Alvin Y. H. Cheung. The Hong Kong Election: What Message Does it Send to Beijing?

September 4, 2016.

Associated Researcher Alvin Cheung was featured in a ChinaFile Article entitled, "The Hong Kong Election: What Message Does it Send to Beijing?"

"The rise of a younger generation of politicians in Hong Kong that David Schlesinger refers to is certainly an important phenomenon. But the more insidious message of the LegCo elections—and the one that the Hong Kong Central Government and Beijing are more likely to take to heart—is how vulnerable Hong Kong’s civic institutions are to manipulation.

The saga surrounding the exclusion of “localist” politicians from candidacy—explained in detail by my colleagues at the Progressive Lawyers’ Group—is the most widely-known example. The Electoral Affairs Commission’s last-minute addition of a “confirmation form”—and the exclusion of candidates who signed these forms on the basis that their declarations were not “genuine”—cannot be seen as anything but a ham-fisted attempt to exclude political “undesirables” from the ballot. As Reuters later revealed, the Hong Kong authorities’ exclusion of six politicians from LegCo candidacy was the result of political pressure from Beijing. Any legal challenge to the exclusions is likely to take years to resolve.

Other examples abound. The 2016 elections were marred by accusations of voter fraud, including in “functional constituencies”—the statutorily designated special interest seats that have been a major obstacle to meaningful electoral reform. Former Law Society President Junius Ho publicly thanked the Beijing government’s Liaison Office for its support, and former Secretary for Security Regina Ip is suspected to have paid a visit to the Liaison Office shortly after her own victory. (Support from the Liaison Office is forbidden under Article 22 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.) More ominously, one of Ho’s opponents, Liberal Party member Ken Chow, dropped out of the race after individuals “from Beijing” threatened him and his close friends at a meeting in Shenzhen.

A sensible administration in Beijing would recognize this year’s Legco results as a warning that they have interfered too much with Hong Kong. Unfortunately, Chief Executive C.Y. Leung’s blasé reaction, and the all-too-predictable “resolute opposition” to pro-independence legislators from the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, suggest that Beijing has concluded it has not interfered enough."

Read the entire article here.