Top executives of mainland Chinese enterprises and business associations make up a new â€œpatriotic forceâ€ in Hong Kongâ€™s powerful revamped Election Committee, drastically weakening the political clout of the cityâ€™s property tycoons.
Nominations for 1,500 seats on the committee closed on Thursday, with no rush of candidates putting themselves forward.
But a Post review of the 1,056 who stepped up found at least 101 were linked directly to Chinese enterprises or mainland-affiliated business associations.
Along with seats set aside for appointed officials and several newly created subsectors tailor-made for the pro-establishment camp, the committee will be packed with at least 1,006 Beijing loyalists.
That will give Beijing absolute control over the selection of Hong Kongâ€™s next chief executive in March.
The Election Committee was expanded by 300 members and given significant new powers when Beijing overhauled Hong Kongâ€™s electoral system in March.
Previously tasked only with electing the city leader, it will now also send 40 members to the enlarged 90-seat Legislative Council.
The clear picture of the power shift which emerged after the week-long nominations period closed on Thursday may put pressure on the cityâ€™s property tycoons, leaving them less room to deviate from Beijingâ€™s policies, one observer said.
Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of semi-official Beijing think tank the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said if mainland-linked committee members fell in line, the tycoons would also have to follow suit.
But John Burns, a University of Hong Kong political science professor, disagreed. â€œDo not underestimate the tycoons. They continue to be very focused on protecting and furthering their interests,â€ he said.