HK healing process starts as students give officials slapping

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Under strict orders to spout nothing but lines from Beijing’s turgid and tattered script, government officials had no chance of ‘winning’ yesterday’s non-debate with pro-democracy students. All they could do was come across as impotent has-beens being kicked around by a bunch of geeky kids in T-shirts.

But it does represent a victory for the local administration – over Mainland cadres who have been micro-managing the fight against the pro-democracy movement. SCMP-StudentsOfficialsThe Chinese Communist Party’s only conceivable response to opposition is to crush it, or at least freeze it out by orchestrating mass-hatred and smear campaigns. The failure of such tactics in Hong Kong must have sunk into even the thickest Beijing skull: over several months, United Front bullying and ultimately excessive police action turned Occupy Central from a dry academic exercise about to fizzle out into a glorious and globally acclaimed people’s uprising. Yesterday’s humiliating acknowledgment that the student activists exist suggests that the local bureaucrats are being allowed to run the day-to-day show again. (When historians get around to doing the Umbrella Revolution, they will want to explore the behind-the-scenes conflict between local and national governments.)

One of the students’ more powerful arguments was that the Hong Kong government’s report to Beijing on the need for political reform was a farce. As a concession to save face all round, the administration proposes to send an ‘informal’ note to the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office with an updated (as in ‘more truthful’) account of local views. Like the students-officials summit itself, this won’t lead to any substantial change, but it is a symbolic admission of a mistake by the government.

That was also, of course, Beijing’s doing. But wait! The Communist Party is infallible, so mistakes are by definition somebody else’s fault.

This means the hunt for foreign interference in Hong Kong must continue. Chief Executive CY Leung has promised to unveil the rogue barbarian subversives when it is ‘appropriate’.

The pro-Beijing camp has long accused pro-democrats of treachery. One favoured piece of evidence is veteran campaigner Martin Lee’s frequent visits over the decades to Washington DC to lobby in vain for his cause. A more recent one is pro-dem publisher Jimmy Lai’s business dealings with former US official Paul Wolfowitz, or the fact that his aide Mark Simon’s father’s best-friend’s neighbour’s great-aunt knew someone who worked at the CIA. They could make a fuss over pro-dems’ spouses’ foreign passports and kids’ education overseas – but they don’t because government officials have them too.

In search of something more convincing, fingers are now pointing at the National Endowment for Democracy, a Reagan-era, partly government-funded non-profit aimed at spreading liberty around the world. It rejects accusations of masterminding the (seriously disorganized) Occupy Central movement, explaining that it gives funding to some local groups like Human Rights Monitor (founded, I think, by now-Environment Under-Secretary Christine Loh).

It has also funded a thing called the National Democratic Institute, which is similarly dedicated to building up accountable government and apple pie across the world. Among its activities in Hong Kong, the NDI has provided training in subjects like media relations and polling techniques to political parties, including the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of HK and the Liberal Party – both of which are pro-Beijing. It was a while ago, and you’d need to dig around to find out more (this Wikileaks fragment alludes to it – NDI also worked a bit with Civic Exchange, also founded by Christine Loh). But if the powers of darkness do start smearing pro-dems for dealings with patronizing US foundations bringing truth and enlightenment to benighted little brown brothers overseas, it’s worth bearing in mind that pro-Beijing parties and a now-government official are similarly tainted.

(A very Mainland-style think tank called the Tianda Institute alleged something along these lines in a hilariously silly piece in yesterday’s South China Morning Post. To get an idea what sort of psychedelic drugs these guys are on, you should also check their Construction of Middle Class Ideology: A New Set of Universal Values. Hard to say sometimes whether the Communist Party is a sort of religion or an actual parallel universe.)

I think I’ve got it! Foreign organizations that are genuinely responsible for stirring up unrest among the Hong Kong people: Louis Vuitton, Prada, Audemars Piglet, Armani, Omega, L’Occitane, Gucci, etc, etc. etc, not to mention Cow & Gate, Wyeth, Abbott, etc, etc.

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15 Responses to HK healing process starts as students give officials slapping

  1. Scotty Dotty says:

    The debate was pure Hong Kong. So much resentment yet so much politeness.

    Sadly, the protestors are slowly but surely backing themselves into a corner. Their only route to victory is insisting on 2017 true universal suffrage, hang the compromise or talks.

  2. LRE says:

    After CY’s Marie Antoinette meltdown yesterday, I’m beginning to suspect that it is CY himself who is the sinister foreign influence at work. After all, he has almost single-handedly transformed the Occupy movement from an embarrassing impotent irrelevance into a powerful, relevant, working force in politics, by goading the students into radical action, and public opinion into supporting the students. Yesterday he started phase II – alienating the blue ribbon government supporters by saying their power base should under no circumstances be allowed any say in the running of Hong Kong. Is this all purely good, old-fashioned incompetence, or is CY really a Washington’s stooge not Beijing’s?

  3. Maugrim says:

    The foreign fingers accusation is levelled because the action itself comes straight from the Chinese own playbook, having used it on HK in 1967 and since, via the funding of AstroTurf groups.

