January 30, 2015

North Point: A living history of Hong Kong

A panoramic view of North Point from Kowloon. Compared with Central and Sai Wan, North Point has a shorter history. Photo: Baycrest

HomeHong KongLocal

North Point: A living history of Hong Kong

Many of Hong Kong’s geographical place names have been in use for more than 150 years. Some describe their specific locations. North Point is one of them.

North Point sits on the northernmost tip of Hong Kong Island, a major cross-harbor interchange on the MTR line.

It has a shorter history than Sheung Wan or Central (Victoria City in the earliest colonial times). Before World War II, North Point largely consisted of a steep, narrow road that ran from Central to the eastern parts of the island.

Later, its surrounding areas became home to several large quarries when demand for rocks soared during a construction frenzy in Central and Kowloon. That’s how Quarry Bay on the eastern side of North Point earned its name. 

Reclamation projects since the early 1900s have pushed the coastline into Victoria Harbor, expanding North Point further to the north.

Not many young people know that bustling Tsat Tsz Mui Road was once a tranquil beach before the 1910s and the original coastline was roughly along the tram tracks.

Hongkong Electric’s power plant and a number of government warehouses built on reclaimed land marked its gradual transformation from a remote, dull suburb into a thriving frontier of urbanization.

Names of roads in North Point, such as Electric Road, Power Street, Wharf Road etc., remind people of the old days when North Point was a vital industrial district.

North Point powered Hong Kong Island for most part of the 20th century until 1970s when Hong Kong’s economy moved into top gear.

The power plant, built in 1919, was torn down to make way for the City Garden complex, one of the top 10 upmarket residential estates at the time.

King’s Road Playground next to the new Customs headquarters is witness to Hong Kong’s volatile past. The site was a refugee camp during World War II and was converted into a large prisoner camp after the Japanese army took control of the territory in the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941, according to Ko Tim-keung, a local historian and a member of the Antiquities Advisory Board.

For older people, the playground may evoke intense personal memories of Hong Kong’s liberation in August 1945.

The playground was the site of the first registration office that issued identity cards to residents and tens of thousands of mainland and overseas war refugees who were later naturalized and granted right of abode in Hong Kong.

North Point was home to Hakka offspring and descendants of Xiamen families from China’s Fujian province who fled communist rule in the decades before the handover.

If you visit some public libraries and government-run markets there, you will find that notices are broadcast in the public address system in Cantonese, English, Putonghua — and Hakka.

Since the 1960s, North Point has been home to a sizable Shanghainese community.

Their contribution to local culture include night clubs, music lounges and dance halls, especially in the 1940s and 1950s, decades before Tonnochy Road in Wan Chai became Hong Kong’s premier entertainment hub.

Some senior residents still call North Point Lai Chi (Ritz in English). It was the name of the largest entertainment parlor at the time. It opened in 1940 with a dance hall, swimming pool and even a mini golf course. The place was thus called “little Shanghai”.

Luxurious harborside living for the poor was also what North Point had to offer.

In the 1950s, the Hong Kong Housing Authority, as it was called then, started building North Point Estate, the largest subsidized housing project at the time, on a harborfront site next to the pier.

A slew of new high-rises served by elevators and boasting such amenities as individual kitchens, bathrooms and balconies, community halls, bus depots and post offices set a new standard for public housing.

The estate was demolished in 2002 and is now being redeveloped by Sun Hung Kai Properties into a luxury apartment compound.

North Point also had a cluster of media offices and publishing houses including Commercial Press and Joint Publishing. For many years, it was home to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.  

The best way to explore North Point is by tram from Causeway Bay to Taikoo Shing Road.

Despite being a jumble of residential-cum-commercial buildings, North Point has its own unique character.

It offers a living history of how one place has changed with the times and with the city and gives history lovers a chance to contribute their own personal narrative to the Hong Kong story.

– Contact us at 


Read more: Hong Kong Places

Yau Ma Tei theaters and shops: A slice of HK history

Temple Street: Why the magic endures

Gwo Laan: Fruity story of an old Hong Kong trade

Things you probably didn’t know about Chungking Mansions

Coming MTR line changing life on the edge of HK Island

North Point MTR station opened in 1985. It is a major interchange on the cross-harbor line Photo: Frank Chen

North Point pier is the only public pier in Eastern District. Photo: Baycrest

An aerial view of the harbor side. It was the site of a power plant from 1919 to 1978. Photo:

Java Road is a major east-west thoroughfare. Photo: Huang Kong Hing


EJ Insight writer

January 28, 2015

Why Leung lambasted Undergrad

Former Undergrad editor-in-chief Leung Kai-ping (L) with a copy of Hong Kong Nationalism, the book Leung Chun-ying (R) condemned in his policy address. Photo: Leung Kai-ping

HomeReal InsightCommentators

Why Leung lambasted Undergrad

This year’s policy address is a box office failure: it was delivered two weeks ago, and public response remains lukewarm.

Even the housing strategy that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying called the “heart and soul” of his speech has drawn a lot more criticism than praise.

However, Leung’s mediocre policy address did create some ripples when he began it by lambasting Undergrad — the campus journal of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union — and a book the union published in 2013.

The book, Hong Kong Nationalism, has become an overnight bestseller.

Many critics said Leung should not have used such an important strategy document of the government as a platform to denounce a civilian publication and undermine the freedom of speech.

However, judging from the pro-establishment camp’s response and its subsequent actions, there seems to be a message behind Leung’s sudden decision to pick a fight with Undergrad.

Although Leung didn’t use the phrase “Hong Kong independence” in his policy address, he succeeded in labeling Undergrad and the book as advocates of independence for the city.

As a result, they immediately came under attack from the pro-Beijing camp.

As Professor Leung Man-to of National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan wrote in an online article, what the chief executive is trying to do is get the public to associate youngsters who want a genuine election in 2017 with people who support Hong Kong’s independence.

C.Y. Leung is doing this to back up his ridiculous argument that compromising on the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee’s framework for electoral reform in Hong Kong means giving in to the conspiracy to seek independence for the city.

There is no doubt the government is trying to provoke a new wave of social disharmony by launching an attack on Undergrad, and the crucial questions are why it is doing so and what it will do next.

