Qiao Xiaoyang’s mission to ‘promote and popularise’ Chinese constitution in Hong Kong
Former chairman of Beijing legislature’s law committee to meet top leaders and officials during trip, which city leader insists has nothing to do with contentious national security laws
A retired mainland expert on local and national constitutional affairs arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday, for what he described as a “mission to promote and popularise” the Chinese constitution here.
Qiao Xiaoyang, who recently retired as chairman of the national legislature’s law committee, is expected to study the latest developments in the city during his week-long stay, at the invitation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.
On arrival, Qiao said: “I was invited by the Hong Kong government to come and my main mission is to promote and popularise the constitution.”
He declined to say if he would discuss the implementation of national security laws in Hong Kong, or if he would ask the Hong Kong government to do more on their implementation, only saying: “You will know, afterwards.”
Qiao is expected to address senior civil servants, ministers and members of Lam’s cabinet, the Executive Council, on Friday morning, before lunch with Lam at Government House.
In the afternoon he is scheduled to visit the Legislative Council and meet its president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen.
He is also expected to attend a forum the following day organised by the Joint Committee for the Promotion of the Basic Law of Hong Kong, an organisation formed by people involved in the drafting the Basic Law – the city’s de facto constitution – in the 1990s.
“They have also arranged some VIP visits [for me],” Qiao said. “I have not been here for quite a while, since I came for the 20th anniversary of the handover [of Hong Kong from British rule to Chinese] last July.
“I would like to see the new facilities, new features, and new developments of Hong Kong. I will also meet some friends.”
A Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau spokesman declined to discuss Qiao’s itinerary, saying the visit was unofficial. A spokesman for Lam’s office also said it had no information to release.
Qiao is the second mainland representative within a week to speak at seminars on Hong Kong’s post-handover constitutional order. Last Sunday, the head of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, Wang Zhimin, hit out at local activists for challenging China’s sovereignty, at a symposium that Lam and former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa attended.
Lam has said Qiao’s visit had nothing to do with the recent concerns over a revival of national security laws.
Under Article 23 of the Basic Law, the local government must pass legislation against treason, secession, sedition and subversion. But the government’s last attempt to bring in such laws was shelved in 2003 after half a million residents took to the streets to oppose it, citing fears over civil liberties.