POLITICS

Ronny Tong think tank Path of Democracy mulls visit to Beijing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 July, 2015, 6:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 July, 2015, 1:40pm

The think tank founded by moderate lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah is considering a visit to Beijing later this year to meet a semi-official think tank.

Ivan Chu Siu-lun, a member of Tong's group, Path of Democracy, and also of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, which is close to Beijing, said he was "actively pushing" for the meeting.

"As a think tank, I think it makes sense for us to interact with the scholars of the association and discuss how to implement democracy under 'one country, two systems'," he told the South China Morning Post.

Chu said the visit was still being planned and it could happen in December, when the think tank could meet the association's leaders, who were mostly mainland academics. Chen Zuoer, former deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, is the chairman.

Tong suggested looking at the possibility "if the atmosphere was right", but said the trip idea was at a very preliminary stage.

Tong set up the group with political scholars and others last month in a bid to seek "a third path" in achieving democracy. The former Civic Party member lamented that the pan-democrats' uncompromising approach was not helpful in solving reform problems with Beijing.

Chu, 34, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, is the only person in the think tank from a pro-Beijing party.

"I feel that my role in the think tank is to foster communication between the two camps," he said. "It's good for pan-democrats to better understand the rapid developments on the mainland."

Another reason for joining, Chu said, was because of "limitations" in promoting political ideas under the DAB's banner.

"People often think we are trying to brainwash them. It's hard to find attendees for political activities sometimes."

He hoped the think tank would welcome more people, including politicians from both camps, so as to strengthen its political influence.

Chu, who runs a financial company and a lobby group and research centre called the Sustainable Development Research Institute, said he had no plans to run for election.

But he was open to serving the administration. Some of his party colleagues have become political assistants or undersecretaries of bureaus.

Meanwhile, members of the think tank will meet Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and the Democratic Party this week to seek a way forward on political reform.