Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

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Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
HK SYP OCMFAPRC 5.jpg
Traditional Chinese 中央人民政府駐香港特別行政區聯絡辦公室
Simplified Chinese 中央人民政府驻香港特別行政区联络办公室

The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is an organ of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China in Hong Kong. Its counterpart body in Mainland China is the Office of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in Beijing. The current Director is Zhang Xiaoming.[1]

Description[edit]

The Liaison Office is responsible for liaisons with the People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison and the Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese foreign ministry in Hong Kong. It is also responsible for liaisons with Chinese companies in Hong Kong, and facilitating economic, cultural, educational, technology and sport exchanges and co-operation between Hong Kong and Mainland China. De facto, the Office is also the headquarters of the People's Republic of China's United Front in Hong Kong, and therefore the origin of all propaganda efforts carried out in the territory to "win the minds and the hearts" of Hong Kong citizens. For this reason, protests regularly occur in front of its building.[2]

The office is headquartered in The Westpoint in Sai Ying Pun, and holds numerous other properties around Hong Kong.[3]

History[edit]

The Office was originally established in June 1947 as Xinhua News Agency Hong Kong Branch. When Hong Kong was under British administration, China did not establish a consulate in what it considered to be part of its national territory.[4]

In 1956, the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai requested the opening of a representative office in Hong Kong, but this was opposed by the Governor, Alexander Grantham, who advised the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Alan Lennox-Boyd in 1957 that it would a) give "an aura of respectability" to pro-Communist elements, b) have "a deplorable effect" on the morale of Chinese in Hong Kong, c) give the impression to friendly countries that Britain was retreating from the colony, d) that there would be no end to the claims of the Chinese representative as to what constituted his functions, and e) become a target for Kuomintang and other anti-communist activities.[5]

Consequently, the People's Republic of China was only unofficially represented in Hong Kong, with Xinhua operating as a de facto mission, although this was accepted by Governor Murray MacLehose, who dined with its Director.[6] The agency opened further district branches on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories in 1985 to expand its influence.[7][8]

Despite its unofficial status, the directors of the Xinhua Hong Kong Branch included high-ranking former diplomats such as Zhou Nan, former Ambassador to the United Nations and Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, who later negotiated the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the future of Hong Kong.[9] His predecessor, Xu Jiatun, was also vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Basic Law Drafting Committee, before fleeing to the United States in response to the military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests, where he went into exile.[10]

On 18 January 2000, after the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong, the branch office of Xinhua became the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, with Jiang Enzhu as its first Director.[11]

Influence[edit]

The Liaison Office indirectly owns and controls the Wen Wei Po, Ta Kung Pao and new media site Orange News. In 2015, Next Magazine revealed that the Office also took control of Sino United Publishing, which controls over 80% of the book publishing market.[12][13] It is Hong Kong's largest Chinese publishing group, and has 51 retail outlets in the territory,[14] and an 80 percent market share.[13]

Controversies[edit]

Schema of media control by the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong

Advocacy of a "parallel government"[edit]

In January 2008, Cao Erbao, the incumbent head of the research department published an article justifying the need of a parallel, Communist-led government in the SAR in Study Times.[15] It sparked great controversy in some sectors of Hong Kong society, already worried about the growing interference of the People's Republic of China into Hong Kong's political affairs.[16]

Pressure on the press[edit]

On 23 March 2012, it was revealed by Democrat Chief Executive candidate Ho Chun-yan that "a 'second-tier official' (of the Liaison Office) whose rank was equivalent to that of Cao Erbao or Hao Tiechuan, who are the Office's head of research, and the director general of the department of publicity, culture and sports, respectively" had called the Hong Kong Economic Journal to influence the campaign in a sense favourable to candidate Henry Tang.

Richard Li Tzar-kai, son of Asia's richest man and sturdy Tang backer, Li Ka-shing, is a majority shareholder of the Journal. The Liaison Office official pressured the director of the Chief Executive's Office, Professor Gabriel Leung, not to release details on the 2001 West Kowloon cultural hub design contest that would damage the candidacy of Leung Chun-ying (Tang's main rival) in the poll.

Many voices expressed indignation over the issue. Among the most vocal was Shue Yan University journalism professor Leung Tin-wai, who claimed the Liaison office was now interfering in the local media in an increasingly open manner. "It is [becoming] a trend... [The office] is now doing it in a more naked manner," he said.[17]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zhang Xiaoming’s controversial speech on Hong Kong governance: The full text, South China Morning Post, 16 September, 2015
  2. ^ 6 arrested for liaison office protest, South China Morning Post, 12 March 2010
  3. ^ Chen, Frank (26 November 2014). "Liaison Office has exquisite taste for property". Hong Kong Economic Journal. 
  4. ^ The Long History of United Front Activity in Hong Kong, Hong Kong Journal, Cindy Yik-yi Chu, July 2011
  5. ^ Government and Politics, Steve Tsang, Hong Kong University Press, 1995, pages 276
  6. ^ Lord MacLehose of Beoch, The Daily Telegraph, 1 June 2000
  7. ^ Public Governance in Asia and the Limits of Electoral Democracy, Brian Bridges, Lok-sang Ho, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009, page 155
  8. ^ Cheng, Joseph Yu-shek (p.214). "The Emergence of Radical Politics in Hong Kong: Causes and Impact". China Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, Special Issue: Urban and Regional Governance in China (Spring 2014).
  9. ^ 'Poet diplomat' Zhou Nan takes aim at Occupy Central, South China Morning Post, 16 June 2014
  10. ^ China's ex-proxy in Hong Kong fired for 'betrayal', UPI, 22 February 1991
  11. ^ In Watching Hong Kong, China Loses The Shades, New York Times, 20 February 2000
  12. ^ Betsy Tse (9 April 2015). "Basic Law violation seen as LOCPG tightens grip on HK publishers". EJ Insight. 
  13. ^ a b "中聯辦掌控聯合出版集團 擁三大書局兼壟斷發行 議員指涉違《基本法》". Apple Daily. 9 April 2015. 
  14. ^ Lam, Jeffie (8 March 2015). "Hong Kong book giant in censorship row after returning title". South China Morning Post.
  15. ^ A parallel universe, South China Morning Post, 7 May, 2009
  16. ^ Cheng Y. S. Joseph, " The democracy movement in Hong Kong ", International Affairs, Vol. 65, No. 3, Summer 1989, pp. 443–462 ; Ma Ngok, " Democracy in Hong-Kong: end of the road or temporary setback? », China Perspectives n. 57, January–February 2005
  17. ^ Anger at 'Beijing media meddling', South China Morning Post, 23 October 2012

External links[edit]