Zhang Dejiang “seemed to endorse continued dialogue with pan-democrats,” pro-democracy lawmakers said at the Legislative Council on Wednesday evening. The legislators had just attended a cocktail party with Zhang – China’s No. 3 official who is also in charge of Hong Kong affairs.

“During the very short time that we had, I can only say that Mr. Zhang Dejiang seemed to endorse the idea of continued dialogue with the pan-democrats and this [is] the first ever formal recognition of the constitutional status of pan-democratic legislators,” the Civic Party’s Alan Leong Kah-kit said. “And it seems that Mr. Zhang is of the view that such kinds of dialogue should continue.”

pan democrat press con after zhang dejiang
The pro-democracy lawmakers. Photo: Chantal Yuen, HKFP.

Leong, The Labour Party’s Cyd Ho Sau-lan, the Democratic Party’s Emily Lau Wai-hing, as well as Health Services representative Joseph Lee Kok-long were among ten lawmakers invited to the gathering. The remaining six were pro-Beijing lawmakers.

Not ‘up to standard’

Lau told reporters that Zhang listened to them speak for around 10 minutes, before speaking for around 20 minutes himself. Leong added that Zhang did not respond to specific questions.

At the cocktail party, “I told Mr. Zhang in the presence of CY Leung that CY Leung had not been up to standard in running Hong Kong and he had better not seek a reelection for another five years… CY Leung came across to me as a little anxious, especially when the four of us were speaking,” said Leong. He added later that it may be because the chief executive could not “control” the situation.

He said that he hoped Beijing would revisit the issue of universal suffrage for Hong Kong “so as to enable us to have elections which will comply with the Basic Law and with international human right[s] standards. I also mentioned the Lee Bo case which seriously undermined One Country Two Systems,” said Lau.

Zhang Dejiang.
Zhang Dejiang addresses a banquet held in his honour. Photo: GovHK.

Five booksellers, including Lee Bo and Gui Minhai, who are British and Swedish citizens respectively, disappeared at the end of last year. The five resurfaced separately in the mainland this February and March. All worked at Causeway Bay Books, which was known for selling books banned in mainland China.


The lawmakers handed letters to Zhang saying that the Chinese government should stop interfering with Hong Kong affairs. The Labour Party also invited Zhang in their letter to listen to the protesters who were demonstrating on Wanchai’s Fleming Road that evening.

Alan Leong Ka-kit
Alan Leong. Photo: Chantal Yuen, HKFP.

“Zhang Dejiang seemed to brush aside our observations and analysis of what brought Hong Kong to where we are today by saying that there is a world trend for referendums to be organised in this country and that country, and it seems that there is nothing unique about Hong Kong people demanding even independence,” said Leong.

Lau said that the effect of their meeting may be seen through what Zhang says when he leaves Hong Kong and what he does in Beijing.

pan dems zhang statement
Photo: InMedia.

The lawmakers headed to a protest area on Fleming Road after the press conference, where various pro-democracy organisations were holding a demonstration.

Zhang also spoke at a summit on Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative at the Exhibition Centre on the same day. He will be in the city until Thursday. Pro-democracy organisations protested against his visit this morning and evening.

chantal yuen

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.