06/26/2015, 00.00
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Mainland representative offers tea and an olive branch to HK lawmakers

The head of Beijing’s liaison office in the former British colony has tea with LegCo members at a meeting open to journalists. For the official, "the lesson” from the vote “is worth learning” because “the concerted efforts from all sides have yielded generally positive and conducive effects”.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Beijing’s top representative in Hong Kong invited pro-establishment lawmakers for a tea for supporting the mainland’s electoral reform package. In an unprecedented move, journalists were allowed into the building in Western district.

During the meeting, Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong, praised 40 Beijing loyalists and offered a surprise olive branch to pro-democracy lawmakers who shot down the reform.

Voting took place on 17 June. Twenty-seven pro-democracy Members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) kept their word and voted against the reform. Dr Leung Ka-la, a member of the traditionally pro-Beijing functional constituency representing the medical profession, also voted against.

Pro-Beijing establishment LegCo members for the Alliance for the improvement and progress of Hong Kong, and delegates for the Federation of Trade Unions and the Commercial and Professional Union left the chamber before the vote. The proposed changes thus got only eight votes in favour.

Beijing’s top representative in Hong Kong praised pro-establishment lawmakers’ support for the electoral reform package and did not take them to task for the botched walkout before the vote last week.

Zhang's speech was uploaded onto the Liaison Office's website. In it, he thanked pro-establishment lawmakers for their "hard work and stress" and said the universal suffrage issue was one of the "most lengthy, most controversial, most challenging and most difficult" task in post-handover Hong Kong.

"Although accidents arose from the voting process of the universal suffrage resolution and the lesson is worth learning, the concerted efforts from all sides have yielded generally positive and conducive effect on the work of political reform, with long-lasting impact," Zhang said.

He went onto say that with end of the debate over political reform, Hong Kong should leave aside politics and "focus effort on developing the economy, improving the livelihood and facilitating harmony".

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