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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 loyalists (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 the Sino-British relation and led to the emergence and transformation of the "unholy alliance" of the pro-Beijing loyalists and businesspeople versus the pro-democratic popular alliance. Despite this, the pro-Beijing camp was defeated by the pro-democracy camp in the broaden franchised 1995 Legislative Council election again.
The PRC government argued that the electoral reform introduced by Patten had violated the Joint Declaration and thus they no longer felt obliged to honour it. A parallel Legislative Council, the Provisional Legislative Council, was formed in 1996 under the control of the Pro-Beijing camp, this became 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 (see 2012 Hong Kong legislative election in Hong Kong Island, 2012 Hong Kong legislative election in Kowloon West and 2012 Hong Kong legislative election in New Territories West), narrowing down the total margin in the geographical constituencies between pro-Beijing and pro-democrats to 17 seats to 18 seats only. The pro-Beijing camp remained control of the Legislative Council and the DAB remained the largest party with 13 seats in total.
In recent years, the pro-Beijing camp expanded its spectrum from pro-business elites and traditional leftists to more broaden background. The former Secretary for Security Regina Ip who was in charge of introducing the Basic Law Article 23 stood for 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 professionals oriented New People's Party in 2011.
More than one pro-Beijing candidate ran for the Chief Executive election in 2012, with the Chief Secretary Henry Tang representing the more elite and pro-business faction of the camp and the Convenor of the Executive Council, Leung Chun-ying, appealing more to the grassroots population. Leung eventually won the election with the support of the Central Government Liaison Office. The election divided the pro-Beijing camp into Tang camp and Leung camp. The accusations made by the two camps to another in the election heavily damaged the solidarity of the united front. After the election, the 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.
(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
- 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.