Mr Wong doesn’t go to Beijing

If the Chinese government had some halfway decent public-relations advice, it would have allowed the three Hong Kong student activists to visit Beijing on Saturday. It would have given them a meeting and photo-op with a barely medium-ranking official from a vaguely ‘relevant department’, arranged a brief tour of the Great Hall of the People, and seen them off at the airport with a pat on the head and goody bags full of T-shirts and panda bear refrigerator magnets. In other words, humour them as a busy but generous-spirited mature adult would any naïve kids.

But of course, no. The Chinese Communist Party could never get its head around something so subtle. In a world divided between abject shoe-shiners and enemies to SCMP-TimeNewLeadershipbe crushed – and nothing else – Beijing had to make itself look childishly vindictive. By barring entry to its own citizens as if they were undesirable foreigners, the Chinese government also blatantly contradicted its own official line that Hongkongers belong to the motherland. (Asia Sentinel has a good piece on how the insistence that Party = Nation is alienating younger Hongkongers and Taiwanese.) And by acting scared of a clutch of geeky teenagers, Beijing made itself look pathetic and the scrawny bespectacled kids look strong.

The Hong Kong government, meanwhile, sits on the sidelines looking clueless. South China Morning Post commentator Peter Guy today writes that when an 18-year-old conveys more credible leadership than anyone in the oh-so elite establishment, the game is surely up. The Basic Law offers no solution. His suggested Beijing-compatible method of stripping the tycoon-bureaucrat crapocracy out of the equation: a directly appointed Mainland official as governor with a fully elected legislature as a source of legitimacy and ministers. (This is not a new idea. Traditionally, ‘Hong Kong people running Hong Kong’ has been sacrosanct as a guarantee of rule of law and press freedom – but maybe that seems less persuasive now.)

Officially, as the three students found out, China’s leadership cannot accept that the Umbrella-Occupy movement is a symptom of poor governance: that would be an admission of Communist Party fallibility. Changing the Basic Law would also be an unacceptable loss of face. So for the time being we will have nothing but ranting about CIA-funded plots and the inadequacy of Hong Kong’s patriotic education.

Attempts to salvage anything from the proposed 2016-17 electoral reform package will presumably come to nothing. It looks very much as if anything that will fix Hong Kong’s governance problem is unacceptable to Beijing, and anything that is acceptable to Beijing won’t work.

One reason why the protestors might think about packing up and going home at this stage: you’ll be needing those tents again sometime.

An obituary appears in today’s SCMP


A long time ago, back in the mid-90s, there was a tall, dark, serious, almost-sinister businessman with an extreme and obvious yearning to be Hong Kong’s Chief Executive after the 1997 handover. No – not the one you’re thinking of: a guy called Lo Tak-shing. To prove his loyalty, he started a pro-Beijing English-language magazine called the Window. It was one of those publications that people don’t actually buy – it just turned up on the desk. Among the more readable features was a column on Hong Kong history by one Solomon Bard. I always thought it was an anagram (blood ransom, slob doorman). Later, I noticed the name elsewhere and gathered it was a real person, but thought little more about it. Anyway (if I had been paying more attention to the local music scene I would have realized sooner), it seems he was as interesting as he was long-lasting.

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14 Responses to Mr Wong doesn’t go to Beijing

  1. Scotty Dotty says:

    Good post.

    As Hong Kong continues it’s descent into a dogs dinner, this week is going to get even more messy. From today’s rag:

    “A police source told the South China Morning Post that the force would take action “within this week” to help bailiffs implement court injunction orders against protesters occupying sites in Admiralty and Mong Kok. But he said police would not carry out the action at “odd hours”. The working hours of bailiffs are from 9am to 5pm on weekdays, so that’s when it will happen,” the source said. “Perhaps only an hour or two earlier [than 9am] at most, definitely not during the small hours.”

    Way to go, Einsteins. Tell ’em you’re coming, tell ’em where you’re coming, and just to be safe tell ’em when you’re coming.

  2. Joe Blow says:

    I had the pleasure of bumping into Joshua yesterday afternoon in Causeway Bay. He was handing out leaflets. As usual there was a bunch of anti-Occupy uncles with China-flag T-shirts and banners. One of them accosted Joshua who, without batting an eyelid, pulled out his smartphone and took a selfie with the DAB uncle, leaving the guy speechless and looking quite stupid. Class act.

  3. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    Hang Seng plunged today.

    The message is pretty clear – Shanghai-HK through train is more value-destructive than Occupy Central.

  4. PD says:

    What’s new? The aborted “dialogue” with Currie Lamb showed clearly that Joshua and co beat everyone in the two governments hands down on IQ, EQ and political nous.

