You know your protest against the Hong Kong government is complete when a bunch of cantankerous elderly folk waving Chinese flags are bussed in to oppose you. The pro-HKTV demonstrators outside the Legislative Council were thus honoured yesterday, as lawmakers debated using special powers and privileges to force the administration to reveal why the Executive Council rejected the upstart broadcaster’s application for a licence.
The South China Morning Post reports one senior citizen’s considered analysis: “Exco owes the public no further explanation. Their decision must be correct.” An interview with the old guy would have been fascinating. Maybe he took his free lunchbox and just chanted what he was told to; maybe he really holds blind hatred for the activists, radicals and dissenters. Either way, there is something a bit chilling about it, probably because it echoes episodes in my current read, Frank Dikotter’s Tragedy of Liberation, about the Communist persecution, starvation and killing of supposed landlords and capitalists in 1950s China (a Jasper Becker review is here).
(Maybe the aging flag-waver genuinely believes Exco has collective genius. No – he can’t be that demented.)
The appearance of mouth-frothing, geriatric, even – God help us – Chiuchow, patriots confirms that the HKTV saga has become another official, permanent divide between the rulers and the ruled, alongside Article 23 and National Education. Even legislator Lam Tai-fai (nominally independent but actually of the Liberal Party/textiles ilk) called the government suicidal as he announced his support, presumably under pressure (more shades, at a pinch, of the 1950s; he’ll denounce his parents next). He and other functional constituency representatives must know that they could be helping to dig their own graves too, siding with the administration on this issue, at this time.
So expect one angry crowd, plus perhaps a gaggle of the aggressive aged, when (assuming) Legco votes against the Powers and Privileges Motion. And then we still have a judicial review to go.
At this point, you would expect the Global Times – if it took any interest at all – to accuse the pro-HKTV protest movement of being part of a CIA and Taiwanese plot to usurp power in Hong Kong, and use the city as a base for a US-led alliance with militaristic Japanese hegemonists and regional monkey-republics planning to sink the glorious motherland’s fleet of half-completed aircraft carriers and deny the country its peaceful rise to Big Boss of Asia and thwart its rightful historic claims of sovereignty over the moon.
But no. A thoughtful-sounding Mainlander doing a PhD in economics at Chinese University turns up instead. The problem, he says, is a government “drafting policy on the basis of corporate needs.” He fears a backlash in the form of a demagogue candidate in a democratic election in 2017, which is possibly a bit alarmist. But his basic theme, that crony capitalism could damage the relationship between Hong Kong and the Mainland, is astute, and its appearance in a (admittedly wacky) subsidiary of the ideologically forceful People’s Daily at least mildly interesting.