If we look at the history of post-1949 China, we see that the Communist Party often kicked off political movements or persecutions by seizing upon some seemingly irrelevant topic at the time.

For example, the Anti-Rightist Movement in 1957 began when the party encouraged members of the intelligentsia to speak up; the Cultural Revolution was triggered by the party’s criticism of Wu Han’s play The Dismissal of Hai Rui; and the attacks on premier Zhou Enlai began with the party’s condemnation of Confucius.

It is therefore likely that Leung’s true aim in denouncing Undergrad is to create a diversion to pave the way for the unfinished business of enacting the provisions in Article 23 of the Basic Law.

After Leung delivered his policy address, NPC deputy Stanley Ng Chau-pei said last week he was planning a motion at the NPC meeting in March urging the central authorities to introduce the “national security law” of the mainland to Hong Kong.

[Editor's note: China replaced its National Security Law of 1993 with a Counterespionage Law in November.] 

His suggestion was quickly echoed by his NPC colleague Peter Wong Man-kong, who said the feasibility of this idea is worth studying.

And former chief executive Tung Chee-wah said Beijing has the right to introduce mainland laws to Hong Kong.

However, others sniffed at Ng’s idea.

Constitutional law expert Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun of the University of Hong Kong simply said Ng’s suggestion was inappropriate and unconstitutional.

Even local mouthpieces of the Communist Party on constitutional affairs like former secretary for justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie and Maria Tam Wai-chu spoke against the idea.

Meanwhile, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung and Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok responded that it is not feasible to introduce the mainland’s “national security law” to the city and the government does not have any plan to do so.

Ng was nothing more than a proxy in the government’s plot to resurrect the Article 23 legislation, and I believe it is the intention of neither Beijing nor Hong Kong’s administration to impose the “national security law” in Hong Kong.

However, if it is true that Leung was just trying to create a diversion by slamming Undergrad, then Ng’s suggestion is likely to have been a deceptive ploy, and the government has yet to make its real move.

That could be, as Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a member of the NPC Standing Committee, suggested, to put the enactment of Article 23 on its agenda.

Leung and his administration managed to survive the Umbrella movement and have won favor with leaders in Beijing by completing the task of “suppressing domestic unrest”.

He seems to have let success go to his head and is likely to hit out in a high-profile manner in the days ahead at Hongkongers who feel a rising sense of indigenousness and are willing to consider the idea of Hong Kong as a city state, as well as those fighting for a genuine election in 2017.

It has become clear that in the remainder of his term of office, Leung will, on one hand, crack down on pro-democrats on the pretext of suppressing an independence movement and, on the other, prepare for the resurrection of Article 23, with the intention of legislating it during his second term.

His agenda is so clear, it’s as though it’s written on the wall.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 27.

Translation by Alan Lee

– Contact us at



Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal

January 27, 2015

China closes door on western values

A Communist Party magazine has attacked He Weifang for his critical stance on the rule of law in China. Photo:

HomeReal InsightCommentators

China closes door on western values

If you think life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a good thing, then shame on you.

That’s the gist of new directives from Beijing, which in no uncertain terms seek to put the kibosh on western ideas in an effort to enforce the Communist Party’s authority.

China is setting up an entirely new, mandatory way to look at the world in yet another sign that as its economy grows, the country is closing itself off from the West in a significant way, Business Insider said.

Mandates for universities to teach core socialist values that “enhance the leadership of the Communist Party of China” went out in late December.

Since then, professors have reported tighter controls, including government monitors filing covert reports on classroom lectures, AP reported.

Last week’s target was think tanks.

“Think tanks should stick to Marxist ideology, follow the CPC’s leadership and provide intellectual support to rejuvenate the nation,” a Xinhua report on the decree said.

It said think tanks have until 2020 not only to get with the program but to “wield major global influence”.

The call for greater “ideological guidance” does not come willy-nilly.

A confidential internal memo called Document No. 9, widely circulated within the party in 2013 and first cited by the New York Times in August that year, warned that power could escape the party’s grip unless it eradicated subversive western currents coursing through Chinese society.

“Western forces hostile to China and dissidents within the country are still constantly infiltrating the ideological sphere,” the memo said, highlighting seven dangerous western values, including those relating to constitutional democracy, human rights and press freedom.

In the blatant self-preservation department, the memo also forbade criticism of past errors the party may have made and put a halt to the second-guessing of plans on reform and opening up.

To be sure, democracy, freedom and human rights have been debated in China for more than 30 years, but until now, senior leaders have pretty much voiced their views through the party’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily.

President Xi Jinping told the politburo Friday that all members of the party should value ideological work and promote “core socialist values”, state media reported.

Xi also stressed that dialectical materialism, a strand of Marxist philosophy, should provide party members with the right approach to problem solving as China continues on its path to reform and development.

That approach basically means China will not let western values undermine party rule, opting instead — for better or worse — to work out all its problems and challenges on its own, both domestically and abroad.

“We should grasp new traits in new phases of development and stipulate guidelines in accordance with reality,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

He said ideology should be the heart of the party, the report said.

Critics of China’s renewed Marxist path, Business Insider said, are being publicly shamed.

On Sunday, the Communist Party magazine Qiushi Journal openly attacked a prominent Peking University law professor, He Weifang.

He has been critical of the government, calling high-profile corruption trials “satire” and arguing that Chinese communism and a strong rule of law don’t mix at US institutions like Princeton University and the Brookings Institute, a leading think tank.

He was called out by Qiushi for his stance on the rule of law in China — which the government itself has acknowledged is weak by creating an extensive anti-corruption campaign.

To further curtail western influence, China recently blocked several popular virtual private network systems that many Chinese use to visit websites outside the country.

State media said the VPNs had been blocked “for safety”.


– Contact us at



Ray Kwong is a China commentator. He writes on China for Forbes. He is also a China business development strategist and marketing consultant.

January 26, 2015

Yau Ma Tei theaters and shops: A slice of HK history

Neon signboards light up the Yau Ma Tei district at night. The area is a microcosm of old Hong Kong. Photo:

HomeHong KongLocal

Yau Ma Tei theaters and shops: A slice of HK history

For years, Yau Ma Tei in Kowloon was largely under the shadow of its two neighboring districts — Mong Kok to the north and Tsim Sha Tsui in the south.

