Pressure is growing on pan-democrat lawmakers to join a trip to Shanghai after pro-government figures said they would find a way for them to have an exclusive meeting with Beijing officials.
This emerged yesterday when one of the hold-outs, Frederick Fung Kin-kee, of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, said he was willing to go after hearing of the gesture.
But other pan-democrats want a guarantee.
"We still want the central government to give us a reply first on whether the officials are willing to have an exclusive meeting with us," Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan said.
Only 44 of the 70 lawmakers - and just one pan-democrat, radical "Long-Hair " Leung Kwok-hung - had signed up by the deadline yesterday to join the visit on April 12 and 13 for talks with Beijing officials on Hong Kong's political reform.
Pan-democrats have demanded an exclusive meeting with the director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Wang Guangya , Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei and central government liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming .
Pro-Beijing figures including Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing believe such an arrangement is possible.
Yesterday Fung quoted Tsang as saying he had heard of the possibility that establishment lawmakers would excuse themselves from a meeting with the Beijing officials to give pan-democrats an exclusive audience.
"While the pro-establishment camp hopes an exclusive meeting can be arranged for pan-democrats, [Tsang] heard that some pro-Beijing lawmakers are willing to stay away and let pan-democrats have an [exclusive] dialogue with the officials," Fung said.
Lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin said he believed most of his pro-Beijing allies would agree to such an arrangement. "We really hope - and would be very glad - to see pan-democrats finally start a rational discussion with Beijing officials on reform," he said.
But Ip Kwok-him, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said he would respect the arrangements made by mainland officials.
Ho said the pan-democratic camp, which meets today, could make a decision by Thursday, when all parties would have consulted their members.