CY Leung reaches for the red-hot tongs

Former Chief Executive CY Leung is angling for a key new job in the next Hong Kong administration. After venting patriotic spleen at companies with the nerve to advertise in Apple Daily, he starts a struggle session against the Education Secretary for being soft on counter-revolutionary radical teachers. Meanwhile, the pro-democracy paper reports that the number of bad elements purged from Cathay Pacific has hit three figures.

Get used to this. The new Beijing-run Hong Kong can expect political loyalty tests and ideological cleansing in the civil service, universities and schools, other parts of the public sector, and in high-profile companies (themselves increasingly Mainland-influenced). Vengeful employees will inform on their colleagues, murky websites will dox dissidents, or, as with BNP Paribas, orchestrated campaigns will demand rectification.

After the riots in Hong Kong in 1967, leftists were blacklisted and could only find work in patriotic organizations. But their numbers were quite small. Today, perhaps the majority of the workforce identify as pan-dem. CY will be busy. So will relocation and immigration consultants.

One modest but potentially potent method of resistance could be to boycott pro-Beijing companies. To no-one’s great surprise, they are so concentrated that it’s hard to avoid them without starving yourself. They include 7-Eleven – a pillar of our urban civilization – and both Starbucks and Pacific Coffee. A good reason to hunt out indie coffee shops where they exist; otherwise, help yourself to generous amounts of tissues and sugar sachets.

I declare the autumnal cooler-and-sunny weekend open with a range of hopefully-not-too-depressing reading.

Amnesty International does the HK Police – and the image of Asia’s World City takes another dive. (In more bad news for Hong Kong’s hapless PR-agency-shunned leaders, US politicians are pushing a Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which is sort of pointless but at the same time will lead to brain-exploding levels of Panda-Tantrum. Donald Trump doesn’t read The Guardian, but he does watch Fox & Friends. While we fret about tear gas and MTR stations, Hong Kong is a hotspot in a much bigger global clash. We even get a lobby on the Hill.)

An impressive perceptiveness-to-words ratio in a short thread on an academic’s remarks on Hong Kong. ‘This is a moment to test the wisdom of China’s leaders’.

Speaking of The Hillwhy this is not 1989.

NPR on how Beijing came to use fake Twitter accounts against Hong Kong’s democracy movement.

Introducing Lausan – Hong Kong writing from a ‘left perspective’ (that’s to say rather heavy-going, and not much laughs). Some interesting grappling with contradictions here, as the writers try hard to differentiate their anti-CCP position from that of evil capitalists. They actually meet the challenge head-on: see their articles on the US Act here and here.

From the SCMP, the most elaborate infographic imaginable on Hong Kong’s summer of discontent.

From HK Free Press, what Singaporeans think about the situation in Hong Kong. (Whaddya mean, ‘Singaporeans can think???’)

The superstar of mainstream economists George Magnus offers a long-range outlook for China. They might become the biggest economy in the world, they might escape the middle-income trap – but quite possibly they won’t. To take just one problem…

…the combination of weak fertility and rising longevity means that China will age as rapidly in the next 22 years as most western countries have done over 50–75 years, and with much lower levels of income per head and far less sophisticated social programmes.

Chairman Xi Jinping’s answer to China’s demographic and other challenges: replacing the 10 Commandments in churches with, in all humility, his own quotations. (I guess he could have kept the first: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.)

Last but definitely not least: you liked the harp performance of the ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ anthem – here’s the bagpipe version.

Posted in Blog | 12 Comments

Also cancelled: the HK government

The Hong Kong government and/or Jockey Club cancels both the National Day fireworks, and a horse-racing night. Owing to unforeseen popular uprisings beyond our control.

It’s unclear what could go wrong with the fireworks display – the curt official press release mentions ‘the latest situation’. Maybe they think crowds will mock the patriotic pyrotechnics somehow. Or they are afraid that, after three months of tear gas and rubber bullets everywhere, people will find the show boring. Perhaps we are supposed to be Sorely Vexed and blame the evil radicals for ruining innocent children’s fun. It is a mystery.

The race night is cancelled because one horse in one race belongs to widely loathed gangster-friendly pro-Beijing figure Junius Ho. Maybe the Club is concerned that someone will repeat suffragette Emily Davison’s historic protest. For horse-racing types, this is a big deal – the evening’s mind-numbing pastime could have gone ahead had Ho (of whom they clearly know little) done the sporting gentlemanly thing and withdrawn the nag.

