Or you might believe it’s this awful by accident

Quoting (as in ‘being used by’) anonymous sources, the SCMP reports that Beijing is going to change its approach to Hong Kong. The outline is vague and largely yawn-inducing: stick with the local administration for now (for want of an alternative); put a lid on the protests (presumably a foreign plot to destabilize the nation), but without using Mainland forces; unite and strengthen the pro-government support base (more tired old United Front micro-meddling); and then, in the longer term, somehow reform governance.

In brief, the CCP – taken by surprise by the unrest – hasn’t got a clue what to do, but realizes it must do something (involving tighter control, naturally).

What’s worth noting is the stress on Mainland officials investigating what’s happening and drawing up strategies in response. The impression is that the Hong Kong government itself is a bystander along with the rest of us.

This follows two other leak-smears – the one in which Carrie Lam alone instigated and managed the whole extradition bill, and the one in which Carrie tried to resign but wasn’t allowed to. And it comes at a time when her administration is, presumably, being forbidden to take obvious steps to defuse the situation (like officially ‘withdrawing’ the bill, or promising an independent inquiry into the unrest). Meanwhile, in the absence of top-level leadership, the police are left to handle a mass political protest movement with ineffective or counter-productive tactics. It’s an almost-inexplicable spiral into ever-deeper doo-doo paralysis.

A paranoid wacko conspiracy theory… Beijing’s officials are setting the Hong Kong government up – and more than they need to simply to protect their own backsides. The aim is to make the local administration appear (or indeed actually be) so disastrously and unbelievably incompetent that, whatever the CCP puts in its place, everyone will welcome it as a relief.

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17 Responses to Or you might believe it’s this awful by accident

  1. Xi Jin Ping's Merkin says:

    i read that article with the same lens as you, dear hemlock sir.
    It really does seem to me that Hong Kong faces three existential threats. The first is so obvious you forget it, which is that the journalists report on this stuff without explaining its implications. Hong Kong media seems to be nothing more than a CCTV camera. It just reports what it sees, and then it stops. It is left for people in vacuums to surmise what it might mean.
    Number two is that Carrie Lam is woefully unprepared for Hong Kong’s fight for its life. Civil Servant with no discernible political poise, she seems to be quite fine with just letting it all collapse in on itself.
    Number three is this rampant belief that all this disorder can’t come from the system itself, or the lack of a working system. It must be that something, someone, some others have conspired to attack the system so sneakily all at once that “our” abilities to predict and adjust to such onslaughts have been overwhelmed. Like you, I do think the end game is deeper and deeper control and equally deep levels of political doo doo for the public.
    Get ready for extremely tight restrictions on personal freedoms.

  2. YTSL says:

    There are indeed people (“Don’t rock the boat” and “the government always knows better than the people” types mainly) who believe that the more people protest, the more Hong Kong is being set up for a fall into greater repression.

    Is there no possibility at all that the authorities (in Beijing or wherever) could see the light and realize that the more repression there is in Hong Kong, the more opposition and unrest there will be — and so try the opposite tactic of loosening controls to actually gain control of the overall situation?

  3. Four O'Clock Blow Sir says:

    Whatever the ‘task force’ in Shenzhen is doing, they do it mostly to impress their superiors while covering their asses at the same time. So don’t expect any fireworks. At best (worst?) there will be threats and ‘strong words’ and finally nothing substantial will happen.

  4. Mark Bradley says:

    “Is there no possibility at all that the authorities (in Beijing or wherever) could see the light and realize that the more repression there is in Hong Kong, the more opposition and unrest there will be — and so try the opposite tactic of loosening controls to actually gain control of the overall situation?”

    No because that is not how a bunch of Leninist thugs think. They only think about tightening their grip harder like a constricting python.

    If we were talking about the HK colonial government under the British then yes absolutely the opposite tactic of loosening controls would be on the table. But that is simply unthinkable when it comes to Leninist sociopaths.

    I want to be proven wrong too!!!

  5. Chinese Netizen says:

    @YTSL: You forget, in your second para, the recurring theme of Hemlock’s narrative through the years: The Leninist CCP micromanaging control freaks could NEVER allow any possibility of it happening because it goes against ALL they know and has been pounded through endless, mind numbing “meetings” and rote party education. There is NO “thinking out of the box” on this.

