Two of the main candidates to be the next chief executive have been seen meeting mainland officials at the central government's liaison office. The discussions have fuelled speculation they may be trying to lobby Beijing for its direct support as the race heats up. Former Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying confirmed yesterday that he had visited the liaison office's headquarters in Western District on Tuesday, but refused to disclose further details. Leung's rival, Henry Tang Ying-yen, also called in at the liaison office, but sidestepped questions about the visit, saying he 'would not comment on private activities'. Earlier, Tang had told media he had 'no plan to visit the central liaison office'. However, according to people who were briefed about his visit on Tuesday, Tang arrived at the liaison office before Leung. It was not clear if the two men met each other there. Analysts believe they both wanted to find out the central government's thinking after Sunday's election for the 1,200-member electoral college that will pick the next chief executive. Beijing has not publicly indicated its backing for any candidate, though Tang is widely believed to be the preferred choice. James Sung Lap-kung, of City University, said he doubted whether Beijing would show its preference at this stage. While Tang won the support of most Election Committee members, Leung leads him by a big margin in popularity ratings. 'Beijing want to see if Tang can win back more public support and observe his performance in the coming weeks [before publicly backing him]. I don't think they will give a clear blessing to either one until mid-January,' Sung said. Two candidates from the pan-democratic camp - Albert Ho Chun-yan of the Democratic Party and Frederick Fung Kin-kee, of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood - have also declared they will run for the post. The pan-democrats won a surprisingly large number of votes in Sunday's election but are believed to have no realistic chance of winning a race heavily influenced by Beijing. Both Ho and Fung said they had not contacted Beijing officials and had no plans to do so, expressing concerns over outside interference. Leung was spotted driving to the liaison office at about 5pm on Tuesday. 'It was not the first time I visited the liaison office and it wasn't a big deal for me to do so,' Leung said, adding only that he had a brief discussion with people inside. Tang's campaign team refused to confirm or deny if he visited the liaison office on Tuesday. But earlier in the day, at a public function, Tang was asked if he would follow Leung to visit the liaison office. 'I have no idea of why he [Leung] went there. But I have no plan to go there,' he said. Chinese University political scientist Ma Ngok said the meetings showed that Beijing's interference in the chief executive race had become increasingly blatant. 'There is no such as an iron-clad vote - a signal from Beijing can take away all the support from one camp,' said Ma.