Dear Subscribers &
An Analysis of Beijing
Beijing has a strategy to circumscribe Hong Kong's debate
on constitutional development through using speed and surprise to gain a strategic advantage.
The Standing Committee of the National People's
Congress (SCNPC) is expected to
issue more guiding principles yet
for Hong Kong on political reform.
A. Every step you take
As events proceed [Newsletters 26/3, 7/4, and 16/4]
it is now possible to analyse Beijing's strategy:
signal: President Hu Jintao's message to Hong Kong on
3/12/04 was that Beijing was "very much concerned" with the development of Hong
Kong's political system and Beijing had a "position of principle".
"patriotic" skirmishes: Immediately afterwards, Beijing's
network began to emphasize the "principle" of China's sovereignty over Hong
Kong, and the "legislative process" in the Basic Law (BL) that involves the
SCNPC in political reform. On 20/2/04, the first patriot missile was fired to
say that only "patriots" could govern Hong Kong. This was Beijing's
vanguard action to draw the battle lines on the key issues.
3. Feint softening of
tactics: By easing off firing patriot
missiles around 7/3, and with senior officials arriving in Hong Kong on
11/3 with the message that they wanted to talk to more people, it appeared that
Beijing was softening its tactics. This was a feint - the gun was in fact being
Second strike: As Hong Kong was recovering from
the patriot missile attacks, on 26/3, Beijing announced that the SCNPC would
interpret two provisions in the BL relating to political reform. The
announcement left Hong Kong stunned. No one expected the timing of this
move. Beijing had managed to keep quiet about it to gain the advantage of
5. SCNPC in the
vanguard: By 5/4, the SCNPC had concluded its work and the
intrepretation was released on 6/4. Senior officials arrived in Hong Kong on 7/4
on a "charm offensive" to explain Beijing's action. In the meantime, the gun was
being reloaded once more.
6. Surprise again with
speed: The SCNPC interpretation added a new step to the BL
requiring the CE to give a report to the SCNPC on whether there is a "need"
for reform in Hong Kong. While Hong Kong was trying to understand its meaning,
Beijing had already reloaded and on 15/4, the CE gave its report much earlier
than expected to the SCNPC. The CE's early reporting must have
been part of the attack plan.
7. Move quickly to
consolidate gains: The SCNPC usually meets every 2 months with
its last meeting ending in early April with the interpretation as its primary
work and the next one set for June. The SCNPC notified HK's NPC and
CPPCC members on 16/4 of a special consultation meeting on 21/4 in Shenzhen
to discuss the CE's report and is likely to approve it by end month at a special
8. More to
come: Mainland legal experts have now said that the SCNPC will
likely set out more guiding principles on political reform to guide the HKSAR
Government in drafting legislation relating to electoral reform.
1. Expect more
guidelines to tightened/eliminated reform options.
2. The CE and HKSAR
Government are conduits for Beijing's decisions - Donald Tsang, head of the
government's Task Force on reform, made a Freudian slip last week
describing its work as a "tool".
3. A good strategist must be
able to predict the outcome of its strategy - this we need to wait and
Civic Exchange - HK's independent think