Any chance of cancelling some golf, or the bizarre Formula E thing?

The government did not cancel yesterday’s Meet the Riff-Raff PR Stunt between Carrie Lam and district council members – but it probably should have, as only one in five of the invitees turned up. This means even most pro-Beijing members boycotted the event. Presumably, they hope this will give them an air of trendy, hip, edgy credibility among voters ahead of the forthcoming elections.

This will be followed by a series of Meet the Peasants Photo-Ops starting next week – part of the Daringly Bold Pilot Scheme for Listening to the Natives. It is ‘headed by a retired bureaucrat’ (originally a cop, who rose to become Permanent Secretary for [I’m not making this up] Innovation and Technology), whose remit is to ‘take charge of coordinating the dialogue platform programmes initiated by the government and suggestions made by the non-government sector’.

It is easy to make fun of the fact that Carrie Lam’s answer to everything is to set up a committee. But this obviously pitiful and insulting Platform for Dialogue idea is more symbolically meaningful than you might think.

For 20 years, the Hong Kong government has refused to listen to public opinion – and now it has finally blown up in their faces. The Hong Kong administration, as an institution, has lost legitimacy not only among the Hong Kong people, but among the Chinese leadership. Beijing has pushed it aside, taken command of key functions like the police, and ordered the local officials to do nothing except await orders as the CCP decides how to fix the mess. The Hong Kong government has been allowed to set up its harmless little Platform for Dialogue precisely because it will have no impact on anything.

Posted in Blog | 30 Comments

HK govt PRoblems

One of the most stunning remarks Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam made in her famous leaked comments was that the administration that follows hers would need serious PR advice. She genuinely believes that the main problem is ‘poor communication’ of the government’s policies. No possibility that the policies themselves are bad.

This goes back to the dawn of the Special Administrative Region. Tung Chee-hwa constantly fretted that the government must ‘communicate more’. (This suggests a sort of progress – at least officials today think the problem is the quality rather than the sheer quantity of the communication.)

Carrie lamented that PR companies had turned away her administration’s requests for help. An industry journal called the Holmes Report helpfully dug up some details. The Guardian then ran with it. The Hong Kong government has become the lePRous account that no agency will touch.

Bearing in mind that PR agencies will happily work for such wholesome and noble clients as the Saudi regime or opioid-peddling pharma giants, this is quite something.

It would be tempting to think that it is purely because of the impossibility of getting Hong Kong’s deluded bureaucrats out of their fantasy land and admit that they, not their audience, are the problem. The invitation to pitch for the account (on Holmes Report) suggests that Hong Kong officials were indeed obsessed with just re-screeching the same vacuous Asia’s World City slogans. But PR agencies like taking money from suckers a challenge.

The big problem is not simply that the Hong Kong government’s reputation is toxic. If Carrie’s people had just chopped a journalist to pieces in an embassy or hooked half of West Virginia on painkillers – fine, we can work on that.

The problem is that the Hong Kong government’s antagonists – the competition for audience sympathy – are so well-known and attractive internationally. The protesters, in all their photogenic glory, have won the soft power. There’s nothing to be gained from representing a client whose cops are laying into these smart, creative, defiant, doe-eyed kids. It would be like winning the account for the people who club baby seals to death. Don’t even bother.

Instead, the Hong Kong government must try do-it-yourself image enhancement. For example, recycling some newspaper ad material on Twitter. Where people can add whatever comments they like. This is not pretty.

Back to the soft power… What do watercolour painting and harp-playing have in common? They’re both much harder than they look. Here are the visuals, and here’s the music.

Posted in Blog | 9 Comments

HK Govt launches Unwashed Disenfranchised Rabble Hordes Relations Dept.

Moody’s downgrades Hong Kong’s Aa2 credit rating to ‘negative’. The explanation echoes that of Fitch…

The change in outlook to negative reflects the rising risk that the ongoing protests reveal an erosion in the strength of Hong Kong’s institutions, with lower government and policy effectiveness than Moody’s had previously assessed, and undermine Hong Kong’s credit fundamentals by damaging its attractiveness as a trade and financial hub.

The ratings-speak sounds almost cryptic: there is a ‘rising risk’ that ‘protests reveal’ an ‘erosion in the strength’ of Hong Kong’s institutions. It adds that ‘the longer the stalemate persists, the greater the risk that these strengths are revealed to be eroding’. Stripped down, it means the protests are highlighting just how surprisingly crap Hong Kong’s governance might be. As with Fitch, Moody’s expresses concern that closer political and economic ties with China will drag Hong Kong’s standards down. It adds…

The weakening capacity of the Hong Kong government to implement policies to preserve living standards, competitiveness and financial buffers could in turn undermine key drivers of its competitiveness and macroeconomic stability.

