Today’s South China Morning Post lavishes many column inches on Hong Kong Civic Party quitter Ronny Tong. Ronny laments that fellow pro-democrats didn’t support him when he tried taking a conciliatory approach to the government or Beijing, and so he is going to explore a ‘third way’. Modern history is littered with ‘third ways’, from Alexander Kerensky to Clinton-Blair communitarianism, and it is hard to be optimistic about bringing Hong Kong’s Leninist sovereign and pluralistic populace together as one happy family.
The Beijing officials who now direct the campaign against Hong Kong’s opposition will see Ronny’s initiative as a chance to further split the pan-dems, confound dissidents’ evil plans and generally crush the enemy – as an instinctive reaction rather than as part of any grand strategy. This means Ronny and his Path of Democracy team may get a few pats on the head, such as invitations to tea and cookies at the Liaison Office. If they run in District or Legislative Council elections they will wedge themselves into a niche on the political spectrum between the mildest pro-democrats (the obscure ADPL, say) and the least-principled carpetbaggers in the pro-Beijing camp (say, Regina Ip’s bunch). And they will find out that in such an atomized political environment, the closer to the middle-ground you get, the more people hate you.
Even some of Ronny’s own natural supporters see moderation as a hopeless cause. As one tells the SCMP, the lovey-dovey-compromise thing works on the assumption that there are flexible and open-minded Beijing officials. Given Xi Jinping’s phobia about deviant ideology, this is not the case.
The conflict between Hong Kong pro-democrats and the Chinese government goes back decades, and both sides have occasionally shown some hint of hoping for mutual trust. But right now, Beijing is engaged in a zero-sum struggle: you are obedient, or you are hostile. For the pro-establishment camp, fears of the Communist Party’s wrath lead them to weep and bow in public over their botched vote on political reform. To most right-thinking (indeed, moderate) members of the public, this groveling to a distant and alien power is pitiful and nauseating. There is a real potential here for calm and unswerving pro-dems to gain broad ‘silent majority’ support as defenders of Hong Kong’s core values. Meanwhile, Ronny and his followers will nobly sacrifice themselves in a test to see whether a ‘win-win’ can exist in such a seething cauldron.
In the past you may have implicitly supported moderation, a middle path, compromise or consensus, for instance in the blogs where you hinted at a plague on both houses.
So it’s good news to see that you seem to believe that sitting on the increasingly sharp-cusped fence is no longer a comfortable position.
You’re streets ahead of the poor Americans. Every new president comes in vowing to be nice to the Chinese — who are chortling to themselves — but every president with less than half a term to run finally realises the true nature of things, by which time it’s too late. And so it goes on.
Ip Suck-ye, at least in columns written in an evil foreign language, has made valiant attempts in the past to present a voice of sweet reason, while of course touching on her loyalty and patriotism.
But, if actions speak louder than words, and leaking/voting in Legco/boycotting a boycott can be considered actions, James Tien, whatever his faults, has on occasion proved to be more vociferous than many, so runs I Suck-ye a close race.
PS When you say “lead” in the last para I wondered for a moment whether you meant “led”, but now I’m not at all sure.
Poor delusional Ronny. ‘Third ways’ can work in a concensus politics environment but unfortunately this isn’t one of those. Maybe he is starting to realise that he and the other pan dems have been kidding themselves all these years that the CCP would give any ground (of course none that would upset the status quo) and he is now questioning his whole raison d’etre.
What the pan dems should do is redirect their efforts to embarrass the administration/establishment at every opportunity whether it be high speed railways, cross border-traffic, money laundering, cronyism etc. in order to undermine their alleged credibility in the eyes of all. Fighting the fight head on with a behemoth is a loser from the start. Keep undermining and eventually the edifice will collapse.
Would somebody please explain how somebody with the thought processes of Regina, as displayed in her column in yesterday’s Sunday Morning Post, can rise to almost the top of the HK civil service.
Meanwhile, it’s time for the “Let’s Focus On The Economy And Livelihood Issues” gambit again, i.e. the old mantra of Tung the Tofu-brained. This supposed to herald another peaceful era of moderate, constructive consensus building, just like when we were dealing with Cyberport, Disneyland, chicken flu, SARS, 7% unemployment, and gigantic cuts to social welfare in the middle of a recession. Oh wait.
