Communist Party turns crony-state-capitalist, not many hurt

Mouth-frothing apologist for the Chinese Communist Party Lau Nai-keung declares that the ultimate cause of the Fa Yuen Street fire tragedy is exorbitant property prices. We must “release our society from being hijacked by property interests,” he rails.

Most right-thinking people would, possibly for the first time ever, agree with him. But there’s a slight problem here. Hong Kong’s developers and landlords gorge themselves on what must be one of Asia’s biggest free lunches because the city’s government rigs land policy, the tax system, planning principles and pretty much everything else in their favour. That same government is chosen, appointed and discreetly nudged from time to time by China’s leadership in Beijing (the same national leadership that occasionally hobnobs with our top real estate tycoons).

In short, Hong Kong is hijacked by property interests because Lau’s precious Communist Party has in effect decreed that it should be. So the onus should be on him, as a sometime-member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, to approach the party’s Central Committee and remind the senior cadres that Marx-Lenin-Mao-thought requires them to support the masses against their capitalist oppressors, not the other way round. Or could it be that the CCP is in fact transforming itself into a corporatist, state-capitalist, nationalist, nepotistic hegemony – a la 1950s’ Latin America – focused on self-preservation and lining its elites’ pockets? (Hint: yes it could.) In which case, why is Lau Nai-keung such a sucker as to continue worshiping this false god?

If any single leader of China steered the CCP away from serving the people to serving the tycoons, it may well have been Jiang Zemin, under whose ‘three represents’ idea (or ‘idea’) businessmen were welcomed into the fold. Other than that, he doesn’t seem to have left a huge mark (impressive sidekick Premier Zhu Rongji looked after the economy). If the soon-to-depart duo of Hu and Wen are found to have driven the banking system and bigger economy into a hole and humiliatingly jumped the gun on defining China as the new regional superpower, history might look back at Jiang a bit more fondly.

Meanwhile, there is no obvious reason to venerate him – and therefore, surely, no particular reason to fine a Hong Kong TV station for accidentally and erroneously reporting last July that the old guy had died. I would have thought that the sheer embarrassment of making such a huge mistake in a newscast would be sufficient punishment in itself, but under Hong Kong’s licensing rules the broadcast media can be penalized for screwing up.

Reading between the lines of the official statement, you get the impression that ATV adopted some sort of surly and uncooperative attitude after the error, which stiffened the Broadcasting Authority’s determination to deliver a serious slap on the wrist. The punishment may also have reflected Hong Kong public opinion – or at least that of chattering politicians across the board, who went into righteous indignation mode over the incident. To pro-Beijing types, misreporting the demise of a former president scores highly on the grievousness scale. To those less attached to the nation’s leadership, there is always the presence on the scene of ATV’s major shareholder, Wong Ching. Or ‘Wang Zheng’ in Pinyin, the transliteration system his fellow Mainlanders usually use. Hongkongers are suspicious of him. The Broadcasting Authority may not be through with him.

Wang has close ties to the CCP, and apparently to Jiang Zemin. He is a princeling – a second-generation member of China’s increasingly hereditary ruling caste. The theory is that he took over ATV to mesmerize us all with Communist propaganda, in which case we can safely say he must try harder. The fact is that few people watch ATV, and unless you are interested in ownership tussles involving Taiwanese snack tycoons, it is best ignored. In short, the story has ‘storm in a teacup’ written all over it, but the background dynamics reflect the long-term evolution of China’s one-party rule.

Like Lau Nai-keung, Wang Zheng/Wong Ching has been a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Unlike Lau, he is, um… a property tycoon. We can only wonder what Lau’s take on this comrade is.

Click to hear the Keene Brothers’ ‘Death of a Party’!


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10 Responses to Communist Party turns crony-state-capitalist, not many hurt

  1. maugrim says:

    The DAB has been strangely mute amidst outings of Communists and vote rigging at DC level.

  2. Joe Blow says:

    i like Jiang’s color pics:

    purple = been standing outside in the cold Beijing air too long

    green = just had a bad Shanghai dumpling

    regular = wedding picture

    pink = got caught with his hand under a flight attendant’s skirt

    yellow = too much sun-bed exposure

    blue = just watched the Smurf movie

  3. Probably says:

    If ATV are to be punished for not telling the truth where does that leave the rest of the HK media, particuarly those organs which routinely regurgitate CCP propeganda?
    I mean, Tibet and the beaches at low tide in Vietnam and Borneo really have been part of China since time immemorial haven’t they!

  4. Off Topic - Commerical First says:

    This is off topic but I thought Hemlock might be able to help me out. I’ve got a vote in the Commerical First Functional Constituancy (likely one of the few gweilos who do).

    My problem is there are 21 candidates running including the ever slimy James Tien and I do not know who to vote for. I do not care so much who gets in as long it is not him (or Chow Chung-kong as I think it is inappripriate and disgusting that the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce is running candidates in 22 of the functional constituancies).

    I know I am not voting for the above 2 candidates but do not want to throw my vote away by randomly picking one of the other 19. I want to vote for who best has the chance of keeping James and his grubby hands from power. Any suggestions Hemlock on who that would be.

    It is crazy that some of the functional seats have so many people running for them. It is impossible to keep all the players straight.

  5. Jason90 says:

    Commercial First
    There may be one or two gweilos around with a Commercial First vote – I have the same problem. Hemlock – any advice?
    The medical sector is wonderful – various individual and groups of doctors are campaigning under the same slogan:
    “We’ll support whichever prospective CE promises to choke our mouths with gold.”
    Problem is, it’s not easy to work out who is most likely to deliver on this most excellent/shameless campaign promise…

  6. Stephen says:


    My take on the vote rigging is that this was an attempt by the CCP to load up the District Councils with worthies prior to the legislative elections later next year. Mind you the Pan Democrats are doing a great job of going all out to lose their 1/3 veto on “democratic” reforms it begs the question why bother ?

    Of course the CCP couldn’t be seen to doing this themselves and some of their hired help got caught. Unlike Watergate our press will largely ignore it and the hired help will shut up and do the time.

    Naturally the CCP funded DAB know the plan full well. So when the Government puts its “democratic” proposals to the post 2012 legislature, complete with retained Functional Constituencies, Election Committees, with the power to impose high number of nominations to run for office, the DAB will do their duty and vote it into law.

  7. Probably says:

    CF and Jason,

    It appears a lot of FCs are faced with the same issue (mine included) and unfortunately it always seems that the “pro-dig-holes-in-the-ground-and-fill-them-with-concrete-even-though-there-is-no-economic-justification-or-public-benefit-as-long-as-we-can-go-on-to-build-some-400 sq.ft.-apartments-masqueraded-as-800 sq.ft.-on-top” brigade always seem to just shade the vote for whatever reason?

    Now what was that earlier about media reporting, vote rigging and telling the truth?

  8. Real Tax Payer says:

    As a belated matter, I find it somewhat funny that such unlikely bed-fellows as the French and the Germans are confident they can fix up the EEU within a couple of months, but it’s going to take about 10 years to sort out the Heung Yee Kuk and all their illegal structures

  9. Spud says:

    RTP – they need 10 years to come up with a smart-arse solution that has the approval of the HYK which probably involves compensation for the villagers, land swaps so they get back the space that is being taken away and of course an amnesty on all pending prosecutions.

  10. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Spud, There wouldn’t be any harm in asking for a bit of rezoning and logistics infrastructure while one was at it.

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