Zhang Dejiang, the top Beijing official in charge of Hong Kong affairs, will visit Hong Kong next month at the invitation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to attend a summit on the Belt and Road Initiative. Analysts said he may give hints on the coming Chief Executive election during the visit.
Zhang is the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. He will deliver a keynote speech at the summit organised by the government, with the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Commerce, the People’s Bank of China and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the supporting bodies.
The rest of Zhang’s Hong Kong itinerary has not been announced.
Willy Lam Wo-lap, a veteran commentator on Chinese affairs, told Apple Daily that Zhang was not in charge of the Belt and Road Initiative, so he suspected that Zhang’s visit was to publicly or privately give political messages to potential Chief Executive election candidates.
“Such as sending a message by the different duration of hand shaking, it is common in mainland politics,” he said.
Lam added that Zhang may also attempt to cool the recently heated debate on Hong Kong independence.
In a written statement, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Zhang’s visit “fully demonstrates that the Central Government values and strongly supports Hong Kong’s unique role in the Initiative.”
“It also underlines the important function performed by Hong Kong in the new round of national development strategy,” Leung said.