A picture showing President Xi Jinping walking side by side with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor at the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge has sparked a whole bunch of interpretations and conjectures in local political circles.
Some members of the pro-establishment camp confirmed to us that, coincidentally, the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) has sent a team of officials led by deputy director Feng Wei to the city to “sniff around” and meet with local figures from different sectors on a wide range of social and political issues.
Executive Council member Ronny Tong Ka-wah, who used to stay in touch with Feng in the past, told us last Friday that Feng wasn’t scheduled to meet him, but admitted that some other officials of the HKMAO had contacted him recently.
It is understood that apart from pro-establishment figures, Wei and his team have also met with members of the pro-democracy camp this time to seek their views on various issues.
According to the pan-dems, Feng discussed with them, among other things, the worst things that could possibly happen in Hong Kong once the legal process of enacting Article 23 is activated.
They believe Feng’s particular interest in the topic doesn’t necessarily mean the enactment of Article 23 is part of Beijing’s agenda in the short run.
Feng probably was just trying to evaluate the general situation before any judgement could be made, the pan-dems said.
On the other hand, other pan-dems believe the 61-year-old Feng, whose retirement has recently been postponed, could have been given a special mission by Beijing to come here not only to seek views on short-term issues but also to plan for a long-term strategy on the territory.
Given his legal background, his substantial experience in Hong Kong and Macau affairs, as well as his relatively good understanding of the moderate pan-democrats, Feng is undoubtedly one of the ideal choices for such a mission.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct 26
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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