Press highlights 12 December 2016

Keywords: Judicial redress, Nie Shubin, property right protection, online fundraising, Luo Yixiao, disqualification of lawmakers, C.Y. Leung, Election for Chief Executive

China

 Politics and Law

 1. Redress of the court case of Nie Shubin who was wrongly convicted decades ago

In 1994, a 20-year-old boy Nie Shubin was charged with rape and murder of a girl called Kang Juhua in Hebei province. The police said he confessed to the crime and soon had him executed. In 2005, a suspect of another crime Wang Shujin confessed as the real murderer in the case of Kang Juhua. Subsequently, media reporters, Nie’s family and some lawyers joined together to apply for a review of Nie’s case in court, but they faced a number of obstacles, especially from people within the establishment. It was only until 2 years ago the Supreme People’s Court agreed to start the review procedure and recently this year handed down a verdict that gives justice to Nie by announcing him innocent.

  • //China’s Supreme Court on Friday exonerated a man who had been executed for murder in 1995, in a dramatic example of the inequities in the country’s legal system and the authorities’ halting attempts to come to grips with them. The man, Nie Shubin, was 20 when he was convicted of killing Kang Juhua, a woman who was raped and murdered in the northern province of Hebei in the summer of 1994. The local police arrested Mr. Nie soon after her body was found, and he confessed to the killing after days in detention. He was executed by gunshot in April 1995. In 2005, another man, Wang Shujin, confessed to murdering Ms. Kang. But it took Mr. Nie’s family 11 more years of campaigning to clear his name before the Supreme Court did so on Friday. The court ruled that there had not been enough evidence to convict Mr. Nie and cast doubt on the authenticity of his confession.// Source: New York Times, 02 December 2016.

When Wang Shujin confessed to the crime in Nie’s case, Nie’s family, media reporters, and lawyers tried to ask the court to review the case but of no avail:

  • //繼《河南商報》之後,最早介入調查、也是持續時間最長的《南方週末》記者趙凌回憶:「公檢法如鐵板一塊,很難突破。」在當年最初階段的採訪中, 她曾輾轉找到石家莊市中院院長秘書,被告知:「中院正抓緊調卷審查,同時和檢察院、公安機關正在溝通……一定會給大家一個結論。如果結論真是錯案,我們將按照最高法的錯案追究制度進行處理。」依據1998年中國最高人民法院的《錯案追究責任辦法》,一旦錯案成立,法院將依程度不同處理相關責任人:檢查、通報批評、紀律處分、司法處理都有可能。[…] 2007年7月31日,河北省高院進行了二審第一次開庭,不對公眾開放。開庭前,律師朱愛民見到王書金,告訴了他關於聶樹斌的消息。朱律師覺得,這應該是王書金第一次知道聶樹斌的事。王書金愣了幾秒,說: 「那不行,我幹的事,為啥放別人身上?」「我都認了,他們為啥不聽我的?」這兩個問題,王書金問了十幾年。在河北高院二審的庭上,他繼續對殺害康菊花供認不諱,並表示不想冤枉任何無辜者——他說,知道自己的懺悔不會改變死刑結果,但仍要上訴,是因為不想讓好人替自己背黑鍋。殺人犯王書金的堅持,令所有人驚訝和感動。[…] 見到律師時,王書金專門問起聶家的情況,還對自己一度被打得堅持不住就被迫改了口的行為有些懊悔:「朱律師,我實在挺不住了,沒事吧?」但是會見的最後,王書金說,不管自己是死是活,都要求法院實事求是。他告訴律師:「 我沒有翻供,也不會翻供!」// Source: The Initium, 10 December 2016.

 Some academics joined the effort of reviewing the case over the past decade but also of no avail:

  • //賀衞方,北京大學法學院教授,一直關注中國司法改革和死刑廢除問題的著名公共知識分子,從2005年就開始撰寫評論,呼籲徹底糾正聶案錯誤。此後的十幾年的日子裏,賀衞方形容自己:「關注聶樹斌案,沒事就為聶樹斌喊兩嗓子,用一切可能的方式在所有平台上討論和呼籲聶案的最終解決,成了我生活的一部分。」他在報紙上寫評論,網絡上寫博客,參加研討會,接受媒體採訪,並在每年的五六十場校園和公共講座上,用一切機會討論聶樹斌案。但2008年之後,賀衞方的個人際遇也逐年惡化,2013年以後,與幾乎所有大陸的自由派知識分子一樣,他的所有公共表達空間都萎縮到近似於無。另一位著名的法學界知識分子徐昕,從2012年起,他會在微博上每晚定點推送關於聶樹斌案的帖子。他有超過3000萬微博粉絲,那些關於聶案的帖子,累計被轉發60多萬次,直至2016年6月,確定聶案再審才停止。1200天的「每日一呼」, 徐昕自己在微博上寫:「經常感到絕望,不想再轉了,但總算堅持下來。」// Source: The Initium, 10 December 2016.

 The change of the provincial heads of Political-Legal Committee in Hubei Province after 2012 allowed the case to make a good turn:

  • //在最高法院,幾乎無人不知聶樹斌案,但是什麼力量讓案件如此陷入死寂?有熟悉中國政治格局的人,關注着與聶案有關的河北官場人士變動。1995至1998年河北省副省長、政法委書記是許永躍,聶案正是在他的主政時發生。他後來調任國家安全部,官至正部長,直至2007年8月被免職。消息人士透露,聶樹斌案的快審、快殺、甚至「必須殺」,和許主政時堅持「嚴打」有關。而2007年起,主政河北公安政法工作的張越,公安出身,在官場中有「河北王」之稱,並被認為與周本順、周永康關係密切。曾有媒體曝光,張越明確說過,只要自己在,「聶樹斌案就不能翻。」此時烏雲還未散去。等待中的張煥枝和律師們,從各級法院法官口中聽到最多的一句話就是:「再等等!」// Source: The Initium, 10 December 2016.
  • //But 10 years later, a man arrested for another crime, Wang Shujin, confessed to the murder that Nie was convicted of carrying out, creating a public outcry. The high court in Hebei then promised to review the case, but little progress was made for the next nine years despite repeated petitions by Nie’s family. They demanded a retrial to exonerate him. Legal scholars also condemned the court’s lack of action. The Supreme People’s Court finally instructed the Shandong Provincial Higher Court to review the controversial case two years ago. The Shandong court then recommended that the Supreme Court conduct a review after it found no adequate evidence showing that Nie had committed the crimes. The Supreme Court decided in June this year to review the case.// Source: SCMP, 02 December 2016.

Results of the case in 2016:

  • //A second circuit court in Liaoning province then ruled on Friday that the original conviction had been made based on “unclear facts” and a lack of evidence, overturning the initial verdict and finding Nie not guilty. It said the transcripts of Nie’s interrogation and other documentary evidence were missing, and the provincial court did not follow relevant standards when identifying evidences, which raise grave doubts over the authenticity of Nie’s confession. // Source: SCMP, 02 December 2016.
  • //Mr. Nie is not the first person to be posthumously exonerated by a Chinese court years after execution, but it is impossible to estimate how many have been wrongly put to death. […] Under President Xi Jinping, the government has been making efforts to overhaul the criminal justice system, with the overturning of wrongful convictions a key part of that effort. Prosecutors in China almost always secure a conviction, and confessions are often made under duress…The Hebei High Court, which had upheld Mr. Nie’s murder conviction, expressed “sincere apologies” to his parents Friday on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. The court promised to improve and said it would begin the process of awarding compensation to the parents.// Source: New York Times, 02 December 2016.

Prof. He Weifang from Peking University commented that the justice for Nie Shubin is just the first step. He called for the government to hold accountable the government officials who are involved in the case and responsible for the delay in bringing justice to the victim. Discussion should also be directed towards how to make the three institutions, namely, the public security, the procuratorate, and the judiciary check against each other to prevent another similar tragedy, and whether it is necessary to implement complete abolition of capital punishment.

