Pro-Beijing lawmaker Michael Tien says Hong Kong members of China’s top legislature should speak out for the city.

Tien, who previously withdrew from the New People’s Party to form his own group Roundtable, is running for a seat on the National People’s Congress (NPC).

“[We] should speak out more for ‘Two Systems,’ and reflect these concerns to the central government. In fact, generally, I believe we have not done enough,” he said in an interview with Commercial Radio on Monday, referring to the city’s “One Country, Two Systems” autonomy agreement.

Michael Tien
Michael Tien. File Photo: In-Media.

Tien also commented on the five Causeway Bay Books booksellers who went missing before resurfacing in China “confessing” to illegally sending books to the mainland without authorisation. Lee Bo, a British national, was apparently kidnapped from Hong Kong.

Tien said: “Looking back at the Lee Bo incident, how many members of the National People’s Congress have raised concerns?”

Tien said Wang Guangya, former top Beijing official in charge of Hong Kong affairs, once told NPC members that their duty was to monitor the government and that they should not be “yes men”.

“I believe this is the mainstream stance of the central government. They manage 1.3 billion people – the duties of 3,000 NPC members are also to monitor the government, do you think they are all voting machines?” Tien said. “Look at how the NPC reviews laws like amending death sentence, the debates were so fierce, you wouldn’t believe it – no less fierce than the Hong Kong legislature – just that the meetings weren’t public.”

Tien said last year, when he urged Beijing to scrap the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, Guangxi Province’s party secretary had to order two officials to come to Hong Kong to explain to him that public slaughtering and torturing of dogs will be banned. “So don’t underestimate the NPC by thinking it’s a rubber stamp,” he said.

National People's Congress npc beijing great hall
A National People’s Congress session in March 2017. Photo: Lukas Messmer/HKFP.

Reflecting on his political style, Tien said that even some pro-Beijing camp members believed he was “too radical.”

In April, Tien opposed the terms for the expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland, describing it as a “loss of power and humiliation to Hong Kong.”

“I heard ‘loss of power and humiliation to Hong Kong’ touched the nerves of many of my colleagues,” he said, adding that he viewed issues with his conscience, and he cannot do anything if NPC voters did not agree with him.

The 36 Hong Kong delegates will be chosen next month by 1,989 people, of which around 200 are of the pro-democracy camp. The democrats automatically gained a right to vote because they were members of the chief executive election committee. The pro-democracy members include two Hong Kong independence advocates Chan Chak-to and Henry Wong Pak-yu, and the co-founder of the 2014 Occupy protests Benny Tai.

The race adopts a block vote system, thus it is unlikely the pro-democracy camp will have any significant effect on the result, other than forcing a minority of candidates to lose.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

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.