Hong Kong tycoon feels Beijing's ire for criticism

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

HONG KONG (AP) — A Hong Kong tycoon is feeling Beijing's wrath after he voiced doubts about the city's China-backed leader, who is struggling to end monthlong democracy protests.

Delegates to China's top government advisory body are expected to vote Wednesday on kicking James Tien out after his comments on the unpopular Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying.

Tien, who is also leader of the pro-Beijing Liberal Party, told a Hong Kong radio station last week that Leung had done a poor job of running the city and should consider resigning.

Members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference would vote to expel him not because he criticized Leung but because he aired those sentiments in public, contradicting a resolution passed by the body in March expressing support for the city's leader, according to a Hong Kong delegate.

"If you voice opposition, it shouldn't be made public because making it public is tantamount to not supporting" Hong Kong's leader, Chan Wing-kee, a member of the body's Standing Committee, told reporters in Beijing ahead of the meeting.

The advisory body doesn't have any formal power in China's authoritarian political system. Membership is a sign of Beijing's favor and an opportunity for high-level networking.

Tien could not be reached for comment.

The move is a sign that Leung still has Beijing's full support even as his approval rating in Hong Kong plumbs new lows. Leung hasn't been able to deal effectively with student-led protesters who have been occupying thoroughfares in three areas of Hong Kong for more than a month to demand democratic reforms.

The protesters have also called for Leung to resign but he has repeatedly rejected their demands.

Beijing has promised that residents of the semiautonomous southern Chinese financial center can directly elect their leader starting in 2017 but that a committee would be needed to screen candidates, angering many who call it fake democracy.