    The more opposition and unrest that occurs will finally unleash midnight disappearances of perceived movement leaders and eventually full PLA led martial law. Remember, commies though they are, they still also have the burden of Confucian guilt and “tradition”.

  6. Bagesty says:

    YTSL – Such seeing of the light would require Beijing to talk to Hongkongers who don’t agree with them. Who in their right mind would volunteer for that?

  7. Din Dan Che says:

    “upset that its traditional intelligence channels in Hong Kong failed to accurately gauge the public mood”
    The United Front stooges are going to be roasted by the Liaison Office – unfortunately, however, it will mean more of these base elements roughing up kids, vandalising Lennon Walls and more.
    And the whinging by plainclothes officers in an SCMP piece today suggests they’ll be compensated heartily as the united front is reinvigorated.

  8. The latest brilliant wheeze from the pro-government side (Junius “kill them all” Ho and Ann “foreign infiltrator spotter” Chiang, to be exact) is a proposal to ban all protests until September. So in addition to all the current protests, we will no doubt see a wave of unauthorised protests against the ban on protests. These people are really not very bright, are they?

  9. Cassowary says:

    Leaving aside the silent takeover of the Hong Kong news media by pro-Beijing tycoons, the majority of journalists in Hong Kong are 23 year-olds who will last in the news business for about 4 years before they go off to work in corporate communications. They will then be replaced by other 23 year-olds. There is no institutional memory being built up, few people doing deeper analysis, few people with enough general or historical knowledge to put things into context. Just a bunch of harried underpaid uni graduates rushing from press conference to press conference, churning out their 300-400 words of clickbait by 4 p.m., day after day.

  10. Cassowary says:

    @Chinese Netizen
    We’d have to wait for Xi Jinping to die. Even by the standards of the CCP, he’s the most controlling, paranoid motherfucker to rule China in decades.

  11. dimuendo says:

    Cassowary

    Before Xi actually came to power, somebody said he and his genration were the first to come to power whose formative years had been spent in the Cultural Revolution and “it will not be nice”. Thus if we take the Cultutal Revolution as being effectvely 1964 to end of 1978 there are 14 years of CR despots to be got through, of which we have had 5. Personally I doubt HK will survive in it present form another 8 or so years.

    AS to Xi Jin Ping’s first point, the most important aspect is that the media accurately and truthfully reports what happens (to misquote CP Scott, facts must be sacred) but memory, history and ability to intelligently analyse (NOT spout their own opinion) is also very important.

  12. dimuenedo says:

    sorry, the Xi Jin Ping’s Merkin’s first point

  13. caractacus says:

    So Beijing is going to change its approach to Hong Kong?
    Emperor Tiberius’ statement of the mutinous Rhine regiments “that whether he fulfilled the promises depended on the behaviour of the men. (By this he did not mean, as Germanicus supposed, that if the men returned to obedience he would fulfil the promises, but exactly the reverse.)” (Robert Graves, I Claudius Chapter 16)

  14. Jessiedog says:

    It’s all so very depressing for those of us that are old and poor and have no hope of anything better than greater poverty to come.

    Kudos to Mary Melville for championing local issues.

    I fear the worst for my future. A rapid decline.

  15. Guest says:

    @Private Beach: does that include pro-government demonstrations?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Ho and Chiang make an exception for them.

  16. @Guest – apparently the DAB has one planned for this weekend – supposedly against violence and in support of the police. Some contradiction there, methinks.

  17. 1989 says:

    @ Cassowary

    I wouldn’t be too sure about that. Declassified:

    SECRET

    D E D I P

    UK COMMS ONLY

    FM PEKING

    TO DESKBY 051600Z FCO

    TELNO 1039

    OF 051421Z JUNE 89

    AND TO DESKBY 051600Z HONG KONG, JSIS HONG KONG, MODUK

    SIC U2b

    DESKBY 051600Z MODUK AND JSIS⁠HONG KONG.

    HONG KONG PERSONAL FOR GOVERNOR.

    CHINA: BACKGROUND TO MILITARY SITUATION.

    1. HE HAS PASSING ON INFORMATION GIVEN HIM BY A CLOSE FRIEND WHO IS CURRENTLY A MEMBER OF THE STATE COUNCIL. THIS SOURCE HAS PREVIOUSLY PROVED RELIABLE AND WAS CAREFUL TO SEPARATE FACT FROM SPECULATION AND RUMOUR.

