Hong Kong delegates to the nation's top advisory body have been told by a mainland official not to skip meetings and to avoid long, lavish dinners during the annual congress in Beijing.
Yin Xiaojing, deputy director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, gave the city's delegates a tongue-lashing during a closed-door panel discussion in Beijing yesterday morning.
Yin, herself a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, reminded Hong Kong delegates that they should attend meetings, keep a low profile and be frugal in their spending while in the capital, according to some delegates who attended the discussion.
"We were told not to go out and have lavish dinners. If we really need to, we should do it individually or in small groups," said James Tien Pei-chun, a CPPCC delegate and the Liberal Party leader.
"We were told not to show off our CPPCC delegate credentials or move around in a high-profile manner, because delegates from other provinces and municipalities have been restrained from doing so."
Fellow delegate Chan Yuen-han said Yin reminded them to attend all meetings.
"She said if we have to skip some of the meetings, we should inform the secretariat office in advance," Chan said.
Yin told the delegates that since there were only five full-member meetings, "it is not good to be absent for three of them without giving advance notice".
Another delegate, who refused to be named, repeated the same message.
The delegate said Yin demanded a higher attendance rate among Hong Kong delegates, particularly for those meetings that senior central government officials would attend.
"Yin noted that the attendance of Hong Kong delegates at those briefings held in Guangdong was far from satisfactory. Usually fewer than half of the delegates showed up," the delegate said. "It was much lower than that of Macau delegates to the CPPCC and Hong Kong National People's Congress deputies.
"The liaison office had made huge efforts in arranging these briefings by senior mainland officials. Yet they were met with a lukewarm response from Hong Kong delegates and it put the liaison office in a very embarrassing position," the delegate added.
There are more than 100 Hong Kong delegates to the CPPCC, with most of coming from the business sector.
The annual gatherings of China's rich and powerful always provide networking opportunities for Hong Kong delegates.
In the past, it was not uncommon for a delegate to spend more time at the dinner table than in the conference hall. But this year, the mood of the conference has turned sombre following the crackdown on official extravagance by President Xi Jinping .