Joseph Lian: Hong Kong’s Leader Hastens His Own Fall

By Liang Zhen
Liang Zhen
Liang Zhen
November 7, 2016 Updated: November 9, 2016

HONG KONG—To the casual observer, recent high-profile events in Hong Kong suggest that Leung Chun-ying, the city’s top leader, has the favor of Beijing.

On Nov. 7, the Chinese regime’s rubber stamp legislature issued an interpretation of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution that disqualified young pro-independence local politicians, Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung, from serving as lawmakers; the two newly elected lawmakers had used coarse language in reciting their oaths of office. Beijing, it would seem, had obliged Leung Chun-ying, who had earlier remarked that he wouldn’t “rule out” getting the Chinese regime to weigh in on the issue.

Chief Executive Leung then took things one step further. In light of Chinese official comments about “suppressing and cracking down” on “Hong Kong independence,” Leung said at a press conference that his government would enact Article 23, a controversial anti-subversion law that half a million Hongkongers strongly protested against in 2003.

But the fact that Leung needs to be provocative to elicit a response from Beijing suggests that he actually doesn’t have official support, according to Joseph Lian Yi-zheng, a former political columnist with the Hong Kong Economic Journal, in an exclusive interview. Lian believes that Leung will only lose Beijing’s confidence if he persists in inciting passions in Hong Kong, a stance that has also been communicated to this newspaper by sources with knowledge of the situation.

Leung Chun-ying may have his way by getting Beijing to ban the two pro-independence politicians from taking their seats, but the “stiff” manner in which it was handled shows that Leung has “extremely limited management ability,” said Lian.

If Leung had handed the oath-taking affair “more competently,” the Chinese legislature wouldn’t have to step in, added Lian, who considers Leung to have fanned pro-independence sentiments in Hong Kong. “Leung may think that he made a right move, but I think he’s being really silly.”

Lian continued: “The manner in which Leung handled matters will backfire. He is an extreme leftist who does things blindly; in the eyes of the Chinese communist regime, that’s a hindrance.”

Going by precedent, Lian argues, Beijing might have already decided not to allow Leung to serve another five-year term as Hong Kong leader. Candidates for the Hong Kong Chief Executive elections in 2012 had hinted at their running for office in August the previous year, Lian said. So Leung’s failure to announce his bid for reelection so late in the year “is a very strange issue,” and suggests that Beijing “are withholding giving their vote of confidence.”  

According to sources of this newspaper, the Xi Jinping leadership won’t back Leung Chun-ying if he runs for another term as Hong Kong Chief Executive.

An individual with authoritative intelligence about the sensitive political operations between China and Hong Kong had revealed that Leung “not only won’t get reelected, but he’ll also be dealt with” for his role in stirring up turmoil in Hong Kong on behalf of former Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin’s political faction since coming to office in 2012. After becoming Party general secretary, Xi Jinping began purging officials tied to Jiang, and is attempting to rectify the culture of corruption in China that took root under his predecessor.

In the evening of Nov. 6, a source close to Beijing told the Hong Kong edition of Epoch Times that the Xi Jinping leadership is closely monitoring the situation in Hong Kong. The Xi leadership remains in firm control over the People’s Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong, and won’t carry out a crackdown, the source continued.

The source added that the Xi leadership “welcomes” Politburo Standing Committee member Zhang Dejiang, who oversees Hong Kong and heads the Chinese legislature, and Leung Chun-ying to “take center stage” so that their “schemes” can be exposed.

“Let’s see the show of Zhang Dejiang and Leung Chun-ying,” the source remarked. “The more they act out, the faster and more thoroughly they’ll be dealt with.”

Liang Zhen