    Peking and CY have no middle game and no endgame for HK: they’ve painted themselves into a tight corner. Virtually no conceivable course of action could enable them to regain local and international support.

    In that sense OC could retreat if the participants wished. But since they’ve invested so much already, the decision whether to go or try to stay should be entirely theirs.

  5. Maugrim says:

    Beijing reminds me of that scene from the film, Legend, where darkness is trying to woo the innocent princess, trying not to show his true self. We can only laugh, all that time and effort spent on convincing young people that they are part of one country and then reinforcing the fact that the HK border essentially represents a separate entity. I’m laughing my arse off.

  6. Tom says:

    Zhongnanhai lost, the moment the tear gas came out. Now what remains to be seen is how long it takes for them to figure that out.
    There are dignified ways to get out of this for them, but the first step is admitting you have a problem.

  7. nulle says:

    @PD, I agree.

    But right now the protests can be continue and play it to the end…

    However, the figure heads like Joshua Wong should take a page out of the British…set up a shadow gov’t, with elected shadow CE, shadow CS, shadow FS (financial sec) and other positions by direct universal sufferage. This shadow gov’t could be smaller than the real one, but drive change on the grass roots level, more social work and help the people/poor. Have Jimmy Lai Chee-Ying fund this shadow gov’t, including some welfare…this will raise Jimmy Lai’s profile and popularity. The shadow gov’t could also solicit donations from the people…

    This shadow gov’t keep pushing for universal sufferage and could setup at the public estates helping and educating the poor HKers, provide tutoring and liberal studies…meanwhile this shadow gov’t policies benefit the poor more, point the finger at the rich and HK gov’t for not doing more…if Jimmy Lai want to spend more, just buy and remodel old industrial complex, turn it into low-rent estate for the young people (sub 30 years old).

    Overall point, shadow gov’t makes the real one looks bad, gov’t with likes of CY Leung works for the rich, Zhongnaghai (CCP) and the property cartel…eventually universal sufferage will be in HK…

  8. René says:

    “a directly appointed Mainland official as governor with a fully elected legislature as a source of legitimacy and ministers”

    That is exactly how Britain and the Netherlands run their remaining colonies. Of course these have the right to secede. Actually, in some cases the mother country would want them to secede, but the locals consider the old ties a kind of life insurance.

  9. PHT says:

    While I certainly hope the Occupiers stick around at least until the Spring rainy season, maybe they should start thinking about an end-game. Perhaps they can do what I do when I feel a meeting has lasted longer than it should have. I simply tell the guy next to me that I am going to the toilet, leave my coffee cup behind to give the appearance that I am coming back, and then leave for good.

    In their case, if the Occupiers feel the Pigs are coming the next day, they can take their valuables, leave their tents behind and go to the toilet a few at a time so no one notices that they are abandoning the camp. If they like, once the Pigs show up and start clearing the empty tents and wondering where everyone went, they can go resettle at another campsite down the street.

  10. Not In My Back Yard says:

    Solomon Bard must have had a tizzy of a time trying to untwist the archaeology of all the incestuous relationships around Compradore Lo, who is buried what must be the most under utilized and expensive piece of 999 year lease on HK Island.

  11. Tom says:

    @PHT: Maybe the Occupiers could buy themselves extra time by populating the protest area with lifelike cardboard cutouts of themselves, with concealed tape players on the back playing recorded dialogue — as repeatedly used in the 1980s soccer-based comic Billy The Fish.

    It’s possible they have already done this, of course.

  12. Incredulous says:

    @nulle. Brilliant! Hope Jimmy Lai reads this or someone send him the link. Unfortunately he deleted his Facebook otherwise I would post to his timeline.

  13. Joe Blow says:

    I don’t know how Occupy will play out. Nobody knows.

    But if the Government, who has been misreading the movement from Day 1, chooses to use the heavy-handed approach to force an end (they probably will because reaction is the only game they know) the backlash will easily carry us to 2017. It will be enormous, momentous and permanent. The Liar and the bootlickers that are his administration will wish they were on another planet.

  14. Cassowary says:

    I think Zhongnanhai is prepared to play the long game. What’s another 33 years to an empire? They’ll wait until all the current democrats are dead, Joshua and friends are disillusioned, unemployable 40 year-olds, and all the “disloyal” Hong Kongers have given up, emigrated, or been marginalized by a massive influx of Mainland immigrants. Hong Kong might be ungovernable for the next couple of decades but so what? As long as it doesn’t get worse than an itchy arse pimple, they’ll tolerate it.

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