The Director of Immigration visited Beijing on Wednesday and met with Chinese Politburo member Meng Jianzhu, but local media were not notified of his visit until it was reported by the Chinese official news agency Xinhua.
A spokesperson for the Immigration Department told HKFP that Erick Tsang Kwok-wai visited the capital between June 15 and 18 for a courtesy call.
The department said that its usual practice was to consider notifying the media within a suitable time after the director had achieved certain results during an official visit. It does not notify media when the director goes on a courtesy call.
The department added that Tsang will visit agencies namely Ministry of Public Security, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, and the Foreign Ministry, in order to meet with officials and increase communication and cooperation with mainland authorities.
Meng, also the Secretary of Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, met with Tsang at the Zhongnanhai garden on Wednesday. He congratulated Tsang for his appointment as director in April.
Meng said that he hoped Tsang would lead the Immigration Department to perform its duties according to the law and that he would play a significant role in maintaining the long term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, according to the Xinhua report. He added that he hoped mainland and Hong Kong immigration authorities could learn from each other and work together to push forward greater convenience in border crossing.
The Hong Kong Journalist Association has criticised the government for not disclosing official visits of principal officials, including a Beijing trip of Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim in 2012, when the national education curriculum had sparked controversy.
The Education Bureau said then the visit was a courtesy call, but the association said that Hong Kong authorities in Beijing would usually notify media outlets about such visits.