Beijing should talk to the people of Hong Kong on the current unrest and the way ahead, the deputy head of the city’s youth advisory board said on Wednesday.
Tycoon Lau Ming-wai, the vice-chairman of the Youth Development Commission, the city’s semi-official body on youth policy, said the ongoing unrest could not be resolved just by talks between the local people and the city’s government, even though citizens aired their grievances against the local administration.
“This dialogue and feedback should include the state,” Lau said in an interview with Democratic Party’s former chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing.
Lau Ming-wai said there had virtually been no meaningful dialogue between Hong Kong and Beijing over the past few years.
“Over the past few years, has there been any frank or closed-door dialogue between society and the government, be it the Hong Kong or the central government? There has to be discussion if we want to live a happy and peaceful life from now until 2047,” he said, referring to Beijing’s promise that the city’s way of living would remain unchanged for 50 years from 1997.
Hong Kong has been gripped by more than six months of political unrest, triggered by the now-withdrawn extradition bill which would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to places including mainland China for trial. The opposition to the bill later morphed into a wider anti-government movement that called for greater democracy for the city and an independent inquiry into police’s use of force during the protests.
After the Hong Kong government’s unsuccessful push for electoral reform in 2015, the then deputy head of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Feng Wei met Democratic Party leaders, including Emily Lau, in August 2015. That was the last publicly reported meeting between Beijing officials and city’s opposition, though there were unconfirmed suggestions of Beijing officials holding unofficial talks with veteran pan-democrats afterwards.
Lau Ming-wai, who has openly supported an independent inquiry into the conduct of police during the protests, also took the occasion and ask if Emily Lau was ready to talk with officials from Beijing.
“I don’t have my mainland travel permit. But the Democratic Party is definitely ready to have a dialogue,” she replied. “But, do we really have the confidence that Beijing will listen to us?”
The former lawmaker also alleged that Beijing’s loyalists in Hong Kong did not want to see a dialogue to happen.
Lau Ming-wai also said it was beyond the scope of any consultation body to stop the ongoing crisis.
“We have relayed young people’s views to the government,” he said.
He added the government had over the years developed a systemic problem in bringing people’s views on board, but he did not comment on whether city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor should reshuffle her cabinet.