Veteran political commentator Joseph Lian Yizheng said on Monday that whether or not incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is re-elected next year will not make much of a difference as long as Hong Kong remains under the control of China’s Communist Party.

Speaking on a Commercial Radio show on Monday morning, Lian said Leung might stand a higher chance of reelection if pro-Beijing parties score well in this Legislative Council election, adding that it is not easy to defeat the political forces supporting Leung who have direct connections with Beijing. Nevertheless, he reckoned that it would not change much even if more conciliatory leaders, such as Jasper Tsang Yok-sing or John Tsang Chun-wah, are elected.

Joseph Lian Yi-zheng. Photo: Stand News.

“[Beijing] might pursue a more conciliatory approach after years of hard-line rule [towards Hong Kong],” he said. “But it could actually be more dangerous, because if John Tsang or Jasper Tsang push for Article 23, it might actually stand a higher chance of getting passed.”

Article 23 of the Basic Law is an ill-fated security law targeting subversion and sedition which was abandoned in the face of mass opposition in 2003.

It remains, as yet, unclear as to whether Leung will run for office again.

Jasper Tsang and John Tsang. Photo: RTHK screenshot and Apple Daily.

Lian, who saw his column abruptly cancelled by the Hong Kong Economic Journal at the start of August, made the comments after he was seen speaking on stage for localist group Youngspiration during a rally on Sunday. He had previously voiced support for candidates who emerged following the large scale pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in 2014.

The 2017 Chief Executive election is scheduled to be held in March 2017 where the Election Commission, which consists of a group of 1,200 members, will be responsible for picking the city’s next leader. Outgoing President of the Legislative Council Jasper Tsang, Financial Secretary John Tsang, as well as Executive Council non-official member Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee have previously hinted they might run for Hong Kong’s highest office.

Eric Cheung

Eric is currently a Bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Hong Kong. Eric has his finger on the pulse of Hong Kong events and politics. His work has been published on The Guardian, Reuters and ABC News (America).