  • //隨着聶案的平反,接下來必然會出現追究冤案責任人的問題。不過,司法責任的追究由於審委會這一制度的存在變得非常複雜,那就是,我們無法找到究竟誰是案件的判決者。從3個機構形成的3個主要環節說,如果今後調查發現有證據表明公安人員故意隱匿或銷毁有利於被告人的證據,導致錯案發生,那麼相關人員必須受到法律追究。如果是檢察院或法院對於這類證據視而不見,甚至參與了卷宗材料的隱匿或銷毁,那麼參與者也難逃追責。必須說,本次最高法院判決中的「不予採納」云云只是在平反聶樹斌案意義上的措辭,而不是針對今後可能的責任追究而言的。聶樹斌案從真兇出現到最終平反,歷經11年,其間媒體跟蹤報道、網絡全線關注,已經演為一場全國性的大事件。如今聶樹斌獲得平反,一些超越個案本身的問題已經顯示出來。如何在各個環節防範冤案的發生、一旦發現冤案怎樣的機制可以在最短時間內讓真相大白於天下、如何追究司法冤案的決策責任、怎樣增進三機關之間的相互制約、媒體在報道司法案件中如何做到更加客觀中立,所有這些,都是今後亟待解決的事項。另外,對於多起死刑案件的廣泛討論,也深化了國人對死刑問題的認識。在時下這樣特別容易出現冤案的體制下,是否應該徹底廢除死刑,已經成為一個特別緊迫的大問題。// Source: Ming Pao Daily, 13 December 2016.

William Nee from Amnesty International argued that the judicial redress is part of the effort for Xi Jinping to restore legitimacy in the judicial system. In one of a recent book published by Prof. He Jiahong from Remin University of China, he pointed out that the underlying reason for the many wrongful conviction to happen is the greater emphasis placed on fighting crime rather than protecting the rights of the accused in China, among other issues by the system. For a book review by Stanley Lubman, please refer to the No.4 issue of China Perspectives in 2016.

  • // ”To some extent, this shows the determination of the central leadership to genuinely address some unjust cases,” William Nee, a researcher for Amnesty International in Hong Kong, said Friday of Mr. Nie’s exoneration. “But the Chinese government also wants to ensure that it is seen by the public as redressing these emblematic cases of injustice, and thereby restore greater legitimacy for its troubled criminal justice system.”// Source: New York Times, 02 December 2016.

Prof. Susan Finder in one article on the Diplomat pointed out that the judicial system has been under reform under Xi Jinping in order to professionalize the courts as well as enhancing its autonomy while retaining it under the CCP leadership. For example, the Supreme People’s Court issued in October 2016 “Opinions on Advancing the Reform of Making Criminal Procedure System Trial-Centered” (in Chinese and in English translated by China Law Translate) towards this direction. Anthony Li from CEFC also wrote a current affairs article on China Perspectives that summarizes the background of legal reform under the Xi Administration and news analysis of the Beijing Government’s strategies to promote law-based governance with the enhanced autonomy of the judiciary.

A number of wrongly convicted cases have been unearthed after the fall of Zhou Yongkang as the head of the Central Political-legal Affairs Commission. Hong Kong-based commentator Ho Yik-man (何亦文) pointed out that Zhou’s directive to achieve 100% rate of file closure for murder cases for murder cases had led to the excessive use of forceful interrogation, and the set-up of pre-trial centre within the Public Security Bureau. Around October this year, the case of Liu Jiqiang (刘吉强) was redressed to acquit him from a murder charge. He now applied for monetary compensation for his 18 years of imprisonment. For details, please find a report on his case here by Hong Kong 01.

  • //1996年內地刑事訴訟法增加一項新規定——「疑罪從無」,與普通法中無罪推定的「疑點利益歸於被告」接近,這是司法制度的一項進步。未料周永康出任公安部長便提出「命案必破」,隨着他權力上升——中共政治局常委、中央政法委書記等大權在握,檢察院、法院都必須遵從「命案必破」的命令,加上「從速、從重、從嚴」的方式,法院、檢察院等於為公安「背書」,於是冤假錯案頻頻發生。劉吉強冤案之所以產生,另一個原因是刑訊迫供。連續七天七夜、150個小時連續審訊,虐待逼迫之下形成五份「有罪供述」。內地公安局有一個部門叫「預審處」。內蒙古呼格吉勒圖案改判無罪後,呼和浩特公安局預審處多名警官被追究,箇中原因就是蒙冤者當年在預審處屈打成招。// Source: Hong Kong 01, 07 October, 2016.

Economy

 2. New guidelines issued for property rights protection and discussion

In late November, the CCP and the State Council issued “The Guideline on Better Protection of Property Rights” in order to boost up investment confidence by private businesspeople and promote justice through the judiciary. The guidelines laid out 10 areas to better protect property rights, namely, 1) to strengthen the property rights protection of various ownerships by deepening the institutional reform on state-owned enterprises and to clarify the relationship between the owners of national assets and the agents who manage them as well as abolishing unreasonable barriers to participants of non-public economy, 2) to expedite the drafting of civil law that perfects the rights to property, contracts, intellectual property, 3) to properly handle property-related court cases carried from the past with an emphasis on rectification and to prevent wrongful convictions, 4) to deal with the property of businesspeople suspected of a crime in strict accordance with legal procedures, 5) to implement judicial policy which prudently and accurately handles disputes related to property rights and economic activities, 6) to honor business agreements with businesspeople and not to discard the agreements after the change of party cadres without compensation for the affected according to the law, 7) to perfect the legal system for the resumption of land and property-related assets and the system to compensate those affected, 8) to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights by increasing the effort of striking violations, 9) to perfect the many systems that increase the income of both urban and rural residents, and 10) to further promote the policy and legal measures to protect both public and private property rights respectively and equally in order to create an environment for property right protection. The document is groundbreaking in that it detailed many concrete ways to achieve this objective, and for the first time it emphasized this issue by the authority at the level of the State Council. For the details of the guideline, please find it here in Chinese by Xinhua.

  • //China on Sunday released a guideline on better protection of property rights in an effort to shore up social confidence and promote social justice. The country will provide equal, comprehensive and law-based protection to all kinds of property rights and encourage the participation of the public in the process, says the guideline issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council. Major problems concerning property rights must be solved to increase protection and build a long-term mechanism. Although China has worked to protect property rights, there are still many problems, including infringement on private property by public power and weak protection of intellectual property rights. Secure property rights “raise people’s sense of wealth security, boost social confidence, foster positive expectations and raise the impetus for entrepreneurship and innovation by various economic entities,” according to the document. Protection will also help social justice while maintaining healthy economic and social development. China will further clarify the relations between owners and managers of state-owned property, and push for equity diversification of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and modern corporate governance of those companies. SOEs should improve internal supervision, ensure their boards operate within the law and better supervise their managers, the document says.// Source: Xinhua, 27 November 2016.
  • //11月27日,《中共中央国务院关于完善产权保护制度依法保护产权的意见》正式全文公布,从十个方面对产权保护给与具体规定。如此高层次的单独全面地重申产权保护,也属首次。比如,《意见》明确,坚持权利平等、机会平等、规则平等,废除对非公有制经济各种形式的不合理规定,消除各种隐性壁垒,保证各种所有制经济依法平等使用生产要素、公开公平公正参与市场竞争、同等受到法律保护、共同履行社会责任。《意见》还提出妥善处理历史形成的产权案件,抓紧甄别纠正一批社会反映强烈的产权纠纷申诉案件,剖析一批侵害产权的案例。对于确属事实不清、证据不足、适用法律错误的错案冤案,要依法予以纠正并赔偿当事人的损失。《意见》要求,严格遵循法不溯及既往、罪刑法定、在新旧法之间从旧兼从轻等原则,以发展眼光客观看待和依法妥善处理改革开放以来各类企业特别是民营企业经营过程中存在的不规范问题。// Source: Caixin, 29 November 2016.

Commentators on the significance of the guideline:

Prof. Liu Zunhai (刘俊海) from Remin University of China argued that better legal protection of property right is beneficial to market economy as now the public has low confidence in this issue and they also feel anxious about creating more wealth or inheriting it to others. Members of Development and Reform Committee who explained the guideline also stressed the abuse of power by local governments that violate the legal right of property owners to be rectified by the judiciary.

