In Beijing, top official Zhang Dejiang reminds Hong Kong members of the National People’s Congress of the usual list of conditions under which the city can have quasi-democratic elections. Presumably hoping for a pat on the head – or maybe a tummy-rub! – Maria Tam tells Zhang that fellow local deputies have been actively opposing Occupy Central and releasing “positive energy”.
Beijing’s big fear is something called ‘Western-style democracy’. Although he doesn’t define it, Zhang comes up with some elaborate reasons why we can’t have it. One is that it is a trap, and would lead to Anarchic Mayhem Civilizational-Collapse Freak-Out Bloodbath Chaos of an exceptionally undesirable type. Another is that Hong Kong people are not ‘acclimatized to such exposure’ to these barbarian ways (or perhaps are far too familiar with them). A third, relayed by Rita Fan, is that Hong Kong is not a sovereign state – which doesn’t stop full democracy in thousands of elections for local mayors and governors throughout the Western world.
Rita then explains that Hong Kong’s political structure must not undermine the country’s sovereignty or security. While this is a refreshing improvement on Zhang’s obfuscation, it still doesn’t quite spell it out: by the country’s sovereignty or security, she means the Chinese Communist Party and its right to be the sole source of political power in the nation. Rather than just admit this simple truth – that non-guided (‘Western-style’) democracy is incompatible with a one-party state – all these people drone on endlessly using their coded phrases about the Basic Law, euphemisms for dictatorship and non-sequiturs. The pro-democrats meanwhile take it all literally, and disassemble and dispute every item point by point.
But wait! There’s more! Zhang also announces something we haven’t heard before. For months now, several of Hong Kong’s NPC deputies have been among those spouting the politically correct line about ravenous hordes of Mainland shoppers – they are good for us, we can’t limit the numbers, we have to accept it, let’s have 50 million more, blah blah blah. Now, however, the hyper-incisive, sharp-minded lateral-thinking officials in Beijing have concluded that perhaps the city is stuffed full and can’t take any more. Rita, once again, regales us with the details, revealing that Zhang is one hip and trendy dude who’s even familiar with the Big Lychee’s racist (or whatever-ist) entomological terminology on the subject…
By accepting that the Dreaded Locust Menace is a real, not imaginary or politically unacceptable, problem, Beijing leaves some of its loyal supporters looking slightly foolish (in finest we-kick-everyone-in-the-teeth-eventually Communist fashion). The Standard’s ‘Mary Ma’ editorial sounds distinctly miffed, essentially hoping that we’ll all be happy now as we lose our jobs and starve in the absence (we’d be so lucky) of Mainland shoppers.
I declare the weekend open with a patriotic opinion poll, confirmed by highly gifted businessmen as ‘independent’ and free of pro-dem bias…
Q: Beijing now accepts that Hong Kong is suffering from the impact of too many visitors. Why do you think this is?
a) Mainland officials, highly concerned with our well-being, have been carefully monitoring the numbers of visitors and the degree of crowding;
b) Our local politicians and representatives, elected or otherwise, noticed the burden of visitor numbers on the public and pleaded with Beijing to re-think;
c) Ordinary Hong Kong people on the streets and elsewhere complained so strongly, even obnoxiously, that they could no longer be ignored.