A lunch hits the front pages

Hong Kong’s Lunch of the Century between legislators and Beijing’s top local emissary went pretty smoothly. Radical lawmakers resisted the temptation to indulge in theatrics – not surprisingly, given that Liaison Office Director Zhang Xiaoming’s decision to sit with unpatriotic dissidents is a sign of weakness and fear. The pro-dems’ threatened Occupy Central campaign of civil disobedience is clearly spooking Chinese officials. Indeed, Zhang’s stern warnings about the dire consequences of a downtown sit-in suggested that the cadres can’t get their heads around the concept.

His comments on screening out unacceptable candidates in the 2017 Chief Executive election sounded more self-assured. There is no point in pretending that the Communist Party can allow just anyone onto the ballot, and it is best to manage Hong Kong people’s expectations from the start. His references to national sovereignty and security and ‘Hong Kong is not a country’ are codes: a one-party state cannot allow a rival source of political power, so what pro-dems term ‘genuine democracy’ can’t happen.

Some pro-Beijing lawmakers are urging people not to take the sieving/sifting imagery too seriously. Quite a few milder members of the loyalist camp are laid-back about an open, or fairly-open, ballot. They know that a rigged system means an administration with no mandate, which means more of the current crap. They also know that Hong Kong won’t vote for a candidate to whom Beijing is hostile.

But the Communist Party, with its Leninist and paranoid mindset, only understands control. Its instinct is to decide who will win the election first, and work back from there. The trick will be to make the electorate think they made the choice, and that means picking in advance someone they will support. That’s where the fun begins. Even if an overt Communist loyalist were publicly acceptable, they lack policy and political substance. Forget anyone from the tycoon caste. Other business and other co-opted establishment insiders tend to be lightweights (it’s almost a prerequisite). When they call it a ‘shortlist’, they won’t be kidding.

With Beijing curiously – indeed, amusingly – disturbed by the prospect of Occupy Central, the pro-dems have some real leverage. What will they now do with it? They could demand truly representative government and an end to rule-by-vested-interests, in which case they bring broad public opinion along with them. Or they could get fixated about demanding that there be no screening mechanism whatsoever as a matter of principle, in which case popular enthusiasm could wane. Or, of course, they might be divided along pragmatic and purist lines.

What we can be sure of is that as Beijing conducts its search for Mr (or Ms) Right-for-2017, it won’t consider any of the existing pan-democrat figures; nor will the overall public either want or expect them to; most amazing of all – much as they might insist on being allowed on the ballot – assuming the responsibilities of high office will be the last thing on any of the pro-dems’ minds as well.

Over at the front page of the South China Morning Post: a slight captions booboo, with two different Liaison Office guys both identified as Zhang Xiaoming (the one on the left)…


This just in: Bo Bo, the Customs and Excise Department’s killer milk-powder-sniffer hound, poses with the latest edition of the government’s glossy PR-and-stats manual, Hong Kong 2012. Fans of book-loving public-sector dogs will find similar delights here.


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8 Responses to A lunch hits the front pages

  1. reductio says:

    Bo Bo for CE? Got my vote.

  2. Oxford Dong says:

    Thank you for the Beagle photo. He looks charming. Very few pedigree dogs here in Vietnam but several mongrels chained up. Beagles are not popular with Hong Kong people. The HK Dog Rescue finds them impossible to place as they are too active, not furry defecation machines who need one outing a day to the end of the lane.

    The only way to handle Piranha Teeth Zhang is to call his bluff and tell him history is against him. That’s the killer argument with Communists. And the prospect of mass action makes them quickly dive for cover. Sorted. Done.

  3. Stephen says:

    Remember that game we used to play back in those dying colonial days of guess who will be the Chief Executive ? It would seem we now have a new round. Let’s put some names on the board for Zhang Xiaoming and examine their chances;

    1. CY Leung – Frankly shot to pieces, I foresee a health issue in the next few years or one of those speeches that start with “For the sake of my family …”
    2. Carrie Lam – If she can manage convince all that the shambolic CY Leung / Donald reigns were all of their own doing – could be in with a shot. Obviously acceptable to Beijing or she wouldn’t be Chief Secretary.
    3. Starry, Jasper or another from the DAB Party – Well funded, great machinery, nauseatingly loyal and with a great fleet of buses to get the voters out. It’s just they are just so shite and are likely to F*ck it up and lose;
    4. Queen Vagina – Sorry the CCP have a long memory and 2003 is just to raw in their minds;

    So its Carrie for Beijing. Now who else will be on the ballot?

  4. PropertyDeveloper says:

    When you say “A lunch hits the front pages”, and show a rather tasty looking morsel pawing the pages of last year’s news, you failed to provide the proper recipe, as you used to do in the old days.

    When the head of the 2nd government said that in the “actual situation” “HK is not a country”, does he mean that it was formerly, or should be, or could yet be in the fullness of time? We need to know.

    When CY’s underlings read Stephen’s winnowing down of the “short” “list”, he will surely realise his predicament, and land half a dozen impossible things to do before breakfast in Carrie’s lap. How about: removing illegal structures from ministers’ houses, abrogating the right to build a four-storey house clauses from the Basic Law and the Joint Declaration, stopping triple parking in Central, ensuring free education for all native speakers of the two official languages, making the air breathable, banning golf and cricket, and reducing the number of border crossings for starters?

  5. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ PD

    On the issues you propose need to be done, we are entirely of the same mind ( except banning the cricket – what have they done to harm us except buzzing like cicadas ? )

  6. Joe Blow says:

    One could argue that dogs are a more successful species than men They sleep all day, get three servings of Chappy daily, are provided with walkies as well as playtime, affection and free medical, in return for which they provide absolutely zilch.

  7. Real Tax Payer says:

    Who let the dogs out ?

  8. Busy Bee says:

    Beautiful Beagle. Hemlock, thanks for everything.

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