The central government does not have a specific timeline for the clearance of the Occupy protest sites in Hong Kong, Ming Pao Daily reported Friday, citing sources close to Beijing.
They said it is a misconception that the long-awaited launch on Monday next week of direct share trading between Hong Kong and Shanghai is linked to the clearing of the sites.
The central government does not want to provoke a drastic response from the protesters by using the starting of Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect as a trigger for ending the civil disobedience campaign, the sources said.
President Xi Jinping will be in Macau on Dec. 20 for the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the special administrative region, so Beijing does not want escalated social unrest or a large number of protesters traveling to Macau from Hong Kong.
The sources said the central government is not backing down in its opposition to the Occupy protests, as it feels it has given in too much to Hongkongers’ demands, after the withdrawal of the national security bill in 2003 and the cancellation in 2012 of plans for national education in schools.
While Beijing was initially worried that the protests in Hong Kong would trigger a revolution in the mainland, state leaders were relieved to find that the prevailing opinion among mainlanders is against the Occupy campaign.
That is one of the reasons why Beijing is in no rush to force clearing operations.
Despite the Occupy protests, central government policies in favor of Hong Kong continue, the sources said.
These include Stock Connect, the removal of the daily cap on renminbi exchange and infrastructure projects like the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the high-speed railway and more port connections.
However, the sources said, there will no longer be “huge gifts” for the city in future, and the central government will not limit the growth of any mainland cities in favor of grooming Hong Kong to assume a bigger role.
They said National People’s Congress Standing Committee chairman Zhang Dejiang is still in charge of affairs in Hong Kong, and important decisions will be made by President Xi Jinping.
Other national leaders, such as Premier Li Keqiang and Vice-Premier Wang Yang, are not involved.
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