February 24, 2021 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1560

The Fall Of Hong Kong: China's Strategic Plan To Conquer Hong Kong And Purge It Of Its People

February 24, 2021 | By Ching Cheong*
China | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1560

The Chinese Communist Party is implementing a strategic plan to destroy Hong Kong through a psychological warfare campaign against the population, training of new cadres to run the city, and a mass exodus of as many millions of Hong Kongers as possible who oppose Beijing's central rule. Veteran journalist Ching Cheong describes three initial "countermeasures" to a democratic Hong Kong that Beijing implemented in 2003, and another 10 "countermeasures" issued in 2012 to purge and absorb Hong Kong over time.

Ching quotes from Party media to show that "the ultimate plan to destroy Hong Kong by 'keeping Hong Kong, but not Hong Kong people.'" Based on rich primary source information and facts, Ching's article presents, in a calm, reasonable manner, a very different Hong Kong story from what the CCP wants the world to know.

Below is Ching Cheong's article, written for MEMRI:

Ching Cheong

Since the implementation of the Hong Kong version of the National Security Law on July 1, 2020, the political situation in Hong Kong has deteriorated rapidly. The loose, liberal and pluralistic atmosphere that prevailed in Hong Kong before its return to China has almost disappeared. The inferior culture of the Chinese Communist Party, such as "snitching on someone," "voicing a political stand," "exposing and denouncing someone" and "swearing allegiance," which are common in mainland China, quickly swept all over Hong Kong.

Once a paradise for political refugees from the mainland, Hong Kong now produces political refugees of its own. Many social groups, in education, trade unions, social welfare institutions, the media and the judiciary, are beginning to feel the pressure of being "investigated." Radio Television Hong Kong's (RTHK) decision to follow the mainland's ban on BBC news programs indirectly announced the change of Hong Kong's previous "one country, two systems" into "one country, one system." Only 23 years after Hong Kong's "return" to a totalitarian regime, it has changed so much, with a lamentably speedy fall.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam with Chinese President Xi Jinping (Source: Xinhua News Agency)

Beijing's Own Reports Refute The CCP's False Narrative

Chinese Communist Party propaganda says the deterioration of the relationship between the central government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) is due to the outbreak of the protest that began on July 1, 2003, known as the "7.1 March," against the "national security" provisions of Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law. Beijing began to worry that Hong Kong would become a hidden threat to its national security, the latter term meaning a threat to the Communist Party, not a threat to the Chinese nation. It feared that hostile foreign forces would use Hong Kong's opposition movement to seize control of the city and then use it as a base to topple the Communist Party on the mainland.

Under this perception and reasoning, the Chinese Communist Party must wipe out the pan-democracy camp and suppress its resistance movement with the force of a thunderbolt.

That is not the case in reality. It was just a pretext for an existing strategic plan. Well before the "7.1 March" of 2003, the Chinese Communist Party had begun a campaign to gradually eliminate pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong. The Communist Party used the "7.1 March" as a legal reason to push ahead with its plan to encircle and suppress the pro-democracy camp. The factual record shows this to be the case:

About two weeks after the July 1 march in 2003, which attracted 500,000 people, the local party apparat assessed the strategic situation. The College Student Branch of the United Front Work Department of the Hong Kong Working Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (aka Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong SAR) submitted the Working Committee a report titled "Some Reflections on the Current Situation in Hong Kong." The July 13 report analyzed the situation at that time and said:

"Just as the Branch put it in its May 15 situation report, 'In the Hong Kong SAR, the church power is quite strong and has great (obvious or invisible) influence, and cooperates with other hostile forces, so that their respective functions are tightly combined, challenging the SAR Government, causing a strong resistance effect, gradually paralyzing the SAR Government, and then gradually fostering people who oppose the Central Government to come to power.

"Whether they succeed in doing so or not, they will continue to entangle and confront the Central Government in Hong Kong SAR, waging powerful psychological warfare against the mainland, and playing the same role that the Polish church and Solidarity Union used to play against the regimes of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

"The hostile media in Hong Kong and abroad will give them strong public support, and then the Western countries (the United States, Britain) will openly support them. If we get to that point, we're going to be very passive, so it's a major national security issue for us to be concerned about...' Now the hostile forces are doing it and they will use all means to get their people in power.

