Fact-finding mission consulting widely on Tung Teams of mainland officials who were rushed to Hong Kong during the past week to assess the political crisis have met democratic lawmakers and pro-democracy academics to gauge their views on public discontent and the controversial Article 23 legislation, it has emerged. As the city braces for another mass protest today, politicians and academics say the rare move to engage with the democrats - some of whom who are denied entry to the mainland on political grounds - is a clear sign the central government is not happy with the information it is getting through official channels. They say in the wake of this month's displays of public anger, formal communication channels, such as the Beijing Liaison Office, have failed to accurately present a full picture of the people's discontent with the draft bill and the administration of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa. Democratic Party chairman Yeung Sum last night confirmed that some mainland officials had requested separate meetings with a few of his party members, although he was not on the list himself. More than 10 democrats, including Dr Yeung, are still barred from visiting the mainland. A Democratic Party legislator, who declined to be named said he had met two mainland officials at 'provincial level'. He said the meeting was held after Mr Tung decided to defer the second reading of the controversial national security legislation last Monday. The chief executive made the move one day after Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun resigned from the Executive Council as his calls to delay the bill were rejected. The bill was originally scheduled to be put before the Legislative Council last Wednesday. The departure of Mr Tien has deepened the political crisis faced by the Tung administration. His resignation is widely regarded as signifying the end of the 'ruling coalition' of ministers and political parties and crippling the ruling team. Dozens of mainland officials from agencies such as the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, the ministries of foreign affairs and state security, and intelligence agencies are consulting with various sectors of the community. The democrat said the officials sought his views on three areas: the large turnout for the July 1 rally, controversy surrounding the Article 23 legislation and his impression of the new Chinese leadership, particularly Premier Wen Jiabao. Mr Wen received a warm reception when he toured the city during his three-day visit as part of the celebrations of the sixth anniversary of the handover. He also presided over the signing of the closer economic partnership arrangement. But he left before the start of the 500,000-strong march, during which protesters voiced discontent with the administration and urged the chief executive to shelve the controversial national security bill. The democrat said of the officials: 'They want to know why so many people are dissatisfied with the Tung administration.' But he dismissed suggestions that the mainland authorities had asked whether some 'outside forces' might have helped mobilise opposition to the government. 'They did not ask me this question, but I had the impression that they don't think the rally was mobilised by outside forces,' he said. He said mainland officials did occasionally meet members of the pro-democracy camp to gauge their views on different issues, but admitted such meetings were seldom arranged at such short notice. 'I have a feeling that they are concerned that the current political crisis will become out of control, which will affect Hong Kong's stability,' he said. Political scientist Ma Ngok, of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said it showed that the central government was trying to gauge views by itself, particularly as it seemed the Tung government had failed to present them with an accurate estimate of the July 1 rally and the public's discontent with the draft bill. Veteran China-watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said the most significant implication of the visits was that the central government had broadened its scope and was listening to different views. But Mr Lau believed it was only a 'development' in the relationship between the pro-democracy camp and the middle-ranking mainland officials, rather than a 'breakthrough'.