  • //中国人民大学法学院教授刘俊海表示,产权保护是市场经济的起点和终点,目前,公众仍对自身财富的创造和传承存有一定焦虑感,对产权保护缺乏信心,为彻底消除焦虑感,增加安全感、获得感和幸福感,这一《意见》的出台很有必要。[…] “近年,有些地方在‘打黑’或者民事案件执法过程中,存在非法扣押、冻结、查封、处置、拍卖,有的甚至不拍卖,就直接贱卖,一名企业家坐牢,企业就走向破产之路。这是令人头疼的事,说明无罪推定等基本理念还未深入人心。”刘俊海说。[…] 发改委人士解读也提到,少数地方执法随意性大、行政干预司法、利用刑事手段干预一般经济纠纷、滥用强制措施、处置涉案财产时牵连合法财产等,这些行为导致企业特别是民营企业和企业主财产受到侵害。所以,要通过规范司法行为,使司法成为产权保护的有力保障。[…] 《意见》落地并非易事。纠偏冤假错案要看司法机关有没有勇气纠正过往的错误,有些地方政府的前任领导对外乱许诺,让现任领导背包袱,可能当地财力还有困难,新官不理旧账,怎么办?刘俊海认为,这都会遇到现实阻力,不过,新官必须理旧账,需要各方协调。// Source: Caixin, 29 November 2016.

Researcher at the Development Research Centre of the State Council Zhang Wenkui (张文魁) argued that the positive impact of the guideline on stimulating private investment to revive economic slowdown could not be ruled out, however, the long-term goal of the guideline lies in the promotion of law-based governance in dealing with property right cases. He contended that judicial precedent to uphold property rights is needed to honor the written words in the guideline.

  • //可能会有一些人认为,现在出台这份《意见》,是不是针对去年以来民间投资下滑、经济增长仍面临下行压力而采取的一项针对性措施?我认为,不排除产权保护措施的强化与完善会对当前和未来一段时期国民经济起到提振作用,但如果仅仅把这份意见理解为一场“及时雨”,那是短视的、功利的。[…] 《意见》清晰地指出了产权保护的根本方向,就是推进产权保护的法治化。尊重和保护财产权利,本来是一个社会常识,在很多时候也是一个社会习惯,许多拥有力量的个人、组织应该也明白产权保护对于经济社会长期发展和长期稳定的重要性。但是,为什么世界历史上会出现层出不穷、循环不已的践踏产权的破坏性场景呢?根本原因是没有实现法治。不实行法治,财产权利也有可能在一段时期里获得较好保护,但并不牢靠。[…] 我国出了很多文件,关于产权保护,也有不少文件作了必要的强调和论述,甚至宪法有了相应修改、物权法有了相应规定。但正如《意见》所说的那样,尽管我国基本形成了产权保护法律框架,全社会产权保护意识不断增强,保护力度不断加大,但我国产权保护仍然存在一些薄弱环节和问题,如国有产权由于所有者和代理人关系不够清晰,存在内部人控制、关联交易等导致国有资产流失的问题,利用公权力侵害私有产权、违法查封扣押冻结民营企业财产等现象时有发生,知识产权保护不力、侵权易发多发。我认为,不管发多少文件、发文件的级别有多高,如果现实中这些现象得不到及时有力纠正,就会严重伤害文件的可信度,就会严重伤害社会大众的信心,因为社会大众往往从具体事例而不是文件表述来判断政策、判断政府。从很多事实来看,判例的力量大于文件的力量。// Source: Caixin, 30 November 2016.

President of the China Chengxin Credit Rating Group as well as the Director for Institute of Economic Study at Remin University of China Mao Zhenhua (毛振华) contended that the guideline cannot solve all the problems related to the slowing down of private investment. On the one hand, industrial people and their families must be better guaranteed their personal safety, on the other hand, the state-owned enterprises should withdraw from certain markets. Also, he argued that the confidence of private entrepreneurs could be restored if some unfair cases before are actually redressed by the government.

  • //近期国务院出台了《关于完善产权保护制度依法保护产权的意见》。毛振华认为,这在一定程度上提振了民营企业信心,但也仅靠一份文件还解决不了全部问题。他认为,目前中国民营企业整体还相对较弱,具有全球影响的跨国企业不多。解决民营企业投资下滑需多措并举:一方面,进一步加强产权保护和民营企业家人身安全保护,另一方面,把国有企业的杠杆降下来,促进政府退出一些竞争市场。同时配合减税政策,不仅是企业经营发展上的减税,还要有投资上的减税,并建立合理的外汇预期,合理引导民营企业投资的国际化。最重要的是要加强产权的保护。”毛振华认为,政府可以对显失公平的遗留案件进行处理,对案件牵涉的官员给予处理,这会重振民营企业的信心。// Source: Caixin, 02 December 2016.

Hong Kong-based commentator Wang Xiangwei argued that the timing of the promulgation of the guideline is interesting amidst the economic slowdown, and pointed out that the guideline for the first time clearly addresses the “original sins” of businesspeople who engaged in illicit activities in building up their businesses, and suggests light or no punishment over this historical issue.

  • //The timing is certainly interesting as the guidelines were approved by a leading group on deepening reforms headed by President Xi Jinping (習近平) in August, but were released after a three-month delay. The guidelines come amid an economic slowdown in which the private sector, which contributes more than 60 per cent of China’s GDP growth and provides over 80 per cent of jobs, is undergoing one of its most lethargic phases. The economic headwinds, coupled with Xi’s tough anti-corruption campaign, which targets corrupt officials but often implicates entrepreneurs who are accused of bribing those officials, have heightened insecurity and anxiety among private businessmen, leading to a slump in investment sentiment and an outflow of capital. In a lengthy article published in People’s Daily, Wu hailed the guidelines as a landmark document and said thorough implementation would determine the success of China’s economic transformation. Indeed, the guidelines seek to directly address some of the long-standing issues haunting private businessmen. For instance, the document for the first time has tried to tackle the so-called “original sins”, which underpinned the rise of most of China’s private businesses in the initial years of reform and opening up. During this period private businessmen were forced to engage in illicit activities, such as issuing bribes to obtain bank loans or breaching regulations later considered outdated and rescinded. Even though many of those enterprises have since grown big and totally legitimate, those “original sins” have hung over the heads of entrepreneurs like the Sword of Damocles. There have been many cases in which local authorities brought up old scores to go after certain businesses, damping investment sentiment. The document calls for light punishment or no punishment over such historical issues, particularly those related to outdated laws and regulations. If thoroughly implemented, the guidelines should go some way to ease the concerns of many businessmen. In addition, the document stresses that law enforcement officials should take a prudential attitude towards freezing and auctioning property that belongs to private businesses suspected of unlawful behaviour. In a press conference on Tuesday, a Supreme People’s Court official said concrete measures would be taken to address currently prevalent practices in which enterprises under investigation had their assets and bank accounts frozen – often making them impossible to operate – even in cases where the severity of the allegations need not warrant such action. More intriguingly, the document emphasises that efforts must be made to right misjudged or unjust court decisions involving disputes over large amounts of property and compensation should be granted to wronged parties. In particular, it says judicial authorities should screen and correct cases in which there were doubts and that had produced “social implications”.// Source: SCMP, 04 December 2016.

