Central seems strangely uncrowded this morning. The dozens of police who have been hanging around listlessly at intersections for the last three days have gone home for some well-earned leave, to put their feet up and watch re-runs of CSI. Workmen are coming in to retrieve the thousands of barriers along the sides of the walkways, transporting them back to the World’s Hugest Barrier Storage Depot up in the New Territories. Vice-Premier Li Keqiang has left the city.
People wondering what all the fuss was about will be interested to hear that Li was ‘winning hearts and minds’, leaving one lawmaker enthusing about how easy going and approachable he is, judging from his encounters with ordinary people.
We will take his word for it. Security for this visit was extraordinarily tight. To those on the receiving end of the precautionary measures, it was calculated and targeted against them personally. Radical legislator Long Hair Leung Kwok-hung was not allowed into the grand dinner because he is Long Hair. Students were kept at a distance in order to muzzle their demands that China release political prisoners. The media were penned up beyond camera-range in order to infringe press freedom. A guy was bundled away by plainclothesmen for wearing a Tiananmen massacre T-shirt in order to suppress freedom of speech.
Except it wasn’t about these people or infringements of liberty at all. You can wear any T-shirt today, students can demand whatever they want, and the press photographers can get in everyone’s faces again. This was all about insulating Li Keqiang, the next Premier of the PRC, from any possibility of anything at all untoward or off-script. It must have been ordered by Beijing – perhaps by Li himself.
Police spokesmen claimed that security was no tighter than on similar visits by latter-day imperial rulers, like that of Russian President Medvedev in April. The phobia about letting pedestrians near roads to be used by the honoured guest was the same (on the evening Medvedev went to the airport, people had to wait; after the entourage had flashed past beneath empty walkways, they were allowed once again to cross Connaught Road). But the rest of it – keeping everyone even further away than usual from the action, getting panicky about T-shirts and so on – seems to have been laid on specially for Li.
The Police Commissioner mentioned that “the terrorist threat on the Mainland” was a concern. He didn’t say of whom. Most likely, though, this is the future Premier getting into his forthcoming new role. You visit a place, have corny photos taken with common folk – which are all the press are given – you talk a lot about harmony and development and prosperity and partnership and cooperation, and you listen to everybody say how welcome and wonderful you are, and you even start to believe it after a while. You can’t have the magic and illusion shattered by someone shouting about poverty, imprisoned writers or dead protestors.
‘Snap, crackle, pop’ eat your heart out: we have ‘Potential, vigor and vitality’!
The other day Pok Fu Lam Rd city bound was at a crawl. One lane had been closed just north of the Belcher’s with a road block set up. I got a particularly beady eyed response from the officer on duty as I drove past. Further on down the road the access road to HKU had a police checkpoint as did the nearest pedestrian entrance. Interesting, given that there are often police roadblocks on Pok Fu Lam Rd for speeding, breath testing or looking for illegal immigrants, normally not getting anyhting more than a bored glance. Hemlock is right, this did seem different.
The truth must be known. Giving out favours to all is his name really pronounced Li KER-CHING!! Has he hit the jackpot?
We go to extraordinary lengths in the Big Lychee to insulate unelected CCP cadres from any possibility of hearing anything they might find challenging – Tiananmen massacre, Tibet etc (it’s a long list). Then HK’s good and mighty (usual suspects) prostrate themselves and fawn for the length of their stay.
Pigs in the trough – They are a ckufing embarrassment.
Maugrim – Perhaps because you weren’t wearing a tie.
darovia, you are right, I wasn’t wearing one.
This is due to a deliberate misreading of the UN conventions on diplomatic persons under which host states are required to protect the dignity of visiting International Protected Persons. The HK Govt insist on treating high ranking CPG officials as IPP’s (when they cannot be as they are on Chinese sovereign territory and are therefore not visiting foreign dignitaries) and so justify the protection of their dignity.
Can I comment today?
Heard a Chinese broadcast this morning that the importance and hence worth of Hillary, being US Sec of States, should be at least 10-time that of the jazz-jeans visitor. It went on questioning why there had been no such unnecessary traffic jam during the former First Lady’s visit. What were the police thinking?
How strange :
I was off sick these past 3 days and not paying attention to any daily news, not even logging into this blog
The whole Li Ki Qiang caboodle just passed me by as if nothing ever happened
Life goes on, and we are still ripped off every by the likes of Li Ka Shing, Li Shau Kay et al ( why are they all called “LI” ? )
As I approach retirement in a year or two, I wonder what the world will say about me after I am “gone”
Well, I have a much cleaner conscience than many infamous names which have appeared in the press ( and there, by virtue on this website)
Worst news today from SCMP on line (MONDAY )
New business-related group in legco in the “interesty of stabilty”
Does no-one ever read the increasing news – and leaders – about rising ANGER in HK?
I, for one, am VERY ANGRY