Occupying a lower rung in the urban scheme of things, the area is now a slightly dilapidated zone with a mix of old residential high-rises and largely unappealing commercial establishments. This is so even as it forms part of a crucial spine in Hong Kong’s transportation network.

Yau Ma Tei has indeed seen better days. That said, all is not lost for the district, as it still holds some unique charms for history and culture buffs. Some of Hong Kong’s oldest trades, shops, markets and neighborhoods can be found there including Gwo Laan (the fruit bazaar) and the Temple Street flea market. The Jordan area is also a microcosm of working-class Hong Kong and ethnic minorities.

The truth is that Yau Ma Tei is a juicy slice of vintage Hong Kong that is vanishing quickly. For anyone willing to spend an afternoon on a casual stroll in the district, here are some attractions that can offer a glimpse of the old way of business and entertainment.

The first stop recommended is the Yau Ma Tei Theatre.

Built in 1930 and now Hong Kong’s only pre-World War II cinema, the theatre was a popular spot for local film buffs back then with a hall that could accommodate an audience of 300.

Western silent classics like Charlie Chaplin’s “Behind the Screen” and “City Lights” were screened there in the past, with background music and narrators explaining the plot.

In addition to films, live shows ranging from kung fu performances to dances and small-scale Cantonese opera shows were also staged there.

The theater has now been converted into a venue for the promotion of Cantonese opera after major renovation works that tried to retain its mixed Chinese and Western design including the pitched roof, the art deco facade and Dutch gable walls as well as two pillars at the front entrance engraved with “crying” and “laughing” masks.

Once a setting for Hong Kong’s vibrant film industry, there had been more than a dozen theaters in the neighborhood. Some mainly featured movies of local stars like Lydia Shum (沈殿霞) and Josephine Siao (蕭芳芳).

Amid fierce competition in the 1960s and 1970s, some even offered budget options for seamen and porters. Several people could share one ticket and they could also bring their own stools into the chamber or even sit on stairs.

The London Theatre (now the Chuang’s London Plaza) on Austin Road was the place to go for fans of Hollywood and Shaw Brothers Studio productions. In 1972 when comedy star Michael Hui’s (許冠文) blockbuster “The Warlord” was on, more than a million people were said to have visited the theater within half a year.

Today’s youngsters mainly patronize modern cinemas operated by theater chains, opting for places such as Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay. But few know that Yau Ma Tei used to be the center-stage during the heyday of the city’s movie industry.

Apart from Hong Kong’s oldest theaters, Yau Ma Tei is also home to some fast-fading flavor of the territory’s oldest businesses. Shanghai Street is the address to find them.

Built in 1887, the street is still a main thoroughfare running through Jordan and Mong Kok and home to dozens of time-honored shops. Some of them were founded more than a century ago.

Shanghai Street was a major artery for traffic between Kowloon and New Territories. It connected the then Mong Kok Pier, Jordan Pier and the surrounding typhoon shelter, making it a focal point of trading and sea freight.

Before the rise of Nathan Road as a new shopping precinct since the 1980s, Shanghai Street dominated Kowloon’s business for most of the 20th century with sizable clusters of pawnbrokers, gold dealers, barbershops, grocery stores as well as vendors of watches, silk and ironware. Signboards plastered the building facades and the street was also the place where Hong Kong’s earliest neon lights were installed.

A survey by the University of Hong Kong’s Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences found that Shanghai Street hosts more than 30 of Hong Kong’s longest-living family-run shops, with the business now being run by the second or the third generations. One of them is Wo Sheng Goldsmith (和盛金行), which has been there since 1892.

The vaulted gold store catered to local residents as well as fisher-folk who sought the precious metal as a hedge against economic and political uncertainties and turmoil. Back then rings, bracelets and golden-pig necklaces were among the best-selling items.

The 80-year old Kang Ming Picture Frame and Glass (鏡明玻璃) is another famed establishment in the area.

Back then, every time a storm hit Hong Kong, the owner would expect orders to shoot up. As windows of tenement houses were almost always shattered during typhoons, the shop staff will go door to door to change glasses and charging a premium for the personalized service.

But now, business has waned since new homes are built with aluminum windows. However, the shop still remains and the owner-family’s nine brothers and sisters, along with their kids, get together every week to dine at the place. Three large tables are set up to accommodate more than 40 family members.

Among other old outlets, Wing Hong Chinese Medicine Store (永康藥行) in the same street still uses kerosene and carbon stoves to brew medicine, while Cheung Shing Fans Factory (祥盛檀香扇莊) enjoys customer loyalty that has spanned three generations. Fong Moon Kee Embroidery (馮滿記繡庄), which will turn 80 this year, is still known for its exquisite Chinese embroideries and textiles. 

These shops showcase fine traditional craftsmanship or century-old trades. If you are interested in a bit of history and culture, visit the area before the remaining old shops finally decide to call it a day.

– Contact the writer 


Read more: Hong Kong Places

Temple Street: Why the magic endures

Things you probably didn’t know about Chungking Mansions

Gwo Laan: Fruity story of an old Hong Kong trade

Coming MTR line changing life on the edge of HK Island


Shanghai Street in the 1930s, one of Kowloon’s major thoroughfare and commercial precincts back then. Photo: HKU museum and art gallery

A signboard points to Shanghai Street in Yau Ma Tei district. Photo: Internet

Yau Ma Tei theater after renovation. Photo: Govt Information Services

Wo Sheng Goldsmith, which celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2012, is one of the oldest businesses in Shanghai Street. Photo: WSJ

Kang Ming Picture Frame and Glass, opened in 1930s, exemplifies kinship and honesty of Hong Kong’s small business owners in the old days. Photo: Internet


EJ Insight writer

January 22, 2015

China harassing and imprisoning Chinese working for foreign news outlets

Policemen stand in formation as they guard on the bund where people were killed in a stampede incident during a new year's celebration, in Shanghai, January 3, 2015. Chinese state media and the public criticised the government and police on Friday for failing to prevent the stampede in Shanghai that killed 36 people and dented the city's image as modern China's global financial hub. (China Stringer Network/Reuters)

By William Wan January 22 at 3:30 AM  

BEIJING — Zhang Miao has now been in prison for almost four months.