The 2nd Generation of rich people, despite the property right issue, may not be competent or willing to take up the business they inherit from their families:

  • //「如果我兒子不接班,我這輩子不是白忙活了嗎?」一位在長三角地區經營閥門製造工廠的企業家對端傳媒記者表示。他的獨生子在英國利物浦念大學三年級,工商管理專業,是他給選的。每年假期,兒子都按照他的指示回國,跟着他「攏賬」,學習如何經營家族工廠。他出資百萬人民幣購置一輛奔馳S系轎車送給兒子作為獎勵,卻沒有選擇兒子中意的保時捷跑車,因為「做生意的人要看起來穩重」。成功不單是財富登頂,更重要的是後繼有人,這是這位身家近十億的上市公司老闆內心永遠無法被撼動的觀念。而代價就是,個人利益要服從家族利益,這些富豪子女不是獨立的個體,他們註定成為延續家族使命的執行者。這源於中國傳統家庭對於「血統」的重視。《金融時報》曾報導,中國企業家最看重「忠誠」,也就是「忠於我」,「如果這個人不忠誠,能力越高越危險」,因此他們寧願「信任有血緣關係的人」。但是,他們的子女大多是獨生子女,只能從「1」中選「1」。2003年,山西首富、海鑫鋼鐵集團董事長李海倉突遭槍殺,兒子李兆會當時正在澳大利亞讀大學,只有20歲出頭,爺爺堅持讓他回國。李兆會臨危受命,接手價值60個億資產的家族企業,卻在10年內敗光,目前仍然負債130億,成為近年來中國企業界最令人咋舌的消息之一。範博宏是香港中文大學經濟及金融研究所主任,他曾對1987年至2005年在香港、新加坡和台灣上市的超過200家家族企業的交接進行分析,發現家族企業在兩代人交接期間會「喪失近60%的價值」。而目前中國的民營企業家撐起了中國經濟的半壁江山,他們每年創造超過五成的國家税收,提供了約75%的城鎮就業機會,範博宏曾公開表示,「就中國而言,事實上存在國家風險,這方面的教育需求巨大。」「傳承問題超過了企業家們在過去創業過程中九死一生的各種困難,」陳婷說,「他們很多人在嘗試讓孩子接班,發現或者接不住,或者根本不願意接。」[…] 政商關係也讓他們感覺到頭痛,很難做到「審時度勢、敏感睿智」。「上一代企業家有相當一部分人,並不是因為自己能力強而成功,是因為自己很會尋租。」前文提到的中國民營企業研究人士解釋,「鄧小平說『黑貓白貓,抓住老鼠就是好貓』,那是那個年代國家的大政方針」,在法律和商業制度尚不完善的時期,企業家做過「很多碰線的事情」,從而「完成了原始積累」。王大騏身邊的富二代朋友,都極其厭煩與政府官員應酬,尤其是「一個晚上喝了三斤酒,喝完之後正事沒談」。他們普遍認為那是「踐踏尊嚴」、「浪費生命」。特別是那些擁有海外生活經歷的「富二代」,他們已形成了公民作為納税人擁有基本權利的觀念,卻心寒發現,政府並沒有把自己擺在服務人民的位置,企業家面對官員,「更像是哀求」。富二代們站在「巨人的肩膀上」,看似道路寬廣,卻對如何開闢新路產生困惑。// Source: The Initium, 25 November 2016.

Society

3. Online crowdfunding for a 5-year-old girl by her father raised concerns about fraud in the name of charity

In late November, the father of Luo Yixiao (罗一笑), a 5-year-old girl who is suffering from leukemia, Luo Er (罗尔) published an article “Luo Yixiao, stay standing for me” (《羅一笑,你給我站住》) which discussed the medical condition of his daughter as well as attracting “tipping” (打賞) from many Chinese netizens on Wechat. He also collaborated with his friend who operated a P2P company Xiaotongren (小铜人) to initiate a crowdfunding campaign where the P2P company would donate one dollar per one share of the Luo’s article. In a few days, the article has been read by 100 million netizens and the donation amount soon reached over 200 million RMB. However, the incident also caused netizens to doubt the authenticity of the whole crowdfunding campaign. On 01 December, the Shenzhen Police intervened into the case in light of the mounting public discussion. On the same date, the bureau of civil affairs of Shenzhen, Luo Er, his friend who owns the P2P company and representatives of Tencent announced an agreement which was to return the donation raised through Wechat accounts to donors. For the detailed timeline, please find it here by Tencent.

  • //A man in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen has raised nearly $400,000 for his daughter, who is suffering from leukemia, via WeChat, China’s most popular messaging app. He is now under investigation by local authorities, because the amount far exceeds the cost of her treatment in China. On Nov. 25, writer Luo Er published an article about his five-year-old daughter’s sickness. The article, titled “Luo Yixiao, stay standing for me,” is mostly written as a father’s monologue (link in Chinese). “If you don’t come home obediently, even if you are an angel, even if you get to heaven, and someday I see you in heaven, dad will ignore you!” the article says in an apparent attempt to chide her not to die. The article went viral on WeChat this week, attracting over 100,000 views as well as likes—the biggest number the app displays. More than 110,000 people rewarded Luo on the post through WeChat’s tipping function, which allows users to give complete strangers money from their online wallets. On Dec. 1, clicking the tip button under Luo’s post sends users to a page saying that the author has reached the limit of the amount of money he can receive. The huge amount of money raised by Luo is attracting some controversy. On Nov. 30, Luo announced (link in Chinese) through his friend’s peer-to-peer lending company that he had raised 2.7 million yuan ($390,000) from WeChat users. He raised the money via two articles, the one posted by Luo and another posted by the company, Beijing-based Xiaotongren. Luo’s personal post doesn’t ask for money, but the one on Xiaotongren promises to donate money to Luo if users share its article. […] Some internet users now say they think the campaign may be a marketing exercise or even a downright fraud. […] Luo’s family lives on his 4,000 yuan monthly salary from his magazine job, he told Chinese media (link in Chinese). He also owns three apartments worth more than one million yuan. But Luo said he cannot sell them to raise money for his daughter’s treatment yet because he’s still paying off the mortgages. […] Liu Xiafeng, head of the P2P company that helped Luo raise money, dismissed the idea (link in Chinese) that the campaign was a marketing strategy. On Dec. 1, Liu and Luo said in a statement (link in Chinese) that they will use all the donation to launch a leukemia foundation, and later apply money for Luo’s daughter’s treatment from the foundation “through legal means.” Still, China’s netizens aren’t convinced. “Only kids are innocent, only kids,” one internet user commented under a WeChat post (link in Chinese) about the incident. On the afternoon of Dec. 1, WeChat announced (link in Chinese) that it will return all the money raised to donors in three days, after reaching a consensus with Luo, Liu and the Shenzhen civil affairs authority.// Source: Quartz, 01 December 2016.
  • //今年9月8日,他5歲的女兒羅一笑查出白血病,羅爾開始在微信公眾號上記錄一家人與白血病「戰鬥」的歷程。文章發到朋友圈後,大家慷慨解囊,為笑笑最初的醫療費提供了保證。「我的公眾號關注者也逐日上升,突破了一千,又突破了兩千。文章讚賞金也收穫頗豐,到9月21日,關於笑笑的幾篇文章讚賞金已達32800元」。經過兩個多月的治療,眼看笑笑的病情一步步得到控制,沒想到卻在本月不幸被感染,病情轉危。23日,笑笑病危,住進重症監護室。每天上萬的花費讓羅爾第一次感到了恐慌。經過反覆思考,羅爾最終選擇了網絡籌款的方式。後來1125日,這篇名為《羅一笑,你給我站住》的文章,逐漸刷爆朋友圈。1130日早晨,封面新聞(thecover.cn)記者點擊該文的打賞鍵,被提醒打賞金額已達上限。據瞭解,一篇微信文章的打賞金額上限為5萬元/天。封面新聞記者同時注意到,1130日早上750分,該微信公眾號發佈最新文章,羅爾在文中表示——感謝朋友們對小女羅一笑的關愛和支持,目前為止,笑笑所需要的醫療費已經足夠,請停止公眾號讚賞和其他捐助,為笑笑祝福。此前,在羅爾的微信公眾號中,提到他曾與朋友討論如何為笑笑籌集醫療費。「我們商量的結果是,由俠風整合我為笑笑寫的系列文章,在小銅人的公眾號P2P觀察裡推送,讀者每轉發一次,小銅人給笑笑一塊錢,文章同時開設讚賞功能,讚賞金全部歸笑笑。」如今,這一做法被指「炒作」。有網友報料稱:「關於《羅一笑,你給我站住》一文,與作者羅爾同在深圳女報的朋友Po了真相,此事有人在背後做營銷(營銷人是小銅人,出版界)。」//Source: Wen Wai Po, 30 November 2016.
  • //然而事件的发展在这时发生了反转:有知情人士爆料,罗一笑的治疗费用并没有罗尔声称的那么高,而且”社保基本可以报销80%以上,到目前为止…自费大概2万”。对于罗尔而言,情况急转直下。这个故事从温馨催泪的”父亲为爱女筹集善款”变成了受众人口诛笔伐的”彻头彻尾营销事件”。罗尔被谴责为”卑鄙媒体人”、”消费大众的善良”,并有人爆料称他坐拥三套房产。当这些所谓的内幕”被爆出后,很多人的爱心感动变成了深感善良被消费、感情被欺骗后的愤怒。”父亲罗尔,请用你自己的钱给你的孩子治病”、”罗尔,你给我站住”、”当事件被揭穿,再伟大的父爱也变得丑陋不堪”……很快,这些标题充斥社交媒体和朋友圈。// Source: Deustche Welle, 30 November 2016.

