Chan Chun-ho | Radio Free Asia

Veteran political journalist Ching Cheong, who moved to Hong Kong after serving three years of a five-year sentence in a mainland Chinese prison on national security charges, is now living through a city-wide crackdown on peaceful dissent under a draconian national security law imposed by Beijing. He told RFA that the newly established Bauhinia Party, which has close ties to the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is part of a broader strategy to control every aspect of life in the former British colony by eventually replacing its people:

RFA: Why do you think the Bauhina Party is a project of the CCP?

Ching Cheong: We first started to hear the phrase “new Hongkongers” at the end of 2019. This phrase started to replace the old one, which was [the promise of] “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong.” But the CCP needs organizations that can operate in the open to realize its plan; it can’t get involved itself, only direct matters from behind the scenes. And so now, this Bauhinia Party has appeared.

RFA: The CCP already rules China. Why does it need to rule by proxy in Hong Kong? Why can’t it just do that openly?

Ching Cheong: This has to do with CCP’s own policymaking, which is all about whether it can preserve Hong Kong’s status as a separate area without actually allowing it to be genuinely liberal, what they call a “white zone.” They still what to keep up the appearance that there are two different systems operating in one country, so they are forced to duck and dive to achieve that. It’s all about the CCP’s political view of itself. It doesn’t work for Beijing to rule directly, so it sets up a political party that is subordinate to the CCP and which is entirely under its direction. Actually, it’s a full-blown takeover of Hong Kong.

RFA: There are other pro-CCP parties in Hong Kong, including the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB), so why this one now?

Ching Cheong: The DAB has been in existence for nearly 30 years, and has had wasted considerable resources that Beijing poured into it, because it hasn’t managed to cultivate any decent political talent. Beijing has often been very disappointed by the pro-CCP faction in Hong Kong. I don’t think the [Hong Kong pro-Beijing faction] are really aware of the extent of the crisis yet. Rather than training them for many more years, Beijing would rather start over and train a new team. This is going to have a huge impact on the DAB and the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, but less so on the Federation of Trade Unions, because they already blindly follow Beijing’s lead.

The main thrust of this is that the DAB was formed about 30 years ago to govern Hong Kong with a middle-class base … but it has achieved nothing. The point of the Bauhinia Party is that it will target middle-class support for the CCP. The Bauhinia Party is designed to completely replace traditional centrist politics in Hong Kong.

RFA: Where does chief executive Carrie Lam fit in with all of this?

Ching Cheong: I think the fact that her work report to Beijing and her annual policy address were postponed by Beijing says a lot. Carrie Lam is really of no interest to them. She had already announced the time and date of her annual policy address, and then the central government told her she had to go to a meeting in mainland China instead. This shows that they really don’t care about her [political image], and just see her as someone to be be summoned on command. Then, she said she wanted to go to Beijing to brief them, but they made her wait to be told when to go. They just ignore her. Beijing may be thinking of not allowing her to be re-elected. The government showed some respect for [former chief executive] Tung Chee-hwa, but even if Lam is re-elected, she will only play a minor role.

RFA: So is this part of the CCP’s United Front strategy?

Ching Cheong: In the 1950s, the CCP had what it referred to as a “termite policy.” This meant that CCP members in Hong Kong and overseas were to work silently, like termites, which slowly eat very large trees until a critical point, when they fall down if you just push them. There are references to this “termite” strategy in top-level secret documents. Back in the 1950s, the CCP was trying to export revolutions to Hong Kong, to Southeast Asia and to Western countries, so it sent large numbers of party members to Hong Kong and overseas under-cover, working away like termites. That was [then premier] Zhou Enlai’s idea back in the day. They chomp away, undermining things, until the time is ripe for them to be shoved.

Beijing’s plan to export revolution hasn’t changed since then.