Of course, if anyone attempts to point out that it’s wasteful and inhumane to spend billions on useless infrastructure projects while old people have to queue naked on balconies for showers, this is “obstructionism” and “playing politics”. We’ve seen this movie before. We know how it goes.
@dimuendo: The only possible explanation for somebody like Regina rising to the top of the civil service is that they’re all like that in there. God help us.
In the context of modern Chinese history, one cannot imagine choosing a more unfortunate and inappropriate banner than ‘Third Force.’ It has loser written all over it. Rather than going on about Kerensky and communitarianism in the West, Hemlock, why don’t you try to educate Ronny Tong about his country’s own history by gifting him a history book on 20th Century China where the political battle field is littered with the wind-swept, dried-up bones of long forgotten ‘Third Force” advocates.
The Chinese usually do a pretty good job with their museums, so why not take a look at that museum-of-museums, the CPPCC in Beijing. There one can find what remains of eight so-called ‘bourgeois democratic parties.’ All were botched attempts at becoming a ‘Third Force’ in Chinese politics:
(1) The Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang
(2) The China Democracy League
(3) China Association for the Promotion of Democracy
(4) China Democratic National Construction Association
(5) Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party
(6) China Zhi Gong Party
(7) Jiu San Society
(8) Taiwan Democratic Self Government League
The only reason these entities still exist in name — albeit with a comatose pulse — is that they eventually saw the light and succumbed to the Chinese Communist Party line promising henceforth to be team players. At best they are sad, very minor footnotes to Chinese history . The rest who tried, struggled and failed in the face of the KMT and CCP steamrollers, they are long forgotten. E tu, Ronny.
@probably. Spot on, old chap. But not undermine in a destructive sense. Merely questioning the high speed railways, cross border-traffic, money laundering, cronyism, high land price policy, tycoon hegemony, etc, will achieve the embarrassment required. That is something the pan-dems should have been doing for years, anyway, instead of charging endlessly at their universal suffrage windmill.
probably, Thanks for the wise words about the way to fight the political system. Nevertheless, I am concerned that the rot in HK and China goes deeper than the mere regime.
One school of thought links German aggression in WWII to a long-standing expansionism going back to WWI and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1, itself often presented as a reaction to the Napoleonic Wars. That is, Hitler and the Nazis just built on an underlying tendency.
So the movement which claims to restore Chinese pride after centuries of humiliation must be wider than communism, may be embodied in the psyche, embedded in the culture. After all, the sometimes violent xenophobia and chauvinism predate the communist revolution, meaning that even if the CP somehow disappeared, the extreme nationalism could still be there (and HK would be little better off).
The example of modern Germany (and probably Japan) shows that a cultural/socio-psychological/political system can be changed, at a cost. But, failing a WWIII, it is difficult to see how China can become just another nation, can be persuaded to accept international norms of behaviour.
Since independence for HK would not be allowed, for precisely reasons of nationalistic pride, our only hope would be to achieve a high degree of autonomy….
@dimuendo: elbows, knives strategically stuck in backs, spite, venom, complete lack of scruples / empathy (hallmark of sociopaths) etc.
Vagina is hardly standard material, like any organ, the HK Government has some skilled operators as well as it’s share of failures. The culture of each Dept tends to tell one about the competency of the bureaucrat.
Vagina’s highest position prior 97 was Director of Immigration, not exactly a challenge, much less a hot spot for political agenda setting, nor was it an agency for transparency & public consultation. Next to Customs, it’s the best spot for a back-stabbing opportunist who can spit shine shoes to perfection. Also it did set her up to frequently rub the tummy of many mainland fat cats,which is probably why Tung was told to give her the Secretary for Security position.
No one in all the layers between Tung and Beijing stopped to see if Vagina was capable of public politics. She in full ignorance of how to do public policy blithely marched out a hard-line Article 21 without laying out any groundwork. We were lucky. A smarter, more astute operator would have convinced Beijing to go the slowly boiling in a pot of water routine, getting a liberal bill passed, then leverage off it to slowly erode protections year by year, not unlike Obama & Bush have done to the American Bill of Rights or the UK government to their unwritten constitution’s protections.
I do have friends who (used to?) believe that Regina deliberately sabotaged Article 23 and took the fall, but it turns out she was actually just that awful.
@Nimby – I think you mean 23, not 21.
Cassowary already made the correction (at 1:00 in the morning!), but yes, it was to be Article 23.