Burson-Marsteller is negotiating with the chief executive of Hong
Kong, Tung Chi-Hwa, to carry out media relations and public affairs for
the region after next week’s hand-over to the Chinese.
B-M’s Hong Kong office has handled media relations and public affairs
for Tung in Hong Kong and overseas since October 1996 on an eight-month
Tung will take over from governor Chris Patten when the 60-strong
provisional legislature is sworn in on 1 July. He will govern Hong Kong
until elections are held early in 1998.
The agency was retained by Tung’s office, the office of the chief
executive of the special administrative region, to represent it through
the hand-over. The contract expires next month.
’I still think there will be a role for us but that is under
discussion,’ said John Clarke, head of B-M’s public affairs division in
He would not disclose fees but said the account was his division’s
second largest. His biggest client is tobacco company Phillip
PR for Tung’s office is also handled by the former colony’s Government
Public affairs business in Hong Kong is increasing as a consequence of
the hand-over, according to Clarke. ’Where there is uncertainty there is
enormous potential for public relations firms,’ said Clarke.
Changes in Hong Kong over the last few years have reduced the influence
of the business community. Patten made businesses more accountable
through the Consumer Council. The number of elected legislators, many
from democratic parties, has increased during his term.
Over the coming year grass roots politicians from pro-China parties,
such as the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, are
expected to gain more seats on the legislature, the district boards and
the regional councils.