Maybe everything will be nice

A peculiar column in the South China Morning Post’s op-ed page pleads with Google not to ‘give up’ on China. The author relies on Gmail, which Beijing’s Internet watchdogs seem to have been blocking in the Mainland (for reasons that remain unclear – presumably to help protect the motherland from evil Western ideas). The disruption has gone down badly with businesses and students who use the email service to SCMP-ThePeacemakercommunicate with clients and colleges overseas. Even the Communist Party’s nationalistic Global Times mouthpiece found the blockage hard to explain or justify.

The odd thing about the SCMP column is that the writer essentially blames Google for the fact that its email service and search engine are unavailable behind China’s Great Firewall. He even accuses the company of letting its shareholders down. Yet it is the paranoid Leninist system’s elaborate and growing censorship that bars Google from the Mainland.

The subtext is that China is normal, and those that don’t adapt (or bow) to it are unreasonable or stupid. The scary thing is that people blindly go along with this. If some Taiwanese raise their flag in Washington DC, Beijing will naturally go into Big Bed-Wetting Mouth-Frothing Tantrum mode. To which the correct State Department response should be a disinterested shrug, or a diplomatic reminder that the US, not China, runs the US. But no – the spokeswoman gives the requisite kowtow. Meanwhile, Facebook’s founder-whizzkid thinks he’s clever – maybe even cool – waving the Thoughts of Chairman Xi.

The SCMP op-ed delusions continue in another opinion piece inviting us to believe that Chief Executive CY Leung can and should assume the role of mother in ending the rift between the grumpy father (Beijing) and stroppy teenage son (Hong Kong). Leaving aside the mind-boggling imagery of CY as housewife, the idea is absurd because it completely misunderstands what is going on.

First, CY is not and cannot be a neutral go-between. His job is to be 100% loyal to the Chinese Communist Party, and he makes no secret about being in office to serve Beijing in its struggle against Hong Kong’s people and ethos. More to the point, the Central People’s Government does not do arbitration, reconciliation or similar namby-pamby warm-and-fuzzy stuff. Its mission is to maintain a monopoly of power, and its method is to crush and control anything or anyone that gets in the way. All the SCMP columns in the world – declaring essentially that everything would be nice if everything was nice – won’t change that.

Unlike Google, Hong Kong cannot choose whether to accept totalitarianism as normal. A lot of mutterings doing the rounds at the moment are probably designed to shock or scare, but the overall impression is that things are not going to be pleasant. Beijing looks set to be less, not more, flexible and tolerant. (Political reform looks like a lost cause but is beside the point now anyway.)

Mr Bad Example here is not some CIA-backed pro-democrat devil like publisher Jimmy Lai, but establishment politician James Tien. Last year, the clueless maverick called for CY Leung to stand down, and got a symbolic slapping in the form of expulsion from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. The word now is that this is just the start. Beijing will squeeze out pro-establishment figures – government officials as well as business people – who are not sufficiently (that is, totally) loyal.

This points to a smaller, tighter cabal of trusted and obedient insiders. It suggests greater pressure on the media to toe the party line, and routine direct intervention by Beijing officials in broad economic and social, as well as constitutional and security, policy. And of course it means that more people than ever will be categorized as outsider non-persons or worse. On a positive note, controlling the local elite with the stick rather than the carrot could mean less blatant favouritism towards tycoons. On the negative side, it is hard to see how this tighter grip – treating Hong Kong as a national security problem – will not involve greater intimidation of outright dissenters and critics.

This is all mutterings, of course. Could be wrong. Maybe SCMP columnists are right, and everything can in fact be nice.

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14 Responses to Maybe everything will be nice

  1. Stephen says:

    Not being strong of stomach I can’t bear the Pro-China Morning Post daily however do enjoy the occasions when you highlight the demented drivel of a lunatic – Step forward Stephanie Cheung – FFS. To para phrase a recent nauseating Government propaganda piece “I remember that” that Hong Kong’s “parents” have thus been so bad that social services would have undoubtable stepped in. We’ve had CH Tung (so incompetent Beijing had to remove him) Donald Tsang (is that ICAC investigation finished yet) and CY Leung (instigator of the worse social disorder in 48 years) Any wonder adolescent HKSAR would like to have a go at picking its next “parent” As Gramps picks show he is clearly as prone to lunacy as Stephanie.

  2. Knownot says:

    “the US spokeswoman gives the requisite kowtow” – Not fair to the poor girl! Her words, that the United States “did not know about the flag raising in advance. No U.S. government personnel attended the event in any capacity,” could be seen as a diplomatic rebuff.

    As for Facebook’s founder. First, give him credit for learning Chinese. He’s done a lot better than some long-term residents of HK. But, according to the Daily Telegraph report, he is debasing himself to try to enter the China market. Compare and contrast the China policy of two powerful men with wives or ex-wives of Chinese birth or descent: Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg.

  3. reductio says:

    Every day I buy the SCMP. When I’ve finished with the cartoons, crossword and the business post it makes a fantastic, cheap cover for my incontinent pet dog’s sleeping blanket (16 years old and still going strong – that’s the dog, not the blanket). Soaks up the urine nicely.

  4. Cassowary says:

    “Everything will be nice if everything was nice” is a close relative of “Daddy will buy you an ice cream if you sit down and be quiet.” Also see “I don’t know why you’re making such a fuss now, you were so well-behaved when you lived with Auntie England.”

    I suppose now, the official policy is “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

  5. David says:

    The sun is indeed setting on Hong Kong. It’s such a shame.

  6. Chinese Netizen says:

    Yeah but Zuck’s tai tai don’t count…she’s a (not particularly attractive) Twinkie whereas Murdock’s mistake is a cunning, manipulative, money driven “dragon lady” with all the requisite traits of the stereotype.

  7. PCC says:

    In most cultures, uttering a few words in the local language is both offered and accepted as a matter of politeness. Only in China and in France is it considered to be an abject acknowledgment of the hosts’ inherent superiority in all things.

  8. Scotty Dotty says:

    Superb post today. Totally on-the-money summary of Hong Kong’s mess and the delusions some hold.

    There’s very mixed signals (ie, they’re confused) coming from Hong Kong’s government and, as Hemmers says, it could end up becoming nasty.

    On the one hand the Justice Secretary and Rita et al are instructed to float conciliatory noises for a “No Confidence” option for the CE election (which they are trying to call “None of the Above”). Meanwhile, the left hand is, 1930s style, whacking kids over the head with a truncheon for vandalism and arresting a few dozen pro-democracy protestors (a couple of months after the fact but lets not split hairs).

    The confusion is coming from CY. After Xi gave him a dressing down over the Christmas holidays, he’s telling his shoe-shiners to “do something” without being precise (no surprises there). Some of the shoe-shiners take this to mean “do something nicer” and some are thinking he meant “do something nastier”.

    The contrast with things before 1997 is huge – oh for the time when leaders made decisions and were big enough to admit mistakes.

    PS: Yeah, Wendi, what the heck was Murdoch thinking. It must have been his prostrate meds.

  9. reductio says:

    @Scotty Dotty

    What was Murdoch thinking? As Chinese Netizen succintly put it “cunning, manipulative, money driven”. Well, like meets like!

  10. Fei Jai says:

    “If some Taiwanese raise their flag in Washington DC, Beijing will naturally go into Big Bed-Wetting Mouth-Frothing Tantrum mode. To which the correct State Department response should be a disinterested shrug, or a diplomatic reminder that the US, not China, runs the US. But no – the spokeswoman gives the requisite kowtow.”

    Ah yes. The land of the free and the home of the brave.

  11. Joe Blow says:

    ” a cunning, manipulative, money driven “dragon lady” with all the requisite traits of the stereotype”

    Hi Christine: how are you doing today, in the knowledge that all the leading personalities of Occupy are going to be arrested while you are sitting up there with CY Leung ?

  12. inspired says:

    Sorry but everything in this post sort of passed me in a daze as I envisioned CY as a housewife wearing an apron and carrying some freshly baked cookies

  13. Scotty Dotty says:

    @ reductio

    You make a very good point

  14. Cassowary says:

    Priscilla Chan is a hell of a lot better looking than Zuckerberg. He looks like the result of a Jack Russell terrier mating with a broccoli.

    Seriously though, if Xi Jinping turns out to be a secret liberal after all of this, he’ll go down as the best undercover agent in history. He’s remarkably good at playing the righteous megalomaniac.

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