Kowtow to the emperor or get lost

Senior Chinese officials are accustomed to dividing the rest of the world into those who obey and those who are to be crushed. They therefore find nuanced expectations-management difficult; it requires semi-openness about your ultimate negotiating position and a willingness to appear as if you at least halfway respect your audiences. How ironic that they are having to adopt such a relatively subtle approach when persuading Hong Kong to accept one particular reality – the reality that when it comes to the next Chief Executive election, potential candidates will be divided into those who obey and those who are to be crushed (or at least left to feel crushed when barred from the ballot).

National People’s Congress Law Committee Chairman Qiao Xiaoyang spells out that people who confront Beijing cannot be elected Hong Kong CE when ‘universal suffrage’ is introduced in 2017. With the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment Etc of HK’s Tam Yiu-chung alongside him begging to have his obnoxiously smug faced severely slapped, it is easy to feel incensed. And sure enough, the pro-democrats express outrage, warning that this suggests the screening-out of candidates who are unacceptable to the Chinese Communist Party.  

An interesting three-way struggle looms. The pan-democrats’ alliance for full universal suffrage will attempt to rally public opinion behind absolute refusal to accept any screening (a threat they can theoretically deliver on through their veto power over an electoral reform bill in the legislature). Beijing will use all its warm and cuddly charm, charisma and public-relations skills to convince the community that the package it eventually proposes is at least better than nothing and warrants grudging acceptance. And the Hong Kong people will not just be onlookers. If (say) 60% of them end up backing the pro-dems in the opinion polls, Beijing’s proposal will lack all credibility (as would the subsequent CE election if 40% or less of the electorate votes). If a clear majority support Beijing’s package, at least some pan-dems will have to break ranks with the absolutists, or face a voters’ backlash down the road. The Hong Kong government, meanwhile, will hang around trying to look useful.

Beijing cannot and will not lose this fight – hence the relatively open plain speaking yesterday. As the jittery tone of the pro-dems’ response suggests, Xiao’s comments still leave unanswered questions. If we were to be totally blunt, we would set out the inescapable truth as follows:

The PRC is a feudal state. There is only one emperor. You publicly bow down to him and swear loyalty, or you are an enemy and an outcast. Hong Kong’s pro-democrats are under the influence of an alien culture of pluralism in which ideas and possible rulers compete. If it is any consolation, history is on their side. Why do Chinese officials repeatedly, defiantly and loudly rule out ‘Western’ methods like multi-party systems and balance of powers? Because they know it’s going to happen. But not here, and probably not now. Certainly, Hong Kong’s pro-dems don’t have what it takes to make it happen – not that they’ll be allowed the chance to have a go anyway.

This just in: Another Nina Wang bequest comes to light…

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26 Responses to Kowtow to the emperor or get lost

  1. maugrim says:

    Sometimes the truth hurts. The fact that Beijing has said what it has, should come as no surprise at all. What happens next will be interesting. My pick is a lot of drum beating and screeching about broad ideals by the louder Dems while more interesting and possibly more effective responses such as a Central sit occur on the sidelines. A lot will depend on how the average HKer seriously feels about the issue.

  2. Confucius say – strike snake on head not on tail.

    Qiao is a very sad coda of the PRC.

    If the Pan-Dems went to Peking to swear allegiance we might see daylight. But that’s far too imaginative for them. My divorce lawyer used to say that a bunch of flowers gets you more than a writ.

    As it is, they are peeing in the wind as usual.

    The other idea is for Christine Loh to resign her Government job, put in contact lenses and get a new hairdo, then stand as the Saviour of Hong Kong.

    Going around with a gwailo has probably damned her for ever. But I can’t think of anyone with the required intelligence and balls, if you see what I mean.

    Re. the letter. Equal shares. And don’t you mean “more leisure”.

  3. Joe Blow says:

    Christine earns $180,000- per month. That’s a lot of money to exchange for principles that you cannot eat.

  4. Stephen says:

    After all the chest beating and wailing what will the Pan Dems do – Veto the proposal – as we know it will contain a nomination procedure designed to exclude them or vote for the proposal, see as it as progress and accept it’s a good as it gets for now?

    And what of the public – give the DAB the right electoral thumping in 2016 they deserve – No Starry, Jasper etc. Or give the Pro-Dems the thumping of which they may never recover? Or is there a person, a unifying figure, which both sides can agree too? Anyone know the democratic credentials / views of Bernard Charnwet Chan or Jat Sew Tong ?

  5. PCC says:

    Whatever else one might say about Christine Loh, the notion that she joined the administration or would be reluctant to leave it for money considerations is absurd.

  6. Jason90 says:

    No ‘Western-style’ democracy? OK.
    How about ‘Eastern-style’ per Japan or Soth Korea, or, more locally relevant, ‘Chinese-style’ as per Taiwan?
    I’d vote for that. If I could….

  7. Local Tax Payer says:

    I note with interest that you say “THE HK people”, as distinct from “HK people”. In other words you think we are “a people”, which implies, according to the UN, that self-determination is an inalienable right: blatant splittism if ever I saw any.

