Hong Kong’s tycoons are lining up to inform us that the idea of independence for the city is crazy and outrageous and the most Mind-Blowingly Ginormous No-No of all eternity. It started with Beijing official Qiao Xiaoyang saying independence was ‘not possible’, followed by Chief Executive CY Leung, who explained that Hong Kong had been part of China since ancient times, and other local political figures such as Executive Council member Arthur Li, who warned that if we were independent we would have no water. Since then, Sing Tao boss Charles Ho, Ming Pao boss Tiong Hiew King and property tycoons Li Ka-shing and Lee Shau-kee have been honoured to echo these sentiments using mostly very similar vocabulary. They too fret about ‘water’.
Has it occurred to the Communist Party’s spin-doctors who decide the daily Official Line to Take that contrived denouncements of Hong Kong independence give the idea more rather than less credibility? That people no longer worship property tycoons for their insight and genius? That the silliness of King Arthur’s claim that an independent city-state must lack food undermines the case against Hong Kong localists’ mischievous proposals? Or is this a deliberate attempt to build up a non-existent threat to national security in order to justify a forthcoming clampdown? (Conspiracy theorists may wish to start asking whether lawmaker Regina Ip’s Shenzhen internment camps will in fact house local young separatists rather than invading brown-skinned hordes.)
CY certainly seems to be trying to create an enemy where none exists in his latest otherworldly pronouncement on motherland/belt and road/blah-blah matters. He expects ‘emotional resistance and political interference’ when his administration implements Beijing’s Five Year Plan. He should be so lucky – who in Hong Kong pays the slightest bit of interest in any Five Year Plan? It has no meaning on this side of the border except as Stalinist-sounding symbolism for those who insist that Hong Kong is helpless and can survive only through favours from and ‘integration’ with the Mainland, with its profusion of never-specified ‘opportunities’. (And what on earth is a ‘super-connector’? Is it something to do with connecting a billion people with non-poisoned milk powder and Yakult?)
As with the ‘anti-independence’ campaign, the cheerleaders in all this tend to be the tycoons, repeating what they have been told to say. Watch out for Li, Lee et al to start bleating about the wonders of the Five Year Plan before long. The genuine patriots born and raised in the Communist faith (like DAB elders) are less smitten by the jargon. It’s a bit like the way normal Christians and Muslims just get on with their religion quietly out of sight, while the converts get in your face and wave books around.
If we are to be harassed by Five Year Plan/integration proselytizers in the near future, it will be an ideal opportunity for localists and other skeptics to question more sharply the wisdom of tying Hong Kong more tightly into China. Independence is a constitutional non-starter, but insulation from the Mainland’s troubling economy and despotic government looks more attractive than ever. Just leave us alone. That was, in essence, the whole 1997 Handover deal – which is now being replaced by politically driven, contrived, real or imagined dependence on, and absorption into, the Mainland.
So CY’s Five Year Plan deserves a fight on principle, and a ‘HK First’ pan-dem opposition should have no shortage of ammunition. The list of horrors is as well-known as it is endless. And here comes another – the improperly refrigerated deadly illegal tainted vaccine ring.