Editorial: ‘Keep island, drop people’ strategy easier said than done | Apple Daily HK

Published (HKT): 2020.12.21 10:36

by Lo Fung

Established back in May this year, the Bauhinia Party has been very quiet. There was no grand founding ceremony attended by celebrities and important people from business and political sectors; even the Hong Kong version of state media and pro-Beijing KOL have not given them any attention. Their presence was even weaker than groups like “Justice Alliance” and “Caring Hong Kong Power.” Half a year is gone, and the party still has no activity, and its claim of recruiting 250,000 members is so far just all talks. According to the media reports, the Bauhinia Party currently does not have an official headquarters, secretariat, or regional branch. It is like a dummy company, a party with a name but nothing else.

But this “dummy company” of a party has become the focus within the political circle in recent weeks. People from the pan-democrats and pro-Beijing camp, the academics, political commentators, internet KOL have all been talking about this political party and analyzing why it has been established. Some believe it is the political flagship of the mainland born, overseas returning “new Hongkongers,” which was founded to share power or even replace the incompetent Hong Kong pro-Beijing camp; some think it is a party directly appointed by the central government, which prepares to enter the government departments and overtake the senior officials to realize the big strategy of “keep the island, drop the people” (replace the original Hongkongers with the “new Hongkongers” to rule Hong Kong). Some people also feel that the founding members of the Bauhinia Party are not so outstanding, as only one person could get to the super united front organization “Hong Kong Coalition” founded by people such as former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, but has not received much attention from the central government officials based in Hong Kong. Therefore it is hard to say whether these people are the real deal or just someone who tries to take advantage during political chaos.

On paper, the Bauhinia Party lacks indeed in substance. Li Shan, the Chairman, and the other two founders are only the second and third line figures within the pro-Beijing and business circle. They have not much charisma and do not seem to cut it as the people who carry the mission of replacing the current pro-Beijing camp. However, the political order and rule of the game in Hong Kong is changing rapidly. The loyalty level towards Beijing has become the top criteria for getting the appointment and re-appointment. The ability has become secondary, let alone public support and acceptability. Under this political situation where being loyal to Beijing is more important than being good at the jobs, an organization like the Bauhinia Party, which has the “red” (communist) background and knows how to play the CCP political game, would naturally draw speculations that it might have a special mission. It could be the Trojan horse that brings hundreds of thousands of CCP underground members overground to take over Hong Kong governance.

The problem is, Hong Kong is a complex and diverse international city after all. It will still be an important safety valve connecting the mainland and international society in the foreseeable future. Regulations of international professions and business cannot be changed lightly, and professionals cannot be replaced on a large scale because it would affect the economy and financial markets. It is very unrealistic to rely solely on an organization that has hardly any connections in Hong Kong and little understandings of the overall economic and social operations to take over Hong Kong’s governance. It has underestimated the complexity of Hong Kong. Even if Beijing really wants the Bauhinia Party to take this huge task, it is incapable of doing so without even taking the strong rebound of the pro-Beijing camp and Hong Kong communist political groups into consideration.

The traditional pro-Beijing camp in Hong Kong, including the communist political group, has not much combat power and does not work well as a group, sometimes even fight against each other. But when the members have to protect their own economic and political interests, they would not hesitate. If they could fall out with their own party members for a seat in the Legislative Council, they could throw those political newbies, who have no political achievement, out of the door. The Bauhinia Party might have the backing from Beijing, those in the central government still would not get rid of its original support, as the rebound would ruin its plan.

More importantly, the so-called “keep the island, drop the people” is easier said than done. Although Beijing heavily suppressed the political power of the pan-democrats, eliminated them from the Legislative Council, and might even tighten the requirement of taking part in the election, in the hope to weaken political support of the pan-democrats and protest organizations on a long term basis, any political system or regime needs acceptance and support by the people. No matter how strong the person in power is, he/she cannot ignore the wish of the majority of people, especially a city like Hong Kong still has to face the international society and maintain a certain space for autonomous activities. The acceptance from the public is essential. The Bauhinia Party and the other “new Hongkongers” political groups do not understand Hong Kong or Hongkongers at all, never mind them getting the support of the majority of people. Then how are they going to become the main force of governing Hong Kong and take full power?

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