- In-Country Power
- International Power
- Military Strength
- Special Skill: China Chameleon
- Official Title: Chief Executive
- Government: Special Administrative region of China
- Years Left in Office: To 2017
- Political Classification: Pro-Beijing Alliance
- Education: College degree
- Age: 62 (born August 12, 1954)
Leung Chun-ying Facts and Information
- Leung Chun Ying is the Chief Executive of Hong Kong
- Hong Kong is a territory once occupied by Great Britain. In 1997, Hong Kong was transferred back to China.
- Leung was elected by an 1,200 member electoral council largely made up of pro-China interests, not by the people of Hong Kong.
- Leung heads Hong Kong's economy, which is 8th largest in the World in terms of GDP (PPP) Per Capita, at over $375 billion dollars.
- Largely unpopular with the people of Hong Kong, Leung is known by the moniker '689,' which is the number of electoral votes he secured to become Chief Executive.
Hong Kong was involved in the Opium Wars in the late 1800s. Hong Kong was handed back to China from Great Britain in 1997. Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region. Do you have any idea what any of this means? Well, before we get into Leung Chun Ying, here is the lowdown on Hong Kong; a brief history and its status on the international stage.
Where in the World?
Hong Kong is located on the southeastern coast of China, bordering Guangdong province. It was recognized as a part of China until 1839 when the Qing Dynasty refused to open up to British traders peddling opium. Essentially, the British told the Chinese to stop selling their own Opium to their own people so that they, the British, could sell British Opium to the Chinese (underneath it all, the British were looking to open up China’s closed society to international trade). Obviously, China resisted and in response, the British retaliated against China and occupied Hong Kong and its outlying regions from 1841. China signed the Treaty of Nanking the following year, ceding Hong Kong Island to the British, highlighting a perfect example of brute imperialistic British force.
As a result, China is pissed off and looking to fight whoever came across the very little land they still held near Hong Kong. Disputing the sovereignty of their recently seized property, the Chinese resisted the efforts by the British repatriating their property. But the British advanced deeper into China, gaining ground into China proper. With the backing of the United States, France and Russia, Great Britain strong-armed their way towards Beijing and devastated the weakened Chinese forces. Backed into a corner on three different fronts, the Emperor of the China ceded Kowloon peninsula and eventually the New Territories. Along with Hong Kong Island, these three areas make up what is now present day Hong Kong.
What is One Country, Two Systems?
Under British rule, Hong Kong grew into more than just a port city. In fact, it IS Asia’s leading International global trade and financial hub.
With British direction, Hong Kong’s infrastructure took off. It has one of Asia’s foremost transportation systems, including subway, trains and airports. The airport is so big, it has its own zip code! Well no it doesn’t, but it Asia’s fourth largest airport in terms of passenger traffic and the southeast Asian region’s second largest airport. Parts of the land the airport is on were artificially made in order to reach demands for a state of the art, international airport.
Fast forward to June 30, 1997: Under an agreement reached by China and the United Kingdom in 1984, transfer of Hong Kong from British to Chinese sovereignty was agreed upon and set to occur July 1, 1997. During British rule, Hong Kong followed constitutional monarchial rule. The agreement reached in 1984 stipulated that Hong Kong would retain its own economic system and political rule for 50 years under “One Country, Two Systems”, a phrase coined by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. While Hong Kong is a part of China, it is granted Special Administrative Region status and a leader, a “Chief Executive” would lead Hong Kong. Ideally, it was interpreted by the people of Hong Kong that China would have no hand in Hong Kong politics for the agreed upon 50 years, however…
The Chief Executive… approved by China?
The Chief Executive is the head of government in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong. After an initial nomination process, in which eligible candidates must have secured 150 nominations from the Election Committee, a 1,200 member Electoral College votes to elect this Chief Executive. What China won’t publicly tell the International community is that most of the 1,200 members are from China or have key interests to the Chinese Communist government. In the initial 1997 handover election, what was initially a 400 member Electoral College was virtually controlled by China or Chinese interests! Between 1997 and 2012, China has begun to allow more members of the Electoral College to be represented by local Hong Kong interests and people, but their numbers are a plurality compared with the Chinese interests that represent this Electoral College.
