Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong should recruit locals who understand city, political heavyweight says

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PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 7:10pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 11:25pm

Pro-establishment heavyweight Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai has suggested Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong consider recruiting local staff so the office will speak the language of Hongkongers and better understand the city’s culture.

Fan, the city’s sole delegate to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said all staff currently at the office were from mainland China, mainly Guangdong province with the rest from Fujian province and various other places.

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“Hong Kong people have their own ways of talking, while mainlanders also have their own ways. If you talk to Hong Kong people using the way you talk in the mainland, you may not think there are any problems, but I may not like it,” she said in Beijing on Friday.

“If Hong Kong people are recruited, the office’s mainland staff would understand the Hong Kong culture better.”

The liaison office has had Hong Kong staff in the past, she added.

Fan was responding to inquiries about the future role of the liaison office, amid concerns that it had interfered in the city’s internal affairs. Article 22 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s constitution, bars mainland officials from interfering in affairs within Hong Kong’s autonomy.

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On reports suggesting it had been canvassing pro-establishment figures to vote for Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in the chief executive election race, Fan asked them to come forward if this was true.

She said Lam, the former chief secretary, had already achieved the first step of uniting Hong Kong by ensuring solidarity in the pro-establishment camp, which was split in the 2012 election, when former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen lost to Leung Chun-ying.

“In the last election, there was a split within the pro-establishment camp … but this time, most of the people in Leung’s camp and Tang’s camp are supporting Mrs Lam,” Fan said.

She also said society had been so badly polarised in the past four years or so that it was going to take the next chief executive at least four years to rectify the polarisation.