Great moments in integration with the motherland, cont’d

The Hong Kong government gets ever more desperate in its attempts to calm public anger at the flow of infant milk formula out of the city to the Mainland, where parents fear that locally sold powder will poison their kids. Officials put the word out last week that many of the parallel traders are Hongkongers, not riffraff from Shenzhen. But that didn’t work. Then they talked of making formula subject to an obscure strategic commodity reserve system originally instituted for rice in some long-forgotten bad old days. Then they decided to try that old standby, the multi-pronged approach. Yet the smugglers are as determined as ever. Now, it’s gloves off: time to get tough.

The government introduces the Toucan Limit. Specially trained tropical birds will patrol all New Territories rail stations and border checkpoints, ready to leap on parallel traders carrying three or more cans of milk powder and peck their eyes out with their enormous, gaily-striped, razor-sharp bills. In an uncharacteristic display of no-nonsense, screw-consensus decisiveness, authorities say children will not be spared.

Meanwhile, far away in a classier part of town where mothers breast-feed and worry instead about political indoctrination of their offspring, we get one of those bizarre little stories that are fast becoming the hallmark of Chief Executive CY Leung’s administration. Eva Chan, who shot to her 15 minutes of fame last year opposing the proposed National Education syllabus in schools, says that an obscure CY aide called her as the controversy reached its climax, claimed to be able to speak for Beijing’s local Liaison Office, referred to the CE as ‘out of the equation’ and offered a meeting at which the Central Government emissaries would have good news. The policy was ditched days later.

You can make of it what you will. You can believe that the Liaison Office, not the CE, was – therefore, still is – micromanaging Hong Kong affairs. You can believe that the Liaison Office panicked last September that another 2003 7-1 mini-uprising was about to take place. You can believe that the Western District spooks were getting involved because national leaders themselves have called for National Education during their rare, road-closing, mega-motorcade expeditions into the Big Lychee, giving the policy some sort of sacred aura the rest of us couldn’t see. In short, it’s another bit of weirdness, like maverick businessman/politician Lew Mon-hung’s claim that CY offered him a seat on the Executive Council.

Cue Regina Ip, former Secretary for Security, and now lawmaker and leader of the New People’s Party (total membership: Regina and a pal). Eager to serve the community/convinced that her people need her/perpetually on the make, the former ‘Broom Head’ obviously sees CY’s mishaps as a looming opportunity, presumably in 2017, when Hong Kong gets to choose its leader through some sort of universal suffrage.

Regina thinks Lew Mon-hung probably was offered an Executive Council seat, but sensibly sees the funny side. People with few friends, she no doubt realizes, do whatever they have to. Regina also goes populist over the Mainland Visitor Menace and calls for limits on Mainlanders’ trips across the border.

It should be easy: you just get Mainland authorities to restrict the number of trips people up there can make to Hong Kong per day, week or whatever. (A precedent exists for Macau, though that was aimed at Mainland officials blowing public funds in the casinos.) In practice, it is fraught with difficulties.

Hong Kong’s leadership lobbied very important people in Beijing to speed up the liberalization of outbound travel for Chinese nationals to boost Hong Kong’s tourism trade after SARS. It was even presented to the public as a ‘gift’. Even if we don’t care that Mainlanders increasingly see Hongkongers as a whining, spoilt and ungrateful pain, we have to accept that there is an etiquette problem here.

More to the point, the symbolism is highly charged. In response to kids waving British-era colonial flags, Hong Kong reverses integration with its hinterland by erecting new barriers against everyone else from the People’s Republic of China. Japanese, Australians, Indians, Peruvians – all are welcome, as many times as they like. The so-called compatriots are to be singled out. This is unbelievably off-message and offensive to the deepest principles underlying Hong Kong’s return to its motherland; it is a mark not simply of public disquiet up in Sheung Shui, but of Regina Ip’s lust for power and glory. Meanwhile, our only hope lies with the plucky toucans.

