A vice-president of Beijing's top think tank on Hong Kong said on Wednesday that it is "pure speculation" that Carrie Lam’s annual duty visit to the capital has been postponed, saying the central government would not do anything to make people think that its trust in the chief executive has diminished.
Lau Siu-kai, from the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said on a RTHK programme that Beijing giving people such an impression would harm the SAR's political stability and would not be conducive when it comes to focusing efforts on bringing the latest wave of Covid-19 infections in the territory under control.
This time last year and the year before, Lam was already in the capital for her annual duty visit, while in 2017, the trip had already been completed.
But this year there's been no word on when the visit is to take place, sparking speculation that Beijing isn't happy with the way Lam has handled the pandemic situation in Hong Kong.
However, Lau said he doesn’t think this year's trip has been pushed back, because no date was announced in the first place, adding that there are also important economic meetings coming up at state level.
"But if Macau’s chief executive, Ho Iat-seng, can go to Beijing, but Carrie Lam’s [duty visit] is still not yet confirmed, it may lead to speculation that is bad for her," he added.
Lau said, however, that central government officials are indeed worried about the coronavirus situation in Hong Kong, because if the pandemic is not handled well, people's grievances will increase and that may delay the SAR's "integration into the mainland".
"From the central government’s perspective, if Hong Kong can’t control the pandemic, not only it will make the city’s social, economic and livelihood problems more critical, it could also affect Hong Kong’s political stability and increase people’s grievances and dissatisfaction with the SAR government," Lau said.
Lam said on Tuesday that her visit is arranged by the central government and she had no information about it to share with the public.