In the UK, a Hongkonger’s organization has been exposed to having friendly relations with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It causes overseas Hongkongers’ concern of the CCP’s infiltration worsening.
Simon Cheng Man-kit, the founder of “the Hongkongers in Britain,” said that these revelations “certainly add to the worries among Hong Kong people.” He is also of the opinion that these organizations may, as an attempt to make themselves accepted by the non-suspecting people, start with some activities such as organizing banquets, feasts, picnics, and so on. Once they get the trust of the people through these activities (likely with persuasion and propaganda added in between), it is easier for them to reduce those people’s dissatisfaction with the CCP. And even bring them to their camp in the end.
William Je, ex Hong Kong member of the Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), founded the “Hong Kong Citizens Association” in the UK in September 2021. It claims to help “Hong Kong citizens” settle in the UK. “For many Hong Kong compatriots, this sounds like a dream. They worry about their family’s future and don’t know the best way to relocate to the UK. As newcomers, they face all sorts of uncertainties such as education, housing, and health care.” He added further that “the goal of the Hong Kong Citizens Association is to build a huge support network of Hong Kong people, where they can share experience, information, and guidance while preserving Hong Kong’s core values and culture.”
The “Hong Kong Citizens Association” was later renamed to “Hong Kong People Association (HKPA)” and was registered as a British charity in February 2022.
In addition to sharing about life in the UK and events on Facebook, it also shared information from the “Stand News” that was still in operation at that time last year. Expressions of sincerity and goodwill, such as words welcoming the arrival of Dr. Ma Chung-yee, who supported the anti-extradition movement, to the UK, were listed. And on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong sovereignty, it shared the quotes of Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong.
Close Relationship with Pro-Communist GroupsIn addition to being a former member of the Chongqing Chapter of The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), William Je is also the executive chairperson of the pro-Communist organization “Hong Kong Youth Association.” This group gained its notoriety in 2014 when it was exposed by cable TV for having distributed money to the demonstrators during the “Support for Election by Universal Suffrage and Anti-Occupy Central” march. During his tenure, the association also joined the ”Alliance for Peace and Democracy” initiated by Robert Chow Yung and other pro-Communist figures to oppose the 2014 Occupy Central and Umbrella Movement for true universal suffrage.
In May 2015, the inauguration ceremony of the tenth board of supervisors of the “Hong Kong Youth Association” was officiated by Zhang Xiaoming, then director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong, Song Ru'an, Deputy Commissioner of the Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of PRC in HKSAR, Major General Tan Benhong, Commander of the PLA Hong Kong Garrison, and even then Legislative Council Chairman Tsang Yok-sing, who was regarded as an “HK Indigenous Communist,” and Cheng Yiu-tong, a representative of the Hong Kong National People’s Congress. William Je was also present at the same ceremony that day. He said at that time that the association and all sectors of society should work together to maintain the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the prosperity of the motherland and so on.
Involvement in Cryptocurrency Scam in the PastJe also founded the Himalaya Exchange and worked with Guo to promote the cryptocurrency “Himalaya Coin” as part of his anti-CCP campaign. An opinion article by Bloomberg in March once quoted Je as saying that Himalaya Coin has a market capitalization of US$43 billion, but Australia’s ABC Chinese channel reported in April that experts in the fields of cryptocurrency and financial crimes all pointed out that the Himalaya Coin had problems. Aaron Lane, a lawyer cum blockchain expert, pointed out that Himalaya Coin has the full characteristics of a cryptocurrency scam.
The Epoch Times had contacted Guo Wengui on the Internet, asking him about his relationship with William Je, whether he knew about Je’s background, and his views on Je being accused of infiltration overseas. But until now there is no reply from Guo by the time of writing this article.
HKPA’s Doubtful BackgroundCheng emphasized that it is always good to have diverse groups to serve Hong Kong people in the UK. But after a more thorough search, he was able to find all the dubious nature of Je’s origin. He thought it was “no surprise” and understandable that Je was a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference for the convenience of being a businessperson. However, it was his role as the executive chairperson of the “Hong Kong Youth Association,” and the “affirmation of their close ties with the CCP” and other activities that really worried him. Moreover, Guo Wengui is a figure most well-known for his polarized character, and his intricate links with the upper echelon of the CCP. Even though it is still not completely clear about Je’s current position, “the Hongkongers in Britain” group still thinks it has the responsibility to share and disseminate all those facts about William Je, to remind Hong Kong people in the UK and those who are about to come to carefully consider HKPA’s trustworthiness when seeking assistance. Their advice is, “make sure you are fully convinced, beyond all reasonable doubts, that it is a simple and pure charitable organization” before engagement.