What about these Chief Executives? Two of them have been former businessmen with Chinese business interests. In the most recent election, the China friendly Nonpartisan party had pushed not just one candidate but two, one of them being CY Leung! What a mockery of the supposed democratic elections! Without a doubt, these former chief executives of Hong Kong have been vetted by China. Another damning fact: In the 2012 election, it was only the second time when a local Hong Kong politician with no Chinese ties or interests, was able to take part in the Chief Executive elections.
The Man Himself
Who is Leung Chun Ying and what has he done to earn the ire from the people of Hong Kong? His surveying company, C.Y. Leung & Company, while based in Hong Kong, has offices in both Shanghai and Shenzhen. He long has had business ties to the leaders of China, the earliest being Zhu Rongji, who would eventually become Premier of China in 1998. In 1988, Leung assumed the position Secretary General of Hong Kong’s Basic Law Consultative Committee. The leadership position was given to him at age 34, which caused rumors Leung was a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) member to swirl about, since such a high position are assumed by CCP members.
Even after being named Hong Kong’s Third Chief Executive, CY Leung, as he is known, has not stopped pissing the people off. As Cantonese is the main dialect of people residing in Hong Kong, with over 95% of the populace speaking the dialect, Leung is the only Chief Executive to have delivered his inaugural speech in Mandarin, the spoken language in mainland China. Talk about a slap in the face! Leung’s appointment of certain members in his cabinet have been called into question, with some of the members having ties to China affiliated groups and some barely clearing minimum requirements to deem themselves permanent residents of Hong Kong.
While Leung has done enough to appease the people of Hong Kong by deflecting widening encroachment by China, both by its populace and policy, he has balked at one crucial social issue affecting Hong Kong since the 1997 handover: universal suffrage. In 2007, during China’s 11th National People’s Congress, while not explicitly saying so, opened up the possibility for Hong Kong to select its Chief Executive in 2017 via universal suffrage under the notion “one person, one vote.” However, in the most recent session of the China Standing Committee in the 12th National People’s Congress, while the decision was given to allow for Hong Kong people rights to universal suffrage, China went out of its way to state it would not remove its vetting process for these candidates. Essentially, Hong Kong people get democratic elections, but they are as democratic as Iran selecting its own President.
This led to the so-called Umbrella Movement in late September 2014. Widely dominated by college students, the Umbrella Movement has been effective in paralyzing transportation systems and entire sections of Hong Kong’s Central district, which also happens to be the International financial hub in Southeast Asia. At its peak, this movement exceeded 100,000 protestors. Controversially, the police of Hong Kong have had a very direct response, unleashing tear gas on the protestors in only its third day of protests. Meanwhile, China has sat on the sidelines observing these protests, only showing its might by isolating these protests by cutting transportation links to the protest sites and taking nearly all media coverage off the air.
In addition to demanding universal suffrage, one of the protestors’ main objectives was calling for Leung to resign. Leung, not only has not stepped down, all signs are pointing to China throwing its weight behind the embattled Chief Executive (if China were to give into protestors by sacking Leung, China would lose all credibility on the International stage, which China will not let happen). The movement has devolved into an unorganized protest and many of the large crowds have dispersed, causing the movement to become a second version of Occupy Wall Street. A supposed wakeup call for the Communist Party of China seems to have only been a minor blip on their radar.
With comments from Leung during the protests such as “Democracy would see more poorer people dominate Hong Kong vote” and “Hong Kong [should be] ‘lucky’ China has not stopped protests,” it further underscores Leung and China just doesn’t get it and that the journey for full suffrage in Hong Kong will be a laborious and protracted one. As long as Leung and the pro-Beijing Non-Partisan party are in charge, Hong Kong will likely continue to see its dreams of full suffrage dashed.
While the protests will eventually cease, continue to see the struggle for universal suffrage dominate Hong Kong politics for years to come. It is one of only a handful of issues central to the people of Hong Kong and every time the territory elects a new chief executive, even after Leung is long gone, full suffrage will be always be a hot-button topic. It remains to be seen if Leung will endear himself to the people of Hong Kong, or whether he will continue in his current position as the de facto lackey for China.
For now, it appears Hong Kong will retain its status as the top financial hub in the Southeast Asian corridor. In the words of the Plaid Avenger: HONG KONG (CHINA) RICH!
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