Date
17 August 2018
The Sai Wan compound of Beijing's Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Director Wang Zhimin announced plans Tuesday to throw open the doors to the public from time to time. Photo: HKEJ
The Sai Wan compound of Beijing's Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Director Wang Zhimin announced plans Tuesday to throw open the doors to the public from time to time. Photo: HKEJ

Why I can’t wait for the Open Day of Sai Wan

It looks like a NASA edifice. It is also perceived as a top-secret building where Chinese officials plan covert operations to help Beijing tighten its grip over Hong Kong. As a symbol of power, it is seen as a mightier entity than the Hong Kong government’s headquarters in Tamar.

The Sai Wan compound of the central government’s Liaison Office has always been an object of intense curiosity among Hongkongers.

What does the building look like from within, what communications or surveillance infrastructure does it contain, and what exactly goes on behind those walls? These are the thoughts that cross the minds of people when it comes to Beijing’s headquarters in Hong Kong. 

Well, we may not know its secrets but we’ll at least get a chance soon to take a peek inside. 

During an annual social event on Tuesday, Liaison Office chief Wang Zhimin announced that his office intends to organize an Open Day soon for the public.

Wang said the door is always open and that they are always there to serve the people of Hong Kong. He insisted that there is nothing mysterious about the Sai Wan facility.

His comments, and promises of more transparency, may be a public relations exercise, but we must admit they represent a minor breakthrough.

That said, we’ll pass judgment only when the Open Day really kicks off and everyone is allowed in. 

Will the doors be open for all people, including democracy supporters, or will there be pre-screening of the visitors?

Sai Wan is a mystery to many people. The office is accused of holding secret parleys and meddling in Hong Kong affairs, eroding the “one country, two systems”, especially in the last five years.

Now, as it has promised Open Day events, Hongkongers can try to enlighten themselves on at least some mundane aspects in relation to the Chinese government facility.   

For instance, what will the Liaison Office, at the center of the Sai Wan compound, look like?

Is there any chance that the Chinese will showcase an artificial intelligence system that set off an alert, followed by a call to the editor, whenever some politically incorrect article goes online?

Wang, who took over from Zhang Xiaoming last year in the top post and is serving as Beijing’s envoy in Hong Kong, appeared to be more open than his predecessor.

The official said last night that he would like to walk along with the 7.3 million people of Hong Kong and the SAR government in the coming Year of the Dog.

We can only hope and pray that there will indeed be some improvement in our lives.  

But for the time being, I am just waiting for the Open Day at Sai Wan.

– Contact us at [email protected]

RC

EJ Insight writer

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