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Thursday, December 1, 2016, 00:44

Analysts upbeat about consequences of policy relaxation

By Luis Liu

HONG KONG - Regular talks expected between the central government and members of Hong Kong's opposition camp may boost support and reduce tension in the city, enabling it to fully implement the “One Country, Two Systems” policy, local political analysts said.

The move on Wednesday to relax mainland travel permit application by members of the opposition camp in Hong Kong, who had been denied such permits before, also showed that the central government had stayed true to a very serious commitment to regularize communications with “pan-democrats”, the analysts noted.

Vice-president of Beijing's top think tank on Hong Kong affairs - Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies - Lau Siu-kai said Beijing made a clear gesture of goodwill toward Hong Kong “pan-democrats”.

"By the policy relaxation, Beijing apparently wants to improve the relationship and include them in discussions of Hong Kong's governance as long as they support the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ policy,” Lau said.

It is a clear demonstration to all Hong Kong people of Beijing’s magnanimity and open mind in engaging people with different political affiliations.

The new development on Wednesday was foreseeable. During a visit to Hong Kong in May by Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) and Beijing's top official on Hong Kong affairs, responded positively to Hong Kong lawmakers’ suggestions that mainland travel permit restrictions was something the central government could relax.

Lau said he hoped the opposition would appreciate the sincerity of the central government and seek more opportunities to meet Beijing officials regularly.

The timing indicates the central government has greater confidence that members of the opposition would soften or change some views toward the mainland after they visit there.

"Eventually they may adjust their approach and stop confrontation with Beijing authorities," Lau predicted.

Veteran commentator Song Sio-chong said the relaxation of entry permit applications could be seen as drawing a line between separatists and those who support "One Country, Two Systems" policy and uphold the Basic Law.

Standing firm against separatism and uniting as many people as possible in the city means a wider support base for “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” principle.

Local political analyst Lau Yui-siu called for more positive interaction between the central government and the city’s opposition lawmakers.

If Hong Kong society does not respond positively to Beijing, and if the opposition lawmakers refuse to return the goodwill, things may deteriorate, Lau said.

To make the interaction stable and build up mutualtrust, Lau said communication could be developed in a systematic way. Instead of a meeting with the SAR’s opposition lawmakers in Beijing, the capital city, it would be better to first arrange meetings elsewhere on the mainland.

Similarly, they could meet via non-official activities, in a personal capacity, and discuss economic and social development issues first, before they meet officially and discuss difficult political issues, Lau suggested.
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