Translation: the idiots running the city are a menace to its well-being.

The idiots respond with the standard whiny press release, which – as if they’re not looking pathetic enough already – also deliberately distorts Moody’s wording.

To further emphasize the point, the local government – with nothing else to do now Beijing has taken control of key functions – announces an ‘Office for Dialogue’ (even the SCMP puts the absurdity in quotes). Having refused to listen to outsiders for 20 years, withdrawn ever deeper into a bureaucrat-tycoon echo chamber, barred young people from the legislature and ultimately lost all legitimacy, it now sets up a bureaucratic body to organize some sort of interaction with the natives. With (let us guess) special guest star Henry Tang!

Maybe it can start by discussing some recent opinion poll results.

Carrie’s reading matter in Harry’s cartoon
Posted in Blog | 12 Comments

This weekend’s lesson

Hong Kong’s 15th weekend of street protests was average mayhem. But it confirmed several things about how the HK Police are operating – and the bigger picture.

The police seem to be designing conflict – barring marches and subsequently mounting major operations to suppress them. They seem to have quotas for arrests (and even rounds of tear-gas fired), and are heedless of the impact on passers-by or public opinion. They are using the MTR not only to deny protesters mobility, but as a transport and staging resource. In a sign that something is seriously broken, the cops are visibly collaborating with pro-Beijing thugs.

It’s difficult to squeeze a constructive comment out of pro-establishment figures right now. The nearest to an ‘unofficial official line’ I have heard on this is that the Hong Kong administration, HK Police and MTR are under huge criticism from law-abiding and more militant pro-government groups for being too soft on demonstrators. For example, ‘the MTR is giving free rides to young radicals’, and ‘the old Fujianese guys are the fiercest in accusing the cops of not doing their job’.

An interesting discussion of the street conflicts mentions that the high-profile barricade-burning is a distraction, and the real story is the widespread unpopularity of the cops.

Let’s go further. Perhaps the real story now is that the Hong Kong administration has seriously lost legitimacy – in the eyes of Beijing as well as the people. It is playing only a limited role while its two supposed ‘masters’ are in conflict.

The Liaison Office is now in de facto control of the police (and MTR). The United Front can marshal triads, clan associations and other groups (though their participation so far looks opportunistic). In theory it has all those grassroots voting-fodder in the housing estates (again, not much evidence that they’re being mobilized for counter-demonstrations beyond some patriotic mall-singing). Less dependable local elements of this alliance include the tycoons (who are petrified), and authoritarian/conservative types like Regina Ip voters, retired teachers, Christians, etc.

On the other side: the rest of the Hong Kong people. A glance at big rallies, and Carrie Lam’s approval rating of 17%, suggest that easily two thirds of the population is on-side. These are people who feel strongly about defending their way of life from Beijing. Many are also bitter about longstanding livelihood issues/social injustice. Realization that they are alone – the local administration is essentially out of the picture – and shock at CCP-style police tactics are uniting them.

Maybe this standoff is Beijing’s idea of a holding pattern until the sacred October 1 National Day is over and the CCP can get serious about sorting Hong Kong out. That will mean filling the legitimacy vacuum in the Hong Kong government in some way. (For a clue as to how, ask yourself whether the CCP, after it takes tighter control over something, usually lets it go again later.)

Meanwhile, this situation looks like it’s sliding into some African state in the 1970s where the small minority tribe runs the palace and the military, and the majority ethnic group has had enough.

Posted in Blog | 20 Comments

New evidence Carrie Lam possibly not in vegetative state

The Hong Kong anthem has a score…

The phenomenon of the anthem – a symbolic expression of local loyalty and quasi-sovereignty – should freak out Beijing far more than a burning MTR station. Geremie Barmé at China Heritage presents a translation of an Apple Daily mega-article on the tune and its composer, including the lyrics’ allusions to the May 4th Movement in the 1920s.

We don’t know whether Carrie Lam has heard it yet (seriously – you wonder whether she gets briefed on this sort of thing). We do know that she is having a serious bad-hair summer. This is further confirmed now Reuters has released the full transcript of the hapless Chief Executive’s remarks to her gathering.  

