Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan home to mysterious misbehaving communist cadre

Unnamed person is one of 13 Communist Party members excluded from China’s most high-profile political assembly because of ‘improper behaviour’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 October, 2017, 7:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 October, 2017, 10:54am

One of the 13 Communist Party members to be barred from China’s most high-profile political assembly later this month on the grounds of “improper behaviour” comes from the Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan division, according to a study of official documents by the South China Morning Post.

Unlike the 12 other members disqualified from the nearly 2,300-strong 19th national party congress, his or her identity is unknown, highlighting the ruling party’s secretive approach towards the three territories where the Communist Party is not a duly registered legal entity.

“The identity of the person may never be disclosed,” said Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies.

Lau said the expulsion may not necessarily be about illegal behaviour, and “it could be simply because of unethical behaviour that fell short of illegality, given President Xi [Jinping’s] vow for strict party rules”.

The five-yearly congress is China’s most important political event of the year, when a new generation of senior leaders will be ushered in, though Xi will remain in office.

The mystery of the missing representative started when state media published a compilation of sector-by-sector lists containing 2,271 names of attendees from the military and state enterprises as well as provincial and city governments.

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An online platform run by People’s Daily had reported that attendees would also include 29 representatives from the Hong Kong works committee, the Macau works committee and the All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots, but a full list of names was not available.

In the meantime, the downfall of Chongqing’s former party chief Sun Zhengcai prompted a by-election to replace the city’s 14 delegates who failed a “qualification assessment”.

The intrigue increased when a final list of 2,287 names – rather than the 2,300 initially planned – came out last week.

None of the names on the list was grouped by sector, leaving journalists and other observers crossing names off a previous list in an effort to figure out who actually represented the areas in question.

The results showed that only 28 people would be representing Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan – rather than the 29 originally slated.

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Whereas the names of the other excluded delegates could be deduced from the original list, there was no such indication available in this case.

The Hong Kong and Macau sectors were represented by two groups of people: mainland officials in charge of the two special administrative regions, as well as managers from the state-owned enterprises active in the two cities.

They included Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office director Zhang Xiaoming and Bank of China (Hong Kong) chief executive Yue Yi.

Those for Taiwan, in contrast, have rather limited if not nominal power, such as the heads of the Federation of Taiwan Compatriots branches in a number of mainland provinces.

The operation of the three subsectors had traditionally been a sensitive area, analysts said, pointing to the debacle over Mo Kwan-nin, a Hongkonger who was the deputy chief of Xinhua News Agency’s Hong Kong office, the de facto representative of Beijing in the colonial era.

Mo’s identity as an underground communist was accidentally exposed by a China News Service report during the party’s 13th national congress in 1987.

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Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based historian specialising in the Communist Party structure, said the low profile and secretive nature of the Hong Kong and Macau units stemmed from their roles in recruiting and uniting “underground party members”.

The term refers to Hong Kong and Macau residents who were secret communists during and after the colonial era.

“The works committees, therefore, cannot be totally transparent or open,” Zhang said. “I don’t see that changing within the 50 years of status quo promised by Beijing at the time of the transfer of sovereignty.”