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General Hong Kong politics thread

edited 2016-12-10 18:30:11 in Politics
This thread won't be updated much since I'm really not an expert in this field, but there are some recent events I thought might be interesting to share and explain.  While I do have my opinions on these matters, I'll try to be as neutral as possible except when I've specified otherwise.


Some of you may have heard that there has been some recent controversy over the taking of the oath of office of some recently-elected members of Hong Kong's Legislative Council.

Background information:
* Since the 1997 return of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the
People's Republic of China, Hong Kong has been governed under a "One
Country, Two Systems" arrangement, wherein Hong Kong's economy and
political systems are meant to be basically left alone (with some
exceptions, obviously) for 50 years starting then (i.e. until 2047).  As a result, Hong Kong's status within the People's Republic of China is that of Special Administrative Region.  The term "mainland China" (colloquial Cantonese: "large landmass") refers to the rest of the People's Republic of China.  (The territory of Taiwan may or may not be included depending on the person's opinion of the legal status of Taiwan, but this is usually not at all relevant to any conversation about Hong Kong.)  The term "Beijing" is often used metonymically for the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China.
* Hong Kong's government has three branches -- executive, legislative, and judicial.
* The executive branch is currently headed by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, a.k.a. C. Y. Leung, who is a pro-establishment politician.  He may be running for re-election to this post.  The Chief Executive position is elected by an Election Committee of 1200 members appointed by the Central People's Government of mainland China, who are meant to be "broadly representative" of Hong Kong.
* The Legislative Council, usually shortened to LegCo, is the legislature of Hong Kong.  It has 70 seats.  The majority coalition is a pro-establishment coalition that currently has 40 seats; it is sometimes referred to as the "pro-Beijing camp".  The minority/opposition coalition currently has 28 seats; it is sometimes referred to as the "pro-democracy camp" or the "pan-democratic camp".  There are currently two open seats formerly held by two anti-establishment legislators who were stripped of their seats during this recent controversy.  Half of LegCo -- 35 seats -- is democratically elected, while 30 are selected by trade-based functional constituencies and 5 are apparently elected at-large from pre-selected candidates (see Wikipedia for more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legislative_Council_of_Hong_Kong ).
* Chinese names are generally written surname-first.  English names are generally written surname-last, so sometimes you may see a name written both ways (e.g. John Tsang Chun-wah, who goes by John Tsang in English and Tsang Chun-wah in Cantonese).  Names are transliterated from Cantonese Chinese rather than Mandarin Chinese, as Cantonese is the most prevalently spoken dialect in Hong Kong, and is used in speeh and conversation in most government functions, as well as most everyday interactions.  English is sometimes used, and most (written/printed) signage and documentation in Hong Kong is bilingual in English and Chinese.  (Cantonese and Mandarin use the same written words, although spoken Cantonese -- even in formal settings -- often makes use of rarely-written words that date from long ago and are not shared by Mandarin, for which written and spoken vocabularies are much closer.  Speaking Cantonese using commonly-written words is usually seen as formal or literary in usage.)  Sharing surnames -- especially sharing Romanized transliterations of surnames (i.e. when written in Roman alphabet letters) is very common amongst Chinese names and generally does NOT indicate family relationship.

More posts coming up later.  This controversy dates back a couple months, so it'll take some time for me to write up everything.


  • edited 2016-12-06 19:50:33
    More background information:

    Localism in Hong Kong is a position of advocating for Hong Kong's autonomy of governance and preservation of local culture.  Politically, it is expressed as a concern over Beijing's influence over Hong Kong local affairs, governance, and culture, including a variety of sub-issues from free speech to continued prevalence of Cantonese.  Thus, localism is a currently controversial set of topics in Hong Kong.  This occasionally even involves calls by some for Hong Kong independence, though not all localists are pro-independence.

    Localist concerns may hinge on nationalism as well as perspectives of mainland China's central government.  From what I can tell, those who feel strongly about a Chinese national identity and China's territorial unity and those who feel optimistic that Hong Kong's presence will help modernize (and even potentially liberalize) China are less likely to express such concerns; those who feel suspicious about the central government's influence -- especially on political issues such as democratic and self-determination rights -- may be more likely to agree with localist sentiments.

    Independence is strongly opposed by the central government.  It is also opposed by the political establishment.
  • edited 2016-12-06 21:36:50
    NOTE: I am not a Hong Kong resident.  Nor are my parents, currently.  But they have lived for a combined many years in Hong
    Kong, especially my mom, and they after often interested in and concerned about what's happening in Hong Kong.  They grew up in Hong Kong and it was basically the hometown they knew.