Some of her telling comments, paraphrased… ‘The limited room for me to offer a political solution … is what causes me the greatest sadness’. (Beijing is ordering her administration to let the police beat and tear-gas the city into calm.) ‘I know some people think we should be tougher on protesters. But, given the majority of the public’s views and the people’s sentiments, this anger and this fear and so on, overly tough action could be counterproductive’. (She has some perception that this is a mass movement.)

She also indulges in some hilarious whining about the government’s inability to get its message across (no awareness that the substance, not the style, is the problem). And in the same vein, how future administrations will need professional communications help. Meanwhile, she laments, PR agencies are refusing to touch the Hong Kong government account because it would harm their reputation.

I declare this Friday the 13th/Mid-Autumn Festival weekend open with a selection of reading matter (no whining if some are behind paywalls, etc)…

An LA Times piece says ‘Police atrocities and government intransigence confirm for many that Hong Kong’s political system is rotten to the core’.

The NY Times asks whether Xi Jinping is mishandling Hong Kong…

…even senior officials are reluctant to make the case for compromise or concessions for fear of contradicting or angering Mr. Xi, according to numerous officials and analysts in Hong Kong and Beijing.

And to conclude the US coverage, Rolling Stone presents a (well-captioned) pictorial on the world’s hippest and most photogenic uprising.

The FT digs into Beijing’s problematic dependence on Hong Kong’s oh-so loyal tycoons

…the Civil Aviation Administration of China told executives at Swire Pacific, the airline’s parent group, that their top managers at Cathay “are not patriots”…

…the executives the party recognises as patriots and, therefore, listens to are so scared of the party — and so bent on preserving their enormous economic monopolies in the city — that they only tell the party what they think it wants to hear…

…The party would have been far better served — and Hong Kong would now be in a far better place — if over the years it had instead listened to the alternative voices that could have warned of the unsustainable socio-economic pressures building in the territory.

Activist (and one of the better orators to ever set foot in the Legislative Council) Brian Leung provides a summary of his piece in The Economist.

One for all us convent-school-educated former altar-boys out there: British activist Benedict Rogers on why his fellow-Catholic Carrie Lam won’t be going to heaven.

An Asia Times op-ed sees Hong Kong at the end of an era, and notes that, for the CCP…

…there should be no advantage in absorbing Hong Kong just as there should be no disadvantage in keeping it at it is, a contention that would require the party to come to terms with the fact that being in control does not necessarily mean satisfying the need to control everything…

In case you haven’t seen the Hong Kong version of Delacroix’s Liberty, here it is. The SCMP has done a special feature on Hong Kong protest art, but with some patriotic anti-protest posters as well. It gives me no pleasure to say this – but they’re crap (it’s that sort of Socialist-realism-cartoon thing).

Also from the SCMP, their (excellent) Vancouver correspondent invites a pro-Hong Kong and pro-Beijing resident to a bubble-tea summit.

The second part of the Al Jazeera documentary Hong Kong’s Summer of Defiance by Lianain Films, plus a link to Part 1.

More from China Heritage: interviews with six Hong Kong high-school students on the protest movement.

As we all know, democracies are failing worldwide and the future belongs to the Chinese model – so how come China’s elites are stashing their billions in the West?

And finally, on a lighter note, some Sinic wackademia: the scholars who claim that English is a dialect of Chinese and the Western world has no history before the 15th century AD – Egypt, Greece, Rome, etc are all myths and legends.

Ah – one little last thing for meme fans…

Posted in Blog | 10 Comments

Government resolved to keep rebellion alive

An interesting discussion on the differences between land and housing policy in Hong Kong and Singapore. And here’s more explanation of Hong Kong’s sociopath housing market, including a quote from Ronnie Chan gloating that the margin on Hang Lung’s HarbourSide development was an incredible 78%.

As many supporters of the anti-government movement like to point out, Hong Kong’s unrest is about Beijing’s attacks on the city’s freedoms and way of life, not – as opponents of the protests prefer to think – about basic material things like housing. But stupid/corrupt policies on livelihood issues have undoubtedly helped boost public anger over the years and undermined the local administration’s legitimacy. To China’s leaders, the resulting discontent looks like a threat to national security, thus probably prompting Beijing to speed up Mainlandization. It’s all linked.

Given the CCP’s phobia about institutional reform, the only carrot they can use to calm Hong Kong is better governance on livelihood issues. So it is natural that they want to finally definitely really really Do Something on housing this time.

