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  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 8:04am
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

petits.bijoux.35
My observation is that Hong Kong has major issues at real world problem solving and there seems to be a rather copious group of piqued people, both local and foreign, who are hell-bent on destabilizing the place at the expense of others.
.
On the contrary, many talented youths in mainland China have a vision that is both coherent and clear about what China as a civilization was, is, and will be. This is the kind of enthusiasm and energy Hong Kong lacks:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1mRcELSVyY
.
Reexamine your attitude before it's too late, HK.
ianson
Beijing is rattled. Perfect. Next, we'll really shake them up.
ssslmcs01
Does that mean Hong Kong people need to be obedient little puppy dogs without an opion to avert isolation?
ssslmcs01
25 to 30% deflation would be more like it. A meal at a restaurant like Fairwood has increased by about 50% in the last few years while salaries have increased by less than 10%.
ejmciii
Why can these HK people not think the way they are supposed to think. The Party tells you what to think and you must obey. HK people keep thinking they can think. Thinking is for Princelings and Princesslings. How can people think when they are not even Communist Party members. What a silly idea. So Beijing must punish the people who believe they have the right to think for themselves until all independent thought is ended. We are so lucky we have the masters in Beijing to protect us from ourselves.
ejmciii
Your masters started replacing HK with Shanghai a decade ago. The major financial institutions were told to grow in Shanghai and not HK. The same with the container ports. Sorry to speak heresy but Beijing has been undermining HK, gleefully, since they took over. The only benefit they've shared is luxury shopping for Mainlanders. Oh and opening HK's stock exchange so Chinese companies could bilk international investors the same way they've been bilking domestic investors for decades. No sir, you are the fool, or more to the point, the shill. A more independent/autonomous HK is better for China on a financial basis as it presents a real intermediary between the communists and the rest of the world. But for the communists obedience is more important than success. Sorry that you cannot see that some people would rather have a say in their determination and not spend their lives licking princelings' boots. SO it goes.
joyalsofi
" Beijing is one of the few countries that can almost guarantee there will be no protests..." Davos and Doha are two places where the elite regularly gather to make decisions that affect the rest of us without any input, I mean protest, from those kept far away on the outside.
johndoe
How about the government fixes the problem instead of blaming the people.
superdx
I'm not sure this is a punishment. A gathering of elites, catering to the 0.5% of the wealthiest people and corporations on this side of the globe.
Last thing HK needs is more cash, more liquidity. I suspect most of us would be overjoyed with 10-15% deflation in prices and stability in basic living commodities.
ejmciii
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.

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