Finger-wagging on flag-waving

One of the differences between Mainlanders and Hongkongers is that if someone mentions, say, ‘Guizhou’, a Mainlander will know that it’s a province in the southwest, the capital is Guiyang, the cuisine is distinctive spicy-sour, and the women are exceptionally beautiful and intelligent, while a Hongkonger will vaguely assume that it’s one of those cities near Shanghai or something. So it is with Yu Zhengsheng, well-known north of the border as Politburo member and Party Secretary of Shanghai, but hitherto pretty much unheard-of in the Big Lychee, where most people would be pushed to explain the difference between a Party Secretary and a Mayor.

This morning, everyone in Hong Kong has suddenly heard of Yu, and everyone knows what he does for a living: he drums up business for Shenzhen flag factories. Just as the colonial banner-waving fad seemed to have died down, the guy dredges it up again at a meeting with Hong Kong NPC/CPPCC delegates in Beijing. Voicing displeasure at ‘subversive’ protests and imaginary independence movements is a sure-fire way to encourage them.

Yu’s basic point was that anyone elected to power in Hong Kong under a system of universal suffrage would have to be a patriot. If this sounds familiar, it’s because we went through all this before. It was nine years ago, following Hong Kong’s mini-uprising on July 1 2003 and the subsequent backlash against pro-Beijing parties at that November’s district polls. A Politburo member and Vice-President called Zeng Qinghong suddenly cropped up in charge of a sort of witch-hunt against pro-democrats who were engaged in a foreign-led plot to seize power in the city.

A big, contrived debate took place about what it took to be a patriot, and who wasn’t one. Now-leader of the Democratic Party Emily Lau was out, for example, as she supposedly supported Taiwan independence. To be a patriot, you had to love China and love Hong Kong. Idealists complained that was just a euphemism for loving the Communist Party. But cynics knew it simply meant saying you loved the Communist Party. Kowtow. Shoe-shine. Publicly, and looking like you’re enjoying it. No-one, other than a few dreamers, has warm emotions about something so unlovable.

In early 2004, Beijing seemed to be genuinely panicking that popular demand for democracy would result in the regime losing Hong Kong. (It seems Beijing officials in the city had bureaucratic and political interests in convincing higher-ups that then-DP leader Martin Lee was bent on pulling off some sort of US-backed coup.) Since then, the Chinese leaders have wised up and pretty much promised a form of universal suffrage for 2017. Apart from the pro-dems, still stuck in their late ‘90s time-warp, everyone accepts that the system will be rigged; a one-party system is incompatible with a pluralist one. Instead, Hongkongers are now angry about housing, milk powder, overcrowding, property hegemony, shop closures, schools, the air and a few dozen other things.

Lately, the mood has been one of growing despair. The new CY Leung administration is bogged down in bureaucracy, petty details and pseudo-scandals; the Financial Secretary is clearly suffering from some sort of obsessive-compulsive budget-making disorder; malevolent tourism authorities apparently on a mission to suffocate and bury Hong Kong are dementedly seeking ways to increase the number of visitors. It seems there is nothing anyone can do to get the message across that this is all going wrong.

And then Yu Zhengsheng comes along with the answer.

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10 Responses to Finger-wagging on flag-waving

  1. Bela Baiter says:

    How To Be Subversive Within Reason

    1. You start learning phrases of Mandarin to tell off Mainland tourists e.g. “wai guo lao” (foreign devil).
    2. You satirically wear pyjamas to go shopping and roll up your trousers on warm days.
    3. You pose in the tai chi bear image before swatting flies or crushing cockroaches.
    4. As an SCMP journalist, you refer to the Tiananmen “massacre” before the central spell checker replaces it as “incident”.
    5. As an RTHK presenter, you only play only one inane public service announcement before putting on the meaningless bit of Bach or dull piece of 1980s rock the computer scheduler has spat out for your programme.
    6. You refer to workmates as Tong Zhi (comrade).
    7. You insist on calling your “team” a “work unit”.
    8. You start calling expatriate professionals “Foreign Experts”.
    9. You begin squatting whilst waiting for the bus.
    10. You buy a big shiny Mainland-businessman-type belt buckle and never clean your shoes.

  2. Adrian says:

    The basic point that anyone selected/elected to power in Hong Kong under “universal suffrage” is (allegedly) a collaborator, will be very convenient and helpful when the revolution comes. I’m sure locals will have no problem laughing at them, humiliated at having kowtowed to the CCP, then buying again from their restocked shops.

    Are the flag factories in Shenzhen still making colonial banners, or are they mostly banned from production like the Tibetan flags?

  3. Maugrim says:

    We can only laugh. People parade the Colonial flag because they are concerned about a loss of identity and that HK will be absorbed en masse to become China. Rather than to allay misgivings people may have, our august northern leaders by pointing the finger at ‘subversive elements’ only help to confirm such fears.

  4. Subvert Invert Pervert says:

    Incidentally, why no mention of the photo of the year – Tony Chan immersed in Baptist born-again Christianity?

    It has to be the most gorgeous and funniest picture Hong Kong has ever seen.

    Religion is the biggest subverter of all?

  5. Stephen says:

    Yu Zhengsheng doesn’t believe the horseshite coming out of his own mouth – however his audience of Deputies and Functional Legislators will lap up every word. A nomination committee must be formed and the bar will be set too high to let even a nominal Pro-Dem and / or Civic to stand.

    My 2017 prediction then is CY v Starry in 2017. If CY’s ratings stay in the gutter then its Carrie v Starry. Both will be hauled into the liaison office and told to make it a clean fight and presumably both candidates will be fully vetted by the PSB for hidden trellis, underground bunkers etc. China will call it Democracy, the world will largely agree and the Pro-Dems will do what they’ve always done.

  6. Old Timer says:

    Perhaps Britain should offer Hong Kongers a second chance to join the Commonwealth. We could have a referendum on it.

  7. Probably says:


    4a) As an SCMP journalist, you refer to the “cross-border smuggling” at Sheng Shui before the central spell checker replaces it as “parallel trading”.

    4b) As an SCMP journalist, you refer to property prices being driven up by “money launderers” before the central spell checker replaces it as “Hong Kong property investors”.

    4c) As an SCMP journalist, you refer to “locusts” before the central spell checker replaces it as “mainland tourists”.

  8. Property Developer says:

    CY’s not going to save HK, that much is certain, not only because he doesn’t realise HK’s and Peking’s interests don’t always coincide, to put it mildly, but also because he lacks a power base in either popular opinion or the political “elite”.

    If the power that stems from the communist gun barrel is the irrestible force, popular unrest may yet constitute an immovable object. International opinion might then conceivably sway a teetering equilibrium — but unfortunately the crude CCP propaganda has until now been surprisingly effective.

    The only hope for HK is if China continues to mercilessly bully all its neighbours and so the global chattering classes finally realise that Mao was the biggest mass murderer in history, China occupies an empire twice its own size and black is not white.

  9. Headache says:

    All regions of China claim to have exceptionally beautiful and intelligent women and it is usually bollocks. The ROC (central spell checker: Taiwan) gets my vote on that front.

  10. Henry says:


    Starry? Surely some mistake? It would be like having Nadine Dorries as prime minister of UK. Talk about lightweight. Oh, wait…..

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