Financial Secretary John Tsang has told local media not to look too deeply into his handshake with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Hangzhou.

“I think this is a very normal thing,” he said. “I think meeting each other, shaking hands, and making conversation is very normal.”

He had previously shaken hands with the Chinese leader last June in Beijing, leading to speculation that Beijing favoured him as the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

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John Tsang during the RTHK interview. Photo: Screenshot.

See also: Financial Sec. John Tsang to ‘carefully consider’ Chief Executive run

“I thanked the president for giving us the chance, inviting us to participate in this conference, and we did not talk about anything else,” said Tsang. He refuted questions over whether they had spoken about the position of Chief Executive.

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Xi Jinping. Photo: Michel Temer via Flickr.

The speculation stems from historical moments dating back to 1996. Tung Chee-hwa won a handshake from then Chinese president Jiang Zemin while campaigning for Chief Executive elections in January 1996. Tung successfully became the city’s first leader in 1997.

After Tung stepped down in 2005, former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen attended a financial forum in Beijing where former president Hu Jintao offered a six-second long handshake.

More communication with LegCo

In response to questions over the election of six localist and pro-self-determination candidates to the Legislative Council, Tsang said that he “has not looked deeply into the results and will let scholars make a detailed analysis at the moment.”

He also added that “we should build work relationships with all lawmakers as soon as possible and strengthen communication… this path is important.”

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.