All the latest shoe-shining styles


Vivienne Tam – one of few fashion designers I can name, and the only one whose work I might recognize – droops in my, admittedly inconsequential, esteem. She has apparently SCMP-WhatWassold her creative talent out to ‘billionaire businesswoman’ (aka casino/sleaze heiress) Pansy Ho’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ art exhibition, which is an obviously puke-making attempt to shoe-shine the Chinese government. This is brought to us in an exclusive interview in the South China Morning Post, adding a third layer of shoe-shining to the already-unseemly grovel-fest.

I guess the logic is that, since no-one knows what on earth ‘Belt and Road’ is, it makes sense to attach the label to things we can understand. So Pansy Ho’s curatorship extravaganza will be followed by ‘Belt and Road’ iPhone cases, ‘Belt and Road’ plush dolls, ‘Belt and Road’ limited-edition cupcakes, and so on. Like Hello Kitty, but edgier.

Pushing the ‘Belt and Road’ concept/brand/‘piece of sublime mysticism’ is just one symbolic gesture of loyalty Hong Kong sycophants can offer to the regime in Beijing. Others currently popular include screwing around with student activists’ bank accounts (if you’re a financial institution), being tediously snotty about/refusing to screen the film Ten Years (if you’re in the entertainment business), or blacklisting potential office-holders with pro-democracy leanings (if you’re a university governing body or, now, the Stock Exchange – more here).

(Note that all this United Front groveling entails some cutting off of nose to spite face, or maybe we should say ritual self-flagellation. Cinemas that don’t show Ten Years and boards that turn down first-choice appointees for being pro-dem are all hurting themselves.)

If you are none of the above but want/need to display your obsequiousness to Beijing, there are plenty of memes, shibboleths and official lines-to-take that everyone can spout at every available opportunity. The latest is to vehemently proclaim that Hong Kong independence is impossible.

Someone at the United Front propaganda-spin HQ seems to have issued an advisory that the best way to do this is to point out that an independent Hong Kong could not survive economically (eg Arthur Li asking where our food and water would come from). Presumably, the idea is to talk to the rabble in language they understand (money). But this actually undermines the anti-independence argument, because the city’s economy already operates separately from the Mainland’s. As Singapore shows, political sovereignty and regional/global economic integration co-exist quite happily (to answer Li, you buy your food and water).

If you point this out to an establishment loyalist, he will reply that we depend on Mainland contributions to our economy like tourists (yeah, sure) or listings on our stock market. This goes back to the grand post-2003 myth about how we need economic ‘gifts’ from Beijing, the aim being to encourage fear and obedience. With China’s economy slowing, it should be more obvious than ever that cross-border trade and investment takes place for profit, not charity. (Check the mark-up on Guangdong’s water.)

Mr Establishment Loyalist will then respond by suggesting that Beijing would deliberately divert listings and other deals away from Hong Kong as some sort of revenge. This is tantamount to saying that the Communist Party is a bunch of vindictive thugs and sounds like the best reason for independence yet.

If the propagandists were smart, they would push a different official line. “Of course Hong Kong could survive independently as an economy, but it’s totally irrelevant: the constitution simply does not and will not allow for it.” This is honest, and credible. Perversely, a pro-Beijing shoe-shiner stating this would have his wrist slapped for going off-message. And so the utterly beside-the-point and unthinkable – Hong Kong independence – is actually discussed by both sides in terms that imply it is some sort of semi-realistic option.

OK, so Ms Popova – pastels, Matisse-ish, perhaps not worth a detour…


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15 Responses to All the latest shoe-shining styles

  1. Probably says:

    Is it just me or is everyone missing the obvious solution that is federalism? If HK promises not to meddle in China’s overseas affairs and respects the PRC as the ultimate head of state (like the queen for example) then they can allow us to get on and run ourselves locally with our own government (almost like London & US States) but with our own currency and legal system.

    This could then also work for Taiwan and even Tibet and Xinjiang w(sorry, got carried away there for a second…). I’m sure that something along these lines can be worked out between the leaders of PRC and HK who are educated, visionary and intelligent enough to see……..oh, I’ll get my coat then.

  2. Hank Morgan says:

    “This is honest, and credible.”

    Always the best commentary.

  3. reductio says:

    “You will be assimilated…resistance is futile…you will be assimilated…”

  4. PCC says:

    The Belt & Road Pub in Lo Wu features a new shrimp buffet. It’s been a big success.

  5. PD says:

    I read somewhere that desalination costs $12/m3 and East River water, $59. Presumably we have to pay extra for all the heavy metals and pesticides foaming at the outlet, beside Bride’s Pool, which may also be why we throw most of it away.

    Singabore’s independence isn’t really comparable to HK’s, since they would just have to threaten to blockade sea and airspace (or of course to drop a bomb on the Sevens). The anti-foreigner crowd, who mostly live with their mummies, would cave in and grovel nine times, and HSBC shares would cost less than bumf.

    Airlift you say? The Americans under Obama are wet pussies: on a good day, they might suggest sitting down and holding hands, but that’s as far as it would go.

  6. LRE says:

    I think Yelena Popova’s work is a perfect embodiment of the belt and road malarkey: it’s dull, muted, and such an abstract concept that nobody really knows what it is and only an unthinking idiot who’s been told what to like would buy it. Popova’s art is much the same.

    As to the HSBC problem for Joshua Wong: Bitcoin is probably the answer. Either that or perhaps he should go to Mossack Fonseca for advice on how to avoid scrutiny: at least that method is Xi Jinping approved!

  7. Could it be the Ho family effort to keep relatives out of prison, those suspected of helping civil servants in dubious flat exchanges?

    Butter up the Mainland: the new Get Out Of Jail Free card?

  8. Caine says:

    It’s beating a dead horse really, but the state of current SCMP editing from the above linked article….SIC

    “We need to say “retirement” as Wong was sort forced to step down from the board after anew rule introduced in September which caps director representation at 12 years. Wong has served the board for 13 years”

  9. WTF says:

    Burning through that 8 trillion through buying Greek assets and sponsoring dour dubious art? Sounds just like our beloved China.

    Seems Xi really is emulating Mao. Xi already proved he too can tank an economy. He’s also has a few dust ups with India over the border, done a 100 flowers campaign, is laying the grounds for a cultural revolution, snatches opponents from overseas… Lets see now, what’s left on his bucket lists?

    Two bouts of mass starvation
    Great leap backwards building white elephants
    A proxy hot war with USA in Korea and then another in South East Asia?
    Piss off the Russians
    Get ass kicked invading Vietnam

    Have I missed any important ones?

    Meanwhile, more good news on the Mongol Han Hoard reduction program.

  10. RSG says:

    It is amazing how much pandering, obsequity, and self-censorship can be instigated through Beijing’s simple carrot (market access) and stick (bookseller rendition) approach.

    Who needs a propaganda department when you have so many useful idiots doing the work for you?

  11. JD says:

    Apparently they handed Pansy Ho a TV licence without question, too (along with partners Richard Li and David Chiu, aka the