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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 04:30 GMT 05:30 UK
China opens up to HK democrats
Hong Kong delegation at Guangdong industrial park
The Hong Kong delegation toured an industrial park
Pro-democracy members of Hong Kong's legislature are continuing an unprecedented visit to China.

The Chinese authorities had previously snubbed the legislators who wanted full democracy for Hong Kong.

All 60 members, including 25 from the democracy camp, are on a two-day visit to Guangdong.

But the Guangdong Communist Party head avoided discussion of democracy and the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, according to one Hong Kong delegate.

Emily Lau said that Communist Party chief Zhang Dejiang refused to discuss the subject.

"He's not interested in listening to opposing views," she said.

But her pro-democracy colleague Margaret Ng said she thought the tone of the visit was positive.

"Beijing has fundamentally changed its position," she said, "from a situation of isolation to a situation of trying to work with each other."

Leung Kwok-hung
Leung Kwok-hung wore a Tiananmen T-shirt
Despite differences, this trip is significant as the first sign of a softening in Beijing's position towards the pro-democracy members, the BBC's Daniel Griffiths reports.

Guangdong is one of the most dynamic economic regions in China.

The Hong Kong delegation was taken to see a high-tech industrial park on Sunday.

Change of shirt

Eleven of the pro-democracy group have been banned from the mainland for 16 years, but an exception was made for this visit, organised by Hong Kong's chief executive Donald Tsang.

He said that the meeting with Mr Zhang had been productive. "It wasn't tense," said Mr Tsang. "It was very friendly."

Before setting off that he said he hoped the trip would be "the first step in a journey of a thousand miles".

Leung Kwok-hung, a pro-democracy member known as "Long Hair", arrived on the mainland in wearing a Tiananmen Square protest T-shirt which showed a lone man stopping a line of tanks and the words "The people will never forget".

"Long live democracy! Long live the people!" he shouted, punching the air, as the delegation toured a metro station.

But when Leung Kwok-hung arrived with the Hong Kong delegation to meet Zhang Dejiang, security officials made him put on another shirt over his Tiananmen Square T-shirt.



SEE ALSO:
HK sees muted anniversary protest
01 Jul 05 |  Asia-Pacific
New Hong Kong leader inaugurated
24 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Regions and territories: Hong Kong
25 May 05 |  Country profiles


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