Pro-Beijing lawmakers will meet Chinese officials at the China Liaison Office on Thursday night, prompting fears that Beijing is stepping up interference in Hong Kong affairs.
Speaking to reporters in the Legislative Council, DAB legislator Tam Yiu-chung said lawmakers will “discuss issues of mutual concern” during the meeting.
He added that the “tea gathering” was organised by CLO director Zhang Xiaoming.
Pro-Beijing lawmakers were earlier seen “reporting to” the CLO following their dramatic walkout during the political reform vote, raising concerns whether Beijing is directly interfering in Hong Kong’s internal affairs.
Apple Daily reported on Wednesday that pan-democratic lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan ridiculed the CLO as organising a “consolation feast” for the pro-Beijing legislators. He also said that these lawmakers made themselves accountable to the CLO rather than the Hong Kong people.
Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen said that “it is unnecessary to say that such a dialogue would necessarily imply accountability [of pro-Beijing lawmakers to Chinese officials].” He added that the “China Liaison Office has its role in the relationship between China and Hong Kong”, and that people “should not look at this incident from a negative viewpoint”.
Pro-Beijing lawmakers were seen meeting on Wednesday ahead of the “tea gathering” to discuss the arrangements. Legislator Tse Wai-chun said that the order of speaking for the meeting was confirmed. Legislator Lam Kin-fung, who initiated the embarrassing walkout, would be among the first to give a speech.
New People’s Party chairperson Regina Ip commented that the purpose of the gathering was to “thank pro-Beijing lawmakers for their work in the past 20 months”. She added that an undisclosed Beijing official messaged her after she was seen crying during a radio show on Commercial Radio last week.
Medical legislator Leung Ka-lau, who was frequently labeled by local media as a pro-establishment lawmaker, said that he had not received an invitation to attend the tea gathering. He said during a radio show on Thursday that it would be better for him not to attend the gathering. He voted against the political reform package, and described himself as “neutral” and “independent”.
The “tea gathering” will begin on Thursday night at 9:30pm and will include a free discussion session.