The head of the China Liaison Office thanked pro-Beijing lawmakers for their “hard work” in the failed political reform bill by holding a “tea gathering” with them on Thursday night.

The office’s director, Zhang Xiaoming expressed his “thanks and consolations” to the pro-Beijing lawmakers, adding that they were “major constructive powers” for “implementing One Country, Two Systems and the Basic Law in Hong Kong.”

Zhang reaffirmed Beijing’s assurance that pro-Beijing lawmakers have “supported the political reform bill according to the Basic Law from the beginning till the end” and that “these facts will not be changed despite the incident during the voting.”

Zhang Xiaoming speaking during the “tea gathering”. Photo: China Liaison Office

Yip Kwok-him, a lawmaker from the DAB party said on Thursday that he would “apologise” following the embarrassing walkout that occurred during the voting. This was not included in the press release by the office.

Vincent Fang Kang, leader of the pro-Beijing Liberal Party, said Zhang was “furious” over the leaking of pro-Beijing lawmakers Whatsapp messages, which highlighted Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang’s role in directing pro-Beijing legislators during the political reform vote. Local media reported that Zhang believed they should not do things that “betray their friends”.

However, Oriental Daily leaked even more Whatsapp group messages that highlighted the fallout after the embarrassing walkout during the political reform voting. The latest round of leaks included responses from Hong Kong delegates to the National People’s Congress for the first time, with one delegate commenting the incident amounted to “pure stupidity” and another saying it was a “rubbish legislature”.

New People’s Party legislator Michael Tien said Tsang was “the most sincere [person]” during the meeting. According to Tien, Tsang apologised because he “did not know there were so many people walking out [of the chamber]”, and that he “wasn’t quick enough to respond to it”.

The walkout was initiated by pro-Beijing lawmakers to force a quorum call before the political reform bill voting. However, due to a “communication gap”, the voting went on as scheduled because more than half of all legislators remained inside the chamber.

Legislator Lam Tai-fai, who represents the Industrial (Second) constituency, said during an RTHK program Friday morning, that the meeting atmosphere was “good”. He added that the China Liaison Office focused on how pro-Beijing lawmakers should unite and move forward during the meeting.

Pro-Beijing legislators during the “tea gathering” . Photo: China Liaison Office

The China Liaison Office allowed journalists access into the building for the first time to cover the meeting on Thursday night. Local media aligned with the pan-democratic camp, such as Apple Daily, were also allowed inside.

Journalists taking pictures inside the Chinese Liaison Office. Photo: Apple Daily

Previously, journalists were denied access into the building. Reporters could only interview legislators or government officials before and after their visit to the office.


Eric Cheung

Eric is currently a Bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Hong Kong. Eric has his finger on the pulse of Hong Kong events and politics. His work has been published on The Guardian, Reuters and ABC News (America).