Just another Tuesday

Have the Hong Kong Police taken to pepper-spraying and arresting schoolkids in order to appear in step with their Mainland counterparts’ pathological reaction to barely existent ‘jasmine strolls’ during the annual NPC/CPPCC snooze-in? Or were they goaded into being rougher than usual by the demonstrators’ more aggressive and obstructive tactics, like blocking a main road in Central? Or a bit of both?

This is a good time for fans of what Beijing calls ‘contradictions’. Amid the flowers and snores of the Great Hall of the People, deputies learn that China is preparing to end its GDP obsession, ‘basically’ end poverty in 10 years, and spread harmony, prosperity and righteousness the length and breadth of the Middle Kingdom. Elsewhere in the same city, paramilitary police are mobilized to counter the rumoured appearance of protestors attempting to overthrow the government by ‘pretending to take a stroll’, or ordering set meal number three at McDonalds. The leadership is strong and confident, but simultaneously wetting itself at the possible but unconfirmed sight of a mouse.

Meanwhile, here in the Big Lychee, the administration is trying to come to terms with the enormity of what it has accomplished. People said it could not be done. But after Financial Secretary John Tsang’s Great Budget U-Turn Fiasco Massacre of 2011 it is finally beyond all doubt: this government really is an even bigger failure than Tung Chee-hwa’s. How ever did they manage it?

The budget mess and demonstration have distracted attention from this week’s official spin. According to the script, we are currently supposed to be celebrating the fact that Hong Kong (along with trusty sidekick Macau) gets a whole chapter all to itself in China’s 12th Five Year Plan. The purportedly Stalinist-style document decrees the country’s specific economic growth rate for the next 60 months and stipulates that Hong Kong will be the nation’s offshore financial centre. Shanghai will be the onshore one, you see – so the two are not in competition.

This whole subject is getting tired. Ever since the handover in 1997, Beijing and its apologists have used the implicit threat that Shanghai could ‘take over from Hong Kong’ as a warning to the people of the former British colony to shut up and behave. At the same time, top Chinese officials have been humouring the eastern municipality’s claims that it could really happen because they needed its tax revenues and political support. The reality is that all the Marxist central planners on Earth could not create an international financial centre that does not have a freely convertible currency, an independent judiciary, a free press and all the other things a paranoid Chinese Communist Party must abhor. This is a post jasmine-revolution, post-John Tsang Budget world, and the Shanghai-as-New York scare story is passé. A business journal in plucky little Macau spells it out delightfully: the Five Year Plan is a meaningless pile of waffle so far as we are concerned.

Indeed, the good news is, yes, you can pepper-spray eight-year-olds and still be an international financial centre. New York or London do it, too, surely, or at least equally beastly things. They probably come up with better excuses, though. Quoted in the Standard article, bible-bashing Security Secretary Ambrose Lee blames the parents. “No children should be brought to clash areas as they are not psychologically mature yet. Violent scenes could set a bad example for them.” I would like to think psychologically mature officials gave Lee those words to read out as part of a cunning strategy to take the heat off John Tsang by saying something stunningly stupid. Too much to hope for. Maybe they will have a better Wednesday.

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9 Responses to Just another Tuesday

  1. Maugrim says:

    I dunno, I think after watching the antics some of the protesters employed, Lee may have a point. For example, after the security guard was knocked down, a protester who didnt seem to have been affected, lay down on the ground simulating some sort of coma for the cameras, akin to the reaction the police officer seemed to give when slapped by Amina Bokkhary (once he realised the cameras were on him). Confected outrage on both sides it would seem.

  2. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    The post-80s crowd need some Korean protestors to train them up. During the WTO, the Korean protestors had the sort of discipline, organisation and tactics you’d expect from country that has compulsory military service, a strong cultural of institutionalised bastardry and a chip on its shoulder from being history’s bitch for too long.

  3. Stephen says:

    “this government really is an even bigger failure than Tung Chee-hwa’s. How ever did they manage it?”

    Perhaps Hemlock should write a follow up book chronicling the reign of King Donald and how he managed, in the space of 6 years, to be as big a failure as CH Tung – who to be fair – never wanted the job?

  4. Lady Marmalade says:

    Leave dose men alone!

    John Boy an Ambrosia dey doin der darndest wit da inellecshal equipment de was born wit.

    Hong Kong don do sheet for da cripples, but Lord know how he help dose retards!

    Dey puts em in Governmen’!

    Now das what I calls inegration.

  5. Shanghai Bling says:

    The pepper-spraying of 8-year-olds should be introduced to the Asian Games. I could rip through an aerosol can or three on some of those Californian-twangy brats who attend our international/ESF schools.

  6. Phil "Cliffie" Whelan says:

    Lady M: you just gave away your English ID. No American, let alone some looziana po’ boy, could come up with the Ambrosia reference, mainstay of pasty English pudding faces the world over.

  7. Mike Giggler says:

    Was it white pepper or black pepper?

  8. Walter De Havilland says:

    What was his mother thinking. I heard her on the radio trying to justify her actions. She stated she had her son at the protest all day then took him for dinner and returned to protest positioning herself in the middle of a group that later charged the police line. !!

    Everyone appears to have overlooked the fact that one cop is still in hospital and unable to walk. So much for peaceful demonstrators.

  9. Vile Traveller says:

    Revolution or acquiescence. The middle ground is merely noise nuisance.

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