The controversy raised a discussion on the activities of online fundraising and the verification of online information authenticity by a third party which can enhance public trust in online donation and prevent fraud from happening. Over the past few years, many online fundraising platforms have been established for charitable organizations in China to raise funds for various projects. Despite greater transparency of these platforms, the lack of sufficient oversight over donation remains an issue for long-term accountability (see an article by Emily Weaver from Asia Foundation in 2014 and a report on these platform by China Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2014). Meanwhile, the new mode of fundraising at the interpersonal level through social media becomes popular as an option for individuals to raise fund, but it cannot resolve the issue of potential fraud in the name of charity. Prof. Gu Xijin from Tsinghua University pointed out that the fundraising method in the case of Luo Er is not covered by the existing Charity Law of China, and it may not help the development of the charitable fundraising in China towards a rational, systemic, and sustainable direction.

  • //中国慈善联合会发布的报告显示,2015年我国个人捐赠达到30亿元,其中,个人小额捐赠(单笔金额在人民币1万元以下)的总额从2014年的58.6亿元上升到75亿元。而国内主要网络捐赠平台共筹款9.66亿元,较2014年增长127.29%。然而,快速增长的网络慈善却常常“遇人不淑”。去年6、7月间,4岁南京重病女孩柯某获648万余元捐款,但其父母却被质疑滥用捐款,有数十名网友以涉嫌“诈捐”的名义报案,要求返还善款。[…] “按照慈善法的规定,个人进行公开慈善募捐,应当与慈善组织合作。”清华大学公共管理学院副教授贾西津说,个人和不具有慈善资质的公司在自己的平台上发布具体个人的求助信息属于“个人求助”,而非慈善法规定的慈善募捐,法律并不禁止个人求助。中国劳动关系学院教授杨思斌则认为,个人求助是在有限空间内进行的私人行为,但是通过互联网公众号转发就带有了公共性而“罗尔事件”中小铜人金融服务有限公司并非慈善组织,本身没有公开募捐资格,该公司的行为是否属于“不具备公开募捐资格的组织或者个人开展公开募捐”,要由执法部门根据事实来认定。“罗尔事件”之所以遭遇舆论围剿,是由于部分重要信息未向公众披露。互联网时代,网络慈善最怕信息失实失真。记者梳理近年来网络上出现的多个网络募捐热点事件发现,舆论都在聚焦信息的真实性。信息披露不充分。比如“罗尔事件”中,罗尔只提及女儿的遭遇、妻子长期没有工作、父亲得重病等信息内容,而未披露其家庭有房有车,以及白血病女儿的治疗费用情况。无中生有说假话。去年8月,广西防城港市一女子利用天津滨海新区爆炸事件,谎称家人遇难,不仅骗取了数千网民同情,还诈骗近10万元捐款。 部分真实但“借鸡生蛋”。去年10月,安徽利辛女子李某自称下班路上为救女童而被恶犬咬成重伤,收到数十万善款。后经调查,李娟其实是在男友的狗场被咬伤的。从“见义勇为”到“骗捐善款”,舆论哗然。家有难事向社会求助无可非议,但前提是信息披露必须真实。广东融方律师事务所律师吕胜柱说,“罗尔事件”表面上看是信息不对称、沟通不畅通等问题,实则暴露了现有募捐体系缺乏必要的信息证实机制,仍待规范。艾瑞咨询分析师李超认为,网络募捐突破了传统募捐的时空限制,传播快、影响大、互动强、效率高,可及时有效地为受助者排忧解难。但网络的虚拟性和开放性使得募捐信息真假难辨,这就需要提供空间服务的网络平台具有较高的甄别募捐信息真伪的能力,在信息发布前进行核实验证,让受捐者尽量披露更多的个人真实信息资料,并及时公布资金的使用情况。吕胜柱表示,根据国家网信办2015年发布的《互联网用户账号名称管理规定》的相关条款,平台要对用户实行实名制管理,如果网络平台出现诈骗、诽谤等事故,平台如未能提供溯源用户的实名信息,要承担相应责任。随着网络募捐的普及与社会慈善需求的扩大,募捐平台的数量也将越来越多。对于网络募捐平台的管理,宜从事前逐步发展到事中事后监管,比如对于网络募捐的信息公开与操作规范制定硬性要求,对接公众的知情权与监督权。[…] 今年慈善法实行后,民政部通过了首批13家慈善互联网募捐平台。在不少法律界专家看来,13家“正规军”之外,不少带有慈善筹款性质的网络互助平台,以及利用微信朋友圈、网络论坛等形式发起的“个人求助”行为等,均面临资金监管公信力缺乏的问题。记者调查发现,不少类似案例共同点是“个人求助”者发布信息后,常利用个人账户接收善款,在缺乏第三方监督制约的情况下,即使求助的情况如病情属实,也可能面临质疑。近年来,发展迅速的网络互助平台也面临这样的尴尬:资金善款流向缺乏公信力的第三方监管。在当前行业仍缺乏监管细则的情况下,不少网络互助平台的资金监管常受到网友质疑。// Source: Beijing Times, 04 December 2016.

Commentator Chen Hui (陈辉) from The Paper argued that the Luo Er Incident started with netizens’ passion for charity but ended with Luo Er’s return of donation to them because the way of fundraising he used on the Internet that did not clearly separate the line between the company’s benefits and charity in the context of limited trust of netizens in information authenticity on the Internet:

