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Transcript of remarks by CE at media session before ExCo (with 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 (January 31):
Reporter:  I want to ask Chinese tourists will be facing barriers to obtaining tourist visas to come to Hong Kong compared to Macao. What do you plan to do to tackle this challenge given that the city needs Mainland tourists to revive the city's economy? And when do you plan to make the announcement on mask removal? Secondly, what will you discuss on your trip to the Middle East? And to what extent may this reflect the Government's efforts to diversify investment assets? And will you be seeking to court Middle East companies to IPO in Hong Kong and/or attract other Middle East assets to the city? Thank you.

Chief Executive:  First of all, since this Government assumes office, we have been preparing various measures, so as to open up Hong Kong and make decisions according to the data and risks. I have explained earlier in my beginning speech about the various measures that we have put into. We have, just yesterday (January 30), removed the last restriction, which is the isolation order. There is no other restriction other than the mask. We all know that, according to the advice of different medical experts, we have the winter surge, which is a period of high risk. We have to be able to ensure that we will be able to pass this winter surge, and when we successfully overcome this challenge, then there will be big room for consideration to see how and when we will remove the mask. And I think in the whole preparation for full resumption to normalcy, the mask is obviously a thing that I will consider seriously to lift.  Then, when we pass the winter surge, when this high-risk period has passed and we manage it, then I will look at the situation at that time and decide when will be the best time to lift it. But lifting the mask will be a measure that I will seriously consider.

     As regards my trip to the Middle East, I will say this is one of the programmes that I have talked about many times since the announcement of my Policy Address, that we will tell the good Hong Kong story. Now that we have resumed normal, it is time for us to go out and tell people that Hong Kong is as normal as before COVID-19, and about the business opportunities and all the advantages of Hong Kong; that Hong Kong, being an international city and also a Special Administrative Region of our country, has all sorts of attractions and advantages for people to grasp, so that they will not lose the opportunities to develop and realise their potentials in Hong Kong. I have formed a high-level delegation comprising over 30 very successful and very influential representatives in different sectors, so that we can go and tell the good Hong Kong story and the opportunities here.
  Then, of course, the visit to the Middle East is also a reinforcement of the policy of President Xi Jinping in his visit to Saudi Arabia, when he made his policy speech about how to capitalise on the Belt and Road Initiative, so that we can help different countries make use of the good opportunities that we can offer, while we can also make use of the opportunity to develop our economy and further strengthen the different potentials and increase our competitiveness. I have high hope that my visit will be received well by the governments and the local commercial sectors. I look forward to some fruitful results as a result of the visit.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Issued at HKT 12:38
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