Financial Secretary John Tsang will soon deliver his annual budget, and Hong Kong will be ranting and foaming at the mouth about his incompetence and idiocy. What can we rant and foam at the mouth about while we’re waiting? Why, of course – the Chinese government’s ever-so-interesting decision to hold September’s APEC Finance Ministers’ Bore-Fest in sunny, picturesque Beijing rather than here in the Big Lychee.
The Chinese government is probably eager to manage appearances. With plans to launch annual Hate Japan Days and tensions rising over territorial claims to distant stretches of Southeast Asian high seas, it will surely be appropriate to have Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation members’ officials gathering to pay tribute in the Celestial Empire’s capital city. It sends the right message to the Chinese people about their country’s standing in the world, and no doubt makes little logistical tasks like bugging delegates’ phones a bit easier.
But that’s not a good enough reason for us. It has to be all about Hong Kong.
One possible explanation is that the Central People’s Government realized that we are horribly overcrowded, and decided to move the tiresome assemblage of blathering bureaucrats elsewhere as an act of mercy and kindness.
Putting that theory to one side, we can consider the opposite: taking away this prestigious blah-blah-whatever international meeting that would put Hong Kong on the map and make us tons of really really easy profits is a way of punishing the Big Lychee for being uppity and calling Mainlanders locusts and waving colonial flags and generally being disagreeable.
If it’s neither because they like us, nor because they hate us, could it be because of the Occupy Central movement, which plans pro-democracy civil disobedience later this year if it believes we are not moving towards full universal suffrage? This is probably a factor. Look at it this way: if you had to choose between two possible venues for a conference, and one would potentially be disrupted by sit-ins, you would quite possibly opt for the other. Ask any ‘MICE planner’.
If you’re a pro-Beijing loyalist, you could put one and one together and get three: they are moving the APEC meeting away from Hong Kong as a punishment for planning Occupy Central in the first place. The loss of all those really really easy profits we’d all enjoy is the fault of the evil pro-democrats, as predicted in orchestrated United Front scares a few months ago about billions in economic damage, so there.
If you’re a pro-democrat, you will spontaneously and instinctively put one and one together and get five: they’re moving the APEC blather session away because they know Occupy Central will be in full swing, with protestors sitting on the streets. They know that because they have already decided not to give us full universal suffrage. QED. Occupy Central’s underlying prophecy proved correct in advance. It’s not every day that ‘one plus one equal five’ has an elegant logic to it, but in this instance it does, provided we assume that it’s all about Hong Kong. (And I must say, if a MICE planner was also planning to deny one of his venues full universal suffrage… well, you know what he’d do.)
Who cares – so long as they hold the damn thing somewhere else?
In an atmosphere of blame, retribution, fear and punishment, it is refreshing to see someone brazenly refusing to be pushed around. Yesterday, I supposed that the Standard would join the South China Morning Post in avoiding use of the pejorative ‘locust’. Yet the free paper today pokes fun not once but twice at the SCMP, goading its rival for self-censorship and political correctness in the face of menaces from the likes of Communist propaganda sheet Global Times. They even seem to gleefully promise to print the L-word in big bold letters at every opportunity. All good fun, except you have to wonder what Standard/Sing Tao owner and archetypal inveterate pro-Beijing tycoon Charles Ho will think when he finds out, after – say – patriotic readers send clippings into Beijing’s local liaison office. Meanwhile, we will monitor their headlines with interest.
OK – now we can start ranting and mouth-frothing about John Tsang…