It is now some 10 days since China’s next President, Xi Jinping, didn’t show up at a photo-op with the visiting Danish Prime Minister. Officials denied that the meeting had been in the schedule at all; the Dane must have imagined it in his diary. Then they spread the word that the 59-year-old imbiber of Guinness had hurt his back while swimming and will be fine.
In the absence of a simple PR photo of him smiling and recovering well, elaborate rumours of assassination, defenestration and backstabbing have inevitably surfaced. Bell’s palsy, which leaves the face distorted – that’s a good one. Maybe he has been secretly parachuted onto the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands to retrieve the sacred territory for the motherland, along with Vladimir Putin’s camera team. After all, the Chinese naval vessels sent to reassure the Mainland public have disappeared as well. Or he could be languishing in prison – he is, after all, China’s Nelson Mandela.
There is an alternative explanation: Xi Jinping never existed. There is no record of any such person ever holding any public office in the People’s Republic. The photographs you thought you saw him in didn’t include him at all. You must have dreamt it. It was in fact a blank space after all, with just a faint smudge of Winston Smith’s fingerprint on it. And his family’s multibillion dollar luxury apartments here in Hong Kong? Not empty, as once thought, but occupied by people not called Xi, who insist they’ve been there all along.
Unperson or not, the official truth will no doubt become clear in the pages of the South China Morning Post. The paper’s overt patriotism has been especially wearisome recently, with full-page articles lavishing breathless praise upon senior officials who will be taking the reins of power in the forthcoming transition of government, and Xinhua-style quotes around the word ‘buy’ to dispute the Japanese government’s right to purchase the Diaoyu Islands from their private owner – or should I say ‘owner’? Today’s back page predicts who will join the found-safe-and-sound Xi and sidekick Li Keqiang on the nine-or-maybe-seven-strong Politburo Standing Committee. Each one is helpfully colour-coded so we can satisfy our urgent need to know which of three China experts is forecasting which individual; they are David Shambaugh (George Washington U), Zheng Yongnian (Singapore National U) and Wang Xiangwei (editor, SCMP)…
Of course, we really should know who these top Chinese officials are, but most of us don’t (which reminds me: Foreign Correspondents Club monthly quiz tonight). It’s not just lack of National Education or laziness. I have no trouble recalling the names and faces of many leading government hopefuls in open societies. Sarah Palin, for example, never disappeared for 10 days. When a Ferrari crashes with two nude women in it in America or Britain, you usually know for sure whether the girls were from Tibet or Xinjiang, and you don’t have to wait months before finding out which cabinet member is the young, dead, naked, male driver’s father. And there’s no maybe-nine-maybe-seven stuff: everyone agrees on how many people sit on the cabinet.
We are ignorant of who runs China because that’s the way they want it. Similarly, we have an election system in Hong Kong no-one can understand because that’s the way someone designed it. The SCMP today also reports calls for reform of the bizarre proportional representation system. An incredible 21 candidates won seats in the Legislative Council with less than 8% of the vote. (We could use quotes for the word ‘won’ here: to me, 8% means you lost.) The NeoDemocrats’ Gary Fan got in with 6.2%.
The reason for changing from a simple first-past-the-post system was to limit the success of the Democratic Party. Hard to believe anyone thought it was necessary, but times change. The system now delivers extreme fringe candidates like the NeoDems into Legco. But it also screws the Civic Party quite nicely. In Hong Kong Island, one CP candidate (Christopher Chan) gets in with 70,000 votes, while New People’s Party candidate Regina Ip gets in with 31,000 votes; the second person on the CP list (Tanya Chan) – who you would have thought could have 35,000 of Christopher’s votes – doesn’t get a seat. This looks like a voting system Beijing can live with.
Just in: Christine Loh is to be deputy-sub-vice-assistant-under-secretary, stoically reporting to some nonentity, at Environment. The air smells better already.
China is run by the Central Military Commission or the Zhōngyāng Jūnshì Wěiyuánhu as we call it at home and don’t you forget it.
Always willing to help!
Christine knows her Sartre and that you have dirty hands or no hands at all.
The Democrats prefer to have their hands around a brief, a cigar, a glass of good overpriced chilled Bordeaux or at the very least an intern.
Christine Loh? What an excellent choice. I seem to remember a commentator here predicting this.
I’m sure Christine will have many ‘friends’ in the Leung administration, what with her fairly recent book outing members the CCP in Hong Kong (entitled Underground Front).
Christine’s appointment is a breath of fresh air … hopefully she will be able to give us some fresh air in due course. Also, her book Underground Front is well worth a read.
China-watching was always thus, with generations of commentators basing careers on less common sense and insight than a Hemlock column or two.
The SCMP has been twisting the ‘purchase’ of the Pinnacles for some weeks now, by conveniently forgetting to mention that they already belong to Japan.
Of course our Nippon friends should have followed the elementary rules of land-grabs, as instinctively practised by the least horny-handed of ‘indigenous’ ‘villagers’ (because they all live in Shatin or Whitechapel): detailed contingency planning, split-second timing (a thundery 5 am is best), exaggerated incrementalism, and above all airbrush the evidence and throw noxious substances over the acquisition to prove you’ve been there since imperial times. A big dog and/or hair-trigger pig-traps help as well.
The appointment of Christine Loh, I fear, is going to be the HK equivalent of Obama appointing watchdog Elizabeth Warren as the Under Assistant Special Advisor to the US Treasury.
Great optics, but everything she tries to actually do will be stifled.
