The chairman of the government’s Commission on Youth Lau Ming-wai has said his British nationality does not affect his recognition as a Chinese, in response to the latest revelations from the Panama Papers.

Lau, son of property tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung, was listed as a British national when he was a director of a Beauty Opal Ltd. in September 2008, according to documents leaked from the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca. When the news broke, he said that his mother applied for British nationality on his behalf when he was young.

Lau Ming-wai.
Lau Ming-wai. File Photo; Stand News.

Lau said dual nationality was common in Hong Kong. As it was allowed under the One Country, Two Systems principle, he said there was no need for him to give up his British nationality.

“If I were to give it up, there are three situations – one is that we follow the mainland in banning dual nationality, if I have to make a choice, I will choose Chinese nationality,” he said at an event on Thursday, TVB reported. “The second is running for a Legislative Council seat… the third is joining the government, I am not interested [in either],” he added.

He disagreed that his dual nationality would affect his Chinese identity.

“It is common in democratic and free countries such as the UK, the US and Europe – no one thinks it is a problem, no one thinks status or identity is a problem,” he said. “Is it that only Chinese can understand China, and foreigners or those with dual nationalities cannot understand?… I absolutely cannot agree with that.”

autonomy china hong kong one country two systems
Photo: HKFP.

Rising star

He also said that his work at the Commission on Youth was not to tell people to blindly love the country, but to increase young people’s understanding of China.

Last week, before the news emerged, he also commented on identity issues, saying that there was no contradiction between being a Hongkonger and being Chinese.

Lau is regarded as a political rising star. Aside from his role at the Commission on Youth, he is also a member of the Commission on Strategic Development and a member of City University’s governing Council.

He was also rumoured to be appointed as the undersecretary for the Innovation and Technology Bureau, before the position was filled.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.