Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip has said that he exchanged views on by-election arrangements with Beijing authorities.
Nip visited Beijing for a two-day trip on Tuesday and Wednesday, his first visit since he was appointed secretary in July. His tours included a visit to the Hong Kong government office in Beijing, courtesy calls at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, and the Zhongguancun Beijing-Hong Kong-Macao Youth Innovation Center.
Nip met with Huang Liuquan, the Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, on Wednesday.
Six lawmakers were disqualified by Hong Kong courts for not taking their oaths of office properly, following an interpretation of the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s de facto constitution – issued by Beijing in November. By-elections to replace the lawmakers have yet to be scheduled.
When asked if he discussed by-election plans with the officials, Nip said: “We expressed the stance of the Hong Kong government and what our plans are – we have notified the relevant departments and discussed with them.”
“There are relevant ongoing legal proceedings. Only when legal proceedings are completed or when the situation is clear, will we conduct by-elections in accordance with laws and actual constitutions. It is too early to discuss the details.”
Nip said he did not discuss the case of Howard Lam with Huang. Lam, a Democratic Party member, claimed to be abducted by mainland agents but was arrested for allegedly giving false information.
The secretary said he will try to understand the situation when the police completes its investigation: “The meeting with Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office was held to exchange views on our work projects.”
Nip also met with Li Fei, the Deputy Secretary General of the National People’s Congress. He said it was a courtesy call.
“We have a work relationship. We did not discuss specific items,” he said.
Asked if he will arrange for pro-democracy lawmakers to visit Beijing, Nip said it depended on the lawmakers’ wishes: “The ball is not in my court.”
He said the government was willing to assist in communications, and so was the central government.