    2. FACT. THE ARMY THAT HAS COMMITTED THE ATROCITIES IN BEIJING IS 27 ARMY WHO ARE TROOPS FROM SHANXI PROVINCE (?), ARE 60 PERCENT ILLITERATE AND ARE CALLED PRIMITIVES. THE COMMANDER OF 27 ARMY WAS YANG ZHENHUA, SON OF YANG BAIDING BROTHER OF YANG SHANGKUN. THEY WERE KEPT WITHOUT NEWS FOR TEN DAYS AND TOLD THEY WERE TO TAKE PART IN AN EXERCISE. A TV FILM WOULD BE MADE OF THE EXERCISE WHICH PLEASED THEM. THEY WERE INFORMED OF MARTIAL LAW ON MAY 20. FOR THE FIRST 4 DAYS AFTER ARRIVAL THEY WERE DRIVEN AROUND BEIJING CITY TO FAMILIARISE THEM WITH THE AREA. 27 ARMY ARE AT FULL STRENGTH WITH THEIR OWN TANKS AND APCS AND A FULL OUTFIT OF AMMUNITION, TEAR GAS AND FLAMETHROWERS. OTHER ARMIES ARE ONLY AT 1 DIVISION STRENGTH. THE LEADERSHIP KEEPS 27 ARMY ON THE MOVE SO THAT IT CAN ATTACK FROM A DIFFERENT DIRECTION EACH TIME.

    3. FACT. ON THE NIGHT OF 3/4 JUNE 27 ARMY WAS TO ATTACK FROM THE WEST WITH OTHER UNITS FROM SHENYANG MR. THE PLAN WAS THAT THE FIRST WAVE (SMR) WOULD ATTACK WITH NO WEAPONS. THE SECOND WAVE (SMR) WOULD ATTACK WITH WEAPONS BUT NO AMMUNITION. THE THIRD WAVE (SMR) WOULD ATTACK AS FOR SECOND WAVE BUT OFFICERS WOULD HAVE LOADED SIDE ARMS TO FRIGHTEN THE CROWD. THE FOURTH WAVE WOULD BE 27 ARMY WITH FULL EQUIPMENT AND AMMUNITION. THE FIRST ATTACKS OCCURRED AT MUCIDI AND SHILIPU. THE FIRST THREE WAVES WERE HELD BY THE DEMONSTRATORS AND SMR TROOPS TRIED TO PUSH BACK THE CROWDS TO LET 27 ARMY THROUGH. THEY FAILED AND 27 ARMY APCS OPENED FIRE ON THE CROWD (BOTH CIVILIANS AND SOLDIERS) BEFORE RUNNING OVER THEM IN THEIR APCS.

    4. FACT. THE ENRAGED MASSES FOLLOWED IGNORING M/G FIRE TO NEXT BATTLE AT LIUBUKOU. APCS RAN OVER TROOPS AND CIVILIANS AT 65KPH IN SAME MANNER. ONE APC CRASHED AND DRIVER (A CAPTAIN) GOT OUT AND WAS TAKEN BY CROWD TO HOSPITAL. HE IS NOT DERANGED AND DEMANDS DEATH FOR HIS ATROCITIES.

    5. FACT. ON ARRIVAL AT TIANANMEN TROOPS FROM SMR HAD SEPARATED STUDENTS AND RESIDENTS. STUDENTS UNDERSTOOD THEY WERE GIVEN ONE HOUR TO LEAVE SQUARE BUT AFTER FIVE MINUTES APCS ATTACKED. STUDENTS LINKED ARMS BUT WERE MOWN DOWN INCLUDING SOLDIERS. APCS THEN RAN OVER BODIES TIME AND TIME AGAIN TO MAKE QUOTE PIE UNQUOTE AND REMAINS COLLECTED BY BULLDOZER. REMAINS INCINERATED AND THEN HOSED DOWN DRAINS.

