22 August 2019
HKFS secretary general Alex Chow says the student group is looking for a middleman to help arrange a meeting with Beijing officials. Photo: RTHK
HKFS secretary general Alex Chow says the student group is looking for a middleman to help arrange a meeting with Beijing officials. Photo: RTHK

HKFS may postpone Beijing trip, eyes post-APEC meeting

The Hong Kong Federation of Students may seek talks with top officials in Beijing after the APEC summit, according to an official of the student group.

“Some believe dialogue is impossible if we protest in Beijing during the summit, and chances of talks are higher after the summit. We are demanding for a dialogue rather than challenging the leadership,” Alex Chow, secretary general of the group, told RTHK in an interview.

However, he stressed that the visit to Beijing is “necessary”, adding that they have already tried to contact former Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa and National People’s Congress deputy Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai to help arrange the meeting, the report said. 

Chow dismissed a suggestion that the protesters retreat before the dialogue with central government officials starts.

“Officials will only care about the public views if the Occupy movement continues,” he said.

Although nobody can guarantee if the dialogue will help defuse the political crisis, the students have to try before deciding on their next step, he added.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the meeting is unnecessary as Beijing understands well the different views on the issue of political reform.

“The central government has already repeatedly responded to demands for public nomination and those who are against the framework released by the National People’s Congress,” Leung said.

Meanwhile, Leung said the pro-democracy protest has already affected Hong Kong’s economic development, disrupting the people’s livelihood and undermining the city’s image on the mainland and overseas.

“The negative impact has started to surface and has become more severe. Protest organizers should think about when to retreat, rather than the government consider when to launch a clear-out,” he added.

In an editorial, the state-backed Global Times newspaper said Chinese immigration authorities could refuse entry to the HKFS representatives, and even if the students manage to enter the mainland, they could face legal responsibilities.

Professor Song Xiaozhuang from Shenzhen University’s Basic Law Research Institute said if the HKFS representatives stage a protest in Beijing and draw spectators, they could face charges for causing public disturbance under the mainland law.

Song said such action violates the mainland’s constitutional laws and is thus a criminal offence, which could lead to a jail term of at least six months.

He asked the HKFS students to think twice before taking any action. 

The Global Times article said even if the HKFS representatives make it to Beijing, their influence at the APEC meeting, which is taking place in the capital this week, will be minimal.

The central government has ample experience in dealing with protesters, it said.

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Freelance journalist

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