Beijing’s Fifth Column and the Transfer of Power in Hong Kong: 1983–1997

  • Yin Qian


This chapter shows that over 83 000 mainland Chinese officials with changed names and false identities have entered Hong Kong from 1983 to 1997 as part of a covert scheme by the PRC government to groom a political force extraordinaire – a fifth column – in Hong Kong. The fifth column, by definition of this study, refers exclusively to those Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cadres with one-way exit permits and Territory residential status who were dispatched to Hong Kong under the false pretence of the ‘family reunion’ category in the transitional period. Although these people are from truly diverse backgrounds in terms of age, education, profession, origin of work locations and sponsoring organizations, they usually had one important thing in common: they were well-connected within the Chinese party–state system and enjoyed prominent patronage within the party. These fifth columnists appear to be ordinary immigrants, but they carry the Chinese government’s official blessing. Ultimately, they were the winners in China’s domestic political contest, and beneficiaries of economic reform.


Foreign Policy Chinese Communist Party Family Reunion Chinese Leader Domestic Politics 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Yin Qian

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