The director of the China Liaison Office, Wang Zhimin, has refused to accept a painting from a pro-democracy lawmaker featuring former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. He criticised the use of Deng as a “prop” in the painting.

Wang attended a luncheon with lawmakers at the Legislative Council on Monday. He told reporters afterwards that the atmosphere was relaxed and that he believed the dialogue was a good start.

During the event, Neo Democrats lawmaker Gary Fan attempted to give him the painting which featured Wang and Chief Executive Carrie Lam in front of a larger rendering of Deng. Fan said the painting symbolised how the pair went against Deng’s promise of giving Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy after the 1997 Handover to China.

Wang Zhimin
Wang Zhimin. Photo: Liaison Office.

However, Wang refused to accept the gift. Fan said he was disappointed and that Wang’s predecessor, Zhang Xiaoming, had taken gifts from pro-democracy lawmakers, but Fan was asked to leave the dining room.

Wang later said that he does not accept gifts and welcomes lawmakers to express their opinions in a letter.

gary fan
Fan’s drawing. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

“Deng Xiaoping is a very a great man, very well-respected by 1.3 billion Chinese people – including 7 million or so Hongkongers. Every time we think of him or mention him, there is respect in our hearts… using such a great man as a prop is an immense disrespect to [him] and harms the feelings Hongkongers and 1.3 billion people. I really do not hope there would be such a situation and – moreover – I cannot accept this,” Wang said.

‘One party dictatorship’

When asked by a reporter whether an election candidate who chants “end one-party dictatorship” could run in elections, Wang said that the saying “one-party dictatorship” itself was problematic because it was not true.

Wang said that in the 143 articles in the Chinese constitution, not one mentioned “one-party dictatorship” and he said this was a false issue.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said after the event that the The Professionals Guild had submitted petition letters to Wang, with one of the demands being to restart political reform in Hong Kong. “We continue to welcome having frank discussions with him,” he said.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.