24 October 2018

Beijing officials delay HK visit amid white paper furor

Beijing is walking back plans to send senior officials to clarify its Hong Kong policy after a public outcry over its white paper on “one country, two systems”, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.

Two high-level officials have delayed their Hong Kong visit intended to brief senior government officials, civil servants, lawmakers, professionals and business representatives on the white paper, the first policy pronouncements by the central government on Hong Kong since the 1997 handover from Britain.

Zhou Bo, deputy director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, and Basic Law Committee deputy director Zhang Rongshun were scheduled to visit Hong Kong on Thursday.

However, they decided to postpone the trip, citing other “public affairs” engagements. A new date has yet to be confirmed, the report said, citing a spokesperson for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau.

On June 10, the State Council released the unprecedented document in which it asserted its absolute authority over Hong Kong and stressed that its high degree of autonomy comes “solely from authorization by the central leadership”.

The Hong Kong government has welcomed the document and urged the public to deepen their understanding of it.

However, the paper has sparked fierce criticism from Hong Kong politicians and civil rights activists.

Last week, they burned copies of the document outside the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong as a show of protest.

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