She is a Chinese researcher for a German newspaper in China, and her arrest has sparked fear, outrage and some soul-searching among foreign news organizations in China about the role of their Chinese assistants.

Reporting from China has become increasingly difficult and harrowing in recent years for both Chinese and foreign media, with a sweeping crackdown on press freedom since China’s President Xi Jinping took power.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, China had more journalists in prison last year than any other country. Most were Chinese citizens.

For years, the most common threat to foreign news outlets has been expulsion. But increasingly, Chinese authorities are attacking news bureaus at their most vulnerable point: their dependence on Chinese citizens who translate and facilitate their coverage.

Security personnel order an accredited foreign journalist to stop filming in front of the entrance to Bobo Freedom Village where Chinese dissident Zeng Jinyan lives under unofficial house arrest on October 10, 2008 in Beijing. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Zhang Miao’s case — detailed for the first time by the German newspaper, Die Zeit, last week — shocked many because of how aggressively authorities have punished Zhang and threatened the German reporter she worked with.

“It’s a scary thing for all of us because it shows how serious and how far authorities will go if they want to create a case against you,” said a U.S. reporter, speaking anonymously to avoid drawing government scrutiny.

Working with news assistants, known as “fixers,” is a common practice around the world for foreign news bureaus. But unlike in most countries, researchers in China are strictly regulated by the government and subject to complicated rules that govern everything from their ability to meet interview subjects on their own to banning their names on story bylines.

Those rules forbid them from being hired outright by foreign news outlets and instead require them to be hired under contracts with China’s government — an arrangement designed to keep them under the authorities’ watch.

In the past year, news assistants have reported a sharp uptick in harassment. In a survey conducted last spring by the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, more than half the responding correspondents said their assistants had been harassed, up from 35 percent in 2013.

A few were detained overnight and pressured into spying on foreign journalists for the government. Others said their relatives have been threatened and pressured.

Often, there is an invitation to “drink tea” with the authorities — a euphemism for meetings in which the news assistants are questioned about their bureau’s reporting activities.

Zhang, 40, had worked for two years as a news assistant to Angela Köckritz, 37, a correspondent for the Hamburg-based Die Zeit weekly newspaper. When pro-democracy protests broke out in Hong Kong this fall, Zhang flew with Köckritz to cover them .

Zhang later returned to Beijing while Köckritz remained in Hong Kong. Shortly afterward, she was arrested by police at an artists’ colony on the outskirts of Beijing.

According to Köckritz, Zhang had felt inspired by the protests, and said so on Chinese social media posts. She was taken away with 11 others as they were on their way to a poetry reading in support of the protests.

In a phone interview, Köckritz said she met with Chinese authorities several times — and later with German embassy officials — to lobby for Zhang’s release.

The meetings grew increasingly acrimonious.

“It was scary,” Köckritz said. She detailed the experience in a 6,500-word piece in Die Zeit. “They play all these psychological games on you, and they spin everything to try to push you into losing control and saying or doing something irrational or stupid.”

During her last meeting with authorities, lasting 41/hours, they began suggesting that Köckritz was a foreign spy who went to Hong Kong to help organize the protests.

Worried for her safety, Köckritz left China the next day.

Zhang was not allowed to see a lawyer until Dec. 10, more than two months into her detention, in violation of Chinese law. The German newspaper said it held off at first on releasing details of Zhang’s arrest in case it might hurt diplomatic efforts to free her, but more than three months later there has been little movement.

Two weeks after fleeing, Köckritz returned to China for a short time to pack up her belongings and finish reporting for a book. She now lives in Berlin. Die Zeit and the German embassy said they are continuing to press for Zhang’s release.

When asked about Zhang’s detention in October, China’s foreign ministry said Zhang had not been registered with the government as a properly accredited assistant for Die Zeit. Some news outlets have opted against registering their assistants to avoid a $100-a-month “management fee” and other even higher costs charged by the government, and out of concern that doing so might attract increased government surveillance. But others believe that this exposes news assistants to greater risk and has no effect on already ubiquitous surveillance.

During her interrogations, authorities told Köckritz she had no legal authority to intercede for Zhang because she was not a registered as working for Die Zeit.

Some correspondents have questioned Köckritz for not registering Zhang and not steering her away from getting socially involved with activists. But they and human rights groups are quick to point out that neither activity — even if for some reason deemed illegal — justifies months of imprisonment.

In an e-mail, Moritz Mueller-Wirth, an editor at Die Zeit, said the decision to not register Zhang was made by the newspaper’s editorial board and was not for financial reasons. It was, he wrote, to shield her “from the supervision of the state security. When Zhang Miao was imprisoned we understood that not to register her was a mistake, as it impairs our legal means to help.”

Zhang’s case has stirred up long-held frustrations among news assistants who feel they bear great risk sometimes, with little recognition and low pay, for foreign news companies.

One longtime researcher for a Western broadcaster said there is no choice. “You can either waste your life away working for China’s censored local media where you can’t explore any sensitive issues, or you can work for what you actually believe in at a foreign bureau,” she said.

Many complain that there is little prospect for advancement because Chinese citizens are banned from becoming reporters for foreign news companies. Others describe pressure from friends and relatives who view them as spies or unpatriotic for exposing China’s dirty laundry to outsiders.

“There is more risk for us than any one else in the bureau. If things continue to get worse, everyone has a bottom line,” said one researcher for a newspaper from a smaller nation. “For me, if it starts affecting my family members, there’s no way I can continue.”

William Wan is The Post’s China correspondent based in Beijing. He served previously as a religion reporter and diplomatic correspondent.

January 20, 2015

HK children’s army recruitment explained

The Hong Kong Army Cadets, a semi-fictitious and barely existent youth organization that appeared out of nowhere over the weekend, continues to vex.

To pro-democrats – and probably most of Hong Kong’s silent majority/fence-sitting residents – the group’s PLA-flavoured militarism is alien and even disturbing. And it naturally offers critics a rich opportunity to accuse the government of attempts to brainwash kids.

