When The Clapping Did Not Die Down

The story of the Hong Kong Legislators visiting Guangdong is well covered, so I have nothing more to add except for one sideshow.  No, this is not about the identity of the reporter who stepped on Emily Lau's foot and put her in a grouchy mood (to which East Week magazine devoted an amazing three pages!).  This was something that happened during the meeting with Zheng Dejiang, the province's Communist Party secretary.  As was well-covered continuously for weeks already, the democrats had promised to bring up democracy-related issues (see previous comment).

Here are the key presentations as reported in The Standard; Oriental Daily; Ming Pao.  Ten people posed questions, but the following four touched on the democracy-related issues.

Lee Wing-tat, chairman of the Democratic Party, brought up the demand for universal suffrage in Hong Kong for 2007/2008.  Zhang's response was 話不投機半句多! ('If we don't have common views, there's no point in discussing it!') and then he went on to discuss it anyway.

Yeung Sum asked Zhang to forward the discontent of the people of Hong Kong about not having universal suffrage in 2007/2008 to the central government and he brought up the demand to release Strait Times reporter Ching Cheong who is being held on espionage charges.

Lee Cheuk-yan, vice chairman for the HK Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, called for the vindication of the June 4 student movement and for the freedom of mainland workers to establish non-affiliated labor unions.

Leung Kwok-hung (aka Long Hair) said: "I pointed out to Zhang that the majority of voters in Hong Kong supported the democrats.  I also stated clearly that single-party rule by the Chinese Communist Party should come to an end."  During the exchange of words, Zhang said 不想跟你們打口水仗 ('I don't want to fight a battle of saliva with you people!').

Here is the interesting part: it is known that after the two quoted responses from Zhang, there was applause in the hall.  In attendance were the Chinese government officials, Hong Kong SAR government officials and the Hong Kong legislators.  Who did the clapping?

On a Commercial Radio program, a listener called in to say that the applauders (if they are Hong Kong legislators) ought to be named in front of the public for supporting the June 4 massacre.  There is no videotape analysis here, so it will depend on self-declaration and/or eyewitness reports.  The following comes from the consolidated report at ChineseNewsNet, which relied on Apple Daily and Ming Pao:

First up, we have the self-declarations:

DAB's Cheung Hok-ming admitted to applauding, but he insisted that he did so before Leung Kwok-hung spoke.  He explained that Zhang Dejiang did not avoid the issue in spite of being doggedly pursued over the June 4 problem and re-iterated the central government's position.  Therefore, he supported the effort.

Independent Timothy Fok from the Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication functional sector admitted to applauding.

A leftist legislator who applauded but does not wish to be named said: "Nobody else dares to scold Leung.  When Zhang Dejiang properly lectured him, people were delighted and therefore clapped to show their agreement ... the news reporters followed him around.  What is it about him?  What is he so big deal (巴閉)?  We are all fed up."

Then we have the observers:

Liberal Party vice-chairwoman Selena Chow said that the applause came from the rear, but she did not know by whom.

Article 45 Concern Group's Ronny Tong said that members of the DAB and Liberal Party applauded.

According to Leung Kwok-hung, neither Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive nor Legislative Council president Rita Fan had time to react.  He said that members of the DAB and the Liberal Party applauded.

According to Chim Pui-chung of the Financial Services sector, the applauders included members of the DAB and the Liberal Party.  Furthermore, according to Apple Daily, Chim insisted that the Hong Kong government officials were the first ones to applaud.  But according to Ming Pao, Chim that insisted the Hong Kong and Chinese officials were the first ones to applaud.

According to several unnamed legislators: the applauders were most Chinese government officials and Hong Kong legislators sitting in the rear [technical note: the seating arrangement was hierarchical, so that the leaders of the largest parties sat in the front row and first-time independent legislators from small functional constituencies were in the back].  The Hong Kong government officials sitting in the front did not applaud.

According to unnamed source(s), Ming Pao listed these applauders: DAB's Cheung Hok-ming, Heung Yee Kuk's Lam Wai Keung, the Liberal Party's Leung Kwan-yuen and Lam Kin-fung, and independent Timothy Fok.  The last four come from functional constituencies in which they won uncontested elections.  The applause began from the Hong Kong side and then extended to the Chinese government officials.

(9/30/2005 Apple Daily editorial)  When the democrats met with Guangdong Party secretary Zhang Dejiang and brought up the June 4 issue, they were met with a stiff "June 4 cannot possibly be reversed".  The Chinese officials maintained their stiff expressions, but the accompanying pro-China legislators and Hong Kong SAR officials applauded heartily.  The reporters published the incident and this led to a debate about "the applauding eunuchs."

So that was the little sideshow.  

(Apple Daily)  Editorial.  October 3, 2005.

[Summary]  According to a pro-Beijing political party elder, people clapped not to say that the suppresion was justified, but because they appreciated the rapid response by the provincial party secretary.

Since quite a few people applauded for various reasons, did the explainer actually sent out a survey form afterwards to the applauders? 
What are the reasons for your applause?
(A) You firmly support the decision by the central government to stop the counter-revolutionary riot;
(B) Democrats like Long Hair are loud-mouths who finally got their come-uppance.
(C) Secretary Zhang's rapid response was admirable

Did every applauder pick (C)?  If the explainer has not done this, then he has no basis for explaining people's motives.

Recently, the writer received a telephone complaint from one of the persons who applauded at the time.  He said that he appaluded because he believed that the June 4 suppression was justified.  He thought that was quite proper, but his pure motive was "raped" by others afterwards and that is why he is angry.

When the writer asked him whether he cares to disclose his identity to the public for clarification, he hemmed and hawed and then ask the writer to keep it confidential.

(East Week)  October 5, 2005.  Page 37.

According to eyewitnesses, when Lee Cheuk-yan and Long Hair brought up the June 4 issue, their tones were quite impolite and that was why Zhang Dejiang responded that way.  At the time, there really were people clapping in the front row and the people in the rear followed them.  "Basically, everybody was clapping, including democratic legislators.  But their motives were different.  Some were praising Zhang Dejiang, some were being polite but many more were delighted that Long Hair was getting 'slammed.'"

Actually, several eyewitnesses told me that democrats such as Andrew Cheng, Lee Wing-tat, Sin Chung-kai, Frederick Fung, Audrey Yu, Alan Leong, Ronny Tong, Margaret Ng and Tam Heung-man all applauded.  The eyewitness said, "If you have to ask, it is easier to ask which one of them did not clap."

There is in fact a live recording of the event by the democrats with sound and video.  You can ask James To and Kwok Ka-ki.  If everybody was willing to reveal their recordings to the public, everyone will be revealed and those who clapped and then criticized others afterwards would have a hard time explaining.