  • //我们有理由相信,各方都是出于善意在做这件事,但为何如此结局?当下,我们最应该做的,不是揣测人们行为背后的动机是否纯正,而是反思“互联网+”慈善模式的性质,特别是与先前发生的“轻松筹”捐款门事件相比,罗尔筹款事件有何特殊性。正是这些特性,使“互联网+”慈善严重走了样。[…] 罗尔筹款事件的最大意义可能在于,它向我们展示了“互联网+”慈善模式新的样态,一种不同于“轻松筹”的网络筹款模式。轻松筹”模式的善款来自于网友的直接捐助,主要利用朋友圈的关系连带来增加筹款效应。围绕着同乡、同学、同事等强关系或弱关系的连带来实现慈善行为的社会动员。“轻松筹”模式中,转发行为只是扩散筹款信息,并非直接形成捐助。相反,罗尔筹款模式中,因为平台承诺“转发一次,捐助一元”,这个规则极大增强了信息的传播效应。网民不仅可以直接向受捐助人“打赏”,还可以通过“转发”来间接捐款。在“打赏”和“转发”的双重作用下,筹款过程获得了极其巨大的当量。至关重要的是,“罗尔筹款”模式具有较强的资本运作色彩。“轻松筹”平台的赢利来自于项目手续费,此时资本主要在后台,重心是打造和运作平台,不过度参与推送过程。罗尔筹款却不同,平台通过设立规则积极参与推送过程,达到推送公众号的目标。 […] 世界不是平的,互联网也不是平的。“互联网+”慈善模式,表面上为大众找到了表达恻隐之心的便捷入口,但却带来了新的慈善困境。不仅仅是信息失真和诚信问题,还有隐藏在筹款模式背后的资本运作和精英主义。在互联网+这个慈善平台上,精英比大众有更强的动员能力。[…] 资本运作,进一步放大了“互联网+”慈善模式的弊端。慈善不是一门生意,爱心同样不能被营销。赢利增值,这是资本的本性。所以,理想的慈善模式一定要划清资本和慈善的界限。一旦“互联网+”筹款模式成为资本谋利的工具,就会极大削弱网络筹款的公益性质。也正是从这个角度说,罗尔筹款事件中,大部分网民从施善者变成了怀疑者、犹豫者和愤怒者。一次次网络筹款事件表明,当代中国蕴含着巨大的慈善能量,互联网+慈善模式也有一定的发展潜力,关键问题是如何规范化。对此,既不能寄托于大众,亦不能对精英和资本抱有幻想,只能依靠政府的规范和引导,确保互联网慈善模式的公益性质。// Source: The Paper, 02 December 2016.
  • //精準到個人的移動社交網絡、簡化成指尖一下點觸的「無重」支付模式、由人際信賴和口碑加持的傳播機制,讓像羅爾事件這樣的個人社媒募捐行動愈發常見,但募捐與營銷、行善與被騙的界線,在這個場景裏變得更加模糊,最終很可能演化成「誰會講故事,有營銷能力,誰將能獲得更多的關注和更多募捐,」清華大學NGO 研究所副所長賈西津對端傳媒說,「但這並不有利於整個公益體系朝著理性、系統性、可持續的發展。」[…] 越來越多的網絡眾籌平台也做起了公益眾籌。在這些眾籌網站上,只要備齊相關證明就可以發起項目,不但手續簡單,而且募款速度非常快,當中也不乏像羅爾這樣,籌集醫藥費的案例。以內地知名社交眾籌平台「輕松籌」為例,平台2014年9月成立,今年9月成為首批13家獲得民政部認可資質的慈善組織互聯網募捐信息平台之 一,10月宣布註冊用戶超過1億。「輕松籌」有100多萬個各類籌款項目,支持次數達到2億多次,僅今年上半年就發起了4萬多個大病救助類項目。平台還設 立了類似保險的「微愛大病互助行動」,12月4日,平台網站顯示已有超過446萬人加入,總金額達到4975萬4702元。類似「輕松籌」這樣的平台給了更多個案求助的機會,在王真真看來這個口子是有必要的,「讓個人在茫茫大海里發出求救信號」,北京大學非營利組織法研究中心主任金錦萍也指出,互聯網讓原來單線擴散的個人救助發生質的變化,影響範圍從個人周邊大大擴張了。// Source: The Initium, 05 December 2016.

Hong Kong


Politics

 1. Hong Kong Government initiated judicial review to disqualify four additional lawmakers

After the appeal court judges upheld the verdict about the disqualification of two pro-independence lawmakers, the Hong Kong Government recently announced to file judicial review against four additional lawmakers on the same ground:

  • //Hong Kong’s government drastically escalated a dispute over lawmakers’ oaths of office on Friday, asking a court to disqualify four additional legislators, after an extraordinary intervention last month by Beijing led to the removal of two pro-independence politicians. The pro-Beijing government of Hong Kong filed papers in court arguing that the four lawmakers were ineligible to serve in the 70-member Legislative Council because they had failed to deliver their oaths as set out in Hong Kong law that was strictly prescribed by the National People’s Congress in China early last month, the government said in a statement. A ruling in favor of the government could decimate the ranks of pro-democracy lawmakers and would defy the will of the voters. It could also constitute a drastic breach of the principle of “one country, two systems,” which has allowed this former British colony to maintain a considerable degree of autonomy since Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997. That autonomy includes civil liberties like freedom of speech, an independent court system and a legislature in which half the seats are filled through popular elections. “This is a coup, it’s a challenge to voters’ choice,” James To, a veteran Democratic Party legislator, said at a protest outside the legislature building immediately after the announcement. “This is the greatest challenge Hong Kong has ever faced.”// Source: New York Times, 02 December 2016.
  • //The government announced on Friday that it had “commenced legal proceedings” against veteran activist “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, former Occupy student leader Nathan Law Kwun-chung, academic Edward Yiu Chung-yim and lecturer Lau Siu-lai, asking the High Court to declare their oaths invalid and their Legco seats vacant. None of them have advocated Hong Kong independence, although Law and Lau have called for self-determination. […] Leung Kowk-hung, Law and Lau, along with disqualified pair Yau and Baggio Leung, won a combined 183,236 votes in September’s elections in the geographical constituency. Yiu, who represents the architectural and surveying functional constituency, bagged 2,491 votes. If all three lost their seats, their camp would no longer keep its 17-16 majority in the constituency, which is necessary for them to vote down motions they oppose. […] Law raised his intonation when saying the word “Republic” in “People’s Republic of China”, as if asking a question. Yiu inserted this sentence in his oath: “I will uphold procedural justice in Hong Kong, fight for genuine universal suffrage and serve the city’s sustainable development”. Lau paused for six seconds between every word of her oath. She later wrote on Facebook that she had meant to render the statement “meaningless”. […] Chinese University political scientist Ma Ngok said it was confusing what signal Beijing was trying to send. “Two days ago it was trying to create harmony and decided to let some pan-democrats get back their home-return permits, but now it is seeing Leung suing them,” he said. “It leaves one wonder if Beijing is losing control of Hong Kong.” University of Hong Kong legal scholar Eric Cheung Tat-ming questioned whether the government had paid proper regard to the fact that the four lawmakers had been chosen by their respective constituencies in free and fair elections. “These lawsuits will also make Hong Kong a laughing stock in the international community,” Cheung said.//Source: SCMP, 03 December 2016.
  • //In quashing the appeal by Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, who swore allegiance to a “Hong Kong nation” when taking their oaths last month, the three Court of Appeal judges unanimously confirmed the applicability of Beijing’s “true and proper” interpretation of the Basic Law. “[The Basic Law] must mean that taking the oath is a prerequisite and precondition to the assumption of office,” the judgment read. “All this is now put beyond doubt by the interpretation.” […] Unlike the lower court, which ruled that Yau and Leung would have been disqualified “with or without” the interpretation, the appeal judges were noticeably more reliant on Beijing’s input. “The interpretation, by definition, sets out the true and proper meaning of article 104 from day one,” the judgment read, referring to the Basic Law provision on oath taking. By this, the court also dismissed the argument that the interpretation had affected the two lawmakers retrospectively.// Source: SCMP, 30 November 2016.

The competition for the position of CE among incumbent government officials complicated the motive behind the government’s action alongside with the many judicial review cases against similar lawmakers by the member of the public:

  • //Michael Tien, a pro-Beijing lawmaker who is also a member of the National People’s Congress, effectively a rubber-stamp Parliament, said in a text message Friday evening that it was his understanding that Beijing wanted to remove only Ms. Yau, Sixtus Leung and Ms. Lau, who had already been named by the government as a likely target. Tien said he suspected that the move against the three lawmakers was a way for the city’s top official, Leung Chun-ying, to burnish his credentials with Beijing before next year’s selection process for chief executive, his post. Mr. Leung can seek a second five-year term. Mr. Law echoed that sentiment. “This is so nakedly C. Y. Leung’s political operation, trying to overturn the election results in September, and part of his re-election campaign to prove his loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party with his heavy-handed governance,” he told reporters at the protest on Friday evening.// Source: New York Times, 02 December 2016.

 2. Zhang Dejiang meets with representatives of a pro-Beijing group “Silent Majority” in Hong Kong

The high level of reception for the pro-Beijing group “Silent Majority Hong Kong” by the President of NPCSC Zhang Dejiang surprised many local observers:

  • //Senior Chinese official Zhang Dejiang has praised the efforts of outspoken pro-Beijing activist and former journalist Robert Chow Yung, who campaigns against Hong Kong independence. “Our Hong Kong compatriots should see through the nature of Hong Kong independence and strongly resist the movement as it will bring calamity to the country and the people,” Zhang said. […] Zhang made the remarks on Tuesday as he met members of the “Silent Majority” group in Beijing. The group, led by Chow, was established in 2013 to counter the pro-democracy Occupy Central campaign initiated by HKU law professor Benny Tai. Silent Majority now runs a popular Facebook page focusing on current affairs written from a pro-government and pro-Beijing angle. Zhang said he heard about the group a long time ago despite having never met its members. He commended the group for allowing “the majority of Hong Kong people to express their opinions” and “spreading positive energy.” […] “In particular, this platform reflects the opinion of the majority that embraces stability, the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ policy, and the Basic Law,” Zhang said. He added that the Chinese government is committed to protecting Hong Kong’s economic prosperity and social stability.// Source: Hong Kong Free Press, 29 November 2016.

