At end-April, Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong held its first ever public open day, after which its director Wang Zhimin told the media that he had sent invitations to all Legislative Council members to pay a visit to the office.
However, some pan-democratic lawmakers have suggested that the reality was somewhat different, as they said they never received any invitation to a gathering from the liaison office.
As Wang did mean it when he said he wanted to invite all lawmakers to a gathering at the liaison office, some pro-establishment lawmakers are said to have approached the pan-dems and tested the water with them to find out whether they would be willing to accept the invitation.
According to the pro-establishment lawmakers, the pan-dems didn’t reject the idea outright for the time being.
Also, they said, chances are, only the moderate pan-dems would attend the event.
In other words, Wang’s ‘warm and welcoming’ invitation has so far failed to achieve any major breakthrough in terms of facilitating dialogue with the entire pro-democracy camp.
According to some sources familiar with the matter, Wang’s bid to invite the pan-dems to an event at his office is still pretty much a work in progress, and things may not happen in a rush. It is believed that the gathering is highly unlikely to take place before the Legco summer break in July.
The pan-dems, in fact, have every reason to think twice before accepting any invitation to a party at the liaison office, as many of them are still haunted by the painful lesson that the Democratic Party had learnt in the past.
In 2010, leaders of the Democratic Party set foot in the liaison office to discuss the political reform proposal put forward by the then chief executive, Donald Tsang Kam-kuen, with Beijing officials, only to be fiercely accused of going against their supporters who voted for them.
Due to the meeting, the Democratic Party alienated a lot of its loyal supporters, and suffered catastrophic defeat in the 2012 Legco election.
In fact, under the current sensitive political atmosphere, pan-dems could risk being labeled as capitulators if they ever visited the liaison office.
As a pro-democratic lawmaker said, unless there are really some crucial issues to discuss, he doesn’t believe it is the right time to get close to the liaison office for a gathering.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 29
Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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