Tag Archives: tang

Hong Kong: One country, one-and-a-half systems?

Downtown Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

Normally, an unofficially referendum conducted online isn’t worth paying much attention — just ask the residents of Venice who organized a deeply flawed, overwrought poll on Venetian independence that attracted just 135,000 participants after initially claiming 2.4 million.Hong Kong Flag IconChina Flag Icon

But it’s worth noting the ongoing online referendum that the Hong Kong-based ‘Occupy Central with Love and Peace’ has organized, because it’s one element of a larger struggle between democracy activists and Beijing that could have major repercussions — not only for Hong Kong, but for the future political development of Macau, the Chinese mainland and, possibly, Taiwan.

Occupy Central’s chief goal is to open the nominating process for the 2017 election of Hong Kong’s chief executive. Hong Kong’s Basic Law, promulgated prior to the 1997 handover to govern the Hong Kong special administrative region, provides for the eventual democratic election of a chief executive. It’s a development that dates back over two decades to the negotiations between the British and Chinese governments over the 1997 handover. Ten years ago, Chinese officials finally relented and committed to some form of universal suffrage for the 2017 race.

Trouble began brewing earlier this month, however, when Beijing released a provocative ‘white paper’ on Hong Kong that took an aggressive posture with respect to Hong Kong’s future:

Published by the State Council Information Office, the unprecedented white paper states that “many wrong views are currently rife in Hong Kong” with regard to the “one country, two systems” principle that governs the territory’s relationship with Beijing. Some residents are “confused or lopsided in their understanding” of the principle, it adds.

“The high degree of autonomy of the HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) is not full autonomy, nor a decentralized power,” said the paper. “It is the power to run local affairs as authorized by the central leadership.”

Local media have gone so far as to describe the white paper as an outright repudiation of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle that has guided China-Hong Kong relations since Deng Xiaoping (邓小平) coined the concept in the 1980s during the initial handover negotiations. Continue reading Hong Kong: One country, one-and-a-half systems?

Leung wins in Hong Kong

After one of the most raucous campaigns in Hong Kong’s — or China’s — history, Leung Chun-ying has emerged as the victor in Hong Kong’s election for a new chief executive.

Leung won 689 votes from the 1,200-member Elections Committee to just 285 votes for Henry Tang and 76 for pro-democracy candidate Albert Ho:

The race had become unexpectedly chaotic over the past months — the initial frontrunner Tang was plagued first by infidelity accusations and then by more serious scandals about illegal construction of a basement in his home — culminating in a media frenzy outside his Hong Kong building.  Tang was also almost certainly hurt by other corruption charges that recently emerged the outgoing chief executive Donald Tsang, in whose administration Tang had played key roles.

Although both Tang and Leung were seen as sufficiently pro-Beijing, Tang’s missteps and scandals made him wildly unpopular among the Hong Kong populace at large, with Leung leading most preference polls during the campaign.

Looking forward, perhaps the most important lesson of the race is that Hong Kong –and China — can withstand the sometimes messy process of popular democracy and the media coverage that accompanies it.

China has indicated it will permit a direct election in the 2017 chief executive race — if it follows through with that promise, PRC officials can look to the 2012 race as a promising precedent on the road to full democracy for the special administrative region.  Beijing’s dexterity in shifting its support, however subtle, from Tang to Leung, demonstrates that it would have been able to recognize with equal grace a popular vote resulting in Leung’s election as well.  More strident voices — like those of the Democracy Party and Albert Ho — have been met with damp enthusiasm from Hong Kong residents and elites alike, who are pragmatic in realizing that the chief executive must be able to work with, and not against, China’s leadership.

Continue reading Leung wins in Hong Kong

A big weekend for world politics

It’s a busy weekend for world politics!

Tomorrow (March 24) is a big day for anglosphere politics:

  • Canada’s New Democratic Party holds its leadership election to replace the late Jack Layton, who led the NDP in 2011 to defeat the Liberal Party to become Canada’s Official Opposition.
  • The Australian state of Queensland holds elections, where longtime Labor Party domination (since 1996) will likely come to an end in a key test for both former Labor prime minister (and Queensland native) Kevin Rudd and Labor current prime minister Julie Gillard in the wake of their Labor Party leadership showdown.

On Sunday (March 25), two more elections of note:

  • Senegal goes to the polls in a runoff in the presidential election, where former prime minister seems poised to overtake his one-time mentor, incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade.  Read Suffragio’s coverage of the election, including the leadup to the first round, here.
  • The 1,200-member Elections Committee meets to choose Hong Kong’s new chief executive, which has turned into a fight between Beijing favorite Leung Chun-ying and tycoon developer favorite Henry Tang (the scandal-plagued former Beijing favorite). Read Suffragio’s coverage here.

The wolf closes in on the pig in HK race

It’s already midday Friday in Hong Kong, and so we’re nearly through the last business day prior to the election for Hong Kong’s third chief executive.

As the weekend approaches, there are signs that upstart candidate and poll favorite Leung Chun-ying may be outpacing former favorite, the scandal-plagued Henry Tang.

There were previous signs that the PRC leadership had begun to move towards Leung — both Leung and Tang are pro-Beijing — but those signs have apparently become unmistakable in the leadup to Sunday’s vote:

Liu Yandong, a member of China’s decision-making Politburo with key responsibility over Hong Kong, visited the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen this week to lobby election committee members for Leung, according to media reports.

