Hong Kong’s two nominal political/cultural camps – pro-Beijing and pro-democracy – were not exactly united by the Edward Snowden visitation-frenzy. Patriots gleefully seized on the revelations that the evil US was hacking everyone’s emails and Facebook posts, but they did not look convincing protesting in favour of liberty outside the US Consulate. Some more cosmopolitan members of our community, meanwhile, squirmed a bit in discomfort as they tried to reconcile their more genuine commitment to human rights with their anti-Communist/pro-Western instincts.
Everyone agreed that Ed in Hong Kong was a Good Thing, but for different reasons. For the pro-Beijingers, he made China look good and accentuated ‘One Country’ as Beijing publicly defended the Big Lychee’s government while discreetly pulling the necessary local administrative strings. For the pro-dems, he underlined the importance of ‘Two Systems’ by picking this one little part of China specifically for the rule of law and free press that you don’t get on the Mainland.
Ed relied on the HK Democratic Party’s Albert Ho for legal counsel, and when the denouement approached the Hong Kong government refused to have direct contact with the lawyer. This was perhaps the only visible evidence of Beijing officials’ presence during the proceedings. In the Chinese government’s worldview, the Dems are possibly a CIA front (everyone had problems with contradictions in this episode). This Communist Party paranoia could have left us all in much deeper doo-doo; the go-between who had to be used did not entirely win Ed’s trust, and it seems it was touch-and-go as to whether the whistleblower would take the intermediary’s hint and try the Aeroflot exit option.
Now Ed faces a few relaxing months kicking back and checking out the Wi-Fi and recharging options at Moscow Airport while Ecuador does its mañana thing over his asylum application. And for us it’s back to good old-fashioned, deeply tribal and even personal, mutual loathing. A Commercial Daily editorial declares Occupy Central a criminal foreign plot against China’s territorial integrity, while Bauhinia magazine repeats weird stuff about the stock market losing HK$10 billion a day because of the pro-dem movement, which will lead to another ‘colour revolution’.
The Voice of Loving Hong Kong plans to organize a 10,000-person assembly next year to counter the pro-democracy Occupy Central extravaganza. In the meantime they will print millions of ‘Protect Central’ stickers and put pressure on schools to keep radicals at bay. (The United Front groups being mobilized against Occupy Central are making a special point of targeting schools – maybe after noticing the militancy in seats of learning against National Education last year.) I’m still trying to work out the VLHK; my theory is they were rejected by the Falun Gong for being too seedy and pitiful, and this is their way of hitting back at a cruel, uncaring world.
A letter-writer in the South China Morning Post from that famous hotbed of ultra-Maoist fervor, Shatin, pleads for the People’s Liberation Army to run ‘em all down with tanks – it worked last time. His plaintive listing of Hong Kong’s ills, right down to inequitable school-funding systems, confirm that he is sincere and probably sane. How good to see the world getting back to normal.