"Regardless of the outcome, the process itself has a powerful psychological effect on us. If the hostile forces come to power, they will certainly fail Hong Kong's economy, but they will divert people's attention and target the mainland. For example, they will invite Wang Dan, Wei Jingsheng, the Dalai Lama, Lu Hsiu-lien (Annette Lu), and even Chen Shui-bian to come to Hong Kong to participate in reactionary activities and make reactionary remarks, etc., which will happen every day."

The July 13 report quoted the May 15 situation report by the College Students Branch of the United Front Work Department of the CCP's Hong Kong Working Committee. At that time, the July 1 march had not yet broken out in Hong Kong, but the May 15 situation report had already floated the idea of the confluence of various "hostile forces" in order to seize power, or in its words, "gradually fostering people to come to power who oppose the Central Government."

At the beginning of the handover, whose transition was announced in 1984, the Hong Kong people still had great confidence in "one country, two systems." According to the Public Opinion Program of the University of Hong Kong, when the handover was completed in July 1997, 63.6 percent of Hong Kong people expressed confidence in the policy of "one country, two systems," while 18.1 percent expressed no confidence in it. While Hong Kongers were feeling confident about the future, the Chinese Communist Party had already kicked off its campaign to crack down on the city's pan-democracy camp. Is becomes obvious who first undermined the political and trust foundations of "one country, two systems."

Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. (Source: Xinhua News Agency)

Three Countermeasures To Pacify And Control Hong Kong

After analyzing the situation in its May 15, 2003 report, the Working Committee put forward three countermeasures: First, to establish a database of hostile forces; Second, to set up a cyber-psychological warfare team; Third, have the government set up think-tanks to plan for a long and peaceful reign.

First Countermeasure: Database Of Hostile Hong Kongers

The original report said that the first countermeasures, to establish a database of hostile forces would be as follows:

  • Conduct a patient, long-term material collection that can be done by all means possible, even unethically, and of course, from news reports.

  • These materials can be pulled out at any time when they are needed. No matter how old negative news is, it is not a concern that it be repeatedly and constantly hyped. These materials can be fully coordinated with large and small media. On the one hand, they can satisfy people's desire for tale telling (curiosity for privacy), and on the other hand, the materials can completely destroy a person's public image.

  • At the same time, some gossips can even be fabricated out of thin air and spread on the Internet. A repeated slander makes others believe, and may become a "fact" over time.

From the content of the countermeasure, we can see that the CCP's attack on the so-called "hostile forces" will be utterly unscrupulous.

How is this "database of hostile forces" created? According to people familiar with the matter, they mainly target the following sectors:

1. Academia (tertiary institutions and academic institutions)

2. Academia (secondary schools, mainly for principals and teachers)

3. Political parties

4. Non-leftist trade unions and associations

5. Media

6. Social worker and welfare sector

7. Churches

8. The judiciary

9. Hong Kong and Hong Kong-based foreign NGOs

10. Hong Kong government civil servants

The CCP identifies "hostile forces" in each of these sectors and collects detailed data on each person. Based on the collection of large amounts of personal data, specific rosters are compiled to identify who can be won over, who can be neutralized, and who must be attacked.

The CCP requires that everyone with a higher profile in a given sector be "lined up" (this is United Front jargon of the Chinese Communist Party, which means listing names by category) according to his or her political status as an "enemy," a "friend," or one of the CCP's "own people," and then implement different united front policies accordingly.

Implementation includes policies of "attracting and absorbing" to CCP's "own people," of "first neutralization, then conversion of stance" towards "friends," and of "striking and destroying" "enemies." This categorization of people into "enemy, friend, and own people" is a common element of the Communist Party's united front strategy. Naturally, such a strategy is bound to lead to growing schisms within sectors that would best serve the party to dominate the groups.

So we see that in every group where pro-CCP people are present, the group is bound to eventually split. For example, in the teacher sector, the "Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers" came into being after the "Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union." In the writers' sector, the "Chinese Writers Association" followed by the emergence of the "Hong Kong Writers." In the journalist sector, the "Hong Kong Journalists Association" followed by the emergence of the "Hong Kong Federation of Journalists" and so on. Such examples are everywhere.

