China's top advisory body gains over 50 new Hong Kong faces

Delegates from city to Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference include young business leaders, professionals, pro-establishment politicians and former officials 

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 January, 2018, 8:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 January, 2018, 11:22am

More than 50 new faces from Hong Kong have been appointed to China’s top political advisory body, in one of the biggest reshuffles for the city’s delegates in recent years.

They included young business leaders, professionals, pro-establishment politicians and former officials.

The line-up was confirmed on Thursday, hours after the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference’s standing committee voted to endorse the list in Beijing on Wednesday.

The body consisted of 2,158 delegates from around the country, including about 200 from Hong Kong. 

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Most of those from the city, 124 in total, were affiliated with the Hong Kong group, one of 34 groups in the CPPCC’s national committee. Others were appointed to groups representing the country’s economic, sports, education and medical experts.

Among Hong Kong politicians, transport sector lawmaker Frankie Yick Chi-ming, of the Liberal Party, and engineering sector lawmaker Lo Wai-kwok, chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance party, were appointed for the first time. 

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In a reference to Beijing’s development strategies, Lo said: “The Greater Bay Area [project] and the Belt and Road Initiative will be the focus of our party. Hong Kong should better grasp the important development opportunities brought by the two projects.” 

The party had six delegates in the CPPCC.

The pair joined pro-establishment lawmakers Leung Che-cheung and Starry Lee Wai-king as new delegates on the national advisory body.

Lee promised to be a communication channel between Hong Kong and the mainland.

“I will continue to ask [Beijing authorities] to adopt more measures that will benefit Hong Kong people living, working or finding jobs on the mainland,” she said.

Lee, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the city’s largest pro-Beijing party, replaced her predecessor Tam Yiu-chung, who was stepping down. 

From the business sector, new delegates included Charles Li Xiaojia, chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing; Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, chairman and managing director of Sun Hung Kai Properties; and Karson Choi Ka-tsan, chairman of the Halewinner luxury watch company and son of billionaire toymaker Francis Choi Chee-ming. The 32-year-old is likely to be the youngest among the Hong Kong delegates.

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In a statement, Li said that as a delegate, he would be bringing the voice of Hong Kong’s capital market to Beijing and improving communication.

They replaced a group of senior members and Hong Kong tycoons, including Peter Woo Kwong-ching.

From the professional field, architect Bernard Lim Wan-fung was dropped from the list, though he had merely worked for a term starting from 2013.

The former president of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects ran against Beijing-friendly architectural sector lawmaker Tony Tse Wai-chun in the 2016 Legislative Council election, leaving the way open for pan-democrat Edward Yiu Chung-yim to take the seat.

But Yiu was later disqualified for his improper oath-taking, and Tse – who is eyeing a comeback in a by-election in March – replaced Lim as a new CPPCC delegate.

Also stepping down after one term was Hong Kong’s former chief graft-buster Timothy Tong Hin-ming. Shortly after Tong was appointed to the CPPCC in 2013, he was accused of breaking the rules with his lavish hospitality spending as Independent Commission Against Corruption commissioner. He was not criminally prosecuted, and it was unclear whether he stepped down as he turns 68 this year.

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Meanwhile, several veteran Hong Kong officials also had their appointment confirmed. They included ex-World Health Organisation head Dr Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun; former food and health minister Dr Ko Wing-man; and ex-security chief Lai Tung-kwok.

The city’s former chief executives Leung Chun-ying and his predecessor Tung Chee-hwa were also re-appointed. They were expected to stay on as CPPCC vice-chairmen when it convened its first plenary session in March.