A Comprehensive Framework of Understanding the Context and Content of China’s New United Front Work on Hong Kong
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Three main factors shape Beijing’s united front work in Hong Kong, namely (1) its determination to buttress the legitimacy of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) leadership and the central government’s policy toward Hong Kong, (2) its national security consideration and (3) its geopolitical concerns about Hong Kong as a borderland vulnerable to Western influences. Beijing as the powerful political patron encounters the relatively pluralistic Hong Kong, meaning that its clients are mainly the local ruling elites. Yet, the civil society and masses of Hong Kong remain politically divided into three parts: (1) a relatively materialistic and pragmatic segment vulnerable to Beijing’s united front work; (2) a comparatively post-materialistic segment that resists it; and (3) an apathetic or indifferent segment that remains the target of lobbying from Beijing. Hence, the civil society is the arena of struggle between Beijing and its agents on the one hand and some pro-democracy Hongkongers on the other. Their relations are conflict-ridden in local elections at the legislative and district levels.