Second Countermeasure: Cyber Psychological Warfare Team

The second countermeasure is to set up a cyber-psychological warfare team, the original report says. Here is how the Party describes the team's purpose, methods, techniques, and functions, as extrapolated from the May, 2013 situation report, with quotations from the original.

Set up a cyber-psychological warfare team

1. Purpose

"By taking advantage of the identity of netizens and the propaganda work on speech, we counter the hostile forces' arbitrary dissemination of comments undermining Hong Kong's stability on the Internet, and at the same time create public opinions to undermine the public image and incitement of the hostile forces."

2. Working methods

  • Constantly spread unfavorable remarks against hostile forces

  • Counter the slanderous remarks of hostile forces

3. To infiltrate

"Infiltration should be all pervasive. In observation, we find that no matter what propaganda tools are available, there is infiltration of anti-China forces.... Therefore, we can also form an organization or several organizations to infiltrate these non-mainstream propaganda points, such as online discussion forums, virtual communities, message boards, news comments, and newspaper online contributions, and comprehensively counter their opposition speech."

"Infiltrating propaganda should be carried out in an active manner, as in the past it was mostly passive. A series of propaganda campaigns should be launched before a particular policy is implemented, and multiple objections should be set up for clarification in advance, so as to reduce the critical grounds of the hostile opposition. Of course, active infiltration should be carried out in accordance with the 'all pervasive' principle before and after the implementation of the policy."

4. Specific techniques

"After observation, it is found that some propagandists and demagogues use "personal emotions" as the content of expression, and we can also publish our speeches in this way, because through the publication of personal opinions, we can absolutely express our personal feelings and emotions. And from the standpoint of netizens and contributors, we can add personal emotional incitement to enhance our appeal."

"With regard to the authenticity of data, some of them can be obtained 'regardless of moral boundaries', that is, 'conjectured data are regarded as facts'."

"Since it is a conjecture with a position, the 'fact' can be determined by the position. On the one hand, this can guide people's consciousness, and at the same time, it also has the function of "using facts and truth to counterattack." Plus the publisher doesn't have to reveal his or her real identity, so it can be said that this is the opinion of a citizen. In this way, it makes the citizens believe that this is the sentiment of a citizen. Citizens are more likely to trust their own opinions, so this is more effective than trying to persuade them overtly as a patriotic group."

"In addition to conjecture data, we can also make more convincing disclosure of real data. In many opinion surveys, we find that the survey is directional, so we can conduct 'hostile orientation' in advance..." (Note! The data is manipulated in the hands of the collectors.)

  • Advantages of the above works are as follows:

    • Fast diffusion speed

    • Mobile operation

    • Easy to conceal identity

  • Speech is easy to make, and there is no need to study the authenticity, it can also jump out of the moral boundary

    • Work can be done at any time

    • No location restrictions

    • Data can be reused and easily modified

  • As a netizen, you don't have to worry about your identity when publishing and you can also join the incitement of personal emotions

  • The opposition cannot fight back publicly

  • Any netizen can become a disseminator

  • Opinions can be exported from Hong Kong to other parts of the world

5. Psychological warfare action team

The College Student Branch of the United Front Work Department of the Hong Kong Working Committee of the Chinese Communist Party has preliminarily decided to set up a psychological warfare action team to carry out the above works.

The Hong Kong Working Committee of the CCP has taken the lead in cracking down on dissidents by using "cyber psychological warfare." It was only in December 2003 that the CCP formally incorporated "cyber psychological warfare" into its military training.[1] However, as early as July 2003, the Chinese Communist Party underground in Hong Kong had started a "non-smoking" war against the social opposition in Hong Kong, which shows the extent of its hatred and damage to Hong Kong.

In order to carry out the cyber psychological warfare, the Chinese Communist Party began to set up many small-scale online media in Hong Kong, such as Dot Dot News, Orange News, Lion Rock Daily, HoMemory, Kowloon Post, (Hong Kong United Foundation, HKUF], Speakout HK,,,, Hong Kong Good News, Think Hong Kong,, Sky Post, Lite News Hong Kong, Mango Directions,,, KOL HK and so on. In addition, there are a number of online paid posters[2] who specialize in attacking their opponents online.

Third Countermeasure: Develop Think-Tanks To Divide And Subvert The Opposition

The third countermeasure is to build up think-tanks to unite people from all walks of life.

