HONG KONG—Chinese leader Xi Jinping is preparing to purge Hongkongers from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference if they bribed their way into the national advisory body, according to a source close to the matter.
Xi’s move is a bid to strengthen his control over Hong Kong, long a bastion for allies of former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin.
The source, who has close ties to the top Chinese leadership, told Epoch Times that Xi has created a special inquiry group to investigate Hongkongers at any level of the government advisory body—national, provincial, prefecture, or county. Many of those being targeted have funded Communist Party front groups tied to Jiang.
The expected purge looks set to widen the anti-corruption drive Xi began upon taking office in 2012. Xi has used the campaign to suppress rampant bribery and embezzlement, and to police cadre loyalty, all while purging the Party of rival Jiang supporters. Hong Kong, through which vast wealth from the mainland flows, has been in the hands of Xi’s political adversaries since he came to power.
Purging the Ranks
Xi’s administration has received many complaints from people “extremely dissatisfied” about Hong Kong notables buying their way into the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said the source, who is close to discussions in Zhongnanhai, the central headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party.
Xi has established a high-level inquiry group to “get to the root.” It will include four powerful official organs: The Party’s anti-corruption agency, the United Front Work Department, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, and the leadership of the CPPCC.
CPPCC chief Yu Zhengsheng and United Front head Sun Chunlan will direct the investigations, said the source.
The source also said that up to three-quarters of Hong Kong CPPCC members will lose their titles, with only around 700 remaining.
This purge resulted in the recent prosecution of Zhu Mingguo, former chairman of the CPPCC in Guangdong Province neighboring Hong Kong, said the source. He received a suspended death sentence for taking bribes and holding assets worth tens of millions of dollars.
Because Zhu is closely connected with Hong Kong and linked with the Jiang faction, “many Hong Kong CPPCC members aligned with Jiang who bought their way to office are ‘scared witless,’ and some have even gone in hiding,” the source said.
A Communist Country Club
The CPPCC—a collection of non-communist political parties, ethnic minorities, and billionaire business executives that is always headed by a top party member and dominated by the Communist Party—is meant to reflect the idea that China is democratic.
Business people in China and Hong Kong crave membership in the municipal, county, provincial, and national-level CPPCCs to gain access to Chinese officials and expand their business networks.
CPPCC members get VIP treatment in China—priority clearance lines at airports, fine dining, reserved parking spaces.
Membership is supposed to be by invitation only.
A local community leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Epoch Times about a mainland-born Hong Kong entrepreneur in his 20s, who bought his way on. The entrepreneur enlisted a contact familiar with the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong to set up a meeting with a Chinese official from his home province in China.
At the meeting in the guest room of the Liaison Office, the entrepreneur put $150,000 in cash into a $4,300 designer purse and handed it to the official. He was then invited to join the national CPPCC in Beijing.
Hon Man-po, a renowned author and former committee member in the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, said that Jiang Zemin’s faction used CPPCC membership as “a channel of corruption” to infiltrate and control the city.
Hon was a CPPCC member between 1992 to 2002 by invitation of Hainan University. But the university stopped sending him invitations in 2003 when membership buying became “very serious.”
“Hong Kong businesspeople were giving money and other benefits to United Front groups. After that, these businesspeople received invitations to be CPPCC members,” Hon said.
The Communist Party uses its United Front apparatus, which engages in subversion, surveillance, mobilization, and propaganda, to manage ethnic Chinese overseas.
Hon says that in 2003 marked a steep uptick in efforts to infiltrate Hong Kong after half-a-million Hongkongers marched through the streets to protest a controversial anti-sedition law.
Zeng Qinghong, a key Jiang ally who Jiang backed for a membership on the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC)—the Party’s central decision making body—was overseeing Hong Kong. He started building up underground communist groups and United Front organizations in the city to boost support for the Communist Party, undermine its critics, and maintain the Jiang faction’s influence there.
Hongkongers, particularly those from provincial clan associations and communist front groups, would make monetary contributions to these subversion efforts and gain CPPCC membership.
Another source with close knowledge of the situation said that Lin Kwok-on, the coarse, abrasive vice-president of the Hong Kong Youth Care Association—one of the more prominent front groups in Hong Kong—bought membership to a county-level CPPCC in Jiangxi Province.
Another source, who also declined to be named but who is close to the issue, said a wealthy businessman gives the Youth Care Association over $70,000 every month so that his sister can remain a member of the national CPPCC.
The Youth Care Association is notorious for harassing practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that is being persecuted in China on the orders of Jiang Zemin.
Hong Kong reflects a broader pattern in China whereby Jiang and his allies tolerated corruption in exchange for political allegiance. Xi’s administration appears determined to reverse these practices, in part, by eliminating Jiang’s faction.
Xi “shifted up a gear” in this effort after assuming the role of “core” leader in October, said the source close to Zhongnanhai. Epoch Times tracked some of these developments in an earlier report.
According to the source, Xi is “losing patience” with affluent Hongkongers and officials who still support the Jiang faction, including Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying.
Epoch Times previously reported inside information that the Xi leadership won’t allow Leung another term in office. Elections for the Hong Kong Chief Executive will be held in March 2017.
In the current political climate, the source said, backing Jiang is like “squandering your chance.”