Top Chinese leaders usually hold their annual Beidaihe meeting in Hebei in August. Photo: Xinhua

Some top leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC) characterized the Hong Kong protests over the past 11 weeks as a “color revolution” during the annual Beidaihe meeting in Hebei province earlier this month.

The annual meeting for top current and retired Chinese leaders was thought to have ended early last week as key leaders started appearing at official events from August 14.

Li Zhanshu, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the CPC and chairman of the National People’s Congress standing committee, showed up at the Symposium on the 100th Anniversary of Comrade Wang Guangying’s Birthday on August 14.

Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of Foreign Affairs of the CPC, was sent to meet Mike Pompeo, the United States Secretary of State, in New York on August 13.

Foreign influence

As usual, there was no official announcement about the results of the Beidaihe meeting. According to a commentary published by the Ming Pao Daily on Sunday, current and retired Chinese leaders reached a consensus that the Hong Kong protests were a “color revolution” against the CPC and were organized by many countries and places with the involvement of their military, political and intelligence agencies.

If the Hong Kong government could not contain the situation within a limited time period, the central government would offer some assistance under a certain legal framework, wrote an author named “Jones,” who cited a source in Beijing.

It was necessary for China to provide “strategic support” to Hong Kong as the chaotic situation in the city could extend to the financial, trade and national security areas, the report said. The source did not elaborate on how long a “limited time period” was, but the article said China would celebrate its 70th anniversary on October 1.

On January 17, Zhao Kezhi, China’s Minister of Public Security, said in a closed-door meeting that the central government would increase its efforts to fight against any “color revolution” within the country in 2019.

Media reports said Zhao’s speech was referring to the general situation in China, instead of Hong Kong. The term “color revolution,” widely used by worldwide media, usually refers to the non-violent political revolutions in Central Asia and Eastern Europe in the 1980s and 1990s.

Intense talks

Political commentator Leng Feng wrote in an article on August 16 that sending Yang Jiechi, instead of China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, to New York could mean that Beijing wanted to show a friendly gesture to the US.

He said the discussions about the Hong Kong protests were intense as the party had spent about two weeks at the Beidaihe meeting. However, it may take one more week to see whether Beijing had softened its stance on the Hong Kong political saga, he added.

On August 7, Zhang Xiaoming, Director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said the Hong Kong protests had the characteristics of a “color revolution” as participants chanted “recover Hong Kong, revolution of our times.” Wang Zhimin, director of the Liaison Office, said some protesters wanted to overthrow the Hong Kong government.

The two Beijing officials made their comments during a closed-door forum with about 550 pro-establishment lawmakers and Hong Kong delegates of the NPC and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Shenzhen. They said the central government would intervene if the Hong Kong government failed to contain the situation.

Henry Tang Ying-yen, a former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong and current standing committee member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said on the same day that the Hong Kong protests were only riots, not a “color revolution.”

Citing mainland sources, Willy Lam Wo-lap wrote in a commentary on August 12 that Chinese President Xi Jinping had faced criticism from some senior party members on Hong Kong matters, but his political status wasn’t shaken. Lam said Xi would not send in People’s Liberation Army troops to Hong Kong but use quick action and legal punishments to suppress the “violent protests.”

Future questioned

On August 10, Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, who fled to the United States in 2015, said in YouTube footage that a senior party member had given copies of a half-page letter to all the participants during the Beidaihe meeting and raised a series of questions about the party’s future.

In the letter titled “Can we still see each other in Beidaihe meeting next year?”, the senior party member asked how to resolve the Hong Kong matter and deal with problems including China’s economic slowdown, growing fiscal deficit and foreign debts and political instability in the country.

The party member also asked what China could do if its overseas assets were frozen, according to Guo.

On August 13, political activist Chen Poking, who was imprisoned due to his role in the democracy movement in China in 1989 and exiled to the US, said in a video that senior party members had expressed the opposite view to Xi’s as they did not agree to suppress the protests in Hong Kong.

However, these senior party members had no way to change Xi’s decision while Xi also failed to persuade them, Chen said.

Finally, former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who was on the side of senior party members, said “we have said what we have to” and asked Xi to make the decision himself, according to Chen.

Last week, some Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders called on the protesters to rethink their strategies as aggressive movements such as blocking roads and non-cooperation campaigns may blur the messages of the five demands, which refer to a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, the withdrawal of the “riot” characterization of the June 12 protests, the release of all the arrested protesters, the establishment of an independent investigation commission and the implementation of universal suffrage.

On Sunday, protesters left peacefully after a large-scale march in Hong Kong as riot police stayed away.

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