Lu Ping: Too many Chinese mainlanders being allowed into Hong Kong
Ex-Beijing official says visit scheme is 'too open', but urges Hongkongers to consider their feelings
Emily Tsang and Tony Cheung
The Beijing official who was in charge of Hong Kong affairs in the run-up to the handover says too many mainlanders are being allowed into the city.
Lu Ping , director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office until he retired in August 1997, also described the rush by mainlanders to buy baby milk formula as "very disgraceful".
But Lu and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying urged Hongkongers to consider the feelings of mainlanders before making hostile comments.
In a pre-recorded interview with RTHK, Lu blamed the influx on the individual visit scheme, which he said was "too open".
The scheme was introduced by the central government in 2003 to help the city's economy recover from the impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome.
He appeared to back Leung's decision to put a zero quota on mainlanders giving birth in the city and capping the amount of infant milk formula that people can take out of Hong Kong.
Lu, 86 - who last year advised Hongkongers who waved the colonial flag during protests to leave China - backed a "crackdown on smuggling".
But he told the Headliner show in an interview in Shanghai, which will be broadcast tonight: "Hongkongers should consider the feelings of mainlanders … There is no need to voice degrading comments publicly, such as calling mainlanders locusts.
"This will only hurt the feelings of each other. Hongkongers should not be too utilitarian. After all, the individual visit scheme has done a lot to help the economy."
Asked about the Occupy Central movement - the plan for 10,000 protesters to blockade Central in the fight for "genuine" universal suffrage - Lu sighed and dismissed the idea. Blocking traffic would undermine investor confidence and hurt the city's competitiveness, he said. Lu also said many Hongkongers "failed to understand" that the Basic Law is part of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China.
He said: "According to the Basic Law, there is no question that chief executive candidates in Hong Kong should go through a nominating committee before being put to the popular vote … there should be some kind of limit on the number of candidates."
Last year, Lu sent a letter to the South China Morning Post blasting those advocating independence for Hong Kong. He said those who did not recognise themselves as Chinese should renounce their nationality.
Meanwhile, speaking at a question-and-answer session in the Legislative Council, Leung said "increasing capacity" was the way forward for local tourism. He also weighed in on the debate about the Sichuan quake relief fund and the plan to rezone a Central berth site from "open space" to "military use" for the People's Liberation Army.
The HK$100 million fund was endorsed in Legco last week, despite pan-democrats' efforts to block it, citing fears of mainland corruption. Leung said: "We must not ignore the mainland's progress … otherwise it would be unfair for the majority of diligent and people-oriented mainland officials, and wouldn't help maintaining our relationship with the mainland."
On the Central berth, he said the PLA had agreed it would be opened for public recreation when not in use "out of goodwill" to Hongkongers.