In the past week, the most prominent political news was definitely the decision made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) to authorise the SAR Government to disqualify four pan-democratic LegCo members from office, triggering the resignation en masse of more than a dozen pan-democratic lawmakers, leaving only two non-Pro-Beijing camp members, Cheng Chung-tai and Pierre Chan, in LegCo whose term was extended for one year. The expulsion of the pan-democrats has made the West believe that China has abandoned its policy of One Country, Two Systems, thus reinforcing the West's position of containing China and speeding up the provision of lifeboat schemes for Hong Kong people. The UK has announced the details of allowing BNO holders to stay there, and Canada has rolled out a three-year working visa programme specifically designed for the young generation in Hong Kong. It is expected that the UK, Australia, Canada and the US will receive hundreds of thousands of emigrants from Hong Kong in the coming years. At the same time, a large number of people and funds will be deployed by Beijing to Hong Kong to stabilise the situation.
When Beijing decided to use COVID-19 as an excuse to postpone the Legislative Council election for one year, so that the original members could all have an extended year of office, the four pan-democratic lawmakers, namely Dennis Kwok, Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung, had already been disqualified by the Returning Officer from standing for election, and some members of the pro-Beijing camp had already questioned their eligibility for re-election. For the sake of the bigger picture, Beijing then claimed that eligibility and extended term are different matters and these members are welcomed to stay in LegCo. When Beijing suddenly changes their attitude and started to settle political scores, these members are ousted from LegCo after Beijing authorises the SAR Government to disqualify them. This is an apparent change of political strategy.
When considering whether or not to disqualify the four pan-democratic members, Beijing knows very well that there is already a consensus within the pan-democratic camp that if some pan-democratic members are disqualified rashly without following the impeachment and disqualification procedures stipulated in the Basic Law, they will resign en masse in protest, thus depriving the legislature of the public's representatives representing more than 50% of the voters and turning it into a mere rubber-stamp for the establishment. Still, Beijing made such decision, meaning the leaders want to remove dissenting voices in LegCo as soon as possible, so that the SAR can expeditiously pass a series of political and economic measures that Beijing believes should be implemented as soon as possible to speed up the transformation of the political and economic landscape in Hong Kong within the one-year term of the extended LegCo without any challenges.
Why does Beijing want a quick, comprehensive transformation of Hong Kong? It is believed that it has something to do with Beijing's assessment of the latest international situation. With Biden's victory a foregone conclusion, it is clear to Beijing that the Biden administration's stance on China may not be as ruthless as Trump's, but its fundamental position remains one of containment and isolation, and that the US, under Biden's leadership, will improve relations with its international allies and accelerate the formation of an international coalition containing China. After the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law, the West — such as the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and the EU — has made unequivocal statements and there is no way for them to revert to the view that Hong Kong is still a system standing alone from the Mainland. Repealing all special treatments for Hong Kong is just a matter of time. Unless Beijing makes major concessions, such as repealing the National Security Law, restarting the Legislative Council elections, or giving up the settling scores with political dissidents, the West will not change its view on Hong Kong. If the West’s view cannot be changed, then Beijing might as well ignore the perception of the West and realise Beijing’s “overall jurisdiction” as mentioned in the White Paper in 2014, and wield this “overall jurisdiction” to transform Hong Kong into a city serving China’s political and economic interests.
It is envisaged that the Legislative Council will quickly pass a series of political and economic measures after the elimination of pan-democratic members and political resistance, so as to implement Beijing’s strategy of taking over the entire Hong Kong, such as passing the voting arrangement for Hong Kong people living in the Greater Bay Area and using the hundreds of thousands of additional votes from the Greater Bay Area to regain control of the District Council and Legislative Council elections. Reclamation of islands will create vast pieces of usable urban lands for development, and housing will be built to accommodate the large influx of new immigrants from mainland China. Apart from these, the reshuffle of political and economic benefits within pro-Beijing camp will also be accelerated. Red capital from mainland China will move in en masse to replace foreign control in important areas such as civil aviation, transportation, communications, energy, etc. In areas where foreign participation is essential, such as finance, real estate, retail, etc., the market share of red capital will also grow rapidly in order to achieve effective domination of the city’s economy. When this series of political and economic reshuffling takes place, the withdrawal of foreign capital will be quicker and Hong Kong will see an emigration wave, with a large number of existing elites being replaced by “new Hongkongers” from mainland China.