HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong pro-democracy activists have expressed their anger after it emerged that a Chinese official dismissed their protest movement in a blunt comment last month.
“The fact that you are alive shows the country’s civility and inclusiveness,” Zhang Xiaoming, the director of China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, was cited as saying by three people who attended a meeting with him late August.
The meeting was part of a series of talks between Zhang and the city’s pro-democracy lawmakers that took place shortly before China crushed activists’ hopes for genuine democracy when it announced that the city’s next leader would be vetted by Beijing.
“I was astounded”, one of the people who attended the meeting told AFP Thursday.
“He was dead serious, it was no joke,” he added.
The Chinese Liaison Office declined to comment on Zhang’s remarks when contacted by AFP.
“It’s really very ridiculous for a mainland official to say things like that,” Democratic Party chairperson Emily Lau told AFP on Thursday.
“We’ve been banned from travelling to the mainland for more than two decades so now they say that the fact that you’re still alive you should count your blessings. That’s just crazy,” she said.