Civic Party legislator Kenneth Chan calls it‘camouflage for indoctrination’. But the junior soldiers’ green tunics are not intended to hide the Hong Kong leadership’s determination to convert the city’s youth into Communist-adoring patriotic Chinese. It is intended to highlight it – and indeed to exaggerate it – for the benefit of big boss Xi Jinping’s hardline regime in Beijing, on its nationwide mission to petrify cadres at every level. You could almost say the idea is to brainwash Beijing into thinking we’re brainwashing Hong Kong.

We can be pretty certain about this because of just one thing: Education Secretary Eddie Ng in an army uniform. To even the most scowling, Maoist, Leftist, patriotic loyalist in Hong Kong, the vision of Eddie as a war-hardened military man is so laughable and ridiculous that you can only conclude this is a joke. In Beijing, of course, where they have been demonizing our education bureaucracy by name, they won’t get it – they’ll think we’re serious.

I wondered yesterday how a youth organization can spontaneously come into existence from nothing complete with massed ranks of members. The South China Morning Post reports that the kids were (surprise and shock!) more or less tricked into taking part. Or to be more accurate, the paper reports that an ‘online news outlet’ reports it. That would be theEpoch Times, run by the deranged Falun Gong quasi-Buddhist loons, and not the most reliable source around – but better than nothing. It makes sense: the marching teens didn’t have that bussed-in-Mainlander look about them.

To the Hong Kong government, the Big Lychee Youth Militia Brigade is, on average, a bit of an embarrassment. Chief Executive CY Leung, fresh from publicly scourging obscure student publications discussing local autonomy, is obviously unapologetic, and maybe oblivious that the public might feel anything is amiss. Eddie would probably like to crawl off into a dark corner and die. The rest of the administration would be somewhere in between, hitting the Quaaludes.

The international media are besmirching Hong Kong’s reputation by saying the Fragrant Harbour Red Detachment of Kiddies is open to anyone over the age of six. This is untrue. The rules clearly state that you must be “over the age of six years…

…and of good character.” So there. No bad elements from the wrong sort of kindergarten, please.

Although clumsy, such attempts to impress Beijing are bound to increase suspicion and fear in Hong Kong. And that points to growing opposition to the local and central governments.

It’s a crowded field, but another pro-democracy group has just been launched. There are so many now that branding and differentiation are becoming a problem. So don’t confuse the newcomers withHong Kong 2020, which is for moderate old folks. And don’t muddle them with Vision 2047, (nope, never heard of them before either), which seems to be a front for the local chapter of the Dornford Yates Re-creation Society. Behold, 2047 HK Monitor (along with add-on 2047 HK Finance Monitor because, hey, otherwise it would be simple and easy to understand).

There is a niche for this lot (financial and other professionals of repute, including Edward Chin, David Webb, Sing Ming and Ching Cheong). Their presentation yesterday (bits here) covered several areas, but perhaps the key bit is the relationship between democracy and a sound economy.

Hong Kong’s active pro-democrats are mostly woefully unqualified to discuss anything to do with business and economics, while many senior business and finance figures have investments in the Mainland and keep quiet or stick to the pro-Beijing line. After years of co-opting tycoons and talking jargon pro-dem politicians can’t understand, the Hong Kong establishment has successfully propagated various self-serving myths about the economy and politics.

In short: many if not most people in Hong Kong have a vague perception that democracy might not be entirely compatible with economic prosperity. Certainly, the 2047 HK Monitor idea that a more representative government means a more vibrant and fairer economy is not only counter-intuitive for much of the community but radical and a revelation. For tycoon-bureaucrat vested interests, this is dangerous.

The South China Morning Post and Standardcompletely ignore yesterday’s 2047 HK Monitor launch.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 at 12:49 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Why did Britain change stance on HK electoral reform?

Beijing's framework for Hong Kong elections may be imperfect but it is "better than nothing", British Foreign Office chief Hugo Swire said last week. Credit: wikimedia commons
Beijing's framework for Hong Kong elections may be imperfect but it is "better than nothing", British Foreign Office chief Hugo Swire said last week. Credit: wikimedia commons

Why did Britain change stance on HK electoral reform?

Sixteen months ago, Hugo Swire, Minister of State for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, wrote an article calling for the people of Hong Kong to be given a genuine choice in the 2017 chief executive election, and offering British support for such efforts. He was immediately criticized by the Chinese foreign ministry.
The British government, it seemed at that time, was willing to stand up to China and demand genuine democracy for the former colony. But as things turned out, it was just a passing fancy.
Last week, the same Mr. Swire made a U-turn and asked Hong Kong’s democrats to accept China’s offer of an election system which he admitted was imperfect but said was “better than nothing”.
What happened in those 16 months?
Plenty. When Swire wrote his essay, his boss, Prime Minister David Cameron, was in the doghouse. He had met with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, in May 2012 and was being boycotted by China.
Beijing canceled a visit to London by a senior Chinese official, it canceled a scheduled human rights dialogue and, most importantly, it informed Cameron that he was not welcome in China.
There were fears that China’s coolness towards the United Kingdom could result in the loss of billions of pounds in Chinese investment at a time when it was critical for Britain to attract overseas financing.
But that all started to change in October, the month after the Swire essay appeared. By then, 18 months had elapsed since the meeting with the Dalai Lama, and the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, was able to visit China with a business delegation.
In Beijing, Osborne publicly spoke of the importance for Britain to “respect” China’s ancient civilization and its different political system. He also made it clear that the prime minister had no plans to meet again with the Dalai Lama.
That December, Cameron was finally able to visit China, leading the largest ever British trade delegation. Accompanying him were other senior officials, including Swire.
Despite the Chinese media poking fun at Britain as “a small country” that was easily replaceable, fit only for tourists and students, Cameron offered China “a partnership for growth” that would help deliver prosperity to both countries.
“I see China’s rise as an opportunity not just for the people of this country but for Britain and the world,” he said.
The Cameron party returned to London only to find a year later that it has to deal with a new crisis. Beijing, it turned out, had taken the unprecedented step of denying permission for members of the UK Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee to visit Hong Kong to look into how the former British colony was doing 30 years after the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and 17 years after the handover.
The committee chairman, Sir Richard Ottaway, angrily demanded that the Chinese ambassador be summoned to receive a diplomatic protest. Swire demurred.
In June last year, Premier Li Keqiang visited the United Kingdom. The Chinese ambassador, Liu Xiaoming, told the media that because of missed opportunities, the United Kingdom had slipped behind Germany and France in China’s eyes.
Chinese officials complained that the red carpet rolled out for Li wasn’t long enough. They asked for a meeting with the British monarch. Although Li was not a head of state and thus would not normally meet the queen, the British Government acquiesced.
Cameron and his government no doubt found such trials and tribulations worthwhile since they led to the signing of trade deals with China worth US$21 billion.
As it happened, 2014 marked the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Joint Declaration, and Cameron referred to it at a joint press conference, saying that the declaration “enshrined our two governments’ commitment” to Hong Kong.
Early this month, Swire was in China again, accompanied by a business delegation, this time to open a new consulate in Wuhan. He stopped in Hong Kong on his way home to update himself on the political situation. Back in London, he attended a session of the Foreign Affairs Committee where he defended his decision not to summon the Chinese ambassador and urged Hong Kong to accept “what is on the table now”.
He also disclosed that the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, would visit Britain later this year – a prize catch – following on the premier’s visit last year.
So, what happened between September 2013 and January 2015 was Cameron’s successful bid to revive Britain’s flagging trade relationship with China. China has put its money where Britain’s mouth is and now pretty much determines that the words uttered are to its liking.
– Contact us at

