After less than a month as the chair of the Hong Kong Bar Association, Paul Harris has been the target of almost daily attacks by the Chinese-Hong Kong United Front. By contrast, his predecessor Philip Dykes managed to complete his two-year tenure without causing a major row, and that was during the unprecedented social unrest of 2019. Harris may be an accomplished barrister, human rights lawyer and linguist, but Dykes had the political savvy. Practically the first public remarks Harris made as the new Bar chair were to ask Beijing to roll back the more draconian features of the national security law, and to denounce the arrest of 55 opposition figures as a “fairly obvious” abuse of the law. He certainly came out fighting. An intelligent man and long-time local resident, though, he must have known his criticism was a non-starter so far as Beijing was concerned. His critics have been the who’s who of the Beijing-allied establishment. They include former chief executive Leung Chun-ying, former Bar chair and current Executive Council member Ronny Tong Ka-wah, former chief government prosecutor Grenville Cross, and Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong vice-chair Holden Chow Ho-ding. Basically the entire army of pro-Beijing commentators and influencers on YouTube have been on his case as well as Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po , the two Chinese government-financed newspapers. Perhaps Harris thought he was firing a shot across the bows and taking a stand from the start. If so, it has backfired badly. It’s hard to see how he could continue to serve his fellow barristers and the city under such conditions. Nor are his critics’ attacks purely ideological or vindictive. Harris belongs to the Liberal Democrats, a major political party in Britain and served as a councillor in Oxford City until his recent resignation. Nothing wrong with that, I grant you, and there are no rules against such foreign political participation for the Bar chair in Hong Kong. State-run media outlets blast new Bar Association head two days in a row The optics, you have to admit, don’t look good. Suppose a Hong Kong-Chinese American is elected to head the American Bar Association, arguably the most powerful legal group in the United States, and he turns out to be a member of the pro-Beijing DAB, or God forbid, a Chinese Communist Party member. I don’t think he would just have to resign. The Federal Bureau of Investigation would be on his case in no time.