Former Democratic Party lawmaker tells Beijing official Hong Kong chief executive should not be re-elected

Feng Wei, deputy director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, met Fred Li last week to exchange views on the city

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 October, 2016, 5:34pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 October, 2016, 11:31pm

A senior Beijing official from the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office travelled to Hong Kong to meet a democrat ahead of a key meeting of the Chinese Communist Party, it emerged on Saturday.

Feng Wei, deputy director of the office, invited the party’s former lawmaker Fred Li Wah-ming for lunch last week to talk about local issues, including his view on Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

It emerged earlier that Feng also met Ronny Tong Ka-wah of Path of Democracy and Tik Chi-yuen of Third Side separately in Shenzhen last week.

These were reportedly part of a series of meetings Feng held with Hong Kong politicians to assess the city’s political situation after the September 4 elections, in which the opposition pan-democrats and localists secured 30 of the 70 seats in the next Legislative Council – three more than in the previous council.

The meetings took place ahead of the Chinese Communist Party’s key sixth plenum in late October, which signifies the start of Beijing’s five-yearly political reshuffle season.

“I brought up the topic and told him that Leung should not be re-elected as chief executive as he has divided Hong Kong society, and that it would be very destructive towards Hong Kong’s future,” Li said.

“Basically there is no tolerance towards opposing voices now, as [Leung] treats others as enemies.

“In terms of affinity, of course [financial secretary] John Tsang [Chun-wah] is doing better. It can be seen from his communication skills and his tolerance towards different ideas.”

He said during the meeting, which lasted about an hour, he felt from Feng’s tone that the central government had not made its final decision on chief executive candidates.

Q&A: Feng Wei fields a range of questions, from city’s economic development to democratic processes

Li said Feng also followed the Legislative Council election results with interest, especially on the rise of localists, believing it would bring challenges to the leadership.
Ronny Tong also told Feng that Beijing should consider another candidate for chief executive next year, and that the official had expressed concern over increasing calls for independence in Hong Kong. He declined to say whether or how Feng responded to his suggestions.

The vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, Lau Siu-kai, believed the meetings were normal as they were aimed at expanding communication between the central government and the Hong Kong community.

“Contacts between both sides have been expanded so they would not only involve the pro-government camp. They also approached the pan-democrats,” Lau said.

Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Beijing-loyalist party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said it was a good thing for people with different political views to have informal meetings.

But she said one meeting would not be sufficient to solve the issues currently faced by the city.