Baby, or infant, formula is a manufactured food for babies often used as a substitute for breast milk. It is a powder or liquid concentrate that is mixed with water and fed through a bottle. It is widely used in Asia, which represents 53% of the global market share. In Hong Kong, a shortage in availability of baby formula led to restrictions on how much could be taken out of the city and into mainland China.
Beijing hints at displeasure over Hong Kong's handling of baby formula issue
Top mainland official urges lawmakers to be more sensitive to needs of their neighbours
Adrian Wan in Beijing, Joshua But and Jeffie Lam
A top mainland official in charge of Hong Kong affairs yesterday urged the city's political appointees to improve their sensitivity when it comes to policies which have an impact on the mainland.
Citing the controversy over the limit on mainlanders taking baby milk formula across the border, Wang Guangya, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said there was a need to explain clearly to mainland cities and provinces the impact of Hong Kong's policies.
His message was quoted by Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen after a closed-door meeting with a delegation of 16 undersecretaries and political assistants in Beijing yesterday.
The group began a five-day trip taking classes at the Chinese Academy of Governance.
"He said the central government would continue to support Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the SAR government to govern in accordance with the law. He also expects all the undersecretaries and political assistants [to] have the morality to support the chief executive and the government," said Tam.
Wang also expected all colleagues to be politically sensitive in relation to universal suffrage and policies that will have an impact on the city's co-operation with the mainland, said Tam.
"When policies are [enacted], it is equally important to communicate them [to] citizens and local governments on the mainland," Wang was quoted as saying.
Veteran commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said mainland officials believed Hong Kong lacked political talent and the message was directed at the undersecretaries and political assistants, and those above them.
Wang's mention of the baby milk formula controversy reflected Beijing's disappointment over how Hong Kong had handled an issue that affected the lives of mainlanders.
But Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said Wang's "completely illogical and inappropriate" remarks were intended to put pressure on limits placed on infant formula.
"The political appointees are paid by Hong Kong taxpayers' money - they should take care of Hongkongers' interests first instead of mainlanders'," said Mo. "It is unacceptable for Wang to intervene in the city's internal policy."