Beijing’s top man in Hong Kong has said it was in the interests of Hong Kong that the the government in Central and the Liaison Office in Sai Wan work on issues closely together.
Wang Zhimin, director of the Liaison Office, was speaking in both Mandarin and Cantonese when he said: “Many friends have told me, including those here, that it is good for Central and Sai Wan to walk together. This phrase speaks for the hearts of Chief Executive Carrie Lam and I, as well as Hong Kong compatriots and young people.”
“Because, when Central and Sai Wan walk together, it is to work for the future development of Hong Kong, the country and young people,” he added. “We will work together more in the future, we will walk together more, so that you can see more results.”
He was speaking at the opening of the new headquarters for the uniformed group, the Hong Kong Army Cadets Association.
Lam was also present at the ceremony. She said she has known Wang for 12 years: “Today, we can work together on youth development, for me – as the chief executive – and for Zhimin as the director of the Liaison Office, I feel it is fate. It also shows that the central and Hong Kong government both care a lot about Hong Kong youth.”
The Liaison Office has often been criticised for interfering in Hong Kong matters, from education to local elections. Article 22 of the Basic Law stipulates that no department of the central government may interfere in affairs which Hong Kong administers on its own.
Rita Fan, who will soon step down from the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said it was not appropriate for the Hong Kong government to rely on the Liaison Office to secure votes for government bills at the Legislative Council, but denied there were ever instances of “Sai Wan ruling Hong Kong.”
The Hong Kong Army Cadets Association was set up in 2015 as a new uniformed group which recruits local students to experience military life with the People’s Liberation Army.
In 2016, it was embroiled in controversy after local media reported that it received approval to turn an old school building in Kowloon Bay into its headquarters because of political connections. It beat the other bidders – Boys’ Brigade Hong Kong and Hong Kong Adventure Corps – both of which have decades of history and thousands of members.