Who is the new leader of Hong Kong?

web posted February 1997

 The red tide is already flooding a forsaken island of freedom...

Reprinted from a recent The New American (January 20, 1997)

On December 11th, 59-year-old Tung Chee Hwa, a Shanghai-born and British-educated shipping magnate, was anointed to become the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong when the island is surrendered to Communist China next July. Tung was the overwhelming choice of the Selection Committee, a 400-member panel hand-picked by Beijing to choose a chief executive who will be the instrument of the Red Chinese regime's will. Tung's competition for the position consisted of two other officials, former Hong Kong Chief Justice Yang Ti-liang and tycoon Peter Woo. However, Tung's candidacy received the special attention of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord, who met with Tung - but not with the other candidates - in Hong Kong shortly before the election.

Lord praised Tung as "a man of great integrity" and "a strong, independent-minded individual." Hong Kong correspondent Linda Chong observed that "Lord ... noted that his family knew Mr. Tung well but would not elaborate on the nature of the relationship." Lord was equally circumspect about another link between himself and Tung: Lord is a member of the secretive Council on Foreign Relations and was the body's president from 1977-85; Tung's biography proudly states that the Chief Executive-in-waiting is a "member of the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations...." Accordingly, Tung was the preferred candidate of globalist elites in both Communist China and the United States.

New Order in Hong Kong

Tung has promised that his government will "ensure a stable, equitable, compassionate and democratic society," one which produces a population "global in our outlook" and that enjoys "a life free from the anxiety of crime and disorder." Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, who presided over the selection committee, hailed "Comrade Tung's victory" as a "new dawn for democracy" for Hong Kong. The new "democratic" order in Hong Kong announced its presence immediately after Tung's selection: The Christian Science Monitor noted that "Street protests against the selection of Mr. Tung by a Beijing-appointed committee resulted in police detaining dozens of pro-democracy advocates, including Emily Lau, a legislator recently elected by popular vote."

According to Newsweek, "Tung seems to share the mainland view that those who criticize Beijing's policies are unpatriotic." USA Today correspondent James Cox reports that during his candidacy Tung portrayed himself as a "consensus seeker" and "urged Hong Kong citizens to think less about their rights and more about their public 'obligations.' He has declared that groups supporting independence for Taiwan or Tibet must leave Hong Kong." He has also hinted broadly that he will not countenance the expression of "anti-China" opinions or "personal attacks" upon political leaders in Hong Kong's media.

Tung's perspective on press freedom is apparently dictated by Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, who told the Selection Committee on November 10th that "rumors" and "personal attacks" would be banned under Hong Kong's new government. Qian has also informed the Asian Wall Street Journal that future commemorations of the Tiananmen Square massacre would be forbidden on the island after China assumes control in July.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Shen Guofang insists that concerns about the end of press freedom in Hong Kong have been exaggerated. In language that could have been adapted either from Joseph Stalin's Soviet Constitution or the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Shen explained: "Hong Kong people will have full freedom of expression, but all freedoms must be within the limits allowed by law." Those limits will preclude criticism of Tung's background and policies.

Tung was born in Shanghai and educated at the University of Liverpool. He spent a decade working for General Electric in the United States before relocating to Hong Kong to work for his father's shipping business, Orient Overseas (International) Holding Ltd. Following the death of his father in 1982, Tung learned that Orient faced a financial crisis; seeking to prevent the liquidation of the family business, Tung turned to Beijing, which put together a $120 million bailout package through government-controlled banking interests.

Tung kept silent about the communist-supported bailout of his shipping business, and, notes the New York Times, "even today he will reveal no details other than the size of the capital infusion from China. Mr. Tung declined repeated requests over the last two months to be interviewed." For many residents of Hong Kong, the implications of the bailout are obvious: They've been bought and sold for Beijing's gold. "Why on earth would the Chinese want to lend so much money?" asks Emily Lau. "That mere fact speaks loudly."

Communist Party to Rule?

According to Foreign Minister Qian, although the Chinese Communist Party "will not have a direct interference with the daily administration of Hong Kong," the Party "will set overall Chinese policy toward Hong Kong" - leaving Tung and the Beijing-appointed rubber-stamp legislature to work out the quotidian details. Qian has not explained what role Hong Kong's clandestine Communist Party - which had an estimated membership of 6,000 in the mid-1980s -will play in the management of the island. The Wall Street Journal notes that "the local, underground branch of China's Communist Party - a political force many fear - could be highly influential.... In China, party secretaries outrank governors or mayors, and the party's power is considered supreme, even above the nation's constitution."

Not surprisingly, Tung has displayed complete subservience to the Party. The December 12th New York Times reported that Tung has made no secret of his intention "to abolish the elected legislature and to enforce a more authoritarian executive government." China has already drafted a plan for the abolition of Hong Kong's Legislative Council and its replacement by a Beijing-appointed body, and Tung will put that plan into effect at the stroke of midnight on June 30th.

- W.N.G.

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