    6. 27 ARMY ORDERED TO SPARE NOONE AND SHOT WOUNDED SMR SOLDIERS. 4 WOUNDED GIRL STUDENTS BEGGED FOR THEIR LIVES BUT WERE BAYONETED. A 3 YEAR OLD GIRL WAS INJURED BUT HER MOTHER WAS SHOT AS SHE WENT TO HER AID AS WERE SIX OTHERS WHO TRIED. 1000 SURVIVORS WERE TOLD THEY COULD ESCAPE VIA ZHENGYI LU BUT WERE THEN MOWN DOWN BY SPECIALLY PREPARED M/G POSITIONS. ARMY AMBULANCES WHO ATTEMPTED TO GIVE AID WERE SHOT UP AS WAS A SINO-JAPANESE HOSPITAL AMBULANCE. WITH MEDICAL CREW DEAD WOUNDED DRIVER ATTEMPTED TO RAM ATTACKERS BUT WAS BLOWN TO PIECES BY ANTI TANK WEAPON. IN FURTHER ATTACK APCS CAUGHT UP WITH SMR STRAGGLER TRUCKS, RAMMED AND OVERTURNED THEM AND RAN OVER TROOPS. DURING ATTACK 27 ARMY OFFICER SHOT DEAD BY OWN TROOPS APPARENTLY BECAUSE HE FALTERED. TROOPS EXPLAINED THEY WOULD BE SHOT IF THEY HADN’T SHOT OFFICER.

    7. SPECULATION. 27 ARMY USED BECAUSE MOST RELIABLE AND OBEDIENT. SOME CONSIDERED OTHER ARMIES WOULD ATTACK 27 ARMY BUT THEY HAD NO AMMUNITION. ZHONGZHAI WAS PROTECTED BY 2 RINGS OF TANKS/APCS ONE INSIDE THE WALL, ONE WITHOUT.

    8. RUMOUR. SOME SMR HAD RETURNED TO HOME BASES FOR AMMUNITION. ARMIES FROM SHANDONG, JIANGSI AND XINJIANG HAD LEFT BASES WITHOUT ORDERS FROM BEIJING TO DESTROY 27 ARMY. THE MR COMMANDERS FROM GUANZHOU, BEIJING AND SHENYANG HAS REFUSED TO ATTEND A RECENT MEETING OF MR COMMANDERS CALLED BY YANG SHANGKUN.

    9. FACT. BEIJING MR COMMANDER HAD REFUSED TO SUPPLY OUTSIDE ARMIES WITH FOOD, WATER OR BARRACKS. SOURCE SAID MANY BARRACKS IN BEIJING BUT NOTE TV PICTURES OF TENTS. 27 ARMY WERE USING DUM-DUM BULLETS. 27 ARMY SNIPERS SHOT MANY CIVILIANS ON BALCONIES, STREETSWEEPERS ETC FOR TARGET PRACTICE. BEIJING HOSPITALS HAD BEEN ORDERED TO ACCEPT ONLY SECURITY FORCE CASULTIES. SO FAR 6 FOREIGN STUDENTS AND 23 FOREIGN JOURNALISTS HAD BEEN KILLED IN THE FIGHTING (NOTE: WE HAVE NO EVIDENCE OF THIS).

    10. FACT. THE FIRST PHASE OF THE OPERATION WAS TO SECURE TIANANMEN. THE NEXT PHASE WOULD BE TO CONTROL MAJOR ROADS AND INTERSECTIONS AND MOVE OUTWARDS FROM CENTRE. THIS WOULD START WITHIN 2 DAYS.

    11. FACT. YANG SHANGKUN AND DENG XIAOPING WERE VERY CLOSE FRIENDS. SOME MEMBERS OF THE STATE COUNCIL THAT CIVIL WAR IS IMMINENT. QIN JIWEI WAS FORCED UNWILLINGLY TO APPEAR IN BACKGROUND IN TV PROGRAMME ON 20 MAY TO GIVE AURA OF UNITY. MINIMUM ESTIMATE OF CIVILIAN DEAD 10,000.

    DONALD

    LIMITED

    HD/FED
    HD/HKD
    PS
    PS/Lord Gluanthen
    M. Gillmore
    M. McLaren
    M. Wye—Research Dept.
    CONFIDENTIAL
    FM PEKING
    TO IMMEDIATE MODUK
    TELNO U/N
    OF 250513Z MAY 89
    AND TO IMMEDIATE JSIS HONG KONG, OTTAWA
    INFO IMMEDIATE FCO

    SIC U2B

    MODUK FOR DI ROW 3B.
    OTTAWA FOR DA TO PASS TO ND HQ.

    FROM NA

    MILITARY SITUATION BEIJING AS AT 250200Z MAY.

