Wang ap­peals for ra­tional de­bate on po­lit­i­cal re­form

New think tank will ex­am­ine im­por­tant de­vel­op­ments in Hong Kong, Ma­cao

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By KAHON CHAN in Hong Kong kahon@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Wang Guangya, di­rec­tor of the Hong Kong and Ma­cao Af­fairs Of­fice of the State Coun­cil, urged peo­ple in Hong Kong to calmly and mod­er­ately ex­press their views dur­ing the five-month pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on po­lit­i­cal re­form.

He made the com­ments two days af­ter for­mu­la­tion of pro­ce­dures for the 2017 Chief Ex­ec­u­tive elec­tion of­fi­cially be­gan on Wed­nes­day. Wang, who spoke in Bei­jing be­fore at­tend­ing inau­gu­ra­tion of a new think tank which fo­cuses on the two SARs, ap­pealed for a sen­si­ble and prag­matic de­bate dur­ing the five-month con­sul­ta­tion.

“In such a long pe­riod of time, I be­lieve all walks of lives in Hong Kong could un­der­take ra­tional think­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion over sug­ges­tions and opin­ions re­gard­ing the highly an­tic­i­pated po­lit­i­cal re­form,” he said. “I be­lieve we can forge con­sen­sus if we are all ra­tional.”

The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Re­search on Hong Kong and Ma­cao held its es­tab­lish­ment as­sem­bly in Bei­jing on Fri­day morn­ing. It will host its first sem­i­nar to­day (Satur­day). Zhou Bo, deputy di­rec­tor of the Hong Kong and Ma­cao Af­fairs Of­fice (HMO) of the State Coun­cil, will de­liver a speech.

Mem­bers of the as­so­ci­a­tion voiced their con­cerns at the Fri­day con­fer­ence. Lau Siu-kai, ex-head of the Cen­tral Pol­icy Unit and vice-chair­man of the as­so­ci­a­tion, said Wang had ex­plained which in­sti­tu­tions would fol­low up key is­sues.

While Bei­jing will look into the city’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, Wang was quoted as say­ing that dis­cus­sion of is­sues, such as the weak na­tional iden­tity of city res­i­dents and me­dia bias against the cen­tral gov­ern­ment, should in­clude all Hong Kong cit­i­zens.

Head of the as­so­ci­a­tion, Chen Zuoer, is a for­mer HMO deputy di­rec­tor who li­aised with the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment be­fore the 1997 han­dover. Chen told the China News Agency that it was co­in­ci­den­tal that the think tank was formed as the city be­gan de­bat­ing po­lit­i­cal re­form.

Apart from grow­ing in­ter­est by the coun­try’s academics on the two SARs, Chen said new is­sues had sur­faced dur­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of the “One Coun­try, Two Sys­tems” pol­icy. It was now time for academics to look more closely at th­ese.

The as­so­ci­a­tion will ex­am­ine a range of mat­ters in Hong Kong and Ma­cao, such as their economies, peo­ple’s liveli­hoods, so­ci­ety, cul­ture and his­tory. But Chen said they were none­the­less “obliged” to fo­cus on the on­go­ing de­bate in Hong Kong.

“Po­lit­i­cal re­form is a ma­jor event in the po­lit­i­cal life of Hong Kong so­ci­ety. Upon guid­ance of the rel­e­vant pro­vi­sions of the Ba­sic Law and de­ci­sions of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee (NPCSC), I an­tic­i­pate a heated and ra­tional dis­cus­sion in the SAR,” he said.

In Zhong­shan, Guang­dong prov­ince, vis­it­ing Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Le­ung Chun-ying urged Hong Kong en­trepreneurs in the Pearl River Delta to dis­cuss po­lit­i­cal re­form in a prag­matic, in­clu­sive way.

Other po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in Hong Kong also had a busy day. About 30 NPC deputies held a reg­u­lar meet­ing with Zhang Xiaom­ing, di­rec­tor of the Li­ai­son Of­fice of the Cen­tral Peo­ple’s Gov­ern­ment in the HKSAR, on Fri­day af­ter­noon.

One of the NPC deputies and a leg­is­la­tor, Ma Fung-kwok, said Zhang had reaf­firmed Bei­jing’s firm stance on con­for­mity with the Ba­sic Law, NPCSC de­ci­sions and pre­req­ui­site for the CE to love the coun­try and love Hong Kong.

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