Hong Kong delegates to national advisory body play crucial role

The representatives from the city to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference may be friendly towards Beijing but coming from diverse backgrounds, they can also help foster better Hong Kong-mainland ties

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2018, 5:14am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2018, 5:13am

The time when officials were expected to keep a low profile after stepping down from government office has long gone. Increasingly, many continue to play an active role in public affairs, including serving in various capacities at the national level.

Given their experience in facing the public and dealing with central government officialdom, they can help foster better Hong Kong-mainland relations. 

Dozens of new faces from Hong Kong join top China advisory body 

Among the new batch of appointees to the state advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, are Dr Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, former head of the World Health Organisation and the city’s director of health; former food and health minister Dr Ko Wing-man; ex-police chief Andy Tsang Wai-hung; and former security minister Lai Tung-kwok.

Earlier, the newly elected deputies to the National People’s Congress also comprised veteran former officials, all with solid experience in public administration and cooperation with the mainland authorities. 

There are those who believe that the positions are handed out as a reward for political allegiance. Some also question whether it will fuel expectations among incumbent officials, so much so that they may try their best to please Beijing and compromise Hong Kong’s interest. We hope this is not the case. Top officials are required to serve the city wholeheartedly, while giving due regard to national development interest. The two are not necessarily in conflict. 

Of the 2,158 CPPCC delegates from around the country, about 200 are from Hong Kong. The appointments also mark one of the biggest reshuffles for the city in recent years, with more than 50 new faces. Some of them are known for being outspoken.   

Another welcome trend is the appointment of more people with professional qualifications. Traditionally, the advisory body was dominated by tycoons, some of whom had made use of their status for networking on the mainland.

The business community still provides the majority of delegates from Hong Kong but the inclusion of more professionals, former officials and veterans from various sectors is a positive step towards a more diversified make-up of the city’s representatives.  

Old hands among new faces at China’s top political advisory body

That said, the positions are still primarily filled by Beijing-friendly figures. It would be good for the central government to reach out to a wider spectrum of opinions. Similarly, the delegates should also strive to reflect different voices in the local community.

As they are supposed to advise Beijing not just on Hong Kong but also national issues, it is incumbent upon them to better understand the interests and needs of both the country and the city. Hopefully, they can contribute to improving the relations between both sides.