Chinese official Wang Guangya has rejected rumours that Beijing vetoed several ministerial choices of incoming Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.
However, the director of Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office admitted that there were exchanges between Lam and Beijing regarding members of her cabinet.
Last week, NowTV reported rumours that Lam had nominated former Bar Association chairperson Winnie Tam as secretary for justice. The broadcaster claimed that Wang and fellow Beijing official Li Fei accepted her nomination, but it was vetoed by Zhang Xiaoming, head of the Liaison Office – Beijing’s government organ in Hong Kong.
During Tam’s tenure last November, the Bar Association hit out at Beijing for making an interpretation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, whilst related legal proceedings to disqualify legislators Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung were ongoing. Tam also called the cases of five missing Hong Kong booksellers who reappeared in custody in China “worrying” for the city’s autonomy.
NowTV added that Lam also nominated finance executive Rex Auyeung for the position of financial secretary, but his appointment was also allegedly vetoed.
The Hong Kong government announced last Wednesday that current justice secretary Rimsky Yuen and financial secretary Paul Chan would both serve second terms.
‘Communicated with each other’
But on Monday, Wang told Hong Kong reporters in Beijing that the Chinese government did not veto any of Lam’s choices, reported newspaper Apple Daily.
When pressed as to whether all of Lam’s nominations were her own, the diplomat said: “We communicated with each other.”
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When asked about the large number of cabinet officials who will remain even as incumbent leader Leung Chun-ying steps down, Wang said he felt that the cabinet was quite stable.
He added that there are also several new faces joining the administration: “It’s more important that there are new ideas.”
Incumbent and incoming leaders Leung and Lam are currently on a visit to Beijing to attend a celebration marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will then visit Hong Kong from Thursday to Saturday.