Wang Guangya, the director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council, met with former lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah in Shenzhen last week to discuss the chief executive election. He told RTHK that Wang mainly wished to listen to Hongkongers’ views on the election, and suggested that he may favour leadership hopeful Carrie Lam over rivals.
“He did not show any clear preference, but I felt he was inclined to think Carrie Lam was a more appropriate choice,” he said.
Tong said he met with Lam every week when he was the vice chairman of the House Committee of the Legislative Council, and that he felt Lam was a practical person who has her own way of doing things. He added that he could see Lam has a firm set of ideals when it came to governing the city.
He said rival John Tsang was seemingly trying to please people who can help him win the election, as he had changed his stance from reconciliation in society, to restarting political reform and legislating the controversial national security law.
Tsang ‘least favoured’
On Tuesday, news site HK01 cited unidentified sources as saying that Wang told Tong that former finance secretary John Tsang was the contender least supported the central government, even though the central government will not publicly support any one.
The report claimed Wang’s two reasons for not supporting Tsang were that Beijing had received unidentified negative rumours about him, whilst Lam was “clean.” It said that Tsang actively told Chinese president Xi Jinping of his intention to run for the top job in March last year, but he could not convince the central government of how he would defend “One Country, Two Systems.”
Tong told the news site that he had not heard whether the central government has any compromising information on Tsang.
Tik Chi-yuen, of the centrist group Third Side, also met with Wang in Shenzhen last week. Deputy Director Feng Wei of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office was also in attendance.
“[Wang] expressed that Carrie Lam had relatively better capability – the areas she has worked on are wider,” Tik told RTHK. “During the conversation he also mentioned the trust of the central government is very important.”
But he said Wang did not disclose who was trusted more by Beijing.
Both Tong and Tik are not members of the election committee. They both said it was natural the central government cared about the election as an important stakeholder. But Tik said he told Wang that Beijing should not make any unnecessary intervention, as it may cause Hongkongers’ to have an adverse reaction as well as affect the winner’s legitimacy.
Wang was an influential Beijing figure on Hong Kong affairs that he previously proposed four requirements for the next chief executive: love the country and Hong Kong, trusted by the central government, capable in governing and supported by Hongkongers.
The meetings came around two weeks after reports that claimed Zhang Dejiang, the Chinese state leader in charge of Hong Kong affairs, recently visited Shenzhen and told pro-Beijing chief executive electors that Carrie Lam was the only leadership contender supported by the central government.
Tong, previously a pro-democracy lawmaker, withdrew from the Civic Party and resigned from his seat. He is now considered closer to contender Carrie Lam, with rumours claiming he may be appointed the Secretary for Justice should Lam win.
Tik, in 2015, withdrew from the Democratic Party – the party he co-founded – after attending the victory day military parade in Beijing that year.
Tsang’s office said that it would not comment on rumours.