    We currently get Hong Kong TV news using
    the vChannel app, which is available for Android and iOS.  It allows us
    to watch Hong Kong TV news from the TVB, nowTV, and RTHK networks. 
    Another source is Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK).

    What I'm posting here is largely based on my watching these news reports as well as discussing these issues with my parents.

    TL;DR I'm not from Hong Kong but my parents are and the Hong Kong political stuff we end up arguing about discussing is reported below
  • edited 2016-12-06 19:55:33
    More assorted background information:

    On 4 Sept 2016, LegCo elections were held.  (They are held every four years.)  These elections saw 40 seats going to the majority and 30 seats going to the minority.

    Andrew Leung, a member of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong party, is the current President of LegCo (i.e. the presiding officer, who is responsible for officially directing the activities of LegCo, such as swearing in members and adjourning sessions).

    These elections follow a series of street protests in late 2014 against a move by the central government that would allegedly reduce the influence of Hong Kong residents in determining their political leadership and increase the influence of the central government.  For background on that, consult Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Hong_Kong_protests
    A popular symbol of this latest protest movement is the yellow umbrella.

    My parents visited Hong Kong last year and ran into protesters from this movement when they were there.  My parents strongly disliked them, reporting that they were irritatingly blocking businesses and roads.

    That said it has been a notable trend that older residents tend to be more pro-establishment and younger residents are more likely to be anti-establishment.  Of course these are only trends and individual persons may or may not match these trends; it would be erroneous to simply say such a thing as "young people are anti-establishment because they're young and stupid" for example, because these political opinions can be relatively complex in origin.

    NOTE: Anti-establishment sentiment in Hong Kong is very different from anti-establishment sentiment elsewhere such as in the United States and Europe.  Terrorism and refugee immigration are basically nonexistent issues in Hong Kong, and Hong Kong is mostly urban and very densely populated.  At issue are often economic interests and disputes over political rights.  There may be some concerns over mainlanders moving to Hong Kong, but I'm not sure that that's a particularly big concern at the moment since Hong Kong's population and density are already quite high and housing costs are extremely high.  (Affordable housing is actually a very important, practical, and difficult issue.)  Wikipedia says that Hong Kong localism sometimes includes anti-immigrant sentiment, but I haven't seen much mention of it recently.  Then again, recent political news has been dominated by this oath-taking controversy.

    Curiously, Wikipedia lists at least some anti-establishment politicians as "right-wing populist", which is something that might be said of Donald Trump here in the United States, but the anti-establishment politicians in Hong Kong advocate for a totally different set of issues than anything Trump has drummed up, so it is a big mistake to presume that they are anything similar.  The only similarity I can think of is a stretch, based on fitting political positions to a left-right axis, associating communism (China's central government) with collectivism (the objective, as alleged by opponents, of economic "liberalism" in the United States), then associating opponents of both...but this is at best a serious stretch.  In conflict with this presumption, there are a number of western liberals/progressives who support the anti-establishment side in Hong Kong, based on an intention of supporting democracy and freedom movements, which are frequently opposed to the fascist/totalitarian political leanings of right-wing populism.  (Then again, right-wing populists rail against what they see as the totalitarian leanings of left-wing socialism/communism...)

    The next election for Chief Executive will take place in 2017.
  • Hong Kong, or formally the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), is governed by articles of Basic Law, which is basically its constitution -- actions of the government have to abide by the Hong Kong Basic Law.

    This includes Article 104 which specifies that government officials such as LegCo members must swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.

    Obviously also includes a bunch of other articles, at least one of which says something about how LegCo should handle the expulsion and disciplinary action against its own members, if I recall correctly.  (I think it requires a 2/3 vote or something?)

    Challenges to things on the basis of the Basic Law, like other court cases, go through the court system and may be appealed up to the Court of Final Appeal, which is basically the supreme court of Hong Kong.
  • edited 2016-12-06 20:50:09
    On 12 Oct 2016, at the swearing-in ceremony for the newly (re-)elected LegCo members, some things happened.

    According to Wikipedia, anti-establishment lawmakers had previously used the oath-taking as a platform to voice their political opinions.  So, one day earlier, the Hong Kong SAR government had issued a statement telling LegCo members to take their oaths properly, or something of that sort.