Do hope I am wrong on this.
WTM you are right, it is possible, however, the appointment does get a tick under the ‘Donald would never have done that’ category. If she resigned in high dudgeon over a lack of progress, I think that would hurt CY more. Interesting apointment nonetheless.
Well, at least the deputy-sub-vice-assistant-under-secretary (acting) actually knows how to spell “environment”, unlike her boss, who is an architect and looks like a total nob. I hope for good things from Ms Loh, but then I hoped for good things from CY, too …
Pleased to hear of the appointment of Saint Christine of the Environment.
Does anyone know if CLP are still funding her Civic Exchange think thank?
CY administration is a sinking ship. Loh’s appointment is bound to end in tears.
“Twas me who wrote that Christine was going to be appointed, the same day I heard it on the grapevine and called her to say this was the best news in years and congratulated her on what was soon to be announced . Her affirmative NO COMMENT left me in no doubt it was cast in stone
And yes the air smells cleaner already and now I don’t mind paying my taxes so much if she will use some of what I pay to clean up the mess donald duck-out left behind.
PS: @ Bigot : you really are a bigot. I do hope you are proved wrong
Has anyone checked her place out for illegal structures? Probably not.
Who cares about a MIA chinese leader, while a music talent is found.
Education Secretary, Eddie HO, is clearly a slow learner. Just as things are settling down with protestors packing their tents and students returning to class, he decides to go public with a statement that national education “remains important.” Doh!
Oh SHIT !
How silly can the pro-dems get in their efforts to discredit the whole election and party basis in HK and make us the laughing stock of BJ and all of China ?
OK OK OK….. I’m a self-confessed CY fan ( but only because the alternative of Tang was too horrible to endure, so I had to back CY as the lesser of two evils )
And I do now admit he has his failings – as do we all … “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” etc (although I still think his illegal structure things were sins of omission : heck the awful enery Tang never did and still never has invited the press to inspect HIS home from the inside, as CY did)
Who the heck wants a job in politics these days ? Not me !
But then comes the SHIT , and it’s not just SHIT but it’s pure stoopid apeshit BULLSHIT : Albert Ho : GIVE UP AND SHUT UP
If you really love HK and all of us who live here , then shut the F**K UP and let CY get on with his job of cleaning up the mess D. Tsang esq left us in
What we need is cheaper homes and less polluted air ( and maybe some restrictions on how many SZ residents can crowd up the KCR from Lo Wu to Tai Po in their hunt for real milk powder….)
Here ’tis : hot off the press: Pure undiluted, HK BS
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying received a setback on Wednesday when a High Court judge ruled that a challenge can proceed against his election victory in March.
Leung had wanted the challenge, from defeated candidate Albert Ho Chun-yan, to be thrown out without a substantive court hearing.
But Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon, in the Court of First Instance, ruled that the court had the power to handle such a petition even though the central government had confirmed Leung’s appointment as chief executive. This did not constitute a usurpation of power, he found.
Lam also ruled that the court had the discretion to extend the official deadline for filing an election petition past the seven-day mark after the announcement of the voting results. This was because the court had a constitutional duty to oversee and safeguard a free election, he said.
Ho accuses Leung of lying about not having illegal structures at his home on The Peak, which was exposed by the media after the election.
He cites Leung’s attack on election rival Henry Tang Ying-yen over illegal structures at Tang’s family home in Kowloon Tong. Ho said the attack, made during a televised debate, gave people the impression that Leung had made no unauthorised alterations to his own house. Yet six suspect structures were later found there.
Lam ruled that the full arguments in the case should be heard at a substantive hearing.
But Lam ruled that another alleged false statement fell outside the legal challenge. That statement was made when Leung invited the media to his Peel Rise home about a year before the election, saying he had been told by professionals that the property was free of illegal structures.
Lam also ruled that Ho did not abuse the judicial process – even if political motives lay behind his actions.
Lam wrote in his judgment that, given the public importance of a speedy determination of the matter, a hearing would be held within 10 days.
In July, the Court of First Instance dismissed applications lodged by Ho and radical politician “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung to launch judicial reviews of Leung’s election, on the grounds that it should be dealt with by Ho’s petition.
But every cloud has silver lining….
HOT from Thursday’s Laisee ( Howard Winn)
Loh will clear the air
We are pleased to see that Christine Loh has been confirmed as undersecretary for the environment, particularly as it was foretold here about a month ago. Our satisfaction with this appointment is because after more than a decade of inaction on environmental issues, particularly the quality of the air, we believe there is a real chance of some action on this front. We cannot believe Loh accepted this position without some assurances that her efforts would not be blocked. After years of research in this area with the think tank she founded, the Civic Exchange, there is no better person in Hong Kong to take this on. Indeed in a sane political environment, she would be a strong contender for chief executive. Credit to her for taking the step from researching and writing about what should be done to actually trying to put some of her ideas into practice – a rather more difficult matter. But she will also carry a huge weight of expectations. She has been a legislator for eight years and is all too familiar with the vested interests. She will have to contend with bureaucracy. As for the administration she joins, it is surely a no-brainer to crack down on environmental issues.
This is not going to bring thousands of people into the streets and will actually do something to improve the livelihood of people in Hong Kong. For years the city has been a laggard in environmental matters; now it has an opportunity to be where it should be – one of the leading countries in the region in this regard. We wish her good luck.
@ Albert Ho : even you with all your pro-dem strings could not have pulled off this one.
So shut the f**k up and let CY get on with his job