the violence attack and urge the British authorities to bring the attackers to justice? That's the first one. The second one is on the Policy Address. Would talent, public health and national security be the highlights of the Policy Address because President Xi, in his Party Congress report, also mentioned the importance of enhancing China and Hong Kong's national security capabilities, but the Hong Kong government recently said the bill won't be submitted to LegCo (Legislative Council) this year. So is there a need to revisit the decision?
Chief Executive: First of all, I trust that the local government will deal with the case in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the local law. And I will make no more comments because I don't have the full details of the case.
     As regards the Policy Address, I thank you for your interest in the Policy Address. I will have to request you all to have a little bit of patience because you only have to wait for one day, then I will be telling you every bit of it. But as regards the National Security Law, we have a duty, of course, under the Basic Law, to enact local legislation so as to fulfil the requirement of Article 23. I've already said last time, when there was a question raised from the floor, that I do want the Article 23 proposal to cover situations which are fast developing in this complex geopolitical situation. So I would like our proposal to cover a very wide range of research into the legislations that are available for reference in connection with the means and tactics of protecting national security, so as to ensure that the final proposal will be able to deal with all the anticipated situations and circumstances. It will be an effective legislation so that we don't have to try to make further improvement to what we intend to propose.
Reporter: Thanks for your explanation about the quarantine policies. Many people are looking forward to "pre-departure quarantine". So, how about the progress? And any improvement in the discussion with the Mainland on border crossing? Given that the Government has no intention of implementing "0+0" for the time being, so will the existing social distancing measures be further relaxed, such as the Government said last week it was considering relaxing the social gathering restriction to 12 persons. Is there any update? Thanks.
Chief Executive: We have been working hard to discuss with our Mainland counterparts on progressing on materialising the concept of "pre-departure quarantine". We had a number of discussions, we have talked about standards, and we know that the standards are actually set by the authorities, which would require things to be done, including some closed-loop arrangement. We are working to iron out some challenges because obviously, we have to agree on, for example, the Ct (cycle threshold) standard; we have to agree on the arrangement so that when a person, having gone through the "pre-departure quarantine" arrangement, will be considered having fulfilled the "7+3" arrangement. These are things we are working on and we're ironing out some areas where we need to adjust. But the closed-loop arrangement, of course, is one area which we have to look at realistically as to how we can satisfy.
     The second thing, we are very conscious of the need of ensuring there will be no risk given to our Mainland authorities, because we know the anti-COVID situation in the Mainland as well. But my thinking is, for anybody who has gone through this "pre-departure quarantine", because the standard has been made in accordance with the Mainland standard, although there will be no doubt that they will be posing extra risks, the only thing we will need to do is to ensure that they are also transported to the Mainland in a closed-loop way. But of course, this is a new arrangement. It hasn't been tested before. So there will be things that we need to discuss in detail. The senior officials of both governments are taking part. On my side, we have the Chief Secretary, on the Mainland side, they have a Vice Mayor and Mayor to take part. So we are very committed to trying to work out a solution. And also, what I'm trying to do in Hong Kong is to ensure that on the one hand, I will be controlling the COVID situation, so that we will be reducing serious and death cases, and at the same time, ensuring that the hospital service can function and cope, and then we allow society to go about their normal activities because we're conscious of the fact that Hong Kong has to maintain connected, both to the world and to the Mainland. We're working towards both goals at the same time. Of course, I will have to wait for further ideas from our Mainland counterparts so that we can really work out on the details. Thank you very much.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Tuesday, October 18, 2022
Issued at HKT 14:09