    During the swearing-in ceremony, several legislators (Wikipedia says a total of 13 -- five localists and eight pan-democrats) used their oaths of office as a political platform.  Some of these people are:
    * a person who played a drum during the oath-taking ceremony (I forgot his name)
    * Nathan Law, who read his oath in such a way as to raise inflection at the end of every mention of the country's name, making it allegedly sound like a question
    * Yiu Chung-yim, who apparently added language in support of universal voting rights
    * Lau Siu-lai, who read her oath very, very slowly (taking like ten minutes)
    * Leung Kwok-hung, a.k.a. "Longhair", who wore his hair long and wore a t-shirt (as he usually does), carried a yellow umbrella (which was a symbol of a recent protest movement), and tore up a copy of a legal document from the central government
    * Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching, the two members of the Youngspiration party, both of whom are pro-independence, conspicuously displaying flags with the text "Hong Kong is NOT China", and both recited (in English, see note below) the country's name as "People's Republic of Cheena" or "People's Republic of Sheena" -- i.e. with what would be considered a long E rather than a long i sound in English.  This particular pronounciation -- while the normal pronunciation of the name of the country in some parts of the world (e.g. Spanish and Portuguese speaking places), as well as an old unofficial name for the country used historically in both China and Japan -- was used by the Japanese invaders/occupiers in the Sino-Japanese War and World War II, and is currently considered deeply offensive by the Chinese.  Furthermore, Yau Wai-ching said "People's Refucking" rather than "People's Republic".   (Yes, silly as this sounds, this actually happened).  And she was also wearing a t-shirt.

    Note: The choices of languages for taking the oath of office are Cantonese Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, and English, as far as I know.  In other words, the choice of language is not a legal problem, from what I understand.

    Needless to say, especially given the political context, the actions of Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching pretty much pushed all the Instant Controversy buttons -- severe disrespect toward Chinese national identity and openly and conspicuously calling for independence.

    The oaths of office of Sixtus Leung, Yau Wai-ching, and Yiu Chung-yim were deemed invalid by LegCo secretary general Kenneth Chen.  Later, Lau Siu-lai's extremely long oath was also invalidated.  The reason for invalidation was changing the text of the oath.

    The story doesn't stop here, though.

    Strong reactions followed from the pro-establishment camp, denouncing
    (what they saw as) deeply hurtful and offensive comments against China
    and the Chinese people.  Demands were made that the two Youngspiration
    legislators apologize, resign, and/or be expelled.

    LegCo president Andrew Leung scheduled an oath-retaking ceremony for the following week.
  • edited 2016-12-06 21:33:01
    Just before the oath-retaking ceremony was to be performed, Chief Exec C. Y. Leung filed a lawsuit asking the two Youngspiration legislators to be removed from LegCo for the reason of mangling their oaths.

    When the oath-retaking ceremony was performed, the oaths of five legislators were to be retaken:
    * Wong Ting-kwong (pro-establishment), who had missed "Hong Kong" in part of his original oath)
    * Yiu Chung-yim
    * Sixtus Leung
    * Yau Wai-ching
    * Lau Siu-lai

    However, after Wong and Yiu had retaken their oaths, the pro-establishment camp, furious that Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching hadn't apologized for their actions, walked out of the LegCo chamber, denying quorum in order to prevent the swearing-in of the remaining three legislators.

    LegCo president Andrew Leung adjourned the session due to lack of quorum, quipping that sometimes his opponents unexpectedly become his friends unexpectedly (or something like that).

    During a pro-establishment media appearance following the walk-out, Leung Kwok-hung ("Longhair") threw luncheon meat at the
    pro-establishment legislators.
  • edited 2016-12-06 21:11:36
    sidenote: Leung is a very common surname in Hong Kong.  The various people I've mentioned who share this surname (C. Y. Leung, Andrew Leung, Sixtus Leung, etc.) are not related, as far as I know.

    In fact, having the same surname as someone else is pretty common in many places in China.
  • edited 2016-12-06 21:40:25
    When Andrew Leung considered whether to again attempt to schedule an
    oath-retaking, the pro-establishment camp swore to oppose it by walking
    out and thus denying that any business would be conducted by LegCo if
    Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-Ching were to be sworn in.

    As a result, Andrew Leung changed his position and decided to not reschedule an oath-taking, pending a court decision

    And as a result of that, Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching vowed to force their way into the LegCo chamber anyway, the next time LegCo would meet.