“It is definitely a fact that the China Liaison Office is canvassing and pulling votes for C.Y. Leung,” said a member of the election committee. A media relations officer at the office denied it was backing one candidate over another.

Meanwhile, although it is clear that much of Hong Kong’s development and real estate aristocracy remain in favor of Tang, making it a certainty that the race will not be a runaway victory for either candidate, other blocs that comprise the 1200-member Elections Committee have begun to show their hands — largely in favor of Leung:

Leung, now widely seen as Beijing’s preferred choice, is apparently still short of the 601 minimum votes needed for an outright win, after securing only 510 to 590 votes by late yesterday – many at the expense of chief rival Henry Tang Ying-yen – according to the latest count by theSouth China Morning Post…. The number of votes pledged to Leung could rise by Sunday if members in subsectors like engineering and accounting, many of whom have yet to make their intentions public, back Leung, the former Executive Council convenor, who last month had 305 votes pledged.

Furthermore, a bundle of 60 votes comprised of representatives from the Federation of Trade Unions will be pledged to Leung, it was announced Friday. That alone represents 10% of the votes Leung will need to win an outright victory — one candidate much achieve a full majority of the Elections Committee in order to avoid a new vote in May. Continue reading The wolf closes in on the pig in HK race

Final Tang-Leung faceoff before Sunday vote

The three candidates for Hong Kong chief executive faced off in a final debate Monday, ostensibly to discuss property in Hong Kong.

The two top candidates, Henry Tang (above middle) and Leung Chun-ying (above left), traded barbs, and Tang even accused Leung of defamation, a somewhat puzzling development in the topsy-turvy race.

The race, once Tang’s to lose, is now a toss-up — the 1200-member Elections Committee makes its decision Sunday.  Although Hong Kong’s business elite have long preferred Tang, leaders in the People’s Republic of China have indicated some ambivalence about Tang as he’s become more embroiled in scandals.  Some observers believe remarks last week from Chinese premier Wen Jiabao show an unmistakable tilt toward Leung, who is by far the most popular choice among the Hong Kong populace.

An instant poll following the debate showed that viewers thought Tang performed the worst, behind Leung and pro-democracy candidate Albert Ho (above right).

Asia’s wealthiest man endorses Tang

Coming after a week in which the leadership of People’s Republic of China seemed to indicate that Hong Kong’s next chief executive should be the man who commands overwhelming public support, Leung Chun-ying, one of two vaguely pro-Beijing candidates in the three-person March 25 race for Hong Kong’s next chief executive, Li Ka-shing, Asia’s wealthiest man, has endorsed the one-time frontrunner, businessman Henry Tang, Leung’s opponent. 

Tang has long been thought to be the favorite of Hong Kong’s local development and business elite, and Li’s public support may sway undecided local Hong Kong players to support Tang, whose one-time inevitability has eroded in the face of lackluster campaigning skills, charges of infidelity, a swarm of bad publicity over building an unapproved basement in his current building (and blaming the illicit building project on his wife) and scandal engulfing the current chief executive, Donald Tsang.

Li’s endorsement, which follows comments from Chinese premier Wen Jiabao last week that Hong Kong should result in a leader who has the support of the “vast majority” of the people in Hong Kong, sets up a dynamic that pits a candidate backed by local developers (Tang) against another candidate (Leung) now seen to be favored by Beijing over Tang.  Continue reading Asia’s wealthiest man endorses Tang

Xi’s just not that into you

The too hot-to-handle race for Hong Kong’s third chief executive is now so electric it’s verboten to report on the race on the Chinese mainland.

In fact, China and Hong Kong may have stumbled into one of the most (accidentally) democratic elections in the Middle Kingdom’s history, as everyone scrambles to determine which candidate is truly favored by Beijing.

The March 25 race is all the more relevant considering that Hong Kong affairs fall within the portfolio of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, the presumptive heir to outgoing Chinese President Hu Jintao, who will step down in 2013.

Three candidates are running for the post, which will be vacated by current chief executive Donald Tsang on July 1:

  • Henry Tang, a businessman who began the race as the favored Beijing candidate as well as the favorite of local Hong Kong developers;
  • Leung Chun-ying, another pro-Beijing candidate who has become the popular favorite, notwithstanding his pro-Beijing sentiment; and
  • Albert Ho, an anti-Beijing candidate of the Democracy Party who has no shot of winning;

The election is not an exercise in direct democracy (or even representative democracy), but rather a decision of the Election Committee, an electoral college of 1,200 Hong Kong SAR residents, which will vote on the basis of Hong Kong business interests as well as the interests of the top leadership echelon of the People’s Republic of China.

In other words, the chief executive will have to be acceptable to both the local business elite as well as to the PRC leadership.

And amid tawdry revelations at every turn of the scandal, there are conflicting signs about the PRC brass’s favorite.

Increasingly, though, in a turn worthy of Yes, Minister, it appears that the unofficial pro-Beijing candidate (Leung) could now be, unofficially, Beijing’s official candidate.

Instead of the officially official candidate (Tang).

Continue reading Xi’s just not that into you