China, as everyone knows, has 56 officially recognized nationalities, or ethnic groups. The number was originally bigger, but central planners amalgamated some tribes and clans in neighbouring districts, perhaps to simplify the job of assigning them their official costumes and folk songs. Judging by the happy, smiling Miao, Xibe and Yao people we see sporting dazzling headgear at National People’s Congress gatherings, they are all, as we are told, delighted to be part of the Chinese family.
How will Mainland officials classify Dutch-born Chinese citizen and Hong Kong Southern District Council member Paul Zimmerman when he takes his seat between the grinning Manchu lady and the sleeping PLA general in the Great Hall of the People at the next NPC meeting? Will they make him an honorary Han or create a 57th happy, smiling minority just for him?
Sadly, we will not find out. Getting onto the ballot for the election of Hong Kong’s NPC delegates turns out to be surprisingly easy. You need a handful of nominations, and since a handful of pro-democrats form a small portion of the loyalist-stacked election committee, it’s no problem. It’s certainly more open than the race for the five ‘Super Seats’ at last September’s Legislative Council elections. But that was a real poll, in which the pan-dems could and did enjoy success. The vote for delegates to China’s rubber-stamp parliament is about as rigged as it gets. China’s local Liaison Office is not above circulating a shortlist of 36 recommended candidates, which the obedient majority of voters will endorse.
Mr Z says the campaign will give him an opportunity to air his views. The snag is that – for obvious reasons – not much of a campaign takes place. Hopefuls will earnestly lobby potential voters by phone (it’s amazing how many people angle for support on the off-chance that China’s local officials will notice them and pick them for the list). Conversely, Liaison Office officials may have tapped people on the shoulder and urged them to get nominated, which is no doubt how a few fresh faces from business and even the civil service have ended up on the NPC in recent years alongside the traditional scowling old guys few recognize. Pro-Beijing organizations represented on the election committee may invite selected candidates to closed-door meetings and Q&A sessions, but don’t expect public debates or TV coverage, or a groovy website in six languages. Unlike the equally rigged but in-your-face Chief Executive election, this process could take place without most of the population even noticing. It’s sometime in January, if I recall.
(That said, a guerilla/street-theatre campaign would be great. Put the silk sash on, print some glossy leaflets, gather some volunteers, and hit the streets collecting 100,000 signatures from Hongkongers demanding Paul Z as their delegate to the nation’s ‘highest organ of state power’.)
If it’s any consolation, Southern District Council has more genuine decision-making power than the 3,000-strong NPC, which can’t even relocate a bus stop. And being a Hong Kong NPC delegate is a well-known pain in the backside: you have to spend 10 days a year stuck in Beijing hotels waiting for Mainland counterparts to finish their after-lunch naps, so everyone can go into the Great Hall to dutifully vote to approve the next lengthy work report. At least the District Council gets to push a literary trail and visit Ocean Park.
If that’s what the headgear looks like, just think of the lingerie.
Oh, better not. If they are like Hong Kong girls – Gucci on top, Chinese Department Store beige bra and grey panties or even worse paper panties under – it will be a letdown.
I’m really not interested in what Zimmerman (Dutch for Carpenter) wears. But you could have brought out that picture of Allan Semen in his Mounties uniform, just for old times’ sake.
Don’t get me on talking about Southern District Council, who put up hoardings announcing their victory in actually building a bus shelter and their intention to blow it all and go for ten concrete steps somewhere. I think their main function is to work out the squeeze in Stanley Market. They spend an awful lot of time in their committee rooms. The street is blocked by their hideous black SUVs all afternoon.
Visit http://www.npc.hk to see who represents you! They are tagged as “HK Member” except for Rita Fan, who is an “SC Member” (Standing Committee). I registered the domain many years ago after local members were complaining that they didn’t have an office to go to in HK. They couldn’t even be bothered to organise a web site to tell you who they are and provide a point of contact with the public.
I’m delighted you’ve been able to breach the self-censorship and address the taboo subject of HK people who happen to be what Vagina calls “foreign non-humans” (my translation) and, with it, the even more difficult question of Chinese identity.
Zimmerman doesn’t stand a snowflake-in-hell’s chance of course, but I applaud his brave attempt to expose the racism and xenophobia in the mainland political system.
You are right hemmers about the ringing around that goes on regarding those begging/seeking a place on the committee. As to Rita Fan, I wish she’d just STFU and go away.
At least the Zimmerman is having a go. Of course, he is well known for rising to a challenge, as in a former life he was an accomplished paraglider pilot. Like politics paragliders are sustained by a lot of hot air ascending to the heavens.
Thanks, David Webb. Yang, Yang (36) is the one Bela will undoubtedly go for. I wonder why Elsie Tu is not a member (or even Razak)?
I’m waiting for the day when some fourth-generation emigre indigenous villager with brown skin and a turban and if possible a kilt tries to claim his ding.
Lois, you haven’t see a Hong Kong girl’s particulars for a while, have you?
Zimmerman’s national costume would surely be a pair of wooden clogs.
Zimmerman is a German name. Literal translation: room man.
So his national costume would be Lederhosen and jackboots.
So, if ‘Zimmerman’ is German, should we call him Heinz when he becomes China’s 57th variety?
I see “Dotty” Dorothy Liu, who is dead, also continues to represent us or at least is on the list.
You’re never finished in Chinese politics!
Zimmerman remains an enigma to the normal HKer. Besides appearing before cameras to talk about illegal structures and showing us what is under his skirt… oops… his roof (due to the recent backlog of more bigger “criminality” of famous homes, the Housing Authorities haven’t had time to come around PZ’s home. PZ, please be patient, next change).
Aah… back to his brief political rise. Started with Regina, then before HKers could finish their milk tea, he was with Civic Party. Then a Chinese national running for district council which was the path to the Super seat… Okokok… no enough nominations, so maybe cannabalise Tanya for old times sake in her seat. Now, NPC… Unless there is some new stimulant for a new orgasm by running in every race… what the heck is he doing? Wakakaka