Simon Cheng said that after the implementation of the “Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL),” the CCP’s United Front has intensified, and not reduced, its work in the United Kingdom. From his experience with the United Front in the UK in the past few decades, it is now having a difficult time, even though the Hong Kong people in the UK are in a relatively weak state. However, within the current atmosphere of public opinion, United Front has become more low-key, but it doesn’t mean that they are staying away and there are always small actions they can plan for.
The Hongkongers in Britain group has been monitoring, for example, by taking up the responsibility to share information they know about William Je as a new stakeholder. The more we probe into his background, the more cause of concern for us Hong Kong people.” But he stressed that it is not an accusation, just the desire to clarify all the facts. In that respect, they also welcome Je to come forward and clarify to remove any doubts we might have.
The CCP’s United Front Has a Similar Tactic of ‘Be Water’Cheng said that it is difficult to cite specific examples to prove that the CCP’s United Front had begun targeting Hong Kong people who had planned to go to the UK under the BNO visa plan. For example, “Li Zhenju, a CCP spy under the guise of a lawyer in the UK, was only named by the MI5 as such after a full 10 years in a covert operation, and even with no specific evidence provided. Maybe they (the British government) have kept it to themselves. So, it is easy to imagine the difficulty faced by private institutions like ours. When we do not possess much public legal power, it is far more difficult for us to provide evidence,” he added.
For reference, British-Chinese lawyer Li Zhenju was named by MI5 this year, accused of being a spy involved in the CCP’s “political interference activities.”
However, in theory, Cheng believes that the CCP will try its best to sway the mindset of Hong Kong people who come to the UK through the BNO visa programme. The very simple reason is that the CCP sees that the community of Hong Kong people in the UK is getting bigger and bigger as time goes, by (the British government expects there will be 350,000 or more in the future). No doubt the CCP will become worried with such a large number of Hong Kong people in the UK, as they know most of them are on non-friendly terms with their dictatorship.
Befriend Hongkongers and Mitigate Their Dissatisfaction with the CCPCheng analyzed that the shadow of the United Front of the CCP may not be too obvious at the moment. All it will do first is to arrange their usual “food and drink activities that have nothing to do with politics.” Through these activities “they will continue to take people in, for the purpose of first understanding how many of you are there, and what problems you encounter, followed by one or two reports or continue with larger-scale investigations, then start to grasp the movements of these people.” From these contacts, they will be able to learn about the movements of those people and organizations they believe are endangering national security and plotting “to overthrow China and create chaos in Hong Kong,” and then monitor them.
For the other group of people who are “not those primary elements endangering national security, anti-China and disrupting Hong Kong,” to which the vast majority of Hong Kong people in the UK belong, the CCP’s strategy is to numb their memory of why they came to the UK in the first place in order to “downplay their dissatisfaction with the CCP.” As a result, they will soon fall into the CCP’s discourse, sort of as an “overseas Chinese in the UK.” This is exactly a re-sell of the idea of winning over overseas Chinese in the past. It could include “Hey you guys of Chinese origin, welcome to the great motherland to seek business opportunities. This is the place that makes you feel more Chinese with dignity. You will no longer be bullied by the foreigners (British in this case) anymore,”
On the other hand, Cheng believes that the CCP will try to influence the British government to handle its affairs with China through the establishment of more Hong Kong people’s organizations and through pro-China forces such as academic institutions and chambers of commerce, to make the British government be more inclined towards the greater interests of the CCP.
Calls for Committee to Deal with Allegations of Foreign InterferenceWhen asked about how overseas Hong Kong people prevent infiltration, Cheng said that open and transparent discussions are encouraged as a means to avoid them. For example, to be fair to all, the current “Hong Kong People Association” incident also requires relevant fact-checking and discussion.
He also said that “the Hongkongers in Britain” group would propose to the British government to establish an independent public committee mechanism outside of government, to define exactly what “foreign interference” is. That should be a fair deal to both the accusers and the accused, especially when it is done outside of national security, law, at the level of human rights, and handling matters with a fair mechanism. In doing so it can also avoid any accusations being placed on Hong Kong people’s groups by some groups from the United Front side as “witch hunts.” The Hongkongers in Britain group is also in favour of formulating the “Foreign Agents Act” by the UK. That will help erase restrictions on freedom of speech by law, and to establish “political honesty.” For example, asking for the transparency of funding on whether it comes from the CCP, or other dubious sources is one action that can be implemented. With that in hand, British society can then evaluate and monitor for the benefit of all.