Young people today…

According to the Standard, Hong Kong’s pro-democrats got slaughtered in Sunday’s district elections, yet at the same time the indisputably pro-dem ‘Umbrella soldiers’ were big winners….


In the South China Morning Post, columnist Alex Lo dismisses these young pan-dems’ performance as crap, while the front-page story notes that they grabbed 35.8% of the vote where they ran…


Obviously, the mixed results invite all the cognitive dissonance you can handle, and allow both pro-dem and pro-Beijing camps to celebrate certain selected successes of their own, and to gloat over each other’s particular misfortunes.

One interesting statistic is the yield of seats to votes: the pro-Beijing camp got 70% of the seats with 50% of the vote. Unlike Legislative Council geographical constituencies, with their multi-seat, proportional-representation jiggery-pokery, these are straightforward first-past-the-post competitions, so (leaving aside any gerrymandering) no-one can complain about an unfair structure.

We can explain what is happening in business terms. The pro-Beijing camp had more capital to invest in marketing and PR (grassroots social work and voter registration) and in distribution (campaign workers and transport for the bewildered old folk dragged out of their elderly homes). They also ruthlessly carved up geographical regions among monopoly suppliers to avoid cannibalization of market share. The pro-dems, on the other hand, had far fewer resources to play with, and competed among themselves in some regions while having zero presence in some others.

But – who has the better product and the more-desirable consumer base? The older generation of traditional pro-democrats, the grim grassroots-fixated pro-Beijing ogres and grumpy and bitter onlookers are all understandably wary of disruptive innovation in the form of Umbrella/localist youngsters. But the real story is surely the demographics.

The future of the pro-Beijing camp is to push its dying brand’s putrid product by expanding market share among poor and senile residents of old people’s homes. Compare that with the pro-dems’ unique selling proposition – freedom, love, peace and humour, aimed especially at the exciting youth market. Come IPO time, where would you put your money?

Of course, this is not a free market: the Communist Party is ultimately a monopoly that assumes the right to hold consumers captive, at gunpoint if need be. Next year’s Legislative Council elections will, as usual, be rigged. Small mainly pro-establishment functional constituencies will decide half the seats, and the geographic-constituency races will be tilted in favour of the disciplined and well-financed United Front groups. Hong Kong’s real politics will take place elsewhere. But young activists who can conjure up a third of the vote could seriously stir things up, if they’re allowed to. That will certainly be on Beijing officials’ minds, so soon after having fired Home Affairs Secretary Tsang Tak-shing for his ‘inadequate youth work’…


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18 Responses to Young people today…

  1. Stephen says:

    After the next Legislative Council election the following will happen. If the Pro-Dems lose their veto power, over constitutional changes, then Head Prefect Carrie’s proposal will be dusted off, re-graded as inspired, and that will be that. It they do retain it – more of the same ad nauseam. On one hand it maybe a good thing for the Pro Dems to get the kicking, they so obviously deserve, so they wise up and unite under one charismatic, likeable Leader who doesn’t cause Beijing to foam at the mouth. However in the short term we get the Iranian Style Democracy with the Prefect’s characteristics.

    Incumbent Civic got in in my district and the suspected developer funded defeated candidate isn’t happy and fired off a leaflet refuting the lie’s. Bless …

  2. Qian Jin says:

    @”putrid product”. This hyperlink leads readers to an article ” The Twilight of Communist Party Rule in China ” published in ‘The American Interest’. This was written by disillusioned Minxin Pei, who has built a career on trying to bring down China while on the payroll of those in USA who believe in thrusting God’s own country’s way of life on any nation in the world which doesn’t see things their way…… And by bombing them if necessary unless a particularly dictator is more useful to keep in power for a while serving American interests.

    Pei is a self-anointed “expert” on U.S.-Asia relations, and democratization in developing nations. As well as being a director for International and Strategic Studies at Claremont McKenna College he has close links with the German Marshall Fund and the Asia Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, both of these being hell-bent on thrusting “democracy”on those who don’t want it or by attempting to impose it in places where it can never work anyway because ethic and religious divides will always ensure the losers of an election will never accept the results.

    If you have been brainwashed into believing Pei’s “crap” (Hemmer’s word) about the imminent fall of the Chinese Government , dream on !

  3. Peter says:

    @Qian Jin Get lost you wu mao

  4. Sojourner says:

    Peter, please give Qian Jin a break. We all need to earn an honest dollar. And he did brighten my day with his bon mot concerning “thrusting ‘democracy’ on those who don’t want it …”

  5. PCC says:

    The product offering in question is indeed putrid, but that does not impeach the accuracy of much of what Qian Jin says about Mr. Pei and the institutions with which he is associated.

  6. Joe Blow says:

    Sojourner beat me to it: “thrusting “democracy”on those who don’t want it…”

    QJ: perhaps you should ask them sometimes what they actually want.

  7. Gooddog says:

    Someone please thrust democracy onto me. I really want it.

  8. Chinese Netizen says:

    I miss Pierce Lam and his regular usage of “democrazy”…

  9. Qian Jin says:

    @Joe Blow : “perhaps you should ask them sometimes what they actually want.”.

    No need to !

    After nearly fifty years of post-colonial independence (for many in Africa and the Middle East ) and the subsequent experience of periodic civil wars, you would understand if you lived there ……………….they quite content for a one party system or strongman which/who respectively can bring them peace.

    Believe or not, quite a few people around this planet understand that as just another species of animals, we need ruling by natural leaders………… not by grandstanding politicians.

    If you or your close ancestors had lived in China 1912 -1949 you would understand . And their troubles at that time all started with an experiment in “Western democracy”.

  10. haha says:

    Thank you Qian Jin, for trying to enlighten this dim-witted, embittered bunch… whew & good luck!