    1.⁠AS POLITICAL POWER STRUGGLE INTENSIFIES, SURVEILLANCE OF MILITARY UNITS IN BEIJING AREA WILL CONTINUE BY JOINT EFFORTS OF U S, UK, CANADIAN AND AUSTRALIAN ATTACHE OFFICES.

    2.⁠AFTER ROUND-UP P M 24 MAY CURRENT DISPOSITION IS:

    A.⁠28 ARMY (FROM MONGOLIAN BORDER) UNLOCATED NW OF BEIJING. PROBABLY NORTH OF NANKOU (NW TAM 45 KM).

    B.⁠55 ARMY. FROM DATONG. LOCATED ON BEIJING RIFLE RANGE SOUTH WEST OF NANKOU. TPS ARE CAMPED ON THE RANGE.

    C.⁠64 ARMY. FROM LIAONING PROVINCE. SEEN 24 MAY ON TWO TRAINS AT CHANGPING RLWY SIDINGS (NW TAM 40 KM).

    D.⁠40 ARMY. FROM LIAONING PROVINCE. LOCATED SHAHE AIRFIELD (N TAM 30 KM).

    E.⁠24 ARMY. FROM CHENGDE. LOCATED IN THE HUAIROU AREA (NE TAM 45 KM).

    F.⁠39 ARMY. FROM LIAONING PROVINCE. LOCATED ON TONGXIAN AIRFIELD (E TAM 22 KM).

    G.⁠27 ARMY. FROM ZHIJIAZHUANG. LOCATED IN DAXING (S TAM 20 KM) H.⁠U/I ARMY. POSSIBLY FROM HENAN PROVINCE. LOCATED SOUTH OF TAM.

    I.⁠63 ARMY. FROM SHANXI PROVINCE. UNLOCATED SOUTH WEST OF LIANXIANG (SW TAM 30 KM).

    J.⁠38 ARMY. FROM BAODING. SCATTERED AROUND SOUTH WESTERN AREA OF BEIJING CITY. APPROX 10 KM FROM TAM.

    K.⁠BEIJING GARRISON ARMY (LOCAL). SEVERAL DIVISIONS IDENTIFIED AS HAVING TAKEN PART IN OPERATIONS DURING LAST FEW DAYS. ALL UNITS BELIEVED QUARTERED IN GARRISON LOCATIONS.

    L.⁠43 AIRBORNE DIV (15TH ARBORNE ARMY). FROM WUHAN. LOCATED ON NANYUAN AIRFIELD (SW TAM 15 KM). WITH INDIGENOUS TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT.

    M.⁠6 TANK DIV (LOCAL). LOCATED IN THE CHANGQINDIAN AREA (SW TAM 20 KM).

    3.⁠LAST FORMATION TO ARRIVE DID SO 24 MAY (64 ARMY). REMAINING FORMATIONS HAVE MOVED TO CONCENTRATION AREAS AND ARE ENGAGED IN LOGISTIC RESUPPLY. OUR BET ESTIMATE OF NUMBER OF TROOPS IN BEIJING AREA IS NOW INCREASED TO 100,000.

    4.⁠POLITICAL/MILITARY SITUATION. RUMOURS ABOUND WITH MUCH FICTION AND LITTLE FACT. WE CANNOT SUBSTANTIATE REPORTS THAT SIX MILITARY REGIONS (NOT BEIJING) SUPPORT LI PENG. PEOPLE’S DAILY (OFFICIAL MOUTHPIECE) OF 24 MAY REPORTED THAT PARTY COMMITTEES (I.E. POLITICAL COMMISSARS) OF AIR FORCE, NAVY, LANZHOU AND JINAN MILITARY REGIONS HAVE SENT MESSAGES IN SUPPORT OF LI PENG AND YANG SHANGKUN AND APPEAL TO COMMANDERS TO RESIST CHAOS AND OBEY ORDERS FROM PARTY CENTRAL COMMITTEE AND CENTRAL MILITARY COMMISSION.

    5.⁠GENERAL WANG HAI COMMANDER PLAAF PLUS PLAAF COMMANDERS OF BEIJING AND CHENGDU MILITARY REGIONS ARE DUE TO LEAVE CHINA 28 MAY APPROX TO VISIT UK AND FRANCE. THEIR FINAL DECISION TO GO OR NOT WILL BE A VALUABLE INDICATOR.

    DONALD

    YYYY

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