Pan-dems have reservations about visiting Beijing on Oct 1

March 28, 2019 13:59
Pro-democracy lawmakers may not exactly be too eager to join a visit to Beijing and watch a military parade at Tiananmen Square on Oct. 1. Photo:  AFP

Starting from April 21, a Legislative Council delegation is going on a four-day visit to Shanghai and Hangzhou, and part of the itinerary is a tour of some of the local economic and scientific facilities.

According to government sources, local party chiefs are taking the visit very seriously, and have told the SAR government to make sure that everything with this tour will be on course and on schedule.

In April last year, members of several Legco panels – economic development, financial affairs, commerce and industry, and information technology and broadcasting – formed a delegation and visited the Greater Bay Area. Among them were several pan-democrats.

It is said that the government received largely positive feedback from the pan-dems who joined the visit, and found that it might be a viable way to facilitate dialogue between the mainland and the pro-democracy camp. That's why another mainland tour by the same four Legco panels has been arranged this year.

The delegation is going to be led by Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen himself.

It is understood that four bureau chiefs will join the tour next month. They are Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury James Lau, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah, and Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung.

Their inclusion in the tour suggests that it is intended as a crucial and high-level visit rather than just another PR stunt.

Some people in the pro-democracy camp believe that members of the delegation are likely to meet with high-ranking officials from Beijing.

However, an administration figure has suggested otherwise, saying that while it is certain that lawmakers will meet with provincial and municipal chiefs of the two cities, they might not have the opportunity to come face to face with high-level Beijing officials responsible for Hong Kong affairs.

Meanwhile, there is also talk that last year’s Legco tour to the Greater Bay Area and the visit to the Yangtze River Delta next month are just meant as a warm-up for further and closer exchanges between the pan-dems and Beijing.

Earlier on, Legco president Andrew Leung has suggested that the central government invite all Legco members to visit Beijing this coming October to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and, probably, to meet with some of our state leaders.

However, it appears that Leung’s proposal is far from being a sealed deal because, as some pan-dems have put it in private, it is “unimaginable” that pro-democracy lawmakers would be eager to join the proposed visit and attend the military parade at the Tiananmen Square on Oct. 1.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 23

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.