Beijing puts out feelers in HK
ZHANG Dejiang, China's third-ranking leader, kicked off his three-day visit to Hong Kong yesterday, promising to survey the political sentiments of the city and convey his thoughts on how it should develop going forward, the Chinese media reported.
From the moment he touched down, Mr Zhang, who is the chairman of China's legislature, showed he would take a soft stance on the city, saying he is on a fact-finding trip that entails watching, listening to and talking with people from all walks of life, the Duowei website pointed out.
Since the 2014 Occupy Central protests to demand popular vote in the election of its leader, Hong Kong is increasingly divided between those favouring the status quo and a growing camp calling for greater autonomy and even independence from the mainland.
Mr Zhang, the most senior leader to visit Hong Kong since the 2014 hubbub and Beijing's point man on the city, will today speak at a forum on China's One Belt, One Road initiative.
China hopes to forge connectivity and cooperation across Eurasia through the initiative, in which it has always said that Hong Kong has a crucial role to play.
The main purpose of Mr Zhang's visit is to reassure Hong Kong that China would help it overcome its economic bottleneck, which has much to do with its political uncertainty, said China's Global Times.
But Duowei pointed out that he might give unscheduled speeches and these should reveal how Beijing actually sees Hong Kong, not views transmitted via middlemen such as the city's Chief Secretary Leung Chun Ying.