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Hong Kong localism and independence

Beijing official praises Hong Kong’s ‘positive energy’ and improved political atmosphere in meeting with delegation from city

  • Head of State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Zhang Xiaoming described the situation in Hong Kong as ‘stable’
  • Zhang also warned the city about the need to act in accordance with the law
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 December, 2018, 7:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 December, 2018, 11:14pm

A top Beijing official overseeing Hong Kong affairs has praised the city for showing “positive energy” and improvements in political atmosphere, even as he warned against any challenge on national security.

Zhang Xiaoming, the head of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), also promised that the central government would come up with more policy initiatives to support Hong Kong, especially in helping young Hongkongers on issues such as studies, employment and entrepreneurship.

Zhang made the remarks in a closed-door meeting on Thursday with a 70-strong delegation of the pro-Beijing Friends of Hong Kong Association, which has been visiting Beijing to meet mainland officials.

The association consists of Hong Kong deputies to the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the nation’s top advisory body.

After the meeting, NPC deputy Tam Yiu-chung said Zhang described Hong Kong as “stable”.

‘Don’t let Hong Kong be turned into base for interfering with mainland’

“Zhang said the atmosphere in Hong Kong has been ‘cleaner’, the economy and society have been stable, and the positive energy in the city has increased,” Tam told reporters.

“He also said national security is a bottom line that cannot be touched. But he did not name anyone.”

Zhang’s comments came about a week after legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick became the 10th person to be barred from standing for election, as the returning officer in the rural committee poll questioned his willingness to uphold the Basic Law and his stance on separatism.

In October, British journalist Victor Mallet was denied a work visa and had to leave Hong Kong. That was widely linked to his moderating a talk at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in August by pro-independence activist Andy Chan Ho-tin, convenor of the now-banned Hong Kong National Party.

The association’s president Henry Tang Ying-yen, formerly Hong Kong’s No 2 official, revealed that Zhang discussed some of these issues with the delegation.

Tam has a point: Beijing’s Hong Kong policy will only get tougher

“We touched on the issues of the banning of a pro-independence organisation and disqualification, and we said Hong Kong needs to act in accordance with the law,” Tang said.

But the former official said they did not specifically talk about national security legislation for Hong Kong. Under Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s government must enact its own laws to prohibit acts such as treason and subversion.

Tang also said Zhang had four requirements for the pro-Beijing camp. They need to support the city’s government, help Hong Kong to integrate into China’s national development plans, improve social atmosphere, and support young people.

Another NPC deputy, Brave Chan Yung said: “Zhang said that, whether it be employment, study or home ownership, there are bottlenecks for the young people. In this regard, the central government and the HKMAO are studying the implementation of better national measures to benefit Hong Kong.”

Chan also quoted Zhang as praising the Hong Kong government for its efforts in trying to increase the city’s land supply.

When Hong Kong democrats were welcomed with open arms by Beijing