    This they indeed did.  Surrounded and aided by supporters, they forced their way into the chamber and seated themselves.  Business was, not surprisingly, halted, and chaos erupted in the LegCo chamber.

    During that chaos, one member (presumably an anti-establishment member? not one of the people I've mentioned so far though) decided to invert the pairs of miniature-sized China and Hong Kong flags that were present on legislators' desks.

    The two Youngspiration legislators vowed to do this again the following week.

    (Well, to be fair, the pro-establishment camp had threatened to halt all normal business if those two got an oath-retaking anyway...)
  • edited 2016-12-06 21:43:25
    The following week, the two Youngspiration legislators again forced their way in.  This time, six security guards were injured in the process.  Yau Wai-ching claims that she recited her oath properly upon entering the LegCo chamber, though this was not officially recognized and she was ejected shortly thereafter.  She claims that Andrew Leung did not execute his duty properly because he failed to not properly swear her in.

    The LegCo session was adjourned in the main chamber and was gaveled back in in a smaller conference room, which the two legislators were prevented from entering.

    At this point, there were rumours that mainland China's central government planned to step into this controversy themselves.  The communist party's newspaper strongly denounced Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching.  The pan-democracy camp expressed concerns over this, though they were dismissed by LegCo president Andrew Leung.  Meanwhile, Hong Kong's chief executive, C.Y. Leung, cancelled a meeting in Beijing to return to Hong Kong to deal with this matter.

    Meanwhile, Lau Siu-lai retook her oath and began formally serving as a LegCo member.

    Other developments that had happened:
    * Andrew Leung's own loyalty to Hong Kong was called into question, due to formerly holding British citizenship.  He ended up having to produce a document to prove that he revoked his British nationality.
    * Pan-democratic legislators expressed concern over muddling of the policy of separation of powers between the branches of government.
    * Lawyers expressed concern over the legal implications of the central government's involvement and the One Country, Two Systems arrangement.
    * Protests, on both sides, from what I've heard.
    * An older taxi driver became noteworthy on the news for his strong disapproval of the Youngspiration legislators' actions.
  • edited 2016-12-06 21:52:02
    While the case of Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching was working its way through the courts, the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) issued a "legal explanation" of Basic Law Article 104, stating essentially that the oath-taking has to be taken seriously and respectfully and has to follow the proper wording, and otherwise the oath -- and the person's right to hold the office contingent on taking that oath -- is not valid.

    Such legal explanations have occurred four times in the past.  Once was at the rest of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal, but the other times were seen detrimental to Hong Kong's autonomy.

    The legal explanation sparked more protests.  Meanwhile a Beijing government official explicitly stated that Hong Kong localism and self-determination sentiment was being used as a front to talk about Hong Kong independence, which is unacceptable.

    After the legal explanation, the court where the case of Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching was being argued, issued its decision, expelling the two legislators.  The court claimed that the legal explanation was not even needed to come to this decision.

    Meanwhile, Woo Kwok-hing, a retired judge, became the first declared candidate for the Chief Exec election next year.  He began his candidacy by criticizing current Chief Exec C. Y. Leung.
  • After the NPCSC issued its legal explanation of Article 104, Beijing ended up criticizing several more Hong Kong LegCo members for improperly taking their oaths of office:
    * Nathan Law (the question mark guy)
    * the drum guy
    * Leung Kwok-hung, "Longhair"
    * Lau Siu-lai (the very slow reciting lady)
    * Some other person who took her oath in Mandarin was also faulted for something about her pronunciation, though I don't know the details.
    * Someone else who took the oath in English said "Special Administration Region" instead of the correct "Special administrative Region".
    Also a few others. I think the total was either 8 or 15, in addition to the two Youngspiration members already mired in controversy. I think they're mostly anti-establishment/pan-Democratic lesiglators; dunno if it includes pro-establishment legislators. But Beijing even pointed out that Chief Exec C. Y. Leung, whom I think is pro-establishment (as I think that a point of last year's protests was objecting to how Beijing first chose a few candidates for Chief Exec and then gave the Hong Kong people the chance to choose from the preselected group), had made a mistake during his own oath-taking ceremony.

    Meanwhile, Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching, whom the court expelled from LegCo, appealed their court decision.

    A Beijing official reiterated that Hong Kong independence cannot be allowed to happen.