  4. C.Law says:

    Any company which exports from (or through) HK has ties with overseas businesses and government organisations, this includes all of the companies run by those tycoons who are not involved purely in the property sector. Surely all of these tycoons must be in the pockets of overseas forces too!

  5. Gooddog says:

    To all the naysayers out there – you know who you are – “decision has been made” “can’t change Beijing’s mind” “students are wasting their time”, etc. – you’re wrong. You got it wrong. I will wait for the apologies.

    The students standing firm are well on their way to getting a result. Their courage might just save this town. We should all have backed them from day 1 and we should continue to back them.

  6. regislea says:

    I just read the abstract of the Tianda Institute stuff. Now I’ve had a cup of tea, a Bex and a lie-down, I realise that they really are writing gibberish:

    . . . the values of Zhou Yi (I Ching), including the philosophy of the middle way that promotes openness, Chinese practicalism that allows deity-worshiping and is anti-agency, and strong beliefs in equality of wealth and opportunity, which were practised by the Chinese people in the old days, are exactly what Western liberal democracies fall short of. He contends that China should construct a set of socialist values . . . focusing on the interests of the middle class, after thoroughly examining the nation’s classic works, in order to relieve Western liberal democracy of all its weaknesses and contribute to the theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

  7. Stephen says:

    Is the compromise a full elected, by universal suffrage, nominating committee of 1200 members ? Nobody loses face NPC’s decision stands – 3 candidates, receiving over 50% of the of the committee’s approval stand for election. As the nominating committee is fully elected, not to mention “broadly representative” and now including poor people, a democrat has a chance of receiving over 50% and thereby gives the electorate a genuine choice as the leader of an executive led Government.

  8. Cassowary says:

    Highly unlikely, Stephen. Beijing has made it abundantly clear that it considers “broadly representative” to mean sectors and not people.

    Heck, they might as well introduce a system of 1 dollar, 1 vote. It’d scarcely be any worse than what we’ve got now.

  9. Cassowary says:

    Christine Loh is well known for her extensive NGO and governmental contacts all over the world. She was the ultimate networker. The woman knows everybody, everywhere. And she still presumably got through the security background check. If they let someone like her into government, it’s difficult to imagine what sort of foreign malevolence must be behind Joshua Wong with his Samsung phone, Macbook computer and Gundam figurines decorating his bedroom.

  10. MC says:

    Stephen: I would be delighted if we get the plan you suggested – it was floated a few days after the movement started but no one has really talked about it from both sides.

    Cassowary: Unfortunately I agree with you – this isn’t something BJ is going to allow. However, I would love the students to pose this proposal to the gov’t and see how they squirm. Given that it is “legal” under the NPC framework and the Basic Law, it makes it much harder for them to say no – as far as I know, there is no LEGAL basis to turn it down. At the moment, demands for civil nomination make it too easy for the gov’t to say no by citing the Basic Law and NPC ruling.

  11. Not In My Back Yard says:

    “So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books* like this cannot be useless.”

    *tales Our own little Les Miserables

  12. delboy says:

    Too true Hemmers. Leung’s notion of ‘evil foreign forces’ would be anyone who cannot demonstrate their pure han chinese family lineage. He can hardly claim every foreign passport holder here in HK is a potential foreign provocateur as that would include just about the entire civil service, his exco cabinet and every bloody rich git in town.

    I suspect that we will be treated to a ‘kodak moment’ any day now. He’ll pop up with a hello kitty photo album containing police survelliance teams’ snaps of white folks demonstrating at the OC rallies over the past three weeks (me included) and claim these are the trouble makers egging on the students.

    The man needs an extended stay in the Princes Margrets loony bin in Lai Chi Kok, with mandatory daily visits from Long Hair to deliver his bananas.

    My heart and hat’s off to these very brave and determined students; risking their very bleak future for all of us here in Hong Kong.

  13. Scotty Dotty says:

    On the subject of compromises, come on chaps, it’s obvious where this is going.

    Can you not see the wood from the trees?

    Hong Kong’s fudge will form a House of Lords v House of Commons arrangement.

    Beijing’s shoeshiners will get to keep a notional casting vote in the CE (their “House of Lords”), appointed in the same rigged way as now, so they can tell the comrades up north their face is preserved and the Master Race still runs Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the proles will be allowed to elect a CA, Chief of Administration, on true universal suffrage who will have the pleasure of running Hong Kong day-to-day. With enough finesse the CA could be presented as Hong Kong’s elected leader.

    If there are any policies which the CA want the CE can still return them for redrafting… if he dares.

  14. pie-chucker says:

    Will this ‘informal note’ to higher powers be published online so we mere HK citizens can have glimpse?

  15. PD says:

    SD,

    Sounds rather like France, where the PM and president work in tandem, the PM managing the humdrum and the president the affairs of state.

    Enough reason for the liaison office to reject it?

    Gooddog/GA(?),

    Spot on!

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