Why are dockworkers striking and, in particular, protesting outside tycoon Li Ka-shing’s home? You thought it was because of pay and conditions, property hegemony and cartelization? China Daily corrects you…
…the opposition camp and the foreign powers supporting it are preparing to seize Hong Kong’s governing power by fanning populism and anarchism, with an eye on winning the Chief Executive Election in 2017 by universal suffrage.
And why would they want to do that?
The only logical explanation for the increased activities of foreign forces – mainly US and British intelligence agents – is that the city, being a free port and the southern gateway of China, is being used as a bridgehead to contain the rise of the nation.
It is impossible to say how much these writers genuinely believe what they are saying; most likely, they are trying to please distant superiors – or at least avoid being accused of deviant thinking. If Western powers were indeed working to pull off a coup in the Big Lychee to prevent China’s rise, Beijing would be arresting spies and breaking off diplomatic relations at the very least. (On the subject of logical explanations, it could be that the state propaganda machine has told Hong Kong’s Communist-backed media to try to divert popular hostility away from the tycoons at the top of our feudal economic pyramid, and demented paranoia is the best they can do.)
Similarly, we can’t be totally sure whether pro-Beijing legislator Chan Kam-lam is serious in warning that the HK$28 trillion West Kowloon Arts, Culture and Xiqu Mega-Hub Zone District must stick to ‘real’ art and not exhibit obscene or insulting or, to get to the point, political works. Chan is a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and no doubt a lot of other organizations that desperately need shorter names. Does he feel deeply about art, beauty and taste? (He doesn’t look the type, but – hey – don’t judge by appearances.) Or does he hope to get a big pat on the head and extra dog biscuits next time he attends some official gathering of patriots on the Mainland?
(It would be intriguing to learn Chan’s views on, say Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People or Picasso’s anti-fascist Guernica, compared to, say, socialist realist portrayals of happy smiling workers and peasants and, maybe, port crane operators.)
He is alarmed because Swiss diplomat/collector Uli Sigg has donated much of his huge collection to the West Kowloon M+ contemporary arts museum, including over two dozen pieces by dissident/activist/artist Ai Weiwei, plus Wang Guangyi and others. Sigg specifically said he gave the collection to Hong Kong because so much of it couldn’t be shown in Mainland museums; Chinese patriots have since accused Sigg of seeking to make money from the deal and/or fobbing us off with a load of crap.
(Ai Weiwei was of course acceptable to Beijing until he started counting the kids who died in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake as a result of corruption. And, by coincidence, patriots and pro-dems right now are debating the wisdom of feeding that very corruption as a gesture of sympathy and goodwill in the wake of last week’s quake at Lushan. Start up a new museum, have an earthquake – you can’t do anything without this war breaking out.)
So we have an amusing contradiction brewing here for when M+ opens in 2093. The museum’s (mainly Western) curators can use Hong Kong taxpayers’ money to display a collection of subversive and obscene trash as part of a CIA/dockworkers effort to use Kowloon as a stepping stone to conquering the whole of China – and face the wrath of local and more distant patriots. Or they can keep all the controversial political stuff locked away, or on permanent loan to the Timbuktu National Gallery, and suffer the taunts of pro-dems and art-lovers for censorship.
Funniest part of it all: Chan is hardly alone in questioning whether much of Ai Weiwei’s work is remotely worthwhile as art.