The central government will not tighten its policies on Hong Kong after a localist candidate scored a sizeable vote share in Sunday’s Legislative Council by-election in New Territories East, a mainland
expert on Hong Kong affairs said on Wednesday.
Qi Pengfei, director of Renmin University’s research centre on Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, said Beijing still maintained that “one country, two systems” had been successfully implemented in Hong Kong and did not believe the situation of Hong Kong had grown out of control despite the recent riot.
In an interview with the Post in Beijing, Qi said most of the 66,524 voters who backed Edward Leung
Tin-kei used their ballots to express discontent with the Hong Kong government and its handling of some social issues.
“They are worried that the central government is tightening its policies on Hong Kong, so they are looking for someone to voice out their concerns,” he said.
“These voters think traditional pan-democrats cannot speak for them. The absolute majority of voters who supported Leung actually do not back Hong Kong independence.
“The central government won’t tighten or change its policies on Hong Kong simply because Leung won more than 66,000 votes in the by-election,” Qi said.
Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu of the Civic Party won the seat, retaining the pan-democrats’ numbers in the Legislative Council and its ability to block unpopular bills. But Leung’s vote share has sparked concerns that the Legco elections in September will become even more intense if localists become a third force on the political scene.
On Wednesday a Hong Kong government spokesman said Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had specified September 4 as the date for holding the Legco elections.
He also set December 11 as the date for holding the Election Committee subsector polls. The 1,200-member panel will choose the next chief executive in 2017.
In the interview with the Post, Qi said he expected Edward Leung , who clinched 15.4 per cent of total valid votes cast in the constituency, to be returned in the September election.
Qi, who is also vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, noted growing discontent in Hong Kong in the light of a widening wealth gap and rising youth unemployment.
He said the three chief executives since 1997 had all had visions for the city’s development and that Leung Chun-ying had attached great importance to livelihood issues.
“But because of different kinds of constraints and obstacles, the government’s measures to address these issues have not been effectively implemented,” Qi said.
“The capability and authority of the Hong Kong government is not so high.”
Yesterday, Wang Guoqing, spokesman for the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said the 13th five-year plan, released in November, emphasised the need to enhance the role of Hong Kong and Macau in the nation’s economic development and opening up to the outside world.
“The central government will continue to support Hong Kong and Macau to participate in the country’s development,” he said.