Thursday, 1 December 2016

Beijing Dangles an Olive Branch

How did Robert Chow score meetings with officials like Wang Guangya?
It's all relative isn't it.

Now that the Hong Kong pan-democrats seem completely tame next to the localists, the Chinese government has decided to grant the pan-dems mainland travel documents from now on.

But the pan-democrats aren't buying it. Leung Yiu-chung of the Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre says it is a two-pronged strategy by Beijing to break the ice with opposition lawmakers, while cracking down hard on independence advocacy.

Leung Yiu-chung isn't convinced by Beijing's olive branch
"If officials would like to talk about relaunching the city's political reform process, I would go anytime, even this afternoon, but there is no need for another sightseeing trip," To said.

What was also bizarre about the announcement was that it came not from Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, but from the pan-democrats' fiercest critic, Robert Chow Yung, who runs the pro-establishment group Silent Majority for Hong Kong.

He has managed to score meetings with Wang Guangya, director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People's Congress, and Chen Zuoer, chairman of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies.

The fact that Chow got these meetings -- one purportedly lasting as long as two hours -- shows that even Leung Chun-ying doesn't quite have the guanxi touch anymore.

Nevertheless, at least three pan-democrats who have been unable to renew their mainland travel documents for more than a decade -- Democrat James To Kun-sun, "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung from the League of Social Democrats, and Leung Yiu-chung -- have said they will not apply for permits.

Leung Kwok-hung isn't applying for a permit anytime soon
"I also found it very strange that Chow was informed before the local government. It seems Beijing has downgraded the local government," Leung Yiu-chung said.

When asked if he knew about the announcement from Beijing, Leung Chun-ying declined to confirm, only saying he had been "working hard to advocate that the central government promptly allow our pan-democrat friends [to visit the mainland]".

Hmmm... since when were the pan-democrats his "friends"?

Even Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, Hong Kong's sole representative on the National People's Congress Standing Committee didn't know about the latest development. She saw it as a gesture to the pan-democrats that "if you are not [advocating independence] there is no reason why there should be no communication [between us]".

Very interesting development, but also good on the pan-democrats for sticking to their guns. Democracy is worth much more than a travel permit to the mainland...

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