Leung Chun-ying

CY Leung picks more mainland Chinese advisers for 'internal diplomacy'

Well-connected heavyweights whose loyalties lie with Beijing are appointed in bigger numbers in 'internal diplomacy' push

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 July, 2013, 7:57am

At least a dozen leading businessmen with mainland backgrounds have been handpicked for positions on the city's advisory bodies under Leung Chun-ying's administration.

A South China Morning Post examination of the Leung administration's first-year advisory appointments also shows that a similar number come from the Y. Elite Association, a Beijingloyalist group made up of the offspring of local tycoons and business leaders.

Among the more prominent appointments is Levin Zhu Yunlai, the elder son of former premier Zhu Rongji, who now advises the Financial Services Development Council. Zhu is chief executive of investment bank China International Capital Corporation, and a source said he had taken part in the first two meetings of the council, which was founded by Leung, by teleconference rather than in person.

Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a senior lecturer in Chinese University's Department of Government and Public Administration, said the trend was quite different under Leung's predecessor, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who relied mainly on local mainstream businesspeople.

Choy said he believed Leung would continue appointing mainlanders when necessary, given his emphasis on "internal diplomacy".

Also appointed to the Financial Services Development Council were Chen Shuang, chief executive of China Everbright Bank, Qin Xiao, former chairman of the China Merchants Group, and Anton Liu Tingan, president and deputy chairman of China Life Insurance (Overseas).

The list also included Charley Song Lin, chairman of China Resources (Holdings), who is at the centre of a scandal involving alleged negligence in a 2010 acquisition that the state anti-graft watchdog is investigating.

And such big names appear among advisers to other finance-related bodies, too.

Ding Chen, responsible officer for CSOP Asset Management, was recently appointed to the Securities and Futures Appeals Tribunal, and Hu Zhanghong, chief executive of CCB International, was reappointed to it.

Laura Cha Shih Mei-lung, the council's chairwoman, speaking on the day the body was created, said having several mainlanders on it was natural due to the close business links between Hong Kong and the mainland.

Pro-establishment lawmaker Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said mainland representatives offered contributions and analysis from a different angle.

"Their opinions are beneficial to Hong Kong," he said.

Money is not their only speciality, however.

South China Agricultural University professor Zhuang Xueying, a tree expert, has had her seat on the Expert Panel on Tree Management renewed under Leung's administration.

Y. Elite Association member and law firm partner Nicholas Chan Hiu-fung sits on the Buildings Appeal Tribunal Panel.

Jason Wong Chun-tat, executive director of the family-run tour company Hong Thai when he was in his early 30s, is on the Employees Retraining Board.

And Jaime Sze Wine-him, founder and chairman of the Y. Elite Association, also had his seat on the Commission on Youth renewed in March.