The report proposes that the Chinese government set up think-tanks as the third countermeasure. The purpose is to absorb forces from all sides and, through the use of think-tanks, attract those who can be divided and subverted from the opposition forces to the pro-CCP side. The original report says:

1. "As rulers.... In our bones, of course, we know who the enemies are, and in our bones, we must fight against them, but there is no need for us to express or manifest this idea in public actions or forms. Instead, we have to act publicly or formally as if they are friends who can cooperate, just as we do with the United States in our public diplomacy."

2. "Now we have to learn from the method of cultivating scholars in Warring States Period, such as Meng Changjun, Lu Buwei and other noblemen. They all nurtured 3,000 intellectuals,[3] that is to say, it is time for the government to invite talents from all walks of life to become the government's contracted think-tankers, and the government will pay each think-tanker a monthly remuneration ranging from 30,000 to 100,000 Hong Kong dollars, and each think-tanker will submit 12 reports every year. Each report is aimed at a topic in Hong Kong, and most of the topics are proposed by the government. Think-tankers don't have to work full-time in the government's think-tank; they can continue to do their existing work. The members of the think-tank should come from the left, middle and right factions, including the heads of news departments of major media, famous journalists, famous speakers, columnists, representatives of various political and social groups, scholars from tertiary institutions, etc. In short, they must include many people who are emotionally unacceptable to us, including many people who often criticize the government, etc."

3. "If an average of 50,000 Hong Kong dollars per month is given to each think-tanker, that is, an average of 600,000 per person every year, assuming that a total of 3,000 think tankers are invited, the annual expenditure of the government will be only 1.8 billion Hong Kong dollars, but this will make most people in the groups with the strongest destructive energy gradually become benign. Therefore, the good social function of such 'nurturing 3,000 intellectuals' will be very great! And it will also play a very positive role in safeguarding our national security!"

4. "The operation mode of the think-tanks can refer to the practice in United Front Media."[4]

5. "The Working Committee shall put forward several candidates for the head of this think tank, and then the SAR government will make a choice."

This exposition shares both the characteristics of "strategic fraud" in the united front work of the Chinese Communist Party (see paragraph 1 quoted above) and its customary technique in united front work (buying people's hearts with generous rewards).

The report by the Hong Kong Working Committee of the CCP is unmistakable proof that the CCP started to attack, divide and eliminate pan-democrats in Hong Kong after the 7.1 March in 2003, a plan implemented nearly a decade before the people of Hong Kong consciously rose up against the CCP, during Hong Kong's protest against implementation of national education of 2012. So isn't it clear who is creating division and hostility in Hong Kong?

The Ultimate Plan: To Destroy Hong Kong By 'Retaining Hong Kong Without Undesirables'

On May 23, 2020, Oriental Daily News, a pro-CCP newspaper, published an article entitled "Hong Kong National Security Law acts fast, keeping Hong Kong without mobs." The article stated:

"It's fine if the Central Government doesn't act, and it will be amazing if it strikes. . . . Do not say that you have not been forewarned. The central government is determined to retain Hong Kong without Hong Kong people, and good plays will come one after another. . .

"Let's say that there are two million people in Hong Kong who support the opposition. If these people disagree with the principle of One Country, they should emigrate with their whole families to other countries.

"If they want to go, just go ahead and we won't send them off. Don't stay in Hong Kong to make trouble. When these two million people leave, those who stay behind must be the people who love their country and Hong Kong and respect the principle of One Country.

"The Central Government can take this opportunity to thoroughly reform the administrative, legislative, judicial, educational and housing issues, and implement the policy of 'retaining Hong Kong without undesirables.' Hong Kong will go from chaos to governance. With the support of the motherland, we can start anew."

This is the first time pro-Communist media revealed that Beijing intended to adopt a policy of "retaining Hong Kong without undesirables."

Hong Kong protest (Source: AFP)

2019: 'Ten Countermeasures'

The idea of a policy of "retaining Hong Kong without undesirables" began to brew in 2019. The scale of the first million-person demonstration in Hong Kong on June 9 that year shocked Beijing. Since then, Beijing has been developing a plan to solve the Hong Kong issue "once and for all." Less than three weeks after the protests began, on June 27, Beijing's Red Flag website published a long article, titled "Warning to the anti-China forces in the United States that are destabilizing Hong Kong: Stop immediately – Crush the Color Revolution in Hong Kong and Resolutely Defend National Unification."[5]

The article put forward "ten countermeasures." These countermeasures are in fact the so-called "bottom line thinking" to formulate the policy of "retaining Hong Kong without undesirables." If fully implemented, Hong Kong will be completely destroyed.

