It has been confirmed that the presidium has selected 49 candidates to run in the Dec. 19 election of the 36 Hong Kong deputies to the next National People’s Congress. Ten of those nominated were disqualified.
The candidate who won the most number of nominations was incumbent NPC deputy Wong Ting-chung, chairman and chief executive of Nameson Group, and not Tam Yiu-chung, a former lawmaker and former chairman of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, as some had expected.
Although the number of candidates is fewer by three than that seen in the 2012 election, that doesn’t seem to present any problem for Beijing.
First, one has to know that in the 2012 election there was a “blessing list” on which were written the names of those that Beijing wanted to win.
There is also one such list for this year’s election, and 41 names are written on it, one more than that in the previous list. This can be seen as “progress”.
The current list is said to have started circulating on Dec. 4, when the nomination period ended. A number of candidates from the pro-establishment camp believe it is the final list and will not be changed before the actual election.
Rumors have it that the names on the list were jointly recommended and then discussed by several authorities in charge of Hong Kong affairs, before the list was approved by top officials in Beijing.
While it is reasonable to infer that the names on the list are all pro-Beijing candidates, some may have concerns about their chances of winning, considering that there are different factions in their camp and their representatives in the electoral college may make strategic choices when they vote.
Meanwhile, the pan-democratic camp owns more than 200 votes, so they can influence the results even if only half of the votes wind up being cast on election day.
A source from the pro-democracy camp said their members will not discuss voting strategies until one or two days before the election. This source said the later the pan-dems vote, the better. That’s because that will give the pro-establishment camp less time to come up with countermeasures.
I believe the rumored “blessing list” will surface at the last minute since Beijing doesn’t want to see internal fights in the pro-establishment camp.
If that is true, whatever strategy the pan-democratic camp uses may prove in vain.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 14
Translation by Taka Liu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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