The pro-Beijing Sing Pao newspaper has said that senior official Zhang Dejiang, and staff members of the China Liaison Office and Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, will likely face consequences for engaging in corrupt practices.

The Chinese-language newspaper has been running anonymous commentaries accusing Zhang of allowing the China Liaison Office – Beijing’s powerful organ in Hong Kong – to expand its network of cronies in the territory. It also alleged that Zhang, an ally of ex-leader Jiang Zemin, encourages corrupt practices across China. The commentaries may be a manifestation of tensions within the Communist Party as opposing factions vie for power.

sing pao xi jinping zhang dejiang
Sing Pao’s front page on October 15. Photo: Sing Pao.


On Saturday, China’s top anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), released a report on the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. The report laid out problems related to the Office’s work, including questionable promotion procedures and unsatisfactory practices in picking and deploying personnel.

See also: How the pro-Beijing Sing Pao newspaper turned against CY Leung

The Office is responsible for promoting political, economic and cultural ties between Beijing and the two special administrative regions. It is answerable to the State Council, China’s chief administrative authority.

The watchdog also highlighted risks of corruption within the Office, and recommended that the Chinese government monitor the use of funding for special tasks.

Sing Pao called the CCDI’s investigation a “breakthrough.” It alleged on Saturday that the corrupt political syndicate in Hong Kong was formed during the tenure of retired senior official Liao Hui, who led the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office between 1997 and 2010.

It added that it is an “open secret” in the political circle that the China Liaison Office is “so corrupt it does not have a bottom line.”

Zhang Dejiang
Zhang Dejiang in Hong Kong. Photo: GovHK.

Removing corrupt officials

Sing Pao’s anonymous commentator wrote on Tuesday that Beijing would typically remove some corrupt officials following the release of the CCDI reports. It said that Zhang could not escape liability for permitting Liao, the former director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs by giving orders to the Liaison Office Director Zhang Xiaoming and his subordinate Chen Shanling.

It claimed that 74-year-old Liao, ally of ex-leader Jiang, is still controlling the political syndicate by relying on Zhang’s power notwithstanding his retirement.

“The farce of Hong Kong independence is a signature work [of Liao and his syndicate],” the newspaper wrote.

It added that the Liaison Office had “directed the farce of fake pro-independence group Youngspiration” for political gain. The localist party Youngspiration has been embroiled in controversy after its two incoming lawmakers referred to China using the derogatory term “Chee-na” in last week’s oath-taking.

sing pao xi jinping zhang dejiang
Sing Pao’s front page on October 18. Photo: Sing Pao.

Sixth Plenum

The newspaper wrote that Hong Kong people look forward to seeing corrupt officials who are engaged in Hong Kong-China affairs removed after the Chinese Communist Party revises its internal rules at the Sixth Plenum – a major assembly meeting of all members which kicks off next Monday.

Last Friday, the newspaper ran a thinly veiled warning to Zhang, demanding the Liaison Office director returns to Beijing and explains himself to the Chinese government by October 24, the first day of the Sixth Plenum.

Since late August, Sing Pao has been running anonymous commentaries on its front pages attacking personnel associated with Jiang’s camp, which the paper claims includes Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, the China Liaison Office, and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

See also: ‘Explain yourself’: Pro-Beijing newspaper runs thinly veiled warning aimed at China Liaison Office head

It has urged the CCDI, headed by Xi Jinping’s ally Wang Qishan, to investigate the Liaison Office. The move has led to speculation that Xi is preparing to eradicate a powerful section within the Communist Party.

In early October, the newspaper cited threats from the Liaison Office and Shenzhen public security, but said it would continue to be “faithful to the truth.”

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.