Late last month, the liaison office convened a meeting with establishment politicians to discuss the legislature’s priorities. According to a meeting summary sent to other members by Junius Ho, a pro-Beijing lawmaker, the office made clear that it wanted to prioritize the “three mountains” of reforming education, the judiciary and social services.
Other officials confirmed the meeting but disputed his characterization, saying the office was simply attempting to canvas views. They also said such meetings were typical, as the liaison office has traditionally helped organize the establishment bloc in the Legislative Council, by mediating conflicts and deciding who runs where in elections.
The office’s expanded playbook was clear in Mr. Luo’s recent visits to low-income residents. After chatting with one man, a chef who lost his job last year, Mr. Luo told his deputies to quickly find him work, according to an office statement.
Such photo ops have been relatively uncommon, and a focus on specific policies and questions of social welfare is even more unusual.
The next day, several pro-Beijing politicians called on the Hong Kong government to expand its support for low-income residents. One of them, Bill Tang, said Hong Kong had not done enough to help the unemployed, and cited the central government’s campaign to end poverty in the mainland.
“I really hope that such a spirit can also be on Hong Kong,” Mr. Tang said in an interview.
Xu Tianmin, the chef visited by Mr. Luo, was thrilled by the attention from Beijing.
On social media, Mr. Xu, who arrived from the mainland seven years ago, seems ardently patriotic, rallying against Hong Kong demonstrators and removing protest messages from the so-called Lennon Walls. He told one state-owned newspaper that his pro-government activism was the reason he had lost his last job.