Excuses, excuses

The HK Economic Journal’s EJInsight compiles a bewildering array of spurious reasons Chinese officials and supporters have come up with to explain why Hong Kong must have a rigged nomination system for the 2017 Chief Executive election. It goes without saying that none of them are very convincing; some are at the dog-ate-my-homework level. What is interesting is that, even allowing for the fact that they are quoted out of any context, the speakers produce such a mishmash of justifications. At least six of the 10, being serving office-holders, should have had a common script to read from.

Perhaps Beijing’s attitude is that the communication experts are wrong, and the bigger the number of reasons, the clearer and more effective the message will be (UK Prime Minister Tony Blair did the same when he produced at least four or five justifications for going to war in Iraq). It certainly suggests that Chinese officialdom will say almost anything to deny the simple honest truth: the Communist one-party state cannot and will not yield control. (EJInsight is probably being generous when it says: “[Beijing] has no confidence that the pro-establishment camp will win in an open and fair election in 2017.” The Leninist system doesn’t accommodate even a slight possibility of a rival running against it.)

The pro-democrats go along with this. Beijing sets out non-reasons why we can’t have full democracy; the pro-dems painstakingly pull the non-reasons apart and rebut them. Everyone seems to have an interest in not admitting the fundamental truth about the nature of a one-party state – Beijing to maintain the fiction it has a EJInsight-Electoralconstitution like other civilized nations, and the pro-dems to maintain the fiction that their long and noble struggle is winnable.

Another possible reason why the Chinese government does not enforce a more coherent ‘line to take’ among its spokesmen is that it doesn’t care. It will prevail anyway, so who gives a damn what reason you give for rigging the system?

The pro-dems, and Occupy Central in particular, have worked on the assumption that there is a way to stop Beijing from prevailing. For long decades, they used logical, moral and legalistic argument and plenty of protest marches – to little effect. More recently, they have turned to the more methodical approach of threatened non-violent civil disobedience. Beijing’s recent take-it-or-leave-it announcement of a rigged nomination system for 2017 leaves that idea a non-starter save as a symbolic gesture.

The next step will be to veto the reform package in the Legislative Council next year and thus leave us with the existing system. Their reasons why this would achieve something positive for Hong Kong (as opposed to pro-dems’ self-esteem) could be worthy of another EJInsight piece. One is that the ‘fake democracy’ on offer is worse than the status quo as it somehow cements Hong Kong into more of a Mainland system. This is a bit of a stretch: almost anything will be at least a slight improvement on the failed current system. It’s another excuse to avoid facing reality.

(The reality, lest we forget, is: law, media and other institutions that need protecting; oppressive cartels and bureaucrats that need attacking; schools, housing and air that need improving; and all the other injustices and inequality. A weak, defeated, divided pro-dem camp will be of little use in the years ahead.)

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13 Responses to Excuses, excuses

  1. Rory says:

    I am so tempted…

    But back to the piece and the ten excuses – number 8 takes the biscuit and demonstrates the depths to which CY is forced these days.

  2. gumshoe says:

    Call me a worry wart… but I’m worried.

  3. Chris Maden says:

    I think you’re wrong. I think Beijing cares a lot. The reform on offer is not a misjudgment. The current system is perfect for the powers that be, and a lot of conscious deliberation has gone into choosing a package that will get voted down.

    It’s a perfect way of shoving blame on to the other side – “we gave you what you wanted and you rejected it.”

    The best outcome would be that the changes are voted in. If Beijing puts some candidates forwards that offer a real choice on issues, great. If the choice is between a bunch of tired has-beens (Regina Ip, Lexus Leung and Rita Fan), we will at least be able to spoil our ballot papers en masse to show our displeasure.

    But who, in the current pan-dem movement, will think of it that way? And both sides are playing politics with our lives.

  4. Stephen says:

    Yes this excuse for a package was carefully thought out and I’m not sure they care whether it passes or not. Vote the package in and you probably get Carrie (The CCP’s CY is unelectable) who will run against a DAB candidate (Probably Starry). It will dull and uninspired because Beijing does not want another 2012 when Henry and CY hurled bricks at each other. Veto it and you get CY, who doesn’t care, unlike Donald who had least offered to quit when his non reforms didn’t look like passing the legislature.

    How to choose? When you get creeps like Akers Jones, CH Tung, Rita telling us it’s a good thing …

  5. Cerebos says:

    Just been on my first road trip to Guangzhou in about 5 years and I have to say there have been patches of infrastructure and development that have me the strange feeling that it’s HK that’s looking more like a backwater with wah passing day. We are squandering whatever advantages we have in an unwinnable “struggle” while neglecting what really counts – the quality and happiness of our lives. I’ve lost count of the number of reasonable complaints I’ve read / heard about over the past few years that are never resolved. Can you think of a single “problem” that’s been resolved by a single govt department recently? We’re stuck in our little rentier quagmire while the world just a few miles away moves on.