    Chief Exec C. Y. Leung's administration has sought judicial review, in light of the Article 104 legal explanation, of the the following legislators' status as LegCo members:
    * Leung Kwok-hung
    * Lau Siu-lai
    * Nathan Law
    * Edward Yiu (I'm not sure why he's in this list)

    Also, several other people have since declared their candidacy for the Chief Exec position, or at least not said no unequivocally.  This includes Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang, who if I recall correctly hasn't completely said he's in but also hasn't said he's out.

    A recent opinion poll of Hong Kong finds that residents are split over the legal explanation provided by Beijing.  About 40% approve of it, while about 43% disapprove.  Older voters are more likely to approve of the legal explanation, while young people disapprove of it in a lopsided margin.

    The poll also polled potential candidates for Chief Executive.  The top candidate, John Tsang, has about 28% if I recall correctly, and has generally stayed mum about this whole matter, saying generic things about unity and working together I think.  However, see below.  The candidate in second is former judge Woo Kwok-hing, who I think has reached out to younger voters.  Current Chief Exec C. Y. Leung is stuck in a pack of about 4 candidates polling around 10% each.

    Respondents who support C. Y. Leung overwhelmingly approve of the legal explanation.

    Since the poll was taken, Tsang was asked to report to LegCo about the state of Hong Kong's finances.  However, he caused major controversy by stating that he'd refuse to answer questions from the four current legislators on whom the administration has asked for judicial review of their oaths.  He said he did this based on legal advice and remarked that one should not contradict one's boss -- who, in his case, would be C. Y. Leung.

    However, C. Y. Leung then publicly stated that he and John Tsang had
    never talked this over before, and if they had, he (C. Y. Leung) would have
    settled this matter internally.

    My take on this is that Tsang
    might be trying to go out on a limb to play politics to solidify his
    current lead in the polls by picking up pro-establishment/pro-Beijing
    supporters, but it may have backfired on him.  That assumes he's doing
    this for political reasons, of course.

    Okay, I'm done with this current round of massposting.  Will update this thread with news.
  • "you duck spawn, refined creature, you try to be cynical, yokel, but all that comes out of it is that you're a dunce!!!!! you duck plug!"
    Somehow I knew these eight posts will be all you.
  • lrdgck wrote: »
    Somehow I knew these eight posts will be all you.

    You should tell us more about Poland's politics.
  • He who laments and can't let go of the past is forever doomed to solitude.
  • Gallina seráfica
  • "you duck spawn, refined creature, you try to be cynical, yokel, but all that comes out of it is that you're a dunce!!!!! you duck plug!"
    Been thinking a bit about it, but I'm not really keen on updating it. That would feel like either periodic bragging or periodic complaining. But I'm inclined to go along, depending on what you want to know and what form should I give it.
  • edited 2016-12-10 15:18:00
    Current Chief Executive C. Y. Leung has stated that he will NOT run for re-election next year.
  • I think that Hong Kong just held elections for at least some seats in the 1200-member Election Committee.
  • edited 2016-12-18 00:51:06
    Financial Secretary John Tsang resigned recently in preparation for a run for the Chief Exec post.

    Following this, outgoing Chief Exec C. Y. Leung commented that the departure of a top government official could complicate matters, but they'd still get things done somehow.  People basically speculated that this meant that Chief Secretary of Administration Carrie Lam would stay put and would not run.

    More recently, though, Carrie Lam is making an extended stay in Beijing, fueling speculation that she might actually be running for Chief Exec too.

    (Chief Exec candidates have to have approval from Beijing to run, I think.  Something like that.)
  • edited 2016-12-22 00:39:52
    A member of the Chief Exec Election Committee (that 1200-person body that I mentioned earlier) is a University of Hong Kong law professor named Benny Tai.  He asked his fellow pro-democracy Election Committee members to band together to support a CE candidate who would drop support for the current effort of a judicial review of four current legislators' oath-taking (as mentioned earlier they are all from the anti-establishment/pro-democracy camp), which was initiated by the current CE, C. Y. Leung.

    A group of LegCo members in the pro-establishment camp who are also lawyers have written a statement opposing Tai's call, saying that it violates a rule against giving "advantages" for political support.

    Tai responded by saying that this is a public policy issue which citizens have an opinion on, and have wanted their officials to advocate for.
  • The two Youngspiration now-former legislators have submitted an appeal to the Court of Final Appeal.  They are apparently arguing that NPCSC's legal "explanation" was actually an amendment to the Basic Law, as opposed to a proper interpretation.  Also something about separation of powers between the judicial and legislative branches.
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