Li Lingpu and Larry Ong | Epoch Times
HONG KONG—In a bid to strengthen his control over Hong Kong, Chinese leader Xi Jinping is embarking on a campaign to purge from China’s official government advisory body anyone hailing from the region who obtained their positions using corrupt means, according to a source.
The source, who has close ties to the top Chinese leadership, told Epoch Times that Xi has created a special inquiry group which will soon investigate all individuals of Hong Kong origin who occupy positions as part of either the national-level government advisory body, called the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, or those on the same body at the provincial, prefecture, and county level, the source said.
According to the source, many of the Hong Kong political advisors being targeted have been funding Communist Party front groups tied to Jiang Zemin, former head of the Chinese Communist Party, and rival to Xi. These front groups, the source said, have been doing Jiang’s bidding in Hong Kong for years.
Epoch Times sources in Hong Kong, including a local community leader and a former official, say there are close and unscrupulous ties between Chinese officials and many Hong Kong businesses.
The expected purge appears to be an extension of a drive to eradicate corruption in mainland China. Since taking office in 2012, Xi has wielded an anti-corruption campaign as a powerful weapon to purge the Party of Jiang’s supporters who are rivals to Xi, and to police cadre loyalty. This political impetus inheres particularly to the targeting of officials from Hong Kong, a region through which vast wealth from the mainland flows, and which has been in the hands of Xi’s political adversaries since he came to power.
Purging the Ranks
The Xi Jinping leadership has received a large volume of complaints about how Hong Kong notables are buying their way into the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and they are “extremely dissatisfied” with the situation, according to the source, who is close to discussions in Zhongnanhai, the central headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party.
To “get to the root” of the issue, the Xi administration has established a high-level inquiry group to carry out an investigation. It will include four powerful official organs: The Party’s anti-corruption agency, the United Front Work Department, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, and the leadership of the consultative body, the CPPCC. CPPCC chief Yu Zhengsheng and United Front head Sun Chunlan will direct the investigations, said the source.
The source also said that up to three-quarters of Hong Kong CPPCC members will lose their titles, and only around 700 members will remain.
One obvious sign that the inquest has started, said the source, is the recent prosecution of Zhu Mingguo. Zhu is the former chairman of the CPPCC in Guangdong Province neighboring Hong Kong, and received a suspended death sentence for taking bribes and holding assets worth tens of millions of dollars.
Because Zhu is closely connected with Hong Kong and is also linked with the Jiang faction, “many Hong Kong CPPCC members aligned with Jiang who bought their way to office are ‘scared witless,’ and some have even gone in hiding,” the source said.
A Communist Country Club
The CPPCC—a collection of non-communist political parties, ethnic minorities, and billionaire business executives that is at all times dominated by the Communist Party itself—advises the regime’s legislature, and is meant to reflect the idea that China is democratic. That pretense is belied by the fact that the Party is the largest group in the Conference, and its chief is always a top Party leader.
Businesspeople in China and Hong Kong crave membership in the municipal, county, provincial, and national-level CPPCCs to gain access to Chinese officials because membership greatly expands their business networks and opportunities for the right sort of interactions.
CPPCC members also get VIP treatment in China—priority clearance lines at airports, fine dining, reserved parking spaces.
Although membership in the CPPCC is by invitation only, members of Hong Kong’s business community have sought to bribe their way into it.
A local community leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, related an actual case of office buying to Epoch Times. A Hong Kong entrepreneur in his 20s, who was born in the mainland, enlisted the help of a contact familiar with the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong, and used these ties to gain an audience with a Chinese official from his home province in China.
When the meeting took place in the guest room of the Liaison Office, the Hong Kong entrepreneur openly placed $150,000 in cash into a $4,300 designer purse, which he then handed to the official. Afterwards, he was invited to become a member of the national CPPCC in Beijing.
Hon Man-po, a renowned author and former committee member in the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, said that Jiang Zemin’s faction used CPPCC membership as “a channel of corruption” as part of their efforts to infiltrate and control the city.
Hon was a CPPCC member between 1992 to 2002 by invitation of Hainan University. But the university suddenly stopped sending him invitations in 2003—a year where the phenomenon of membership buying became “very serious.”
“From what I understand, Hong Kong businesspeople were giving money and other benefits to United Front groups. After that, these businesspeople received invitations to be CPPCC members,” Hon said. The Communist Party uses its United Front apparatus, which engages in subversion, surveillance, mobilization, and propaganda, to manage ethnic Chinese overseas.
Hon says that 2003 was a watershed in the Chinese regime’s corruption of Hong Kong, after Jiang Zemin’s group felt threatened when half-a-million Hongkongers marched through the streets to protest a controversial anti-sedition law.
Jiang’s political enabler, Zeng Qinghong, who was then the top Chinese official overseeing Hong Kong, soon started building up underground communist groups and United Front organizations in the city. The number of Hongkongers getting invitations to the CPPCC at various levels also rose sharply.
Hongkongers, particularly those from provincial clan associations and communist front groups, make monetary contributions to these subversion efforts and are rewarded with CPPCC membership.
Another source with close knowledge of the situation said that Lin Kwok-on, the coarse, abrasive vice-president of the Hong Kong Youth Care Association—one of the more prominent mobilization outfits in Hong Kong—had bought his membership to a county-level CPPCC in Jiangxi Province.
Another source, who also declined to be named but who is close to the issue, said a wealthy businessman gives the Youth Care Association over $70,000 every month so that his sister can remain a member of the national CPPCC. The Youth Care Association is notorious for harassing practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that is being persecuted in China on the orders of Jiang Zemin.
The Xi Jinping leadership appears determined to reverse the corrupt practices, entrenched during Jiang Zemin’s nearly two decades as head—whether de jure or de facto—of the Chinese regime, by eliminating Jiang’s faction.
Xi has “shifted up a gear” with his efforts to clean out Jiang’s people after assuming the role of “core” leader at an important Party meeting at the end of October, said the source close to Zhongnanhai. Epoch Times tracked some of these developments in an earlier report.
According to the source, Xi is “losing patience” with affluent Hongkongers and officials who continue to support the Jiang faction, which includes Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying. Epoch Times previously reported inside information that the Xi leadership won’t allow Leung another term in office. Elections for the Hong Kong Chief Executive will be held in March 2017.
In the current political climate, the source said, backing Jiang is like “squandering your chance.”