The excuse HK needs? Extrapolate this: just-released HK Police stats, showing 2011 (l) vs 2012 (r).

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17 Responses to Great moments in integration with the motherland, cont’d

  1. Bela Beeb says:

    Indeed. It’s getting to be hard times when Vagina Ip reminds us to laugh.

    Doesn’t Hong Kong seem like a bad day on Radio Four at the moment? (BBC that is. It’s always a bad day on RTHK.)


    This week: “Crisis, What Crisis?”

    CY goes to the fridge to get some milk for his tea but there’s none left. Someone’s been stealing it! Who can it be? Then Wally arrives to tell him that the firm’s petty cash box has been found and had more money in it than he thought! But what’s this? CY Junior comes home and says he can’t get into his school for mobs of “foreign oiks”. And the landlord is on the warpath. How will CY ever get that garden shed built?

    Written by CH Tung. (Repeat). First broadcast 1997.

    And RACIST ARTICLE OF THE YEAR must go already to the Hong Kong Standard for its report of a domestic helper death. Those pesky maids, disturbing nice Hong Kong people AND damaging property when they drop!

    “Yao bruised her back when she jumped off the sofa in shock and her daughter was slightly injured on the forehead by falling debris”

    It’s on a par with ” Punkah wallah expires and ruins backgammon” Delhi Times 1845.

    Sod the racist Hong Kong Standard.

  2. Failed Alchemist says:

    But the funny part as reported by SCMP is that immigration, security bureau, tourism board & statistic dept doesn’t know how many are residing here legally or otherwise. Given that the statistics dept has been “cheating” their boss for ages adds to the twist. For all we know, the Duck’s dream of 10 million was actually fulfilled a few years back.

    Just forget about taking the govt to court on the rights of abode… just keep staying, try not to leave the city unless by boat under the cover of night and don’t don’t apply for social aid but you are allowed to work provided you ask for less than the min. wage.

    We don’t have to see the figures but by just stepping out, we know we are fully integrated.

  3. Stephen says:

    Yes but of the 1,341 mainland visitors arrested for crime what (very high) percentage are mainland ladies plying their trade in Jordan, Mong Kok etc?

    Taking a step back to 1984 or even 1997 the complete swamping of the Big Lychee by affluent Mainlanders is something we never envisaged happening (however their complete lack of trust in their own country is easier to understand). As Hong Kong has lacked a Government since 1997 there is no policy on how to deal with this.

    Perhaps the CCP has decided that the Big Lychee is too troublesome and its officials and bureaucrats too ineffective. Better that they swamp the place with mainland voters to ensure that the Liaison Office / DAB triumph in the future ‘democratic’ elections thus bringing harmony and prosperity in a new Hong Kong. A place where children have the inalienable right to read about the glorious motherland and party.

  4. Big Al says:

    The Standard article is indeed a damning indictment on Hong Kong attitudes towards (poor) brown people. Indeed, it could have been titled “Maid smashes roof in 11-floor death plunge and ruins joy of watching television”.
    Still, we know that the Yao’s tin shed on the roof is not an illegal structure because she “bought it through an agent”. I wonder if See Lie Yeung has tried that one yet?

  5. Headache says:

    Well spotted Bela. This article is now going viral and at least one complaint has already been submitted to the sub-Standard.

  6. Bela Bigot says:

    And the Standard article appears on the same day as the SCMP leads with racist attitudes to Chinese children in UK.

  7. Joe Blow says:

    Frankly speaking, I fail to see the “obvious” in the article that everyone else seems to be disturbed about. Can anyone spell out the racist part, or is it between the lines ?

  8. Hendrick says:

    Joe B – you’ve obviously been in HK too long.
    Are you barging into lifts/trains and joining 2km queues for 1st day covers yet ?

  9. Maugrim says:

    That story regarding the maid is truly HK. Domestic helper suicides, crashes into illegal structure owned by a migrant who complains it’s legal as it was bought from an agent. The deceased helper’s employer has no idea as towhy she might have been unhappy. Newspaper writes less than sensitive article.

