Bauhinia Party Founded in Hong Kong

The Bauhinia Party is named after the Hong Kongs official flower.

Tao Ho

The Bauhinia Party is named after the Hong Kong’s official flower.

The newest addition to the numerous political parties in Hong Kong, the Bauhinia Party, named after the city’s official flower, has received widespread attention after announcing its launch to local media outlets in December 2020. 

Originally conceived in March 2020, the Bauhinia Party was submitted as a limited company to the Hong Kong Companies Registry, a government department under the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, in May 2020. This is commonplace and standard procedure in Hong Kong, as most political parties either register as limited companies or as societies. The Party’s three founders are: Shan Li, member of the Board of Directors of Credit Suisse Group AG, Clement Jianwen Chen, chairman of Bonjour Holdings Limited, and Charles Chau-Chi Wong, chief executive of CMMB Vision Holdings Limited. 

The Bauhinia Party joins the pro-establishment camp in Hong Kong politics, effectively taking a side between the two major ideological blocs of Hong Kong: the pro-democracy camp, and the pro-Beijing or pro-establishment camp. The pro-democracy camp generally follows liberal values, with varied economic views, while the pro-Beijing camp typically supports the decisions of the mainland Chinese government. Increasing divide between the two camps have been stoked by the Hong Kong protests of 2019-2020, which were ignited by the now scrapped Extradition Bill. The Chinese government, supported by many pro-Beijing politicians, have condemned such demonstrations and violence, and implemented a new National Security Law, which cracks down on activities that endanger national safety. These actions have been heavily criticized by the pro-democracy camp, and led to the resignation of an extremely large number of the camp’s politicians. Such conflict between the two camps have led to an increasingly antagonistic political environment in Hong Kong. 

The Bauhinia Party supports the “One Country, Two Systems” governance of Hong Kong. As Li said in a speech given at Tsing Hua University, “[The party seeks to] unite citizens of Hong Kong, regardless of their political spectrum, to build a beautiful home together…but with the premise that the party will support ‘One Country, Two Systems,’ love the country and Hong Kong, safeguard the rule of law, and oppose discrimination against communities.”

“One Country, Two Systems” is the principle that China adopted when Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) when the United Kingdom returned control of Hong Kong to China in 1997. The principle permits Hong Kong to have independent governmental and economic systems, while simultaneously maintaining its membership in the People’s Republic of China. The “One Country, Two Systems” was written into Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the city’s de facto constitution, which was set to last 50 years, until 2047. In a new proposal, the Bauhinia Party has presented the idea of “a hundred years of One Country, Two Systems,” according to Sing Tao, a local newspaper. 

The Bauhinia Party seeks other political reforms in addition to an extra 50 years of “One Country, Two Systems.” Li stated that “Hong Kong’s main trouble lies with the [unicameral] Legislative Council.” It is constituted of 70 elected representatives, and is responsible for enacting laws, approving budgets, and more. Li advocates for replacing the current structure with a bicameral system. The proposed bicameral legislature would have a lower house elected directly by citizens and an upper house with members appointed by a designated council.

The Party also proposes establishing a public-private partnership to finance the Lantau Tomorrow Vision plan, a development project originally launched by Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, in a 2018 policy address. The project plans to build a metropolis of artificial islands covering about 1,700 hectares to create a third core business district. The plan was initially criticized for its cost and negative environmental effects. 

Some people have expressed concern that the party’s pro-Beijing stance undercuts its commitments to maintaining the independence Hong Kong enjoys in the “One Country, Two Systems” model. In an article for Apple Daily, a HK opposition newspaper, Kevin Carrico, senior lecturer in Chinese Studies at Monash University and critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), wrote, “[The Party] consists of people born in China with quite open and obvious links to the CCP…and [the Party] represents a low-key coming out party for the CCP in Hong Kong politics.” 

Still, there are many watching the Bauhinia Party with anticipation. As Cliff Buddle, Special Projects Editor and columnist for the SCMP, an English language publication, put it, “The new Bauhinia Party deserves to be given a chance.” Even though Buddle acknowledged that it “would be easy to dismiss [the Party] as a bid by Beijing to shore up its support in Hong Kong,” he also noted that “some of [Wong’s] comments [in an interview with the SCMP], reflected the views of many in Hong Kong and it was refreshing to hear them.”

In the ever-changing political scene of Hong Kong, the Bauhinia Party’s effect on elections and politics has yet to be seen because of its newness. As Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, chairwoman and founder of the New People’s Party, explained to SCMP, “A political party must be able to win seats…and it’s not easy. The field is already very crowded.”