  6. LRE says:

    Perhaps the pro-democrats and occupy central should apply to join the government’s “No Fakes” pledge campaign? Ready-made logo to get behind!

  7. PD says:

    Cerebos: Agreed, but who’s to blame? The government, once a proud bastion of efficiency and can-do, is running scared of its own shadow, because they know they’re totally illegitimate and because only incompetents and crooks come up through the ranks.

    Hemlock: how can you argue that a system where a democrat cannot even stand may seem “a slight improvement” on one where she can stand but not become CE? Or, as Stephen says, that 5 more years of CY would be better than (St)(Ca)rrie?

    Even tactically, if you’re being violated, choosing the where and the how is a mistake, as it could be argued to constitute some sort of consent.

    At least if we had CY until 2022, surely people here, abroad and perhaps even in China would fully realise just how broken the sytem was.

  8. john says:

    So I run to the lord, please hide me lord. Don’t you see me praying’? But the lord said, go to the devil. He said, go to the devil. All along that day. So I ran to the devil, he was waiting’. I ran to the devil. All on that day I cried – Power .. Sinnerman by Nina Simone

    Vibrating feeling of descent followed by a massive tantrums & still not getting anywhere as decision is made

    What is free elections? Elected leaders rating always drops to an average of 22-46%, in S Africa had over 95% turnout, today about 60%, West is approx. 25%. Why? How? Lower & lower turnout

    US legalized bribery as donations & 3rd party impossible. India / Japan run by family dynasties for decades. EU officials are appointed. Does folks have a ‘real’ say?

    Bottom-line, a cohesive government in any form willing to make progress is the government junta wants! Live n Let Live!

    Cy or Yc just have a different name, face but are the same world over

  9. FOARP says:

    Actually, a vote against the ‘reform’ package does have one very solid thing going for it: under the present system, pan-dems can at least run, if not win. They can use the CE elections as a platform to put their position across. Under the new system, they won’t even be able to run, the debate will be between Beijing acolytes.

  10. Wan Chai Wanderer says:

    FOARP: Except pan-dems have never had any systematic policy proposals on real HK problems showing how they, if in power, can change HK. So it doesn’t matter if they can have a platform or not. All they will say or care about is universal suffrage, which they know they could never achieve with HK under the Communist control.

  11. PD says:

    john, But at least the US don’t deliberately massacre hundreds of their own citizens, there is a procedure to remove faulty presidents and there is due legal process. That’s one reason their GDP per person is many times that of China.

    When IIs start going from America to the uber-alles Empire, then we can stop all the hypocrisy.

  12. MonkeyFish says:

    According to Hegelian analysis, all social and political development is the result of interaction between opposing forces and then synthesis, followed by genesis of new conflict.

    CCP strategy is and (has been since 1949) to establish itself as the directing agent of this process – to be above the conflict in a certain sense, and yet to simultaneously infiltrate and control the different civil, economic and state actors, and therefore control the overall dialectic process. Hence if you operate a business in mainland China today with more than 50 employees (I believe), a CCP political commissar must sit on the board of directors, responsible for party liaison and monitoring implementation of state policies.

    The greatest fear of the communist party is the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong crosses the border and grows into a mass movement. In this dialectical the pro-democracy “force” is opposed to the totalitarian state “force” – which is the party – and neither force survives a dialectic process in its original form, according to leninist theory. This kind of a dialectic, where the role and rights of the state vis a vis the rights of civil society, is exactly the kind of conflict that 60 years + of social and political engineering in China by the CCP has been aimed to prevent (i.e. its evisceration of any and all forms of independent civil society, most recently including the Falun Dafa people). I suppose the greatest irony of all is that the communist party fears a classic proletarian revolution (educating urban working class vs. owners of capital and the crony-capitalist state machinery) – which has never occurred in China, and in which the CCP is “on the wrong side of history”, allied with an exploitative capitalist class – and they know it.

    History teaches us that whenever any person or organization is fanatical or rigid, attempting to create a perception of strength through dominance of its opposition and dictatorship, this always masks doubt, fear and weakness (and is the achilles heel of all totalitarian movements). I don’t know that a civil disobedience movement in Hong Kong, if pitched the right way (loving China by seeking accountability, transparency, greater social equity etc, through the mechanism of political reform – i.e. same message as Hu Yaobang c. 1980s) isn’t going to ignite fires on the other side of the border. Ultimately though, the weaknesses of the CCP are in China, and it is only in China that those weaknesses may be deeply exploited. Hong Kong may be the firestarter, but the dry prairie grasses – and the fears of the CCP – are over the border.

  13. MonkeyFish says:

    I do however totally agree with Hemlock that our lovely tycoon’s interests are ever greater and more “status quo”… and they have done an excellent job at directing people’s anger against poor governance at the CCP, instead of at cartelization and distortion of the local economy.

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