Beijing attitude won’t change says Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam as Zhang Xiaoming takes new role
Lam said central government would maintain policies towards Hong Kong and continue to uphold ‘one country, two systems’ blueprint and Basic Law
The central government’s attitude towards Hong Kong will not be altered by the recent personnel changes in Beijing, the city’s leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor claimed on Sunday.
Lam’s remarks came days after the appointment of Zhang Xiaoming, the director of Beijing’s liaison office in the city known for his firm stance against the opposition camp, as the new chief of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.
Zhang, 54, will succeed career diplomat Wang Guangya to be the key official in charge of Hong Kong’s affairs in the capital, fuelling concerns that Beijing would tighten its grip on the city.
“I do not know why the change of personnel in the liaison office and the Hong Kong and Macau affairs office would spark that many sensitive ideas or speculations,” Lam told the press at the airport before heading to Hunan province in mainland China.
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“The so-called hardline or less hardline approach, or whether the officials are hawkish or dovish, are all labels suggested by the community,” she said.
Lam said the central government would maintain its policies towards Hong Kong and would continue to uphold the “one country, two systems” blueprint and Basic Law as usual.
The chief executive also welcomed the arrival of Wang Zhimin, the current head of Beijing’s liaison office in Macau who will take up Zhang’s former post in Hong Kong, adding she looked forward to exchanging views with him over youth work.
During Zhang’s reign, the liaison office was accused of increasingly meddling in the city’s internal affairs, including the Legislative Council and the chief executive elections.
Lam has vowed that her administration would do its own work after winning the poll in March, saying they did not need the help from liaison office in lobbying lawmakers.
Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, a semi-official think tank, said Beijing had already set the tone on its policy on Hong Kong and that would be not be changed by the latest personnel arrangements.
Executive councillor Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a middle-of-the-road politician, said it was a pity to see Wang retire, whom he described as “the most liberal Beijing official” with a relatively good relationship with the pan-democrats.
He called on Zhang to cultivate a more harmonious relationship with the city.
Meanwhile, when asked if the government would ask for tougher sentence for former student leader Billy Fung Jing-en, who were spared jail last week for the chaotic siege of a University of Hong Kong governing council meeting last year, Lam said she would not intervene and would leave it to the Department of Justice to decide.