Intellasia East Asia News – HK Election Committee’s mainland China-linked ‘patriotic force’ likely to dampen influence of property tycoons

Top executives of mainland Chinese enterprises and business associations make up a new “patriotic force” in Hong Kong’s powerful revamped Election Committee, drastically weakening the political clout of the city’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 Kong’s next chief executive in March.

The Election Committee was expanded by 300 members and given significant new powers when Beijing overhauled Hong Kong’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 city’s property tycoons, leaving them less room to deviate from Beijing’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. “Do not underestimate the tycoons. They continue to be very focused on protecting and furthering their interests,” he said.


Category: China, Hong Kong

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