China`s premier-in-waiting arrives in Hong Kong

The visit shows the central government`s concern and support for Hong Kong`s development.

Hong Kong: Li Keqiang, China`s Vice Premier arrived in Hong Kong on Tuesday looking further to showcase himself ahead of a key leadership reshuffle in Beijing next year, and soothe tense relations with city officials.

Li, the expected successor to Premier Wen Jiabao as head of China`s day-to-day administration, is making a three-day visit to Hong Kong and plans to speak about the economic ties with the semi-autonomous territory.

Hong Kong`s Chief Executive Donald Tsang led the dignitaries greeting Li at the airport, where the 56-year-old vice premier said he would be announcing new measures to boost Hong Kong`s profile as trade and finance hub.

The visit "shows the central government`s concern and support for Hong Kong`s development", Li told reporters, adding that "I hope to see more and listen more to deepen my understanding of Hong Kong."

Unofficially, Li aims to boost his own profile as Wen`s term draws to a close in 2013, giving him "a precious opportunity to demonstrate his worth", said Willy Lam, a history professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong.

"(The trip) tells us about the political jockeying going on in Beijing ahead of next year`s once-in-a-decade leadership change," Lam told a news agency.

"Li has been cautious to a fault over the past few years and for good reason - his power is not secure," he added.

But only the most senior Chinese politicians make official visits to Hong Kong - a former British colony returned to China in 1997 - so the trip all but guarantees that Li will be China`s next premier, he added.

Li`s high-powered delegation includes Commerce Minister Chen Deming, People`s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan and National Development and Reform Commission chairman Zhang Ping.

The visit comes amid strained relations with Hong Kong, despite increasing economic integration, which has seen the city become a test bed for Beijing`s bid to turn the yuan into
a global currency to rival the US dollar.

Bureau Report

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