The article's "ten countermeasures" are briefly introduced as follows:

First, establish a political party controlled by the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong, openly recruit party members in Hong Kong, and serve as the relying power of the Chinese Communist Party.[6]

Second, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) should send agencies and personnel to Hong Kong to examine or ban the right-wing trade unions in Hong Kong controlled by Western forces or major capitalists and remold them.

Third, suspend the work of the current government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in view of its failure to "bring violence and chaos to an end." The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong SAR will assume the functions of the Hong Kong SAR government until a new government of the Hong Kong SAR is formally formed.

Fourth, in view of the fact that Hong Kong is in a state of emergency, the PLA Hong Kong Garrison should be mobilized immediately to exercise military law throughout the territory of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and be responsible for the rectification and restructuring of the Hong Kong Police Force.

Fifth, facts have proved that the "one country, two systems" policy cannot be implemented before complete decolonization. Therefore, the implementation of the principle of "one country, two systems" will be suspended at this stage until the decolonization of Hong Kong is completely completed.

Sixth, suspend the powers of the current Legislative Council and High Court of Hong Kong. The National People's Congress, the Supreme People's Court, and central state organs such as the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Education should be accredited relevant agencies to Hong Kong to assist and guide the relevant departments of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, especially the judicial system, in the review of decolonization.

Seventh, the National People's Congress (NPC) should send organs stationed in Hong Kong to examine or ban anti-Communist and anti-China political parties, organizations and relevant individuals in Hong Kong that are supported and financed by Western forces or major capitalists, so as to ensure that the main political forces in Hong Kong will no longer oppose China and will accept the basic political reality that Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China.

Eighth, suspend the functions and powers of key personnel of foreign-related units such as airports, ports and customs in Hong Kong. Relevant departments in China will send agencies and personnel to these units to take over their work temporarily until the new Hong Kong SAR government is formally formed and has started to operate.

Ninth, reform Hong Kong's existing personnel training and reserve system and mechanism, change the way that Hong Kong's civil servants at all levels receive education and training from the West, and establish a new system and mechanism in which the mainland of China will be the main provider of education, cultivating, training, and delivery of talents to Hong Kong. In principle, cadres at all levels who have not been educated and trained in mainland China are not allowed to be promoted in Hong Kong's management bodies at all levels.

Tenth, upon completion of the above work and when conditions are ripe, the Central Government will take the lead to re-elect and form the Hong Kong SAR Government; the National People's Congress will help restructure the Legislative Council and the Supreme People's Court will help restructure the High Court of Hong Kong; the Hong Kong Branch of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) shall be formally established under an appropriate name. On the above basis, the "one country, two systems" structure in Hong Kong shall be reinstated in due course until it is abolished upon the completion of its historical mission in Hong Kong.

I believe that if the CCP's so-called "proposals" are implemented, Hong Kong will be completely destroyed.

*Ching Cheong is a former deputy editor of Wen Wei Po, a pro-Beijing newspaper in Hong Kong, and former chief correspondent of Singapore's Straits Times in China. He was sentenced to five years in prison for alleged espionage in 2005 and has a deep understanding of the Chinese Communist Party.


[1] In December 2003, the Chinese Communist Party promulgated the Regulations on Political Work of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, which puts forward "cyber psychological warfare" for the first time (included in the so-called "three wars" of "public opinion warfare, psychological warfare and legal warfare," see Article 14, paragraph 18 of the Regulations).

[2] Aka online water army, wumao.

[3] 3,000 is a general reference to a large number.

[4] This refers to a work report of the Media Branch of the United Front Work Department of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong SAR.

[5] Hongqi: "Smashing the color revolution in Hong Kong, severely punishing the violent and terrorist forces, and firmly defending the national unity" was published on June 27, 2019, and reprinted on July 17, 2019, with the link to the original text (

[6] This is the so-called "New Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" policy proposed by the CCP.

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