  11. Tai O Bloke says:

    @haha: a tad frustrated,perhaps, rather than embittered, but hardly dim-witted…far from it.

  12. Knownot says:

    From yesterday’s post: “In Southern District’s Wong Chuk Hang, self-confessed FTU/Communist Party front member Suki Chan lost after being outed as a desperate hirer of sullen fake supporters.”

    When I got together with my friends
    I thought: My old life ends.
    No more deliveries for Park&Shop.
    I thought: That will stop.
    Me and my friends know
    Things in Sham Shui Po,
    And every narrow way
    In Yau Ma Tei.
    I thought: A new life starts
    Protecting mainland tarts.
    Instead, like a silly prick,
    I’m holding a photo on a stick
    Of this patriotic chick.
    I took a little break alone
    With some business on my phone.
    Someone took a snap of me,
    Thinks he can crap on me.
    I saw you, Hemlock.
    One day I’ll get you in an armlock
    And break your democratic thumbs
    And show you what comes
    To people who blog stuff.
    I tell you: I’m tough.

  13. Joe Blow says:

    @QJ: “…we need ruling by natural leaders…”

    Like Mao Zedong, I guess (60 million killed).

    Idi Amin

    Bob Mugabe

    Joe Steel



    Hoxha (your old time pal)

    et cetera (I am stopping here cuz it is getting really hot in this corner of Hell).

  14. Caine says:


    I fully agree. Only, the current natural leader is wrong. It is me.

  15. Monkey Uncensored says:


    Recommended reading for you my friend: A very interesting book that uses primary historical source evidence to challenge many of the myths promulgated during mainland youth indoctrination – sorry, education – about Chinese society during the republican period. By Frank Dikotter (HKU head of humanities, i believe), one of the only western historians that has had (and continues to have) access to many local CCP and government historical archives. If you like it, he has also done some great work on the Great Leap Forward, the 1949~1959 period, and is writing his latest book on the cultural revolution.

    I have no issue in agreeing with you in re: to Mr. Pei and the neoliberal Pax Americana organisations he works for. Having said that, when you parrot your beloved CCP’s propaganda on how oppression of the Chinese people is required for “peace” and “stability”, you demonstrate a rather ugly and no doubt wilful ignorance of your own country’s history, which neither serves yourself, other Chinese, nor humanity in general.

    There are other positions apart from the dualistic “i love China, hate USA and ‘western style democracy'” or “i love USA and ‘western style democracy’ and hate China”. Almost every over 30 years old Chinese person i speak to in the mainland would love the Chinese state to become more accountable, transparent, respect individual rights and observe the law as written in the Chinese constitution, and seek a more liberal and pluralistic civil society. Many of them are curious why the han Chinese people in Taiwan enjoy a liberal and pluralistic civil society and a more-or-less functional electoral democracy; and yet this (obviously wanted by the majority) structural social and political changes are deemed “un-Chinese” by the CCP. This internal conflict in China exists independently of any “foreign forces”, and is exacerbated by the environmental rape and the pillaging of national resources that everyone knows goes on in the CCP’s name. You do the debate no benefit when you unquestioningly follow the CCP’s propaganda line.

    There is no shame in being Chinese QJ. I am part Chinese myself, and rather proud of it. The vicious cycles of violence evidenced in our recent 100 years of Chinese history – a sorry odyssey of mass violence, imposed both from without and within – can only be ended by self-awareness, critical thinking and insight, and constantly questioning and evaluating whatever narrative is presented by any elite in authority (i.e. regardless of which side of the Pacific it comes from). This must be done in an emotionally detached manner with a clear understanding that any society or group that systematically uses violence for political or economic ends is sowing the seeds of its own destruction. To do anything else, irrespective of your feelings of hurt pride as a Chinese, is nothing less than a commitment and an invitation for the Chinese state to continue to practice violence, through external wars and conflict, and internal repression, until its inevitable demise.

    Wake up and serve the han race by becoming aware of that which is true, and that which when true serves the economic and political interest of those who hold power my friend.

  16. Qian Jin’s propaganda piece deserves a more reasoned response than Stephen’s, as others here have recognised. For one thing, detesting the CCP’s brutality does not automatically make one a lover of America’s hypocritical neo-imperialism. One of the CCP’s problems (certainly in Hong Kong) is its binary “either with us or against us” worldview.

    Secondly, those who call for dictatorship by “natural leaders” invariably reflect the interests of a particular social/economic/political/religious/tribal/ethnic segment of society, not the society as a whole. Such leaders usually devote much of their effort to enriching themselves and the segment to which they belong at the expense of everyone else.

    Thirdly it is surprising how quickly democracy can take root when allowed to, rather than being externally imposed. In my younger years. Greece, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, and most South American countries were all under dictatorial rule. Now, despite occasional difficulties (and a couple of exceptions in South America), they are strongly entrenched and vibrant democracies. Don’t be so quick to declare anywhere unsuitable for democracy.

  17. Cassowary says:

    The logical conclusion is that the most natural form of government is hereditary monarchy by divine right, which ruled over the vast majority of large scale civilizations since the dawn of human history. 20th Century strongmen are just as much an aberration as electoral democracy. The CCP, an oligarchic bureaucracy based on a discredited German ideology by way of Russia, with no clear system of succession beyond factional infighting, is among the most unnatural of the lot. Any true advocate of natural government must support the Imperial Restoration. Down with America! Bring back the Ming Dynasty!

  18. Laguna Lurker says:

    I’m very late to the party, Hemmers. Likely no one else will see this. I’ve been too busy to check in for several days. I just wanted to say that I’m in awe of the quality of gentlemanly debate among your commenters. And humour!

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