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The Pro-Beijing camp or Pro-establishment camp (Chinese: 親北京派; 建制派) is a segment of Hong Kong society which supports the policies and views of the Government of China before and after the handover of Hong Kong on 1 July 1997. The term is usually used to identify political factions with close ties to China. Their rivals, the Pan-democracy camp, would label the Pro-Beijing camp as the royalists (Chinese: 保皇黨).
Prior to handover
Some of the political groups within the Pro-Beijing camp, such as the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and some members in the current Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) have had a long history of following the directions of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and of loyalty to the Communist Party of China (CPC) since the colonial period. Some of the members formerly participated in the Hong Kong 1967 Leftist Riots against colonial rule, and were labelled "leftists".
After the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984, Hong Kong tycoons and professionals were appointed to the Hong Kong Basic Law Consultative Committee (BLCC) and the Hong Kong Basic Law Drafting Committee (BLDC) as the means of forming a united front. A group of businesspeople and elites tried to influence the politics of the formation of the Hong Kong Government after 1997. The Business and Professional Group of the Basic Law Consultative Committee was formed in April 1986, later known as the Group of 89, proposed a conservative constitution of electing the Chief Executive and Legislative Council in contrast to the more progressive proposal of the liberal-minded members of the Consultative Committee. Several new political parties, including the Liberal Democratic Federation of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance were formed on the basis of the elite group.
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 sparked the Hong Kong people's pro-democracy sentiments. The newly formed democratic party United Democrats of Hong Kong enjoyed landslide victories in the district boards election, Urban and Regional Council election and Legislative Council election in 1991. Countering the democratic forces, the British-appointed unofficial members of the Legislative Council launched a pro-business conservative Liberal Party, and the traditional leftists formed the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong.
The large-scale democratisation initiated by then Governor Chris Patten resulted in the deterioration of Sino-British relations and led to the emergence of an "unholy alliance" of pro-Beijing businesspeople and leftist loyalists versus the pro-democratic popular alliance. Despite this, in the broadened franchise, the pro-Beijing camp was again defeated by the pro-democracy camp in the 1995 Legislative Council election.
The PRC government argued that the electoral reform introduced by Patten had violated the Joint Declaration, and thus they no longer felt obligated to honour it. A parallel legislative framework, the Provisional Legislative Council, was set up in 1996 under the control of the Pro-Beijing camp, and was introduced as the Legislative Council upon the founding of the new SAR government in 1997.
Since 1997, more new political groups have been formed. With their support within the functional constituencies, the Pro-Beijing camp have never lost being the majority in the LegCo, controlling the LegCo through a collaboration of the DAB and the Liberal Party. On 1 July 2003, a peaceful crowd of 500,000 protested against the introduction of the controversial Article 23 of the Basic Law. James Tien, the leader of Liberal Party and member of the Executive Council forced the government to delay the second reading of the bill, however the stance of the DAB on Article 23 was strongly criticised and led to their losses in the Hong Kong district councils election, 2003.
After the setbacks in 2003, the pro-Beijing camp won back seats lost in 2003 in the Hong Kong district councils election, 2007 and enjoyed another victory in Hong Kong district councils election, 2011. In the Hong Kong legislative election, 2012, the pro-Beijing camp managed to win more than half of the geographical constituency seats respectively in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon West and New Territories West, narrowing the number of seats held in the geographical constituencies between pro-Beijing and pro-democrats to 17 seats and 18 seats respectively. The pro-Beijing camp retained control of the Legislative Council and the DAB remained the largest party with 13 seats in total.
In recent years, the pro-Beijing camp has expanded its spectrum of support from pro-business elites and traditional leftists to those from a broader background. The former Secretary for Security Regina Ip, who was in charge of introducing the Basic Law Article 23 stood in the Hong Kong Island by-election in 2007 against the former Chief Secretary Anson Chan supported by the pro-democrats. Despite her defeat, she was able to be elected in the 2008 Legislative Council election, and formed the middle class and professional oriented New People's Party in 2011.