January 19, 2015

Veto of 2017 political reform will bolster Leung Chun-ying's hold on power

David Zweig warns that voting down political reform for 2017 would probably result in a second term for Leung, who has emerged asthe biggest winner from the Occupy movement


PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 January, 2015, 5:20pm

UPDATED : Monday, 19 January, 2015, 5:20pm

Leung's policy address will be very well received in Beijing.

Last spring, as we contemplated possible outcomes of the pending political events, including a potential occupation of central Hong Kong, one scenario circulating was that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying might benefit from a potential political crisis. The events surrounding last week's policy address, including Leung's recent visit to Beijing, and the tone of the address itself, show that the big winner of Occupy Central was Leung himself.

Last summer, and particularly in the early days of Occupy Central, especially after the police used tear gas, Leung's job, and his political future, were hanging by a thread. Those who felt he might survive the week - because Beijing did not want to concede to political pressure on issues of personnel - were nevertheless convinced he would retire soon after the Legislative Council vote on political reform.

Now, in retrospect, he might be Beijing's hero. He has led Hong Kong through a very tough crisis and, with patience and excellent work by the police, he won the day for the central government. The leaders of Occupy Central are being called in and some may spend time in jail for breaking the law. Even the tone in which he presented his points - black and white, movement forward or movement back, no middle ground - and the swagger with which he presented his tough political line, all reflected a confident man who knows that he has the political support of the leadership in Beijing backing him up.

In his policy address, he certainly did not sound like someone who felt politically threatened. Rather, he sounded like someone who was threatening the democratic camp by telling them to smarten up and behave. Obey the law; don't carry out "unlawful acts". He even directly criticised the students and told them that talk about autonomy beyond the control of Beijing, or what Beijing likes to portray as calls for independence, is just not acceptable - it is not scholarly or an academic debate but advocacy for a policy that is simply unacceptable under "one country".

Also, the economic policies laid out in the policy address may help him. More housing for the sandwich class, lots of money for poor pensioners and retirees, and attention to poverty could all enhance his stature and win public support.

Without saying it directly, Leung has put the education sector on notice that a soft form of "enlightenment" may be on the way. He reintroduced a form of "national education" by calling for the "renewal" of the curriculum in Chinese and world history, and saying that the training of teachers will be "enhanced". It sounds like some revision of the content of school teaching materials will take place.

And alternative, less controversial, measures targeted at reforming the way young people think about the mainland are also to be funded. Students should visit the mainland at least twice, once during their primary years, and again during their secondary school time. The number of twinning programmes between Hong Kong and mainland schools should reach 600.

This policy address will be very well received in Beijing. At the recent fourth plenum, President Xi Jinping emphasised the "rule of law under the leadership of the Communist Party" which can be readily translated into "rule by law", or the idea that everyone should obey the law. It is clearly not the sense that the courts are an independent political force that could challenge the party. And that sounds a lot like Leung's view, expressed in his policy address, that the rule of law does not accept civil disobedience.

In spring, we wondered whether Leung might favour the collapse of political reform. Now it looks like he should. If the reform package is voted down by the pan-democrats and the nominating committee does not come into existence, Hong Kong's next election should follow previous formats, whereby the Election Committee votes for the chief executive, with no popular input at all.

While Leung has been calling on the people of Hong Kong to accept Beijing's proffered model of "universal suffrage", he must realise he is likely to do better when voting is limited to an Election Committee compared with an election under universal suffrage, where he may face a contest against pro-Beijing candidates who are much more popular.

And if Beijing decides he is their man, that he has done a yeoman's job in managing these difficult days, that he prevented the city from sinking into chaos, then the top leaders are likely to support him.

Roll the clock forward two years and we may see Hong Kong under stress, first from the street, as students and pan-democrats perhaps violently oppose the use of the Election Committee for the 2017 election. And also from Beijing and the Hong Kong government, which maintains a very tough posture against popular protests that, in their view, threaten to send Hong Kong into chaos.

So, maybe the pan-democrats should reconsider their opposition to the political reform package. Otherwise, two years from now, we may all see a renewed and re-energised Leung, backed by Beijing and using the rule of law to try to impose more order on Hong Kong.

David Zweig is chair professor in the Division of Social Science, and director of the Centre on Environment, Energy and Resource Policy at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Hong Kong governors and chief executives take different approaches on student criticism

'Undergrad' has upset city's leader on topic of autonomy before, with a very different response


PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 January, 2015, 11:43pm

UPDATED : Monday, 19 January, 2015, 9:14am

Former governor Sir David Trench (left) and Leung Chun-ying. Photos: Chan Kiu, Sam Tsang

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's attack on the student magazine Undergrad reminded one of its former editors of how very differently a colonial governor had tackled a similar situation.

Andrew Fung Ho-keung is now chief executive of the Policy Research Institute but in the 1960s he was editor-in-chief of Undergrad when the magazine, launched in 1952, had already earned a reputation for being critical of the government and had published student leaders' views on autonomy.

