Four pan-democrat legislators, along with six from pro-Beijing parties, have been invited to a short meeting with state leader Zhang Dejiang next Wednesday. It would be the first meeting between the pan-democrats and Beijing officials since the sides met in Shenzhen on political reform in May last year. The meeting is scheduled before a banquet with Zhang on May 18 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. According to invited lawmakers, it would be a pre-dinner cocktail reception lasting around 40 minutes. The invitation was made by Edward Yau Tang-wah, director of the Chief Executive’s Office. Zhang Dejiang’s visit shows Beijing’s ‘care and love’ for city, says member of think tank The invited pan-democrats were Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit, Labour Party’s Cyd Ho Sau-lan, and health services lawmaker Joseph Lee Kok-long. Zhang, who chairs the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and oversees Hong Kong affairs, will arrive in the city on May 17 for a three-day visit. He will become the first mainland state leader to visit Hong Kong since 2012. The invitation for lawmakers to meet Zhang came after at least 18 lawmakers from the pan-democratic camp said they would not attend the banquet. Lau said she would be attending the meeting with Zhang after consulting with her party. “Hong Kong people are now angry and jittery as Beijing is stepping up interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs,” she said. Lau said she would highlight the importance of introducing universal suffrage as soon as possible and raise the issue of the bookseller disappearances. Leong said even though pre-dinner cocktails was “not the best arrangement” it was still better than “a banquet where you cannot even see Mr Zhang with a telescope.” Zhang Dejiang unlikely to touch on Hong Kong independence during visit, says source from mainland China He agreed the meeting would be a good chance for a state leader to directly hear the views of pro-democracy lawmakers who represented the majority of Hong Kong voters. But Ho said she would not attend the meeting. “We hope to have a proper work meeting with Zhang Dejiang on the pressing issues facing Hong Kong,” she said. “We don’t want to just exchange pleasantries at a cocktail party.” Lee said he would most likely attend the meeting with the hopes of discussing problems in the city’s governance, though had yet to make a final decision. Across the political divide, the six pro-establishment lawmakers invited to the meeting included Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong’s Starry Lee Wai-king. Lee said it was a “positive signal” that Zhang wanted to meet with different lawmakers even though his schedule is very tight. “I hope this will build a good basis for communications in the future,” she said. New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, another invitee to the meeting, said she would go as an executive councillor and intended to give more chance for pan-democrats to express their views. Zhang Dejiang won’t express preference for chief executive election during Hong Kong visit But Liberal Party lawmaker Felix Chung Kwok-pan, who was also invited, said the pro-establishment legislators should have the same amount of time. The other pro-establishment lawmakers invited include Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, Federation of Trade Unions’ Chan Yuen-han, Business and Professionals Alliance’s Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen and commercial sector lawmaker Martin Liao Cheung-kong.