An SCMP interview with the new Bauhinia Party’s guy confirms initial impressions that it’s a CCP initiative to co-opt broader middle-class and young elements. It looks like an attempt to sideline, rather than just scare, the pro-Beijing groups that currently fail to attract much following from those ‘sectors’.
The predominance of Mainlanders in the group seems like a turnoff, but the Liaison Office might be calculating (rightly or wrongly) that the old traditional local business establishment is so unpopular among the populace that it will be a plus. The fact that you’ve never heard of these people is the point. Ronnie Chan, Allan Zeman and the plutocrat kiddies are yesterday; the future lies with the Mainland and the Bay Area.
Although the group presents itself as a ‘political party’, the idea would not be to focus on Legco, elections and the local quasi-politics charade (though they might participate in these to raise their profile). The long-term strategy will be to form a broader and more loyal business/professionals base, under United Front control, to pull the middle class away from the pro-dem movement.
That means it will have to appear ‘fresh’ and to some extent critical of the status quo. The disdain for Carrie Lam might seem edgy, but is essential for any hope of credibility (and no doubt reflects Beijing officials’ own views). Subtle stuff, for Leninists.
It will be interesting to see how it goes about building up its image – eg by attracting some new and appealing figures to join it. The mission will be to appear sexier than the Tung Chee-hwa/tycoons mob – not the hardest job in the world.