Andrew Fung Ho-keung was editor-in-chief of Undergrad in the 1960s. Photo: Nora TamWhile Leung chose to kick off his policy address by condemning the "fallacies" in an article and a book about autonomy published by the magazine, in 1968 the then governor David Trench took a more subtle approach to defend his authority.

He sent in a piece entitled The Basic Nature of Government - an Article for Undergrad to explain his governing philosophy.

"Undergrad is a paper which not only concerns itself with matters of direct student interest but, as I am glad to see, with public affairs also," Trench wrote.

He said his article was intended to aid more constructive writing" and "help readers to evaluate what they read both here and, indeed, elsewhere".

Half a century on, Fung is still impressed. "The colonial government was more sophisticated in handling dissenting voices," said Fung. "Trench sent us his article obviously in response to our criticism of the colonial government." Leung would have been better following the ex-governor's lead, Fung added.

The magazine is the official publication of the University of Hong Kong Students' Union, which funds it. Its management and editorial direction became independent in the late '60s and its editor-in-chief and two deputies have been elected by students since 1973.

It started publishing Chinese-language articles in the 1960s and became a platform for debate among student activists from various factions. Topics covered included calls for Chinese to be the city's statutory language and for Chinese sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands.

The disgraced former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, 66, who has been jailed for corruption, was once on the magazine's editorial board.

Dr Sung Yun-wing, an economics professor at Chinese University, edited the forum pages back in 1967. He was surprised by Leung's remarks as independence was not an issue in the student Occupy protests last year.

He said the Special Branch - a mysterious agency within the Royal Hong Kong Police Force - had gathered information on Undergradstaff. "It was not surprising that the colonial government had been monitoring us."

Professor Lui Tai-lok was editor-in-chief of the magazine in 1980. Photo: Dickson LeeProfessor Lui Tai-lok, a sociologist at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, who was the magazine's editor-in-chief in 1980, noted that back then most of the magazine was written in Chinese, so few government figures read it.

On RTHK's City Forum yesterday, Andrew Fung Wai-kwong, HKUSU president in 1984 and now the chief executive's information coordinator, criticised students for "advocating independence … although Hong Kong has been part of China since ancient times".

Legislator Ip Kin-yuen, the union's vice-president in 1983, said students should be free to explore academic issues.

Additional reporting Tony Cheung

HK diplomat seeks to deflect US lawmakers' efforts to sanction city over democracy row


PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 January, 2015, 10:53am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 January, 2015, 10:55am
Hong Kong’s top official in the United States says he has been lobbying US Congress to tread carefully on pushing for democratic reforms in the autonomous Chinese territory.
“I’ve been very active on Capitol Hill, calling on House and Senate members – particularly those on foreign affairs, trade and budgetary committees – to update them on Hong Kong issues, whether they are economic, political or human rights-related,” said Washington-based Hong Kong Commissioner for Economic and Trade Affairs Clement Leung, in an exclusive interview with Voice of America last week.
US lawmakers have said they are considering two courses of action in response to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
In House and Senate hearings on the Hong Kong protests last month, lawmakers who criticised Beijing’s August ruling raised the idea of amending the 1992 US-Hong Kong Policy Act under which Washington grants economic and other benefits to Hong Kong.
Commissioner Clement Leung says he has been urging US Congress members to tread carefully on policy responses to the Hong Kong democracy issue. Photo: SCMP PicturesOne lawmaker also said Hong Kong’s request for its citizens to be granted US visa waivers could be linked to the territory’s handling of democratic reforms.
“We appreciate the lawmakers’ concern and that their stated intention is to try to help Hong Kong, but our argument is that they could damage or harm Hong Kong before they could actually help us,” Leung said.
Tens of thousands of Occupy Central activists blocked Hong Kong’s streets from late September to mid-December in protest at Beijing’s imposition of conservative electoral rules on the territory.
The 1992 US law says Hong Kong’s preferential treatment is contingent upon the territory being “sufficiently autonomous” from Beijing.
In the hearing of the House Sub-committee on Asia and the Pacific, chairman Steve Chabot said “it may be time to reassess” that status and the benefits that come with it, considering what he called Beijing’s “orchestration” of the Hong Kong government’s responses to the Occupy protests.
Hong Kong authorities dismantled the city’s three Occupy protest camps after a series of violent confrontations involving police, pro-democracy protesters and anti-Occupy activists.
The protests were triggered by the Chinese legislature's, or National People's Congress', restrictive framework on Hong Kong election reform, stating that while the city could elect its leader by "one man, one vote" in 2017, only two or three hopefuls backed by half of a 1,200-strong nominating committee could run.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying also rejected the Occupy movement’s demand for the public to nominate candidates for the city’s next chief executive in a 2017 direct election, saying that would violate the central government’s ruling that candidates must be vetted by a traditionally pro-Beijing nominating committee.
Commissioner Clement Leung criticised US legislation that would require President Barack Obama to make annual certifications that Hong Kong is “sufficiently autonomous” – a proposal that would change the 1992 law, which only mandates presidential action if Hong Kong is deemed to have lost that status.
“This annual requirement is more onerous than the current system,” Leung said. “It would make Hong Kong more vulnerable to uncertainty in US domestic politics and the ever-changing US-China relationship. So we are trying to work very hard to convince members of congress and their staff that this may not be a good idea.”
Another participant in the House hearing, Scott Perry, suggested passing legislation to make Hong Kong eligible for the US visa waiver programme as a way of making a “difference” to the territory’s political situation.
Leung said Hong Kong is lobbying “very hard” for US visa waiver privileges for its passport holders and believes the issue should be “separated” from the ongoing dispute about democratic reforms.
“From our point of view, the US visa waiver programme is a very strong tool to strengthen two-way communication and interaction between Hong Kong and the United States,” Leung said.
US congressman Steve Chabot says it may be time to reassess Hong Kong's preferential treatment under US law after Beijing’s “orchestration” of the Hong Kong government’s responses to the Occupy protests. Photo: APRepresentative Brad Sherman told the House hearing that he opposes a visa waiver for Hong Kong, given what he called the poverty of some of the territory’s residents.
“We can’t create a circumstance where anybody who can get a Hong Kong passport gets right into the United States,” he said.
Leung said Hong Kong people do not pose an immigration risk to the United States in the way that other groups of people do.
“But we know that the road to giving Hong Kong people US visa-free treatment is long, because immigration is still a very sensitive subject in the United States,” Leung said.
The Hong Kong diplomat declined to comment directly on the Obama administration’s responses to the Occupy movement.
US officials initially emphasised a position of neutrality, saying they “do not take sides in discussions of Hong Kong’s political development, nor do we support any particular individuals or groups involved in it”.
The White House also has tried to discourage congress from acting to pressure the Hong Kong government.
WATCH: Scenes from when the Hong Kong democracy protests kicked off
US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel told last month’s senate hearing that any amendments to the 1992 US-Hong Kong Policy Act should not “undermine the principle that Hong Kong is autonomous”.
But following lawmakers’ accusations that the Obama administration was not showing enough solidarity with the Occupy protesters, Russel used the hearing to strengthen the administration’s criticism of Beijing and support of the demonstrators’ democratic aspirations.
Russel said Beijing’s election ruling “falls very far short of the aspirations of the people of Hong Kong” and “could and should have gone much further” to enable universal suffrage.
He also said the legitimacy of the chief executive would be “greatly enhanced” by a “credible” election that allows a “free expression of choice by the voters to select from among competing points of view, not simply from ... three identical, hand-picked candidates.”
Asked if those remarks amount to “interference” in Hong Kong affairs – something the territory’s leader has vocally opposed – Commissioner Leung said Hong Kong was “very divided” on constitutional reform.
“At the end of the day, it has to be the Hong Kong people, the government and Beijing who have to resolve the issue among ourselves,” he said.
Michael Lipin is a journalist for Voice of America, specialising in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific.

