Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam has visited the China Liaison Office, Beijing’s organ in Hong Kong, three days after she was chosen as the city’s next leader.

She arrived at the Office around 2pm on Wednesday and was greeted by its director Zhang Xiaoming. Deputy director Yin Xiaojing was also seen behind Zhang. She stayed for around 90 minutes.

Lam, seen as Beijing’s favourite candidate, said it was merely a courtesy call to China’s official institution in Hong Kong, dismissing claims that the purpose of her visit was thank the Office for its support during the election. Some electors claimed they received telephone calls from the Office and other forms of pressure to vote for her.

Zhang Xiaoming Carrie Lam
Zhang Xiaoming and Carrie Lam.

Lam said she did not go out of her way to thank the Office. “The people I need to thank are the electors who supported me, and the public for their recognition,” she said.

Incumbent chief executive Leung Chun-ying came under heavy fire five years ago when he visited the Office the day after he was elected and stayed for 90 minutes. His timing gave the impression that support from the Office got him elected, but Leung denied the claims.

Lam said on Wednesday that many of her policies required the central government’s support. She named maintaining Hong Kong’s status as an international finance centre and its financial role in the “One Belt One Road” initiative as examples.

“I did not particularly count how much time I spent, but maybe I spent more time than expected at the Office as I explained my manifesto [to Zhang],” she said. “Nowadays the Hong Kong economy and the mainland economy are very closely integrated.”

“I talked about the election a bit with director Zhang – as I have said, I learned many things throughout this campaign,” she said. “I became more humble and I feel that the government must listen to the people more.”

Zhang Xiaoming Carrie Lam
Zhang Xiaoming and Carrie Lam.

Lam said Zhang “readily agreed” with her that the Hong Kong government – and not the Liaison Office – is responsible for the work of the Legislative Council.

She said on Tuesday that there were some past examples where the Office would step in when the Hong Kong government could not persuade even the pro-Beijing camp to accept certain policies or motions in the Legislative Council. Lam said she dealt with these controversial issues on her own.

Asked about her shorter meeting with the President of the Legislative Council, she said: “I will be a bit disappointed if you still think that I don’t treasure the relationship between the administration and the legislature.”

Other visits

Lam also visited China’s Foreign Ministry Office in Hong Kong around 4pm. Its acting commissioner Tong Xiaoling welcomed her at the door.

Lam said she told Tong about some ideas for her administration: “We will do more government-to-government work and will need the Foreign Ministry’s support.”

At 5pm, Lam visited the People’s Liberation Army’s Hong Kong garrison in Tamar to meet its commander, Tan Benhong.

“I have known commander Tan for some time so we chatted a bit,” she said.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.