At the same time, Chow announced that the central authority will allow some of the pro-democracy figures to apply for the Return Entry Permit which has been unavailable for them for years. The unofficial announcement was made in the front of the press even before the Hong Kong Government was noticed about the action by the Central Government.

  • //纏繞多年的民主派回鄉證問題,中央昨最終「開綠燈」,不過就由訪京的「幫港出聲」召集人周融在會見港澳辦主任王光亞後,代中國官方「宣布」,指中央主管部門同意沒有回鄉證「反對派」人士可申請證件進入內地。而主張港獨者亦可申請,但周指未必獲批。一直稱沒有聽聞消息的港府,反而其後才接獲內地部門通知,至昨晚才發聲明指確認說法。[…] 了解北京想法的消息人士分析,今次中央舉動主要為民主派「鬆綁」,避免他們走往「港獨」一邊。至於內地會否讓泛民議員組團北上,他指短期內機會不高,因臨近特首選舉,若內地招手,反而泛民的壓力更大,「還是泛民個別人士按自己需要和興趣,申請證件自行回內地較佳」。// Source: Ming Pao Daily, 01 December 2016.

The vice-president of National Association of Study on Hong Kong and Macau Lau Siu-kai pointed out that such unprecedented meeting sent a strong message to Hong Kong that the CCP leaders are very much concerned about Hong Kong independence:

  • //Scholar Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of Beijing’s top think tank on Hong Kong, said that Zhang’s high-profile meeting with Chow and his group was meant to demonstrate to Hong Kong people that the Beijing takes a strong stance against independence advocacy. “It is prepared to fight to the death with independence advocates,” Lau said. He added that the Chinese government will likely have other measures to crack down on the pro-independence camp if it becomes too vocal again.”// Source: Hong Kong Free Press, 30 November 2016.

Prof. Chung Kim-wah from Polytechnic University of Hong Kong drew a parallel between the group “Silent Majority Hong Kong” and the Boxer Group (Yihetuan) of Qing Dynasty to illustrate the position and function of the group within the pro-establishment camp, and argued that the reception aimed to show the hawkish approach of Zhang Dejiang towards Hong Kong:

  • //全國人大委員長張德江竟然於人民大會堂,親自接見周融為首的那個親建制組織「幫港出聲」,這就連部分建制中人也感到意外。「幫港出聲」與「愛」字頭那幾個團體,其實都只可以說是愛國建制陣營中的外圍組織,而且因為言論過火、行為出軌、論政質素薄弱,可以說是親建制陣營中的嘍囉級數派別。有時用作搞局挑機尚且可以,要登大雅之堂一向都沒他們的份兒。傳統左派土共,一方面有時會用得着他們,另一方面也要與他們保持距離。基本策略是由他們做一些 dirty jobs,但卻要盡量避免與他們混在一起,不能讓這一類組織的出位行徑影響自己。另一些更精英心態的建制工商專業界別,對這些嘍囉就更是敬而遠之了。到了分政治餅仔之時,例如選舉要協調、或分派一些政治崗位的時候,都不一定會預他們一份。不過,這次張德江親自高規格接見,顯示了中央治港系統中的鷹派,仍然有力主導着北京的對港策略。而且還要透過高規格接待他們,來展示這種鷹派作風。事實上,這一種以出位言行來吸引主子眼球的建制嘍囉組織,在中國人的歷史上一直都存在。清末的「義和團」便是一個最典型的例子。[…] 今天中央領導竟然會高調接見這一個檔次的愛國團體,水平就跟慈禧太后接見義和團的大師兄一樣。這樣的做法,可以推動更多香港人誠心誠意地熱愛祖國嗎?相信適得其反的可能性會更高。至於他們這個組織受到北京領導人鼓勵和高度讚揚之後,會不會進一步把他們的「反智愛國」行徑推向另一個更低的境界,能否如張德江委員長所願,「為更多香港沉默的大多數市民發聲」,還是繼續令「愛國愛港」變得更反智低俗,這看來也會是未來一段時間內最有看頭的一個懸念。// Source: Hong Kong 01, 30 November 2016.

Hong Kong-based political commentator Johnny Lau argued that the meeting with “Silent Majority Hong Kong” is to show the leaders’ high level of cautions about Hong Kong independence, and the central Government’s heavy-handed policy towards Hong Kong does not seem to change despite its olive branch to the opposition individuals in Hong Kong:

  • //[H]owever, political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu argued that Beijing’s move would backfire: “If Beijing takes inappropriate measures, it will lead to a backlash not because people support independence, but because they want to resist the government’s clampdown. They may sympathise with the oppressed,” he said. Lau believed that Zhang’s “unprecedented” meeting with a non-traditional pro-Beijing group sends a clear message that the Communist Party is concerned about the rise of Hong Kong independence. “It reflects that Beijing considers suppressing pro-independence voices to be a priority,” he said. “Beijing is very fearful of the so-called Hong Kong independence movement. It worries that if the movement continues to grow, it will unite the pro-independence forces in Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet.// Source: Hong Kong Free Press, 30 November 2016.
  • //正當北京通過全國人大釋法,趁着「宣誓風波」收緊香港的政治空間之際,忽然透過「幫港出聲」放風,指「反對派」可以申請回鄉證。從好的角度看,這是一個好消息,也是泛民爭取多時的政策。北京如能放寬這種無理的限制,將有助緩和眼前的緊張氣氛,我一直樂觀其成。不過,北京在此時放出這個消息,而且是透過緊跟中央的團體放風,官方卻迴避了直面公眾,難免令人感到官方的行動背後是否另有盤算,懷疑放寬申請回鄉證只是一種策略性的調整,而不是政策性的改變。這到底是魚餌?還是代表官方是真正的醒悟?也許有人會認為這些想法都是狹隘的陰謀論,只懂從反面或負面的角度看問題,不理解「中央的寬鬆政策」。不過,如果大家多點了解過去的一些事情,就明白上述看法不是無中生有的。今天這種互不信任的狀況,日後能否改變?還要看雙方的互動,更重要的是看官方是否真的寬鬆、寬鬆的行動能否持續,因為官方擁有公權力和主動權。眾所周知,北京與泛民關係破裂,主要源於「六四」的血腥鎮壓。其後,不少有心人嘗試為雙方修補關係。據我不少香港和內地的圈中人表示,這些有心人多數不是官員,因為他們身在官場,不敢倒捏龍麟,只會明哲保身,附和北京。[…] 北京朋友還說,高層總認為「壓了再說」的做法「不是問題」,也「不會有問題」,「有什麼問題共產黨也可以頂得住」。就是這種心態,導致「不管你,不管理」的思維。所謂「不管你」,是指不再理會你們香港人的主流民意;所謂「不管理」,是指「中央說了那麼多道理,香港人總是不明白,所以也不求你們明白中央的道理,讓港府和建制派按中央指示幹吧。」這說明今天的北京高層對鄧小平所說的「一國兩制」內涵已失去耐性,只按今天的政治需要行事。上有好者,下有甚焉,「現代義和團」就此而生。了解上述事例後,再看現在北京讓民主派申請回鄉證的問題,就可以理解為何泛民的反應如此冷淡了。// Source: The Initium, 05 December 2016.

3.  CY Leung announced not to run for the second term of Chief Executive

Despite many speculations about his intention to run for the second term, the incumbent Chief Executive of Hong Kong C. Y. Leung announced he was not going to seek for re-election in the next CE election.