The pro-Beijing DAB proposes that the government include land resumption – forced purchase, essentially from developers – in the forthcoming Policy Address to release developable land. The party is also criticizing the slow supply of public housing.

The government and the DAB itself have previously opposed resumption – while pro-democrats have suggested it. The DAB is no doubt afraid of losing votes in the coming local elections. But more to the point, it is a core CCP-front. It wouldn’t formally propose that the government include it in next month’s Policy Address unless someone told it to. The property developers’ lobby REDA is also tentatively endorsing the idea (provided it focuses on the least useful parcels of idle farmland they sit on).

We can conclude that this will indeed be in the Policy Address. If so, we look forward to the media asking officials why the mechanism was unacceptable just a few months ago – but has suddenly become possible?

Of course, no-one thinks this gimmick will put the local government’s shattered legitimacy back together. The long, grinding clampdown must continue.

Behold the HK Police Force’s latest bright idea: snitch hotlines. They are on WhatsApp, so you can send photos and so on – I’m sure someone will find imaginative and fun ways to give the cops plenty of leads. Even sillier: issuing off-duty officers with retractable batons, because we don’t have enough image problems already.

And the government is openly looking at using emergency powers. Because – why boost your credibility by 5% through resumption of land when you can cut it by 20% by banning masks?

Pro-Beijing groups are demanding political monitoring of teachers, including cameras in classrooms (already common in Mainland universities, of course). While others are calling for a similar regime to control journalists, and to turn RTHK into a propaganda outlet.

With heavy-handed concepts like these floating around, who needs the CIA to keep the uprising alive? The latest act of resistance to spring out of nowhere is the creation of a Hong Kong anthem. Never mind the lyrics or the melody – just wonder at the hugely symbolic subversiveness of Glory to Hong Kong being sung in malls, and now in an orchestral vid that has gained 660,000 views since… yesterday.

(A rather thin rendition in English if you want, or kawaii Japanese, or try the arrangement for flute. And not forgetting ‘soft power’ – there’s talk of a Vietnamese karaoke version.)

The SCMP coyly calls it a ‘theme tune’. No doubt the government will introduce a second anthem bill making it illegal to stand while this one’s playing.

(If it’s really not your cup of tea and you prefer Taiwanese metalcore – here’s a tribute to Hong Kong from Obsess.)

Posted in Blog | 22 Comments

The ‘two sides’ delusion

Christine Loh makes an impassioned/cliched/snore-inducing plea for moderation, dialogue and reconciliation. Lots of mild and reasonable pro-establishment types make this sort of argument, and when radical protesters vandalize MTR stations many sensitive middle-ground folk might find it appealing.

But it denies the power dynamic of the situation.

This is not a disagreement between two parties of equal standing (as in a contractual dispute). This is a conflict in which one side (the government/Beijing) holds all the power, and the other side (the people/anti-government movement) has none.

Indeed, that imbalance is the root cause of the problem. It is also deliberate: the government has not only resisted giving the people more input, but has systematically worked to exclude them (through disqualifications and the dismantling of upward feedback channels and opinion surveys).

There are no grounds for ‘negotiation’. The ‘both sides must make concessions’ line is meaningless. The onus is on the side that holds all the power (with which, remember, goes ‘responsibility’) to change things. The side with no power, by definition, cannot make changes. (Similarly, it is the job of the government to win the confidence of the people, not the other way round.)

Most people intuitively get this. So why are relatively moderate pro-establishment figures indulging in hand-wringing lovey-dovey mutual-respect bringing-two-sides-together BS?

Some of these people are deluded, and others cannot conceive of institutional reform and representative government anyway. But those who have the intellect to do so (like Loh) don’t dare talk of it, because that directly contradicts Beijing’s public position on what is happening in Hong Kong.

Back in June, the first massive street demonstrations jolted Chief Executive Carrie Lam into admitting that the government had lost touch with public opinion and needed to listen. Since then, that line has shifted: the focus is far more on ‘ending the violence’ and supporting counterproductive Police/MTR measures against protesters – with a dash of ‘both sides’ having a responsibility to ‘come together’ as a sweetener.

This reflects Beijing’s insistence that Hong Kong’s unrest does not reflect broad-based opposition to the government, but is the work of a small number of foreign-backed extremists. That narrative was originally designed to keep domestic opinion on the CCP’s side. It is now being disseminated worldwide by Beijing’s highly persuasive mouth-frothing diplomats and official media.

