The South China Morning Post’s lead story is its own conference yesterday about the wondrousness of China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ visionary global maritime silk thing.
To show how important it was, the paper carries a photo of serious-looking Westerners who, thanks to three-way simultaneous interpretation, are finding it all crystal-clear and riveting.
But then the Great Super-Connector Controversy raises its head. Just a few days ago, an ugly disagreement broke out at another forum on the ‘One Belt’ silk maritime global vision. Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung said Hong Kong would be the Super-Connector, while businessman Allen Zeman said no – China would be.
But yesterday, a Mainland expert in Belt, Silk, etc affairs laid down the law. Ou (as in Oh!) Xiaoli gave CY a pat on the head for ‘ideal thinking’ but expressed skepticism. His reasoning was that many countries along the ‘One Belt, One Road’ Vision Zone don’t do business in the Western manner to which we are accustomed…
So that settles the great debate – CY is wrong, and Hong Kong will not be the Super-Connector. Mass suicides break out across city plunged into shame and despair.
Ou’s comments are intriguing in other ways. Is this another criticism of Hong Kong’s failure to decolonize? I suspect that he is referring to the mysterious and exotic Central Asian states, home of such leaders as Turkmenistan’s (late) President for Life Saparmurat Niyazov. Whether you consider his rule eccentric or (he banned lip-syncing, dogs, beards and opera) sensible, you would think twice on learning that he renamed months of the year and many villages after his mother. And you would admit that contract-negotiation in such places might be best left to those more comfortable outside a rules-based system.
The SCMP swamps readers with more and more and more, asking Can HK Be a Part of China’s Takeover of Planet? and How Can HK Reap Rewards of Booming Turkmenistan Business? and When Will You Bastards Finally Start Taking Advantage of One Belt One Road Opportunities?
Among yesterday’s exhaustive SCMP coverage of ‘One Belt, One Road’ was a full-page map of the world explaining what the exciting concept means. It shows China as the centre of a large web of tendrils, fingers, stripes and other curvy linear extensions, creeping, curling and poking their way over land and across the sea into a wide range of plucky little nations and long-forgotten khanates as far away as Southeast Asia, Africa and the Indian Ocean, plus Turkmenistan…
Observant types noticed something more. China’s Loving Tentacles of Harmonious Co-Prosperity and Cooperation completely bypass Japan, and Korea, and Australia, and contort themselves to ensure they do not touch India. As for America… there is no America.
I wonder: where have I seen something like this before? Rummaging around on the old hard drive, I dig up a faded and tattered 14-kilobyte archaeological remnant dating back a good 10-12 years.
It was a time when Mainland officials were seething at Hong Kong’s uppity bureaucrats, who didn’t give them enough respect. Drooling at the sight of free flows of capital and trade, they wanted cooperation and partnership and face and possibly some freebies. Instead, they got smarmy, sneering, patronizing and insultingly low-ranking British-trained civil servants who, holding their nose against the sooty Shenzhen air, signed meaningless agreements and posed impatiently for a photo before dashing back to the lushness of Lower Albert Road.
The Mainland officials came up with their ultimate weapon – the central planners’ fantasy cartographical tantrum…
It showed the Pearl River Delta as the future cradle of human civilization. The orange bits will be the Vibrant Hi-Tech Whizzbang Zones. The green lines mark Eco-Green-Sustainable High-Net-Worth Tourism Districts. The red parts are the Financial Global Tons-of-Dosh Hubs. The brown areas are Bio-engineering-Logistics-Super-Connector Dragonheads. And sitting in the middle in a special depressing shade of grey – lost, cold, forgotten and starving, Without a Role – is Hong Kong, the place where they treated us like bumpkins and now nothing happens.
(‘One Belt One Road Hub Silk Partnership Cooperation Zone Concept Vision’ in a nutshell, so far as I can see… The deal: You – impoverished corrupt backwater country – pay our idle overcapacity infrastructure companies to build white-elephant projects all over your displaced peasants’ lands. In return, we let you become a tribute-paying vassal state of the Middle Kingdom. And that includes you losers in Russia. It’s a win-win!)