Two pro-Beijing candidates ran for the Chief Executive election in 2012, with the Chief Secretary Henry Tang representing the elite and pro-business faction of the camp and the Convenor of the Executive Council, Leung Chun-ying, appealing more to the grassroots faction. Leung eventually won the election with the support of the Central Government Liaison Office. The election divided the pro-Beijing camp into a Tang camp and a Leung camp. The accusations made by the two camps against each other in the election heavily damaged the solidarity of the united front. After the election, Beijing called for a reconciliation of the two camps.
Pro-Beijing camp members are united by the political ideology of being closer to Beijing government, as much out of pragmatism as of conviction, but vary on other issues within the context of Hong Kong. Even amongst pragmatists there are differing reasons for that pragmatism, some see the financial and business benefits that come from closer ties with Beijing, others hope that in conceding on those issues which China will not compromise on, to be able preserve as much in the way of personal liberties and local autonomy as can be achieved.
(Number of LegCo members are in brackets.)
- The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (13)
- Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (7)
- Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (6)
- Liberal Party (5)
- New People's Party (2)
- Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions (1)
- New Century Forum (1)
- New Territories Association of Societies
Following the election of CY Leung as Chief Executive of Hong Kong, public discontent manifested itself in the form of mass petitions, rallies and demonstrations, so much so that it seemed that a plurality of the Hong Kong public was anti-Leung. In late 2012 pro-Leung advocacy groups began to emerge such as Voice of Loving Hong Kong, Caring Hong Kong Power and Hong Kong Youth Care Association Limited, the fact that all these groups feature the Chinese character for love in the names has led to these groups to be called the "love Hong Kong faction" (Chinese: 愛字派 literally "love character faction"). The word love in this context is taken from the lexicon of political debate in mainland China, were the slogan "Love China, Love the Party", is seen as the basis of patriotism, and the demand that any future Chief Executive of Hong Kong must "Love China, Love Hong Kong".
These supposedly grassroots organisations present themselves as being a spontaneous reaction to the excesses of the pan-democrat camp, as Hong Kong's silent majority who wish for a prosperous, harmonious society and who reject the "social violence" of the pan-democrats. Describing themselves as apolitical and independent of outside powers, these groups use various tactics to counter the pan-democrats, including counter rallies and marches in opposition to pan-democrat ones, counter petitions, and making accusations of campaign fund fraud and irregularities against pan-democrat politicians to the ICAC. They also make use of mass heckling at pan-democracy forums to silence debate.
Outside commentators suspect that these groups are orchestrated by China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong pointing to a use of language that parrots Beijing's and an illogical antipathy to Falun Gong which mirrors Beijing's own bugbear. Whether directly or not these organisations have received support from Beijing through the United Front Work Department, with employees of Chinese companies based in Hong Kong, being asked to sign petitions and attend rallies, and members of hometown societies being paid to do the same.
During the 2014 Hong Kong protests the "love Hong Kong faction" took to wearing a blue ribbon as a counter to the protesters yellow one. It is alleged that it is the "love Hong Kong faction" that has organised counter protests and who attempted to charge through pro-democracy protesters in Causeway Bay.
- Alliance for Peace and Democracy (Hong Kong)
- PRC United Front strategy
- Pan-democracy camp
- Pan-democracy camp (Macau)
- Pan-establishment camp
- 2012 Hong Kong legislative election in Hong Kong Island
- 2012 Hong Kong legislative election in Kowloon West
- 2012 Hong Kong legislative election in New Territories West)
- Ma, Ngok (2007). Political Development in Hong Kong: State, Political Society, and Civil Society. Hong Kong University Press. p. 41.
- Loh, Christine (2010). Underground Front: The Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 160–164.
- Chan, Ming K. (1997). The Challenge of the Reintegration with China. Hong Kong University Press. p. 51.
- South China Morning Post, 2 July 2003
- "Hong Kong: Wolf at the door!". China Worker. 31 March 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
- Torode, Greg; Pomfret, james; Lim, Benjamin (July 4, 2014). "The battle for Hong Kong’s soul". Taipei Times. Retrieved October 9, 2014.