Wang Zhimin remarks raise fears of more Beijing interference

January 15, 2018 15:43
Liaison Office Director Wang Zhimin (second from left) and Chief Executive Carrie Lam attend a ceremony marking the third anniversary of the Hong Kong Army Cadets Association on Sunday. Photo: China News Agency

Wang Zhimin, director of Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, said the cooperative relationship between his office and the Hong Kong government will only get closer in the future, setting off alarm bells among pan-democrats, who fear more interference from the central government.

Addressing a ceremony marking the opening of the new headquarters and the third anniversary of the youth group Hong Kong Army Cadets  Association on Sunday, Wang said he and Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor shared the same wish that “Sai Wan” and “Central” must “walk together”, cooperating in an even closer fashion, Apple Daily reports.

Sai Wan is where the Beijing's top envoy in the territory resides, while Central refers to the SAR government.

Wang said such a relationship will produce more outcomes that Hong Kong people will see.

Wang, who took office in September last year, said the Liaison Office and the SAR government will work together for the development of the nation, Hong Kong and the youth.

One can be sure that more will be done and more closely the two will walk, he said.

For her part, Lam said that she and Wang have known each other since 12 years ago when Wang was in charge of the office’s youth work.

Fate has brought them to work together again to bolster youth development in Hong Kong, she said.

While they both vowed closer cooperation, Wang’s “walk together” remarks were interpreted by some pro-democracy figures as implying more interference in the government’s work from the Liaison Office.

Professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a co-founder of the 2014 Occupy Movement, wrote on his Facebook page that Wang's intention for the Liaison Office and the SAR government to "walk together" will be a violation of Article 22 of the Basic Law, which prohibits any department of the central government to interfere in the affairs of the Special Administrative Region.

Tai urged the chief executive to issue a statement clarifying that she has no intention to allow such interference to happen.

Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin said Wang appears to be trying to tell Lam that there is no way she can go her own way, since she has promised several times to keep a distance from the Liaison Office after she took office.

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