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.