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My development logbook

Turbulence Ahead. Hold Tight!


Ching Cheong on 17 May 2012 in Hong Kong Economic Journal

The original article in Chinese

As I [the author of the original article, Ching Cheong (程翔)] have pointed out in my column last month, once CY Leung (梁振英) swears in as the Chief Executive, Hong Kong will see four “transformational” crisis, which are, 1) The “Two Systems” will tilt towards “One Country”, 2) The rule of Hong Kong by Sai Wan will become the normalcy, 3) Ideology will align to the value system of Mainland China, 4) The administration will become more “left wing”*

In the final moment, Beijing gave up on Henry Tong (唐英年) and handpicked Leung [as Chief Executive]. The main reason is that Leung is comparatively closer to Beijing in ideology. Especially when Tong committed his political suicide by revealing Leung’s stances on Commercial Radio licence renewal and the use of anti-riot police**, it highlights the political values of Leung. To paraphrase a mainland Chinese lingo, Leung “speaks more often in Beijing tone than in the Cantonese tone”

However, unexpected to me, the Central government has already lend support to Leung’s Four Transformation plan even before he assumes the office. On 12th this month, an * Institute of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs* is set up by State Department in Shenzhen. The dean of the School of Law of Tsinghua University as well as a former member of the Basic Law committer, Wang (王振民) is assigned as the director. A former deputy director of Xiuhua agency and the current director of the Hong Kong and Macau Institute of State Department’s Developmental Research Center, Zhu Yucheng (朱育誠) will chair the Board of Advisors (顧問委員會).

Zhu’s speech in the opening ceremony is very interesting.

First he emphasised that Hong Kong people have a misconception of “One Country Two Systems”. He said, “‘One Country Two Systems’ is facing some challenges. The general public has a misunderstanding of the idea of ‘Hong Kong ruled by Hong Kong people’. ‘One Country’ should come first, not ‘Two Systems’” This confirms my first worry: The ‘Two Systems’ will amalgamate into a ‘One Country’ system.

Secondly, he defines the concept of “Hong Kong ruled by Hong Kong people”, which is, “Hong Kong should be ruled by Patriotic Hong Kong People, and it should be carried out under the authority and delegation of the Central Government”. This is why I predict the future Administration will become ‘left wing’. It is also the base of my another prediction: the Sai Wan rule will become the norm. It is because in practice we know Sai Wan has the exclusive right to interpret what it means to be ‘Patriotic’. It is also the sole agency that can define what falls into the purview of the ‘authority of the Central Government’

Thirdly, he pointed out why Hong Kong cannot have a ‘Three Branches of Government’ system. He said, “We should have a clear understanding of Deng’s intent. Deng’s preferred political system of HK is not the ‘Three Branches of Government’. Deng would have preferred the executive branch to be the only driving force.

Fourthly, when he talked about the importance of the search institute, he said, “Sometimes when a certain idea is raised by academia rather the government, it is better received”. I feel that it is going to be a milestone in development of the Rule by Sai Wan. It is something we should keep an eye on.

We already know Zhu is a director a State Department’s Research Center of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs. Now he is also a chair of Tsinghua university research centre. In the other word, it is analogous to a man wearing two hats, or also known as ‘a shop with two different leon sign’. Why such a redundant organisational structure? I believe it is signalling the progress of the Rule of Sai Wan becoming the norm.

If the Rule of Sai Wan is to become the norm, it needs a hugh search institute to provide all sort of data analysis and policy blueprints. Sai Wan also needs a way to test public reactions to potential policy options. The Tsinghua University research centre will serve this purpose. It is also more convenient for Zhu to monitor the actions in ShenZhen than in Beijing. We can see he or other members of the institute can raise their ‘unofficial’ opinions to direct future Hong Kong government’s actions and policy.

Lastly he said, “As a result, CY Leung should make good use of this wolf nature”. Hong Kong people calls CY Leung as ‘the Wolf’. It is not a compliment because in our language, ‘Wolf’ symbolises mean spirit, treachery, ruthlessness and thirst for blood. If someone is called a Wolf, he is probably not a popular person. However, in the eyes of Beijing officials, the nature of ‘Wolf’ is considered a merit! Zhu even encourages Leung to use this trait. The big gap between the values of Beijing and Hong Kong is very plain to see.

Leung is still months away from assuming the office, but the Beijing officials have already ‘instruct’ him to push for transformational changes that will totally reconstruct Hong Kong political system and core values, to the point that Leung’s ‘wolf’ nature should be exploited. The looming changes to Hong Kong is now very obvious. Turbulence ahead. Sit Tight, my fellow citizens!

  • ‘Left wings’ in China usually refers to the more conservative, dogmatic and hardline fraction of the communist party.

** Refers to the discussion within the Executive Council about how to handle the massive demonstration in Hong Kong in 2003.