Hong Kong: Student Group Slams Britain for Bowing to China

By Larry OngEpoch Times | January 18, 2015

Last Updated: January 18, 2015 10:48 pm

British Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hugo Swire, speaks during a press conference in Havana, on October 31, 2014. (Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images)

A prominent Hong Kong student group is furious that British ministers have kowtowed to the Chinese communist regime on the issue of democratic reform in the city.

In a low-key meeting with Hong Kong lawmakers on Thursday, Jan. 15, Stephen Lillie, Foreign Office Asia-Pacific director, and Foreign Minister Hugo Swire quietly backed a controversial Beijing ruling for the 2017 Hong Kong leader elections.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress—the Chinese regime’s faux legislature—allowed Hongkongers to elect the city’s Chief Executive by universal suffrage, but only from two or three screened candidates nominated by a 1,200-member pro-Beijing committee. The NPCSC will also have the final word on the election results.

Despite the NPCSC’s strict restrictions, Lillie still believes that a “genuine choice” of Chief Executive candidates “who do not all look exactly the same with the same range of policies and the same political affiliation, from the pan-democrats to pro-Beijing parties,” would emerge, according to the South China Morning Post.

Swire added that Hong Kong lawmakers should consider the proposal even though it may not be “perfect” or “pure” because “something is better than nothing,” perhaps aware that pan-democrat legislators are planning to reject democratic reform on the NPCSC’s terms.

If pan-democrat lawmakers proceed with their “all or nothing” plan, the reform bill won’t get the required two-thirds majority to be passed, and the Hong Kong government will be forced to restart a cumbersome five-step process for constitutional development in the semiautomonous city.

Alan Leong, leader of the pro-democracy Civic Party, called Swire’s stance “improper,” and reminded Britain of its “moral obligation” to back the Hong Kong people to attain genuine universal suffrage, Ming Pao reports.

Likewise, the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) held the United Kingdom to its commitment as a signatory of a historic international treaty.

In an open letter published on Sunday, the HKFS said that the “British government, which signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, should not surrender to the tyranny of the Chinese Communist regime by acknowledging her deceit and violence,” but instead fulfill its “moral and political commitments under the Declaration to ensure the complete enforcement of the Declaration in Hong Kong and safeguard the rights to high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong people and to seize our future, as outlined under the Declaration.”

HKFS concluded by calling on the British government to retract its “opinions on supporting the fake universal suffrage proposal by Beijing” and enforce the Joint Declaration.

Cold Feet?

The British foreign officials’ decision to suddenly back the NPCSC’s decision is a curious one. Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, and other ministers have declared that Britain is “honor bound” to speak up for Hong Kong if Beijing doesn’t keep to the promises laid out in the 1984 Joint-Declaration.

Recently declassified documents also reveal that Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister who oversaw the treaty’s signing, promised that the United Kingdom “won’t hesitate” to “raise any breaches with China after 1997.”

Yet voicing displeasure and fury is the only thing that Britain is doing now instead of taking Beijing to task for a number of contentious actions.

For instance, British members of parliament who were banned from entering Hong Kong to verify if Beijing had kept its end of the Joint-Declaration called an emergency parliament session where they complained bitterly—Sir Richard Ottaway, the chair of a Foreign Affairs Committee, denounced the Chinese regime’s actions as a “manifestly irresponsible and incorrect position to take”—but failed to convince British authorities to seek redress from Beijing.

Indeed, UK’s top leader David Cameron has not properly responded to the Chinese regime’s ban or the claim that Britain doesn’t have anymore “moral responsibility” to “interfere” in Hong Kong because the Joint-Declaration has been “fulfilled” and is now “void” after the 1997 handover.

Also, despite the urgings of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ni Jian, the Chinese diplomat who made those claims about the Joint-Declaration, has not been formally asked to explain his provocative statements. This suggests that Britain is more interesting in not angering China over honoring its treaty obligations to Hong Kong. 

A close parsing of the British Foreign Minister’s words hints at Britain’s desire for cooperation with China over confrontation. 

During an emergency session of parliament called to discuss the British MP ban, Swire said that the committee tasked to inquiry into Hong Kong affairs is independent from the British government, and doesn’t count as the UK nosing in Chinese affairs.

And ahead of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s possible state visit to Britain this year, Swire is now telling Hong Kong lawmakers to accept the NPCSC’s decision, which potentially breaches the Joint-Declaration, instead of asking Beijing to explain their controversial remarks about an international treaty that is still valid for more than thirty years.

According to Ming Pao, pro-establishment Hong Kong lawmakers who attended Swire and Lillie’s meeting have a good idea why the Foreign Minister is backing Beijing: more economic gains.