  • //Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has announced he will not seek re-election in order that he may take care of his family. His daughter Chai-yan is rumoured to be receiving treatment at Prince of Wales hospital. “It was my own decision. As a husband, as a father, I have a responsibility to take care of my family,” he told reporters at a surprise press conference on Friday. “My daughter only has one father, my wife only has one husband.”// Source: Hong Kong Free Press, 09 December 2016.
  • //The agency overseeing Hong Kong affairs under China’s State Council has praised Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s contribution to the stability of the city after he announced that he will not run for re-election in March. “Everyone in Hong Kong can see the central authorities including the top leaders of the country have been very supportive of my work all these years,” he said. In a statement posted shortly after Leung’s announcement, a spokesperson from the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council said it was deeply sorry that Leung has decided not to run for family reasons and that it would respect his personal decision. The spokesperson said that since CY Leung became the SAR’s fourth chief executive, he has firmly implemented the principle of One Country, Two Systems and the Basic Law.// Source: Hong Kong Free Press, 10 December 2016.
  • //梁振英在過去幾個月均以「有消息會盡快通知」回應連任問題,但建制一直盛傳梁獲中央支持連任,而他過去數日仍頻頻落區與地區人士會面交流,似為連任鋪路。到昨午2時半,特首辦突然發稿通知,梁振英會在下午3時半會見傳媒,打後一個小時內,梁放棄連任的消息不脛而走,而梁見傳媒時神情肅穆,他在無發言稿下宣佈「不會參加下一屆行政長官選舉」,並解釋他要「在未來一段時間照顧好家庭」,若他尋求連任,選舉工程將令家人承受不能承受的壓力,因此他要在對社會的責任與對家庭的責任之間選擇。// Source: Apple Daily, 09 December 2016.
  • //《蘋果》獲得獨家消息,指港澳辦主任王光亞近日南下,在深圳麒麟山莊密會梁振英,向其表達中央不希望其競選連任的重大決定。消息指,家庭理由只是藉口,以讓梁有個下台階。而中央突然在明日選委會選舉前夕,斷然棄卒,涉兩大關鍵因素:梁在UGL事件無法過關,隨時面臨被廉署起訴;梁拿不到過半票,即601票的當選門檻,難以連任。消息人士對《蘋果》表示,雖然近年香港社會出現撕裂、分化,梁振英被指是罪魁禍首,但這不是中央棄梁的關鍵。北京原本有意支持梁競選連任,但最終緊急煞停,在於當局有關涉梁的調查報告,對梁十分不利。[…] 消息稱,雖然梁振英宣佈不再競逐連任,但北京治港政策大格局不會因此而改變,外界切勿對習近平核心有過度的幻想或期望。國家主席習近平在2014年以「疾風知勁草,板蕩識忠臣」高度讚揚梁,欣賞其對國家的忠誠及應對佔中。然而梁上任以來,香港社會嚴重撕裂、分化,梁不得民心,今犧牲梁,乃無奈之舉。消息強調,未來的特首選舉,候選人對國家的忠誠度和個人背景,乃北京考慮的首要條件。//Source: Apple Daily, 10 December 2016.

The announcement by C.Y. Leung changed the race for the CE post in the coming months:

  • //The morning after Leung Chun-ying ruled himself out of the chief executive race, his subordinate and rival John Tsang Chun-wah shunned the media, opting for a studious silence on his next moves. Who could blame him, said analysts, because even with incumbent Leung out of the way, Tsang immediately found himself facing the prospect of running against yet another colleague, Chief Secretary and government No 2 Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngo. Lam said on Saturday she was reconsidering plunging into the chief executive poll next March. Tsang has not said when and if he would declare his candidacy, even as a source with knowledge of his plan told the South China Morning Post that the financial secretary was planning to resign and announce his bid this week after today’s Election Committee polls. […] The third possible pro-establishment aspirant, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, has all but officially announced her election bid. Commenting on Lam’s announcement yesterday, she said she welcomed a competitive race. As if to echo rumours about Beijing signalling a red light against Tsang, Ip said it would not be ideal for two ministers to jump into the fray, leaving the chief executive hamstrung without two deputies in the remaining seven months of his tenure. As the Election Committee is about to be formed, all eyes are on whether pan-democrats will secure a quarter of the seats on the 1,200-member institution. The committee will select the chief executive in March.// Source: SCMP, 11 December 2016.

Prof. Tian Feilong from the Beihang University in Beijing analyzed different potential candidates in the terms of support from the Central Government:

  • //As convenor of the Hong Kong government’s taskforce on constitutional reform, Lam had experience of working together with central government officials and had good mastery of Beijing’s policies towards Hong Kong, Tian noted. By contrast, while Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah also had experience in public administration and high popularity, he “lacks experience in interacting with the central government on issues like political reform and the campaign against Hong Kong independence”, Tian said. The central government also lacked full trust in Tsang because of his history of serving as last colonial governor Chris Patten’s private secretary, he said.// Source: SCMP, 11 December 2016.

John Tsang has been enjoying high popularity for the top post in Hong Kong according to public opinion surveys over the past few months until CY Leung’s announcement of not running for the second term:

  • //《香港01》獨家委託港大民意研究計劃於本周初進行特首選舉民調,選項亦加入早前已宣布參選特首的胡國興。問卷首條問題是:「如果聽日畀你投票選特首,而參選者只有以下人士,你會選邊個?」結果顯示,多達三成人選擇財政司司長曾俊華,比9月時還高4個百分點,比排第二的前立法會主席曾鈺成(13.9%高一倍有多,似乎未受本周初拒答風波影響。曾俊華於本周一(5日)出席立法會財經事務委員會會議時,指他會按律政司意見不會回應4名被政府司法覆核的議員問題。當時泛民和建制人馬均大感錯愕,同日他「按政府立場」轉駄。早前表示「去意已決」的政務司長林鄭月娥支持度稍微下跌1.5個百分點至10.8%排第三。特首梁振英近期頻頻落區,重現四年前競選時「一支筆、一本簿」的畫面,但他的支持度大幅下跌4個百分點至6.9%排第五,支持度比排第四的退休法官胡國興(8.4%)還要低。// Source: Hong Kong 01, 07 December 2016.
  • //距離2017年3月26日的特首選舉還有半年時間,他們誰有可能出線?香港民眾又更希望誰上馬? 端傳媒委託香港中文大學傳播與民意調查中心就「2017年特首選舉」進行民意調查。調查於2016年10月3至5日進行,以隨機電話訪問形式訪問了521名18歲以上使用粵語的香港居民。[…] 香港中文大學傳播與民意調查中心的民調結果顯示,4%受訪者最希望曾俊華當選特首,大比例拋離排名第二、獲14.1%支持度的梁錦松。曾鈺成及林鄭月娥以相若的支持度,分別排名第三及第四。排第五的梁振英有10.5%。5.1%受訪者支持葉劉淑儀,排在末尾第六位。[…] 深入分析受訪者背景,以政治立場分類的話,曾俊華在自稱本土派和泛民主派的受訪者中,獲得壓倒性支持,支持率分別有59.3%及40.3%。他在自稱中間派及報稱無任何政治傾向的受訪者中,支持度也是最高,但優勢縮窄。相比之下,在建制派受訪者中,曾俊華僅僅獲得15.7%支持度,落後於梁振英的27.5%。這個組別也是曾俊華唯一未能取得最高支持度的組別。是次民調中,當被問及估計誰人最有機會當選時,曾俊華仍然領先,有35.6%認為他會當選;20.7%認為梁振英會當選,其餘依次序為曾鈺成、林鄭月娥、梁錦松及葉劉淑儀。[…] 他續說,8月底至今或多或少也有「Signal(訊號)」,例如親建制報章《成報》多次批評梁振英,以至前律政司司長、《基本法》委員會副主任梁愛詩,開出下屆特首四大條件,包括對中央及特區有承擔、有管治能力、有民望及團結港人,「很多人的感覺就是這些話,多多少少都好像對梁振英不太有利。」在預測中央意向時,李立峯相信,市民也會參考建制派內部聲音:「自由黨直接明言不想他連任;曾鈺成可能用詞上還有一點保留,但跟明言沒什麼分別。所以當整個新聞媒體每天的報導,都反映着開宗明義反對梁振英連任的有,半公開地反對的也有,公開支持他的人反而很少,大家得到一個整體印象,是沒什麼人支持他,所以判斷時會覺得,他未必真的能夠連任。」// Source: The Initium, 12 October 2016.

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