Why lawmakers from both political camps are keen on a US trip

August 12, 2019 14:39
A group of Hong Kong lawmakers will visit the US later month to exchange information on the political and social situation in the city. Photo: Bloomberg

Apart from being a local resistance movement, the anti-extradition bill saga in Hong Kong has become a sideshow of the great power rivalry between the United States and China.

To prevent “foreign forces” from intervening in Hong Kong affairs, Beijing recently mounted a new round of public opinion war.

For example, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong summoned an official of the US Consulate General in the city to lodge a protest over an American diplomat's reported meeting with some "Hong Kong independence” activists.

However, since Hong Kong is an international metropolis, one should understand that it is common for local political figures to exchange views with foreign political parties or officials.

After all, regular dialogue can help the international community understand Hong Kong more and better.

In line with this goal, six lawmakers -- cutting across both the political camps -- will pay a visit to the US in the middle of this month to meet with their American counterparts from the Republican and the Democratic Parties.

Among the Legislative Council delegation, four are pan-dems -- Ip Kin-yuen, a lawmaker who represents the education sector functional constituency; James To Kun-sun of the Democratic Party; and Dennis Kwok Wing-hang and Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu of the Civic Party.

The remaining two are from the pro-establishment camp, i.e. Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee of the New People’s Party and Felix Chung Kwok-pan of the Liberal Party.

Yeung told us that the trip was arranged at the beginning of this year, long before the outbreak of the anti-extradition bill movement.

He said that as Hong Kong is now in the midst of turmoil, the US trip couldn’t be more “timely”, and that the pan-dems will seize the opportunity to explain Hong Kong’s current situation to American lawmakers.

Before joining the rest of the delegation in Washington, Yeung and his party colleague Kwok will first go to New York to attend a number of events and deliver speeches on the Hong Kong issue.

As far as Ip is concerned, she told us that although the tensions between Washington and Beijing have been deepening in recent months, she will still go ahead with the scheduled two-day trip to the US.

Even though the US is well-aware that the extradition bill has been suspended, many American politicians are still very concerned about the ongoing unrest in the city, as well as whether “one country, two systems” is still being fully implemented, Ip noted.

As such, she hopes she can explain the true situation to US lawmakers during the upcoming trip, the pro-Beijing politician said, adding that many people in Washington aren’t well-informed about the real situation in Hong Kong.

Ip added that whenever US Congress members visited Hong Kong over the past one year, she would always try her best to arrange for meetings with them in order to convey to them the “real picture” of the city.

It is understood that at first, the US had sent invitations to four pro-establishment lawmakers for the visit, as they did in the case of the opposition camp.

However, Martin Liao Cheung-kong, the convener of the pro-Beijing camp, was said to have been unavailable due to a prior engagement, while Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, simply declined the invitation because she just didn’t want to participate at all.

Now that pro-Beijing camp members are outnumbered by the pan-dem counterparts in the delegation to the US, Ip and Chung will have their work cut out for them trying to articulate their stance as they will likely face doubts and criticism during their engagements.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 10

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.