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Legislative Council of Hong Kong

Three events planned for Hong Kong lawmakers to deepen ties with mainland China, but pro-democrat says he has ‘more important things to do’

  • Legislative Council president Andrew Leung reveals plans for series of meetings in Hong Kong and across border
  • But NeoDemocrats legislator Gary Fan says he will not attend lunch with liaison office in February
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 January, 2019, 7:03am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 January, 2019, 9:48am

The president of Hong Kong’s legislature has said there will be three events this year when the city’s lawmakers could deepen ties with mainland China, but one pro-democracy politician said he had “more important things to do”.

During a filming session at public broadcaster RTHK on Wednesday, Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen told his predecessor, Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, that some lawmakers expect to meet officers from Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong next month.

After visiting Legco last April, the office’s head, Wang Zhimin, has invited all lawmakers to lunch on February 19.

“The location has not been confirmed, I don’t know the details,” Leung said.

Leung said lawmakers would not have to limit themselves to discussing politics, and could also discuss societal issues with Chinese officers.

“A normal communication will benefit the 7 million Hong Kong citizens,” he said.

Apart from the lunch, Leung said some lawmakers were planning to visit the Yangtze River Delta during the Easter holidays in April.

Last year, a delegation made up of 23 pro-establishment and nine pan-democratic lawmakers spent three days touring five cities in Guangdong.

The aim was to study the “Greater Bay Area”, a project focused on forging an economic powerhouse across Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong.

Leung said it would be up to the other lawmakers to decide if the trip should happen, and which cities they should visit.

‘It’s OK to be a punching bag’, says Hong Kong Legco president Andrew Leung

He said politicians might go to Hangzhou to learn about smart city design, and could visit the headquarters of e-commerce giant Alibaba – which owns the South China Morning Post – there.

Some lawmakers have also said they wished to attend celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, in Beijing, and meet state leaders, Leung said.

Speaking after the filming session, the Legco president admitted the controversial National Anthem Law could spark conflict at Legco, but said it was hard to gauge how controversial it may be.

“I haven’t seen it [the bill],” he said. “Until we see the details of the bill, we cannot assume it is going to be controversial.”

The law is expected to introduce punishment for those who disrespect the national anthem, but the government has yet to submit the final version of the bill to Legco.

Pan-democrats to save firepower for controversial issues in Legislative Council

Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said he was unsure if lawmakers would be able to express their views to Chinese officers at the lunch in February.

“There’re no details, it’s all talk,” Wu said, adding that his party members will decide on attending after more information about the lunch comes to light.

NeoDemocrats legislator Gary Fan Kwok-wai said it was highly unlikely that he would attend the event next month.

“I see no reason to accept the invitation,” Fan said. “There are more important things to do.”

Fan also said the liaison office had yet to send lawmakers a formal invitation.

Both Wu and Fan said it was too early to comment on any possible visit to the Yangtze River Delta, as it had not been discussed in Legco.