Many people have been thrilled by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s decision not to seek a second term and believe this development suggests Beijing could be softening its stance on Hong Kong.
On the other hand, some think there are signs Beijing is starting to ease off politically on us, citing the recent interview given by Wang Guangya, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, to Bauhinia magazine.
During the interview, Wang said the most important criteria for choosing the next CE would be whether that person could always “accurately and objectively keep Beijing informed of the latest state of affairs in Hong Kong” and whether he or she always “has the best and long-term interests of the people of Hong Kong at heart”.
However, I think all of these optimistic notions are just wishful thinking. I believe Beijing could be softening its tone for now but in the long run, it is almost certain it will further tighten its grip on every aspect of our society, only in a more skillful and insidious way.
In fact, Hong Kong did enjoy a brief period of high degree of autonomy after the handover, until July 1, 2003 when half a million people took to the streets to oppose the enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law. It was after this protest that Beijing suddenly realized that things had spun out of control in Hong Kong, and that its governing approach had to be drastically reviewed.
In the eyes of our Beijing leaders, the people of Hong Kong are like a spoiled and greedy child who is never grateful to the motherland for its support and just keeps asking for more, and who, therefore, needs to be taught a lesson and put in his place. Since then, Beijing has been tightening its grip on Hong Kong step by step.
In my opinion, the reason Leung was not allowed to run for a second term is not because he did a poor job as chief executive but because his heavy-handedness and ruthlessness in executing the orders given to him have caused so much polarization in society and alienated so many in the traditional leftist as well as the pro-establishment camps that Beijing might not be able to secure enough votes to get him reelected.
Let’s not forget that despite Beijing’s full support, Leung only managed 689 votes in 2012. Compared with five years ago, the pro-establishment camp is a lot more divided today, thereby making it even more difficult for Beijing to coordinate votes, not to mention that the pan-democrats are holding 325 votes on the Election Committee, which may turn out to be a wild card.
Replacing Leung with someone else doesn’t necessarily mean Beijing is going easy on us, because there are just too many so-called political elites in Hong Kong who are all too eager to act as a pawn for their Beijing bosses in exchange for fame and title.
And no matter who is put in charge of Hong Kong, Beijing will remain the one that pulls the strings behind the scenes.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 10
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
– Contact us at [email protected]