Before the handover in 1997, Chinese government officials worried that the dastardly British colonial devils would leave ‘time bombs’ behind. They never specified what form these booby-traps would take, but they seemed to assume the existence of deliberately inbuilt faults within Hong Kong’s physical, institutional or even social structure. They never explained why they thought the UK would want to do such a thing; the implication was that China, still feeling its way in the world of international relations, assumed that all countries behaved like spiteful children.
After the handover, the new rulers did (allegedly, etc) find eavesdropping devices planted within walls at the Tamar military HQ and Government House.* There were dark hints from some mainland officials that outside forces were helping to foster public discontent, and patriotic loyalists occasionally saw puppets of London or Washington among alien elements in the city’s legal system, schools and media. But no time-bombs went off.
*Supposedly the true reason Tung claimed to dislike the feng-shui. There was even a rumour that the Legislative Council was bugged, though it is hard to believe anyone could be so desperate to hear what people were saying there.
However, our first post-reunification leader, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, bequeathed certain recurring nuisances that never seem to go away. For reasons that probably made sense in his poor, addled mind during his tragic decline in the late 90s and early 2000s, the crop-haired one determined that he should “put Hong Kong on the map.”
“We checked the map sir,” his assistants assured him, “and it seems we’re already on it.” But he wouldn’t take no for an answer. The result was that the Big Lychee became a minefield of munitions destined to be ticking away long after Tofu-for-Brains himself would otherwise have faded from memory.
Thus we had the World Trade Organization Mutant Korean Farmers Rampage of 2007, followed by the wretchedly tiresome East Asian Games – a sub-sub-sub-Olympics attended by various past, present and future tributary states and special administrative regions of China – in 2009. Meanwhile, there is a constant procession into and out of town of anesthesiologists, women’s rights activists, HOFEX, Infocomm Asia and a thousand other conventions and congresses to gum up our transport infrastructure and plod around Wanchai wearing brightly coloured name tags.
And now, to quote yesterday’s South China Morning Post: “Hong Kong has taken another step forward in its quest for sporting glory.” The Asian Games Provisional Bid Committee is born, tasked to advise an eager government that has no doubt already made its mind up about venue availability, accommodation and potential economic costs and (it says) benefits. Oh, and “engage community support.”
What have we done to deserve it? Why do they hate us so much?
The list of people dragged in to sit on this body is the usual caricature, including Anthony Wu of Bauhinia Foundation fame, bosses of the Jockey Club and Cathay Pacific, second-generation scions of various family-owned companies, a few token squash players and wheelchair fencers, plus former Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference delegate Hu Fa-kuang CBE, JP, GBS and his son, Herman Hu Shao-ming.
Hu Senior is 86 and possibly hopes to be selected for the Hong Kong 4 x 400m relay squad – which brings me to the glimmer of good news. This event will take place in 2023. Plenty of time to emigrate, die or something.