Date
21 October 2017
Zhang Xiaoming, China's top official in Hong Kong, says the city must turn its focus to economic and social issues following the veto of the political reform plan. Photos: tvb.com, HKEJ
Zhang Xiaoming, China's top official in Hong Kong, says the city must turn its focus to economic and social issues following the veto of the political reform plan. Photos: tvb.com, HKEJ

HK must put aside political disputes and focus on economy: Zhang

Hongkongers must put political disputes aside and focus on economic and social issues, Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong said on Monday, adding that he too will stop talking about political reform.

“From now on I will keep my mouth shut and will no longer talk about political reform at public events,” said Zhang Xiaoming, director of Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong.

In a speech, Zhang however said the lawmakers who voted down the government’s electoral reform package will need to bear “historic responsibility” for what they have done, Ming Pao Daily reported.

In his first public comments on the rejection of the universal suffrage plan, the Chinese official said the actions of the pan-democrat lawmakers went against mainstream public opinion.

Meanwhile, he acknowledged the contributions and support given by pro-establishment legislators for the reform plan.

The most important task for the Hong Kong government now is to dedicate itself to issues such as housing and youth employment, Zhang said, adding that the Liaison Office will assist in promoting greater cooperation between the city and Beijing.

Wong Kwok-kin, a lawmaker representing the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, said Beijing’s decision to put aside talks on political reform is a tactical move. By steering the focus away from political issues, authorities aim to prevent the democrats from asserting their strength, Wong said.

Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said as there are still two years to go before the 2017 chief executive election, there is enough time to come up with a plan that gives Hong Kong people genuine universal suffrage.

Leong said he will continue to demand re-launch of political reform.

He said Beijing’s call for focus on the economy is missing the big picture, as economic and political issues are interlinked.

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TL/AC/RC

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