Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book Review: The hidden hand of the CCP in Hong Kong

Ever since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was founded in 1921, Hong Kong has consistently been regarded as a threat and opportunity by party leaders. First as a British colony until retrocession in 1997 and then as part of the “one country, two systems,” the CCP views the territory as a potential springboard from which foreign powers could undermine the authorities on the mainland.

Simultaneously, Hong Kong was the main platform where both the British and Chinese governments could conduct dialogue and, as 1997 approached, a source of much-needed capital and an instrument to test special administrative rule.

This, and much more, is the focus of former Hong Kong legislator Christine Loh’s (陸恭蕙) fascinating Underground Front: The Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong. The amount of information contained in her well-researched book makes it an extremely useful tool to understand the CCP’s policies in Hong Kong.

Loh walks us through what she sees as the six main phases of CCP relations with Hong Kong: early Marxism in Hong Kong; the early years of CCP rule in China; the Cultural Revolution; the Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) era; the post-Tiananmen Square Massacre era; and the first decade after retrocession.

Throughout this time — and even after Hong Kong became a special administrative region — we see the CCP acting as if it were a criminal organization forced to remain underground. Part of this, we learn, is the result of Maoism’s lack of mass appeal in Hong Kong, which since the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842 had been ideologically shaped by the British.

My review, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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