    The crux of the matter is how to prove that Mr X or Ms Y are both patriotic AND love China (especially if they are, for instance, banned from the sacred soil) AND not a troublemaker. (Proving a negative is meant to be impossible.)

    Maybe it will involve swearing fealty to the chairman, sorry president and undying hatred for China’s evil enemies? Can those who fail the acid test launch a judicial review? And request a reinterpretation?

  8. farm chairs says:

    Democracy blah blah elections blah blah universal suffrage blah blah… my eyes glaze over. It wasn’t a democracy when we moved here under the Colonials and it would be quite irrational to expect it to become one under the Locusts. Let’s find something vaguely interesting to talk about.

    Like, for instance, TVB cutting away from the rugby at exactly 7:30pm Sunday on schedule to give us the meaningless shite local news with the score tied in the last minutes of the Fiji-Wales final. The stunning incompetence of the local media never fails to amaze, even after decades.

    Those who were watching on Murdoch’s Faux Sports got to watch the whole match.

  9. Real Tax Payer says:

    To quote loosely again from Jake van der Kamp ( or whoever originally wrote it ): ” I would much rather live in a place like HK which in practice feels and behaves like a real democracy, although not a democracy officially, than so-called official ‘democracies’ like Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia which behave in totally non-democratic ways”.

    Let’s face it : as soon as the joint declaration was signed HK’s future was carved in stone. HK will be forever more be a part of China and there’s no possible way China will ever allow HK to elect a CE, still less a local government, which is anti- BJ. Like it or leave it – that’s that’s truth of the matter. We had till 1997 to decide to leave, and indeed anyone who still does not like it is free to leave at any time taking all their money with them ( and I wish that idiots like whatshisname chan of people power would either shut the f**k up or get the f**k out of HK – preferably both – and good riddance).

    Whether it’s Christine Loh ( and @ PCC I agree with you 100%) or some other sensible person in 2017, I just hope that the pan-dems have enough sense to see the light and support the inevitable. If they haven’t enough brains to do even that, then the DAB will have my vote as the lesser of two evils.

  10. Real Tax Payer says:

    PS : I didn’t realize that Hemlock is Chinese . Could he perhaps leave the unused part of his $8.3B those who comment on his blog?

  11. Hemlock's bastard godson says:

    Dearest Gpa
    I know that we haven’t spoken in ages, and trust that that little incident along the Champ Eyllses [pardone my french] is all water under l’eau.
    I trust further that you have not forgotten again to lick the stamp of the envelope that is no doubt in the mail as we speak containing a paltry 10% of your recent good fortune.
    With fondest regards
    Your favorite bastard godson


  12. Mongkok Mzungu says:

    @RTP – Your get-the-f**k solution may work well for foreign nationals (I take the liberty to assume) like yourself. However, for the 6 million or so people in Hong Kong who don’t have the luxury of holding a foreign passports or anything else that would give them the right of abode elsewhere, this is unfortunately not an option. Wanting a certain degree of influence on (the politicians that will decide) the future of their country (oh sorry, territory) hence seems not unreasonable.

  13. Sojourner says:

    RTP still has fond memories of his childhood in Fascist Italy, when that splendid fellow, Mussolini, ensured that the trains ran on time and when the vulgar plebians knew their place in the Divine Order of Being.

  14. Sojourner says:

    The scary thing about RTP is that he genuinely probably doesn’t KNOW that the majority of HK residents don’t have foreign passports. How WOULD he know? He’s never met one.

  15. Property Developer says:

    I do still wonder what RTP gets out of “contributing” such nuggets as speculating on Hemlock’s skin colour, whether he has ulterior, pecuniary motives from spending too long over the border.

    Certainly he doesn’t love HK or the Basic Law, which is probably seditious.

  16. Anon says:

    I always assumed that RTP was either a sock puppet or a very highly paid wu mao. I certainly have never heard anyone outside of the pages of the China Daily argue so vehemently against the idea of individuals living in a society to have the right to elect their leaders.

  17. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ PD

    Can’t you take a simple joke ?

    Look at the Nina Wang / HK Standard link pic !

    Get it ? No ? I give up …..


    @ MM and Sojouner : Yes I take your point , and it’s a valid point of view, although only a partial one. I have lived here more than half my life and I probably count more native Chinese HK-ers as my friends and colleagues than you have ever talked to ( do you speak Chinese?) 95% of my HK friends are Chinese.

    But Singapore is just longing to give free PR status to ANY yellow-skinned aka REAL CHINESE HK-er : white collar, blue collar, no collar. So desperate that they have even opened the door to the dreaded Mainland “locusts”

    So if you prefer the dictatorship of “uncle” Harry Lee to the dictatorship of BJ and the proletariat, then toddle off to S’pore which has just been voted annual No 1 Asian tourist destination for the 107 th time in the past 25 years ( by the S’Pore Tourist Promotion Board)

    But bottom line : BJ has final say, and that’s carved in stone – well, concrete. Like it or lump it. ( Personally – I like it, warts and all).