Hong Kong’s more rational and perceptive establishment figures are now essentially forbidden to publicly acknowledge the extent of the protest movement, let alone its causes. They are probably under pressure to sound deranged (like Fanny Law) and peddle conspiracy theories about ‘comfort girls’ or CIA backing. Bleating about dialogue and reconciliation is almost rebellious and edgy, and the nearest they can get to having credibility (other than having a conscience and telling the truth haha).

This does not bode well. How can you solve a problem when you’re not even allowed to accurately define it?

Posted in Blog | 15 Comments

Fanny Law rated ‘X’ by Fitch

While Beijing dithers over what to do, Hong Kong people can entertain themselves with the sight of their ‘government’ and its supporters wallowing in their own cluelessness.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung repeats the banal bleating about listening to the people. He stresses that the photo-opportunities at which officials plan to meet the peasants should not be seen as a PR stunt. Such hackneyed and unconvincing charades would have been insulting even before this crisis; now, after years of bad governance have blown up in the administration’s face, some bureaucrat comes up with this brainwave. The community is indeed looking forward to these Neighbourhood Warm-and-Cuddly Dialogue Fun Days. The ministers will have to meet the hand-picked commoners behind huge water-filled barriers and rows of riot-police, just to get back to their chauffeur-driven limos without being lynched.

Cheung, who almost triggered a police mutiny when he expressed shock at the Yuen Long MTR triad attack, is a bit predictable. For serious wackiness, we turn to Executive Council member Fanny Law, who regales RTHK listeners with her lurid fantasy about teenage ‘comfort girls’ servicing burly, virile rioters on the barricades amid swirls of tear gas. Is she saying this because CCP propagandists told her to? Or did the 66-year-old, breathlessly dabbing the sweat from her brow in the studio, actually believe it?

Back on Planet Earth, Fitch Ratings gives Hong Kong a downgrade. This is dry stuff, but the first two main opening paragraphs are worth a careful look. Key phrases…

Hong Kong’s conflict and violence are testing the perimeters and pliability of the “one country, two systems” framework … Hong Kong’s [growing linkages with the Mainland] imply continued integration into China’s national governance system, which will present greater institutional and regulatory challenges over time. In Fitch’s view, these developments are consistent with a narrowing of the sovereign rating differential between Hong Kong and mainland China…

Ongoing events have also inflicted long-lasting damage to international perceptions of the quality and effectiveness of Hong Kong’s governance system and rule of law, and have called into question the stability and dynamism of its business environment.

Reading between the lines: Mainlandization (as a reaction to public discontent) is going to damage Hong Kong’s integrity as a business centre; certain events (which, unless they mean Carrie Lam’s hair issues, must refer to politicization of the police, Beijing’s bullying of Cathay Pacific) are specifically going to screw the place from investors’ point of view.

Fitch are not blaming the protests or protestors – but Beijing’s response. The local administration is superficially dismissive, and most likely seething.

Posted in Blog | 15 Comments

Maturity mismatch

This weekend’s events in Hong Kong were sort-of unremarkable. A ‘stress test’ of airport transportation to which few protesters needed to turn up because the police and MTR engaged in pre-emptive disruption. A march perhaps naively asking the US Consulate to send the Cavalry, followed by closure and partial torching of Central MTR station. The usual outbreak in and around Mongkok, plus one in (of all places) Whampoa Gardens, and an above-averagely pointless tear-gas salvo outside Sogo in Causeway Bay. And some mall sit-ins and probably others I’ve missed.

Yet among the mayhem we detect an increasingly clear pattern: in their supposed attempts to curtail disorder, the Hong Kong Police and the MTR are pro-actively maintaining the cycle of violence. This has been happening on occasions throughout the last three months, but it has now obviously become their default operating procedure.

You can see why conspiracy theorists think this is deliberate, though more likely it is just stupidity. While the bureaucrats in government grasp for some way to appear vaguely conciliatory to mainstream public opinion, the cops are obsessively focused on a mission to crush and punish demonstrators at all costs – further alienating the wider community. Assuming that Beijing officials are directly barking demands down the phone to the Security Branch, this looks like a mismatch straight out of ‘One Country, Two Systems’.

(Here’s a timeline of yesterday in Central.)

Meanwhile…

…I hope this doesn’t put ideas into people’s heads.

Similarly on the subject of flags/ideas/heads – there’s this.

Posted in Blog | 26 Comments