Senior Chinese leader told Hong Kong loyalists Beijing backs Carrie Lam as next Chief Executive: Report

Former Chief Secretary Carrie Lam listens as her son Jeremy (not pictured) speaks during an election campaign for the upcoming Chief Executive election in Hong Kong.
Former Chief Secretary Carrie Lam listens as her son Jeremy (not pictured) speaks during an election campaign for the upcoming Chief Executive election in Hong Kong.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG - China's No. 3 official Zhang Dejiang held meetings with Hong Kong business and political heavyweights in Shenzhen this week to inform them of the Communist Party leadership's decision to back Carrie Lam in next month's Chief Executive election, South China Morning Post reported on Thursday (Feb 9).

Zhang, chairman of the National People's Congress, told leaders of business chambers and pro-establishment figures that Lam was indeed Beijing's preferred candidate for the top job, SCMP said, citing a source with knowledge of the meetings on Sunday and Monday.

"The decision was made at the meeting of the (Communist Party's) Politburo Standing Committee on Dec 25," the source was quoted as saying.

Zhang, the third-ranking­leader in the Politburo, is head of the Communist Party's leading group on Hong Kong and Macau affairs.

He was accompanied by Sun Chunlan, a Politburo member and head of the Communist Party's United Front Work Department, for the meetings.

"Zhang and Sun travelled to Shenzhen to convey the central government's collective decision to Hong Kong's business leaders and pro-establishment heavyweights to highlight it is not the position of any individual mainland officials," the source told SCMP.

The central government made the unusual move as it was aware that the credibility of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong had been undermined in the 2012 Chief Executive election, the source said.

In the early stage of the race, the liaison office was understood to have told some pro-establishment figures to back former Chief Secretary Henry Tang.

Shortly before the election, then State Councillor Liu Yandong summoned Election Committee members who originally supported Tang to Shenzhen .

The state leader urged the committee members to vote for rival candidate Leung Chun Ying to ensure his victory with a relatively comfortable margin.

Leung defeated Tang by 689 votes to 285.