    So whateverhisname Chan of people’s power is doing the whole of HK a huge dis-service by his radical posturing ( not to mention my taxes funding his LEGCO filibustering time costs)

    But then again – to go back to the point in my original post :

    “…I would much rather live in a place like HK which in practice feels and behaves like a real democracy…. ”

    Real democracy does allow such total ego-centric, idiotic trouble-makers as Mr Chan who would be blown up in Indonesia, decapitated in Pakistan, accused of sodomy in Malaysia and lashed or else imprisoned for tax evasion S’pore.

    So I still say: “f**k off Mr Chan and get the f**k out of HK” , but I can’t make you do it .

    Neither can the Law , nor LEGCO, nor CY, not even BJ.

    Now that’s a thing ! Behold and be amazed !


    Loving it !

  18. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Anon

    No sock puppet nor wu mao

    Just a common-all-garden HK political realist (= the silent majority who plead for no noisy video-ads on KMB and a simple, safe, fair place in which to live and earn money)

    What planet do you live on ?

  19. Sojourner says:

    Anyone who ever seriously uses the expression “silent majority” within political discourse immediately loses all credibility. It’s the ultimate reactionary meme.

  20. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Sojouner

    I from henceforth – for tonight at least – plead silence ( as part of the meme- less majority , reactionary or not )

    Time for bed…

    Night Night
    Sleep tight
    Mind the gobbins don’t bite

    PS : did I ever use the word “serious” ?

  21. Joe Blow says:

    @PCC: I doubt very much that Christine will ever, voluntarily, give up her current position for anything. Once you get paid that amount of money on a monthly basis, even if you don’t do that much, plus the perks and the glory and the general comfort that comes with it, it’s really hard to give up. She is now Establishment.

    In fact, it is an old Establishment trick: troublemakers and those who don’t toe the line or who have the capacity of original thought (read: threat) can be either reined in -with jobs and money- or spit out. It worked with Vagina Ip and it worked with Christine.

  22. Property Developer says:

    RTP, You on a bus? To travel between the “several” properties you’ve bought since 1997?

    If you love fairness and justice so much, have you ever been inside a Chinese police station, court or black prison?

    Let’s face it: it seems nearly everyone would prefer to read even Bela’s wit and wisdom than your incoherent ramblings.

  23. Real Tax Payer says:


    Yes I do take the bus, also the MTR , and Star Ferry, and the TRAM. Do you think I can afford a chauffeured limousine ?

    I decline to answer personally re Chinese police stations et al on the grounds that it may incriminate me , but I get your point.

    And I agree. Nasty stuff.

    There is very little fairness, let alone justice and certainly no love in the Chinese legal system ( I once worked 24/7 for two months to get one of my former staff out a Chinese legal “mess” during which he was ‘detained’ in less than comfortable circumstances for reasons not of his doing )

    So I am not blind to those kind of things

    Which is why one should always do business in China 100% above board. Which I and my company always do.

    Those who get caught are generally those who deserve to get caught , although that’s certainly no substitute for presumption of innocence, which the Kwoks and R Hui esq will surely play to the full hilt and to the immense expense of tax payers like me ( I would lynch them if I had my way, but fortunately I don’t have my way – that’s why HK is still HONG KONG )

    But STILL you miss my point : all ye who who chose to continue to live in HK do so by your own free choice, especially those like you who I assume – from your moniker – are well enough funded to leave at any time . So if you don’t like it, then go, leave, and stop whining.

    And to kill the mis-representation once and for all, RTP now only owns a modest 700 sq ft apartment which is currently valued at HK$8M . With that money I can sell out anytime and buy a small mansion with swimming pool in west coast USA.

    But I chose not to do so because I do believe in the future of both HK and also of China, whose reconstruction I am proud to say I have played a tiny part in since the mid 1980’s.

    Why does everyone out there automatically assume that anyone who supports China’s reconstruction is a baddie? I despise the China Daily BS as much as you surely do, but does that mean I despise China itself and Chinese people en masse?

    BS !

  24. I don’t think any sensible Hongkonger expected the likes of Long Hair to be allowed to contest the poll, even if the banana-throwing bunch had any of the skills needed to run the place, which is unlikely. But we were at least hoping for the opportunity to vote for someone competent who isn’t so far up Beijing’s backside that we can’t even see their shoes. The question is where the line will be drawn.

  25. Freakin says:

    Private Beach, the answer is that the line should be drawn by the electorate, not by some cabal in Beijing nor a hand-picked mob of shoe-shiners in Hong Kong.
    Whatever you think of Leung Kwok-hung, he should have the right to stand, and we should have the right to vote for him. Would you vote for him? Would these ‘sensible Hongkongers’ of whom you speak? Seems pretty unlikely, so what’s there to be afraid of?
    The thing we should all be worried about is a future where the only people cleared to run in opposition are the likes of Regina Ip or Michael Tien.

  26. Would I vote for Long Hair? No. Do I think I should have the4 right to vote for him? Absolutely. You and I know there is nothing to be afraid of. The trouble is that Beijing doesn’t – partly because they take advice on Hong Kong from the said hand-picked mob of shoe-shiners.

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