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  • Oct 26, 2014
  • Updated: 5:46pm
Occupy Central
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Radicals cost Hong Kong key Apec meeting, advisers to Beijing say

Occupy Central cited by Beijing advisers as one reason why regional conference of finance chiefs has been moved from Hong Kong to the capital

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 March, 2014, 12:06am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 March, 2014, 2:19am

Beijing's growing frustration with radical sentiment in Hong Kong is part of the reason a key regional finance meeting has been moved from the city, several advisers to the mainland leadership say.

The advisers were commenting on the central government's announcement last week that the Apec finance ministers' conference, which was to have been staged in Hong Kong in September, would now be held in Beijing along with the main leaders' summit.

They cited the Occupy Central movement and the row over national education as factors.

Jiang Shigong , deputy director of Peking University's Centre for Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said the move reflected "impatience and frustration with Hong Kong" among mainland officials.

"Many mainland elites have become disillusioned with Hong Kong because of the various incidents over the past two years - such as the opposition to the introduction of national education," Jiang, an adviser to the central government on Hong Kong affairs, said.

"More and more mainlanders are asking why the central government is favouring Hong Kong. These voices will inevitably affect the central government's considerations."

His view was shared by Shi Yinhong , a Renmin University professor and adviser to the State Council.

Shi said Chinese leaders worried that mass protests - such as the Occupy Central movement that calls for people to block the city's main financial district in a democracy protest this summer - would not be "conducive to hosting an international event".

Another mainland expert familiar with Hong Kong affairs, who asked not to be named, said while Beijing was not overly worried by the movement, it needed to consider all possible risks.

"It would be too late to relocate the event to other cities if [we wait until] Hong Kong is paralysed by the movement," the expert said.

The central government cited logistical reasons when it announced last week that the meeting would be moved.

Apec officials told the Post that the whole Apec summit had been delayed because US President Barack Obama wanted to stay at home to deal with domestic politics. Because of the delay, Beijing had decided it was more convenient to hold all the meetings in one place, the Apec officials said.

Beijing's concern over the Occupy Central movement is widely known. But while experts agreed it might have played a part they said it would not have been enough to explain the move.

Academics proposed the Occupy Central movement more than six months before the central government announced last September that the finance ministers' meeting would be held in Hong Kong. There is also a possibility that the rally could be postponed to the end of the year.

The organisers originally planned for it to take place after the release of government proposals for the 2017 chief executive election, which now may not be ready until the last quarter of the year.

Executive councillor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee believed the switch was due to "a combination of reasons" and the increasing ferocity of political conflicts was a major factor.

"I do not want to speculate if the Occupy Central movement played a role. But this kind of high-level meeting will surely attract protests, which will be more radical [than normal] because of the conflict over the electoral reform [plans]," Ip said.

Ip, a former secretary for security and now a New People's Party lawmaker, said she believed the government had the ability to handle mass protests.

But the row over the visit to Hong Kong by Premier Li Keqiang , then first vice-premier, in 2011 had given China's top leaders "a sour experience".

Students who tried to protest in front of Li at the University of Hong Kong were carried away by police. While the protest itself did not cause major disruption to Li's trip, the university and police force were heavily criticised for the way they handled it.

"Security officials were almost placed under a probe back then for how they handled the student protest," Ip said. "That could be repeated at the Apec event, as there must be some exploitation of high-level meetings to stage protests."

Whatever the true motive for Beijing's decision, moving the conference to the capital would damage Hong Kong's reputation in the eyes of foreign investors, Ip said.

"I received inquiries from foreign businessmen whether Beijing's move meant Hong Kong's importance as a first-rank financial city would be played down," she said.

"There is certainly a negative impact on whether we remain a vibrant international centre."

Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, said last week he was "saddened" that the conference had been moved to Beijing.


