Chinese parliamentary sessions 2014

HK delegates eye greater links with motherland

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2014, 5:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2014, 6:07pm

Two Hong Kong delegates to the national legislature say Beijing should give greater attention to local affairs, with a former security chief calling on the mainland's civil service to hire young people from the city.

The arrangement could help foster "a sense of involvement in national affairs", argued Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong yesterday, ahead of the tomorrow's start of the annual National People's Congress meeting.

Lee also proposed the local garrison of the People's Liberation Army organise "systematic" volunteer events to engage local youths, to "facilitate the instillation of patriotic beliefs".

His controversial remarks to Xinhua come amid a continued call from pro-Beijing politicians to step up efforts to promote patriotism in the emerging generation, particularly after the failed bid to implement a national-education curriculum two years ago.

Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a principal law lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, said hiring locals into mainland officialdom did not infringe upon the "one-country, two-systems" structure but the arrangement could not be reciprocal.

"The Hong Kong system has always been that only permanent residents of the city can become civil servants," he said.

Lee said he felt "distressed" about teenagers "walking astray" and joining recent protests against mainland tourists.

The People's Daily suggested Hong Kong restrict the "overwhelming" entry of mainland tourists, an unprecedented stance for state media.

"There are reasons for the scope to be narrowed a bit," the commentary article argues. "Hong Kong [can] draw reference from Taiwan's practice of setting a daily quota."

Taiwan allows 3,000 mainland tourists a day.

Greg So Kam-leung, the secretary for commerce and economic development, brushed off the suggestion. "We won't shut our door and … restrict tourists." He insisted tourism development would be "healthy". Peter Wong Man-kong, another NPC delegate, said the Article 23 provision in the Basic Law covering national security should legislated. He cited worries about "external forces".

Wong declined to say whether he was asking Beijing to put pressure on the city's government.

Additional reporting by Tony Cheung in Beijing