At least seven seminars to spread key messages from China’s recently-concluded annual meetings of its top political advisory body and national legislature have been held in Hong Kong since the start of this month, and on Monday, former chief executive Leung Chun-ying took the stage at one of them.
With hundreds of guests watching, Leung, a vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), exhorted the city’s advisers to Beijing to promote the Chinese constitution and the central government’s policies.
He also urged them to safeguard national security, strengthen the love people had for China and Hong Kong and to increase youth outreach.
“The discipline of the meetings this year is particularly good … with delegates seriously scrutinising reports and actively delivering speeches,” Leung said at the forum organised by the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce.
Attendees included some of the city’s 200 or so CPPCC delegates, several of the 36 deputies to the National People’s Congress (NPC) and business leaders.
The NPC had at the meetings passed historic constitutional changes, formally removing term limits to enable President Xi Jinping to stay on beyond 2023 and enshrining the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.
These changes were also among topics discussed at Monday’s forum. NPC deputy Martin Liao Cheung-kong rejected suggestions that the changes meant the president would have a lifelong tenure.
At the other six forums, pro-Beijing groups and business chambers similarly invited guest speakers to profess their views on national policies, and declare what they thought were the implications of last month’s “two sessions” meetings for Hong Kong.
Hong Kong-based China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said pro-Beijing groups had been mobilised to hold such events in the wake of the meetings.
“They represent a spectrum of interests and are not limited only to traditional leftists,” he said.
Last week, Wang Zhimin, director of Beijing’s liaison office in the city, attended one such event where he warned that anyone who opposed the party’s leadership was inviting “calamity” by committing a crime against Hong Kong.
He said Hong Kong needed to promote “an obedience towards the spirit” of the Chinese constitution, as the document is the city’s “root and foundation”.
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Lau conceded that the forums could help the public have a greater understanding of national policies but some of them were done “just as a formality”.
And for the first time in the city, a pro-Beijing think tank will mark National Security Education Day – stipulated as April 15 on the mainland – by holding a seminar this Sunday.
The legal head of Beijing’s liaison office, alongside with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, will speak at the event.
Beijing has long signalled its impatience with Hong Kong for not keeping with Article 23 of its mini-constitution and installing a law making any act of treason, secession, sedition or subversion against the central government a criminal offence.