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This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff:
I visit China whenever I can. It's a great civilization. My imagination soars when I traipse over the scenes of Romance of Three Kingdoms and the land of our great poets – 白居易, 杜甫, 李白.
I am equally at home under the shadows of Ancient Egypt and the brilliance of Florence during Renaissance.
Yes, I admire the Founder Fathers of the great American Republic, where the world had witnessed for the first time a bunch of super-intellects governed together despite personal conflicts. The nation did not just endure, but also flourished beyond all expectations.
Hkers with a mindless worship for mob populism and a tunnel vision 坐井觀天 won't know a single word of what I am talking here. Let me draw some parallels between the US then and China now.
During the Gilded Age, corruption was rampant with robber barons given a free hand. Foreign direct investments from Europe ignited capital formation. By the turn of the century, the US GDP per capita was 75% higher than England, France and Germany.
Yet even one generation removed from the GA, corruption continued unabated with sharp rise of thuggery against unionized workers under the watchful eye of its courts and constabulary.
But that’s not the end of story. Great Depression soon followed with 25% of workers idled. Environmental destruction brought about the dust bowl and the famous Steinbeck novel. The turmoil lasted 7 ½ decades before the US entered WW 2.
Take off your gut hate and look at China with a historical lens.
Dai Muff
You entirely missed my point. Entirely on purpose I feel. As well as the points of those Founding Fathers you profess to admire so much.
Same old Bush era Republican cracker conservatism: "My country, love it or leave it." They didn't like it one bit when Obama got in and the same could be said to them.
Your ideas that people who promote social change hate the country are the platitudes of conservatives in every culture. In China, it is worsened by the one party worship exhibited by individuals such as yourself.
What on Earth WILL you do if China ever becomes as democratic as it claims it wants to? Leave?
What is radical about seeking Beijing to honor the spirit of its commitment in the Basic Law and Sino-British Agreement? Beijing agreed to universal suffrage but now it seeks to wiggle around that such just means everyone gets to vote as long as you vote for candidates Beijing approves. So HK people seek some comfort that Beijing will allow for a real vote for real candidates they choose and not who Beijing chooses for us, which is what Carrie Darling and her cohorts are planning. So where they are radical is they actually challenge Beijing to honor its agreements. That is radical and the masters don't like the servants getting so uppity. How dare we think.
SpeakFreely and other readers:
If there is one thing that annoys me is parading falsehoods as facts. Year 2012 saw HKSE passing the US for the first time in IPOs, although last year we gave up the lead.
As late Harvard professor and New York senator Patrick Moynihan once said, "You're are entitled to your opinions, but not to your own facts."
To sustain their self-hatred and lack of self-esteem, the same list of illiterate clowns are crooning their familiar refrain of Beijing bugaboo here and elsewhere in this publication. I think you are a bunch of craven cowards. If you hate China so much, why don't you head up north and attempt some subversive acts against the 87% Chinese, who Pew survey says strongly support their Beijing government? Come on, you are not going to resist the 87% sweet spot!
For all I know, you might even become role models and heroes for the Scholarism brats, brain dead demonstrators, foul-mouth teachers and earn yourselves a footnote in Hong Kong history.
Dai Muff
"If you hate China so much, why don't you head up north"
And if you love it so much ..... likewise.
Disagreeing with you about the best way to ensure a good future for HK and China is not hating China. Your kind of argument is unfortunately too common in our society and echoed only by the most braindead Republicans and nationalists in the US.
YEs, Whymak, but all that IPO Money goes back to China. What stays here are fees paid to international investment banks, lawyers and accountants. The lion's share of that money does not stay here. That is a fact. Sorry that some facts are inconvenient. As to your note about Chinese people supporting Beijing, what choice do they have? Please get a shadow of a clue. My question really is why are these people radicals because they ask Beijing to honor its promises. All Beijing does is seek to wiggle out of what it agreed. How can you have real universal sufferage where the only vote is for whom Beijing says we may vote? Please, get a shadow of a clue. That is a fact. Sadly people like you, not those you malign, are the ones driving HK toward being a footnote in Chinese history, as Beijing seeks to move the financial center to Shanghai and the shipping centers up the coast to the north and south of us. That leaves only property for HK wealth and who will want to live where the jobs are not existent. Fools like you are accelerating our end as an international entrepot, just like Beijing wants. Again, get a clue. The masters in Beijing do not see HK people as part of China for any purpose other than control. Unfortunately, too many of you all are brain dead enough to accept the propaganda from Beijing as fact when it is not even close.
Sorry, I don't wish to respond to deranged remarks 語無倫次.
Yes on the mainland there is a clear image of what china was and what it will be. It is the fantasy of the Communist Party. Good read. It has at best a passing familiarity with reality. The talented youths to whom you refer exist for one reason: to be slaves to the new emperors. So perhaps the HK people have a pretty good bead on the fact that they do not want to be slaves like their countrymen to the north who sadly are so deluded they don't even know what life could be like if they were not toiling to ensure that each new princeling gets into Oxford and gets a Black Audi 80 when his daddy gets him a job in a state owned company and a slot in the communist party. Gee.
Perennial pessimists usually can hardly get anything done. Going for a run and maintaining a diet with essential vitamins can help you better develop your neural pathways.




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