Date
20 September 2017
The tycoons invited to Beijing include (from top left, clockwise) Charles Ho, Tung Chee-hwa, Li Ka-shing, Henry Cheng, Lee Shau-kee and Peter Woo. Photo: HKEJ
The tycoons invited to Beijing include (from top left, clockwise) Charles Ho, Tung Chee-hwa, Li Ka-shing, Henry Cheng, Lee Shau-kee and Peter Woo. Photo: HKEJ

Tycoons invited to Beijing: It’s politics as usual

They call it the super tycoon tour. It is also a big outing for senior citizens. Whatever it is, nothing will go wrong on their trip to Beijing and everyone will be safe and happy.

To make sure, the tour guide will be the 77-year-old heavyweight Tung Chee-hwa. He will bring along the city’s VVIPs including Robert Kuok Hock-nien (91), Lee Shau-kee and Li Ka-shing (both 86), and Henry Cheng Kar-shun (68).

Their mission: to meet President Xi Jinping and National People’s Congress Standing Committee chairman Zhang Dejiang, who will ask for their support for the framework for universal suffrage amid the pending Occupy Central movement.

This tycoon trip comes 10 years after the one in 2004 after Hong Kong faced a crisis of governance with the outbreak of Sars in 2003. The delegates then were asked to pledge their support to the then Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa. Tung tendered his resignation in March 2005.

Some Hong Kong people might speculate or actually hope that the tycoon trip later this month will lead to an early exit of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

However, these people might have to be disappointed as such thinking is not in accord with Beijing’s mindset and logic. 

Until now, Beijing remains confident that its universal suffrage package for Hong Kong, criticized by the democrats as fake, will be accepted by them in spring.

Thus the central government has no plan to replace Leung but, instead, Xi will for sure urge the tycoons to support the chief executive, whose popularity is at a low.

It is not that Beijing has not prepared for the worst. Even if it loses face from its proposal being rejected by Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and it wants to sack Leung, it needs to wait until the next National People’s Congress meeting in March 2016 to do that. So why not wait till Leung’s term ends in June 2017?

Therefore, Leung should feel happy about this tycoon trip as Beijing leaders, together with his supervisor Tung, will give a lesson to these rich people.

A more likely situation is that Beijing will use this chance to warn all the interested parties that want to nominate candidates for the 2017 chief executive election to follow some “rules” as the 2012 election was a little messy and embarrassing for Beijing.

No matter whether Beijing’s proposal will be passed in Legco, Chinese leaders will use this chance to gather some information about the potential candidates that the tycoons may nominate for the 2017 term.

Put simply, the nomination process will start soon. Are all the candidates prepared? 

Apart from politics, Beijing may hold individual or group meetings with the tycoons, trying to solve their conflicts face to face. These may include the West Kowloon cultural project and other key infrastructure developments on the mainland. 

Other subjects will include what future lies ahead for Hong Kong in the next decade. Each tycoon is allowed to bring a younger generation member to the meeting although not all tycoons would do so.

The previous delegation was led by the late Henry Fok Ying-tung, a Beijing loyalist. His son, Ian Fok Chun-wan, 65, will be part of the upcoming delegation.

Missing on the list will be the Kwok brothers – Thomas (63) and Raymond (61) – who are preoccupied with the daily proceedings of a corruption trial, which we suspect is not a topic that Beijing likes to discuss.

The delegation is one of many that Beijing is arranging at this time to try to convey the political message and secure their support for the mainland version of universal suffrage.

Representatives from different chambers are to meet Vice President Li Yuanchao. Many other pro-establishment organisations such as the New People’s Party, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and the Hong Kong Professionals and Senior Executives Association will be making similar trips this month.

Related stories:

Tung to lead tycoons to Beijing, political groups also invited

Alibaba takes Tung Chee-hwa on board

–Contact us at [email protected]

BK/JP/JL

EJ Insight writer

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe