The Hong Kong government’s 2015-16 Budget, we are told, creates ‘buzz’ about Financial Secretary John Tsang becoming Chief Executive in 2017. Since his fiscal policies were the same tired and aimless surplus-churning of previous years, this must be to do with style rather than substance.
Not being CY Leung, Regina Ip, Antony Leung or Arthur Li obviously helps. Specifically, he expressed in his speech some apparently sincere sympathy for the younger generation (the one that rose up against the government so magnificently late last year). And he mentioned the near-fatal knife attack exactly one year ago on his friend Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau – a crime we can reasonably trace ultimately to the Chinese Communist Party. Although Tsang may be inept, he is not mentally deranged, so we can be pretty sure he has no wish to take on the thankless and impossible CE role. We can therefore assume that his comments were a way to express remorse and beg forgiveness for being part of a puppet-despotism of an administration blindly following absurd commands from Beijing to eradicate pluralism in this city. In an attempt to disguise these heresies, he also dragged in some stuff about food trucks, which similarly had no place in a Budget speech.
To the holders of real power far away in Beijing, Hong Kong is a minor matter of local regularization and rectification. General Secretary, Chairman and President Xi Jinping has spent his first few years at the top living dangerously. We have had: rumours of a coup or assassination attempt; a two-week gap in 2012 when he disappeared; the purges of Bo Xilai, Zhou Yongkang and General Xu Caihou, whose true evils and depravities we will probably never know; and aggressive campaigns to ban all but authorized and ‘correct’ information, messages and ideas in the media and schools. All this while steering a distorted, debt-laden, capital-misallocating economy through reforms, demographic problems and a dysfunctional outside world.
But now – he disappoints. He insists for some reason on emulating his drab, over-cautious and unimaginative predecessors by formulating a fake ‘theory’ that will be tacked on to Marxist-Leninism and Maoism as radiant guiding philosophy. For Xi, it is the Four Comprehensives. The first reads: “Comprehensively develop a moderately prosperous society,” which sounds shocking for its lack of ambition. Surely it should be: “Comprehensively take over the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and half the Pacific, and moderately large bits of Siberia, Burma and Sri Lanka.”
This follows Hu Jintao’s Three Supremes, which somehow enabled the Communist Party, the people’s interests and constitutional law to be simultaneously paramount, and Jiang Zemin’s famous Three Represents, which we all remember for allowing capitalists to join the Communist Party, which by the standards of these theories was clear and logical. Coming one day: the Five In Chinese It Sounds Less Clunkys and maybe in a fit of brutal honesty, the Six We’re Making This Up As We Go Alongs.
At a historic site across the border last weekend, I checked intricate carved frames around an ancient building, only to find they were made of extruded resin. (Real antiquities were destroyed in accordance with Mao’s Four Olds.) The Ferrero Rocher chocolates are counterfeit, along with the milk powder and toothpaste. The aircraft carrier is a leftover Soviet hull with no offensive capability. The generals, mayors and department heads bought their promotions. The audience on the ‘live’ CCTV gala was filmed separately and edited into the final recording, badly. Of course you have fake theories. The whole totalitarian edifice is built on shams and make-believe. If John Tsang is emboldened enough to distance himself from our end of the travesty, maybe there’s hope yet.