Pro-establishment civic associations have proliferated in Hong Kong since 2012, mostly with mainland support, and they are expected to play an important role in coming elections, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.
At least 12 such groups were founded last year, compared with four in 2013, the newspaper said.
While most Hongkongers may not pay them much attention, it is not uncommon for officials from the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government to show up at their inauguration ceremonies to lend support.
Political commentator Ivan Choy, a lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said such associations, especially those made up of people from the same province or town on the mainland, are well organized.
Each association builds up a strong social network by collecting personal data, probably from the one-way permits that allowed its members to move to Hong Kong, and regularly providing its members with the services they need, Choy said.
Building an interpersonal network like this is beyond the ability of just one or two people but requires a sophisticated organization, he said.
Choy cited the Fukienese Association as an example, saying the group, formed by people originally from Fujian province, is famous for mobilizing its members to provide support for candidates in elections, and other groups have learned from its experience.
Deng Youcai, chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Foshan Associations, said the group was established earlier this month with the support of the Liaison Office and the mainland government’s United Front Work Department among others.
He said the federation will come out to support patriotic candidates running in the district council election in November.
Deng said the authorities provide only “directional” and “spiritual” support but no funding. He said the group’s funding mainly comes from its members, with amounts ranging from HK$50,000 to a few hundred thousand.
Lawmaker Ip Kwok-him, deputy chairman of the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, welcomed support from these civic associations during the election.
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