Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has officially become a candidate for vice-chairman of China’s top national advisory body.
The Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) passed the nomination of Leung on Friday morning. It was passed by 294 support votes and two abstentions, according to Chan Wing-kee, a Hong Kong member of the 299-member Standing Committee.
The nomination will be voted on next Monday, at the annual closing meeting of the CPPCC. Should it be passed, Leung will become a vice-chairman of the CPPCC, effectively a state leader.
Leung will fly to Beijing on Sunday and stay until Wednesday to attend closing meetings of the CPPCC and the National People’s Congress.
Currently the only CPPCC vice-chairman from Hong Kong is former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. He took up the position after he stepped down from the Hong Kong post. Leung could be the first chief executive to be a CPPCC vice-chairman during his tenure.
“If there are two CPPCC vice-chairmen from Hong Kong, it shows that the central government attaches great importance to Hong Kong; the status of Hong Kong in central government’s mind will rise,” Chan told RTHK in Beijing.
“Leung has done a lot, especially standing firm on opposing Hong Kong independence; the central government appreciates it very much,” he added.
Another CPPCC Standing Committee member Henry Tang Ying-yen, former chief executive election rival to Leung, said it would not be a big issue for Leung to do both jobs as vice-chairman and the chief executive before July.
“The duration of overlap is short,” he told RTHK. “I don’t think there is a conflict in roles. The chief executive is the head of the [Hong Kong] administration, CPPCC is an institution of consultative democracy, it is not an administrative institution.”
“I believe he may need to take more leave of absence as a CPPCC vice-chairman, since a vice-chairman needs to attend a lot of meetings. I understand the current CPPCC has conducted 54 meetings,” Tang added.
Leung was already appointed a CPPCC member last week, a position which he resigned from before taking office as chief executive in 2012.
Leung faced opposition from the pro-democracy camp as well as concerns from some CPPCC members over the appointment, concerning the ongoing saga of his HK$50 million payment from Australian engineering company UGL.
He received the payment after becoming chief executive in 2012 but decided there was no need to declare it.
“Over the past two, three years, I have fully explained this matter to the central government. They are well aware of the issue, and they have also taken legal advice,” Leung said last week.
He also sued pro-democracy lawmaker Kenneth Leung for defamation over his comments on the UGL saga.