A public endorsement from Beijing will do more harm to whoever candidate bestowed upon.
Here’s a prediction: Beijing will not give any candidate for CE an unambiguous green light for Chief Executive.
Doing so will poison the well for a winning candidate for the next five years, crippling their ability to create any ‘harmony’. A green light from Beijing is a crosshairs for everyone who could possibly cooperate with a non-approved candidate. Pro-dem and localists will be forced by their followers into implacable opposition. Riots, protests, filibusters will continue unabated.
Also, any such candidate would have to fight the impression of being Beijing’s poodle, neglectful of Hong Kong people’s interests.
By contrast, if Party apparatchiks have two or three acceptable candidates, which is how things seem to be going, they could manage reasonably well with any of them. Online wags have been merging the faces of CY on to Regina Ip and Carrie Lam with surprisingly successful creepy results, showing how many feel five years with one of them at the helm would be more of the same.
However, the doctrine of control demands that the overlord not only is in control, but must be seen to be in control. It is hard to tell even if, knowing the right thing to do is to avoid public recommendation of one candidate may not be able to resist. The powers that be in Beijing may feel compelled to show that they had the final say in who was selected.
Unfortunately the mass media here play into that. Even today, people were asking if Regina Ip’s green ensemble at yesterday’s announcement meant she had a green light from Beijing. The speed at which John Tsang resignation is accepted versus Carrie Lam’s is also being dissected in a ridiculous manner.
This will be especially true if the democrats maintain discipline among their 325 vote cohort and make demands of CE finalists in terms of policy. The appearance of some semblance of Beijing not being in control will make them anxious about the perceptions of the people in Tibet, western China and other rowdy regions.
The best thing for Hong Kong and for harmony seeking Communists would be for Beijing to not publicly green light any candidate. They would still lobby like hell behind the scenes. That’s politics. But their compulsion to appear in control may override that good sense, as it often does when those from the command and control polity puzzle over how to work with those who would be free.
Let’s hope for Hong Kong’s sake that they get this one detail right. I think the probability is that they will. Probably.