• Tue
  • Sep 23, 2014
  • Updated: 9:21am
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POLITICS

Top Beijing official's 'sensitive' visit to border town raises eyebrows

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 11:44am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 June, 2014, 3:17am
 

A visit by Beijing's top representative in Hong Kong to one of the city's border towns has drawn mixed reactions, with one commentator calling it a PR exercise as part of a popularity contest with the US consul general.

The central government's liaison office posted photographs on its website late on Thursday showing its director, Zhang Xiaoming , visiting Sheung Shui and talking to shopkeepers and residents.

"Director Zhang has paid a visit ... to learn on the ground how the individual visitor scheme and parallel-goods trading have impacted on people's lives," the accompanying article said.

In one picture, Zhang is sitting down in a cha chaan teng, drinking tea with people. He also visited the border checkpoint at Lo Wu and talked to customs officers on the Shenzhen side.

Liaison office chiefs seldom visit local neighbourhoods.

Zhang's trip came while Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was on leave and out of town.

Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said he did not view the visit negatively. "Zhang tries to show he is reaching out to the people," he said. "This is better than what the liaison office usually does - attending cocktail parties and meeting only the rich and the powerful."

Choy also said the visit could have been part of a campaign to improve the image of the liaison office in the face of "competition" from US Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau Clifford Hart, who is often pictured on Facebook dining at cheap restaurants and engaging with locals.

Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said: "It's all right for Zhang to come out and have a cup of tea and eat egg tarts as long as he does not interfere with Hong Kong's domestic affairs under Article 22 of the Basic Law." The individual visit scheme, launched in 2003, allows 270 million people in 49 cities to visit Hong Kong without joining tour groups.

 

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15

This article is now closed to comments

ngsw
Why some people are so bigoted that those not bashing mainland officials are working for Beijing? Ha ! Ha! Wu mao in my bank account, just earn 50 cents, hurray.
Paradox314
Almost every single comment posted so far was done so by Wu mao's! What's up with that?
shuike
If you are that guy, would you want a HK government stool tagging along showing you pre-arranged scenarios? This way you get to the truth. Pointing out the correct path makes me a Wu-Mao? And by the way what is Wu-Mao? This is HK - speak CANTONESE. Otherwise don't drag others down to your level of intelligence.
HK-Explorer
He was right to go by himself and take a look. If he had gone with HK government officials shop keepers would have been wary and everywhere he went the people would have been prepped on what to say / act. In this case he was able to see facts as facts without interference of HK government.
This shows a very serious (not for show) effort to understand the real issues, see the packed streets and make informed decisions.
Many of the issue plaguing HK today is because HK government officials wanting to gain favor with mainland officials tries to sugar coat everything. Hopefully now something concrete to improve HK can be accomplished.
There will never be anything gained if every single step by a mainland official is over analyzed and given a negative front. Sometimes just see an initiative for what it really is a opportunity for improvement.
lib_prc

Our HK compatriots are just the same bunch as us - both are losers (and don't know how to lose) as neither group understands or plays team sports...the lack of a team sports culture is the root evil of all Chinese societies around the world but most of us are turning a blind eye to it...the likes of SCMP of course are good at distracting our attention from tackling this root evil...so far SCMP is gaining against all of us...
mh0908
He wants these small business owners, mom and pop shops to know that when Beijing reduces the cross-border commerce by reducing daily crossings, that the Central Government should not be blamed if they go out of business.
syn
Not a big deal. Meanwhile on Lantau development news...
Hollander323
that is the right thing to do... should have done that earlier... being late better than never...well done director Zhang..
HK-Lover
I am for sure against Beijing interfering into our internal affairs in Hong Kong .
However, having said that, we also want Beijing to have a better understanding of the Hong Kong situation and a field trip is the best way to learn about Hong Kong.
However, he should have been more sensitive and gone together with Hong Kong officials.
ngsw
No, quite the contrary. I think he is sensible, or deliberately, to go without HK officials, to avoid the impression of a boss leading his aides.

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