  10. Regislea says:

    Hong Kong – I’ve always understood – became great on the basis of laissez-faire capitalism/market forces.

    What therefore is the problem with the cross-border trading of any commodity?

    (Just so there is no misunderstanding, my first sentence is ironic. Laissez faire – surely you jest!)

  11. RedChinaMorningPost says:

    Bela Bigot

    I’m sure the SCMP article about the racism HK-born children in the UK is by and large true. Britain, like anywhere else, can be very racist.

    But frankly, I wonder why the SCMP made this their top story. I think it has a lot to do with the new regime in charge and the editorial direction under Wang Xianwei.

    I have no doubt he takes his orders directly and indirectly from the Liaison Office. He may have to tread lightly at times, but the coverage of the ongoing dispute with Japan is completely one-sided and totally lacking in balance. 50 centers and the anti-CNN crowd may go on about Western media bias, but a light needs to be shone on the insidious practice of United Front newspapers such as the SCMP and their own biases. The only saving grace is the management and reporters (as well as the partial to non-existent) sub-editing there is totally inept.

    Take for instance, yesterday’s puff piece on the front of the Sunday edition going to great lengths to show how much more diplomatic China’s approach has been compared with Japan’s. Could we debate that? Perhaps. But to present it as “fact”. Rubbish.

    And today’s piece about UK racism is straight out of the “blame Whitey” approach that the China Daily often uses. The piece is totally out of context and has been cribbed from the Observer anyway. Is it is a story? Yes. But WHY is it on the first page? Even on a slow news day? Meanwhile, the stories about the pollution in the mainland are buried deep inside the paper. I wonder if the editor felt that it was his patriotic duty to slap down the old colonial power given the recent wave of colonial nostalgia?

    I also wish that the paper would spend as much time on investigating racism within Hong Kong and the mainland. Maybe we can hear more about Hong Kong’s treatment of asylum seekers, domestic helpers, people of South Asian descent denied citizenship due to their race etc etc etc.

  12. Headache says:

    A sub-Standard editor has admitted to a complainant that the article was insensitively written and edited. I won’t hold my breath for a public admission to that effect but let’s wait and see…

  13. Duncan says:

    Quote from the sub-head
    “Difficulties of girls taken away in 1960s by adoptive parents are revealed, with many complaining of prejudice and alienation.”

    Later in the report it is admitted that the prejudice was suffered by a minority of the girls. Alienation is internal and has different drivers.

    Must agree with @RedChina re the motives for putting this as top news. These adoptions were over 40 years ago. Yes, they probably did suffer in one way or another and some still do. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think there might have been a teeny weeny bit of anti-foreigner feeling in China at that time as well. Indeed, racism is to be found everywhere.

  14. Lestat says:

    The SCMP article’s message to me is that local organisations should be careful of inter-country adoptions, instead of that the UK is the most racist jerk in the world. A tad more paranoid you end up being CCP accusing ‘evil foreign forces’ of interfering in their businesses.

  15. Walter De Havilland says:

    Wow! Britain was racist in the 1960s. Who would have guessed it. After that revelation could the SCMP now investigate why Europeans couples in Hong Kong are routinely denied adoption of Chinese kids. One couple I know contested the blatent racism in the policy only to be eventually told that the wife was considered too fat to be a good mother. Obvious that some objective criteria are being applied.

  16. Duncan says:

    Could not agree more on the true gist of the article; what a pity the headline didn’t say that. Only 10% will get beyond the first para these days.

  17. There is a long-standing precedent for discriminating against mainlanders in Hong Kong’s entry policies. If a Hong Kong man marries a “Japanese, Australian, Indian or Peruvian” woman, she will (unless she is on the Immigration blacklist for some reason) be allowed to join her husband immediately. If he marries a mainland woman, she goes to the back of a very long queue. There are good pragmatic reasons for this, but it’s hard to justify the discrimination ethically.

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