27 May 2019
Many pro-establishment figures are eager to get a close-up look at President Xi Jinping. Photo: Reuters
Many pro-establishment figures are eager to get a close-up look at President Xi Jinping. Photo: Reuters

The scramble for tickets to meet President Xi

President Xi Jinping arrives in Hong Kong today to attend the various official events celebrating the 20th anniversary of our city’s return to the mainland, and being invited to any of these events where one can get a close-up glimpse of the paramount leader is definitely a great honor that only the absolutely privileged few can enjoy.

However, some key figures in the pro-establishment camp who had been eagerly awaiting these events were recently shocked to learn that they are actually not on the official guest list of any of these special occasions.

It is said that those who have been left out are now making a last-ditch scramble for tickets to these events.

This year the Celebrations Coordination Office enforced a two-step process when it comes to inviting guests to the handover anniversary events and confirming their willingness to attend.

First, the CCO sent a brief letter to all those whom it intended to invite either at the end of May or at the beginning of this month to notify them that the government would hold “a series of important celebration events on June 30 and July 1” without giving any further detail on what exactly is going to take place and who will be present, and ask whether the recipients of the letter were willing to attend.

The letter required those who were willing to attend to fill out a reply form and send it back to the CCO before a specific deadline. Only those who have successfully replied before the deadline would be sent an official invitation letter afterwards that provided details of the events.

However, perhaps because they were too busy and had too many things to attend to, some pro-establishment figures have missed the deadline for sending back their replies. As a result, they were considered by the CCO to be “declining to attend”, and hence their absence on the official guest list.

Among those who are not on the guest list is pro-establishment lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun, who criticized the CCO’s invitation procedure for being overly and unnecessarily complicated and causing confusion.

It is said that many pro-establishment figures who have been left out of the guest list and who are desperate to get tickets to these events are now pleading aggressively with the CCO to be lenient and make an exception this time. The next 24 hours will be their moment of truth.

As far as Paul Tse is concerned, he told media that he wouldn’t join the ongoing scramble for the last remaining tickets to the celebration events. Unless he is invited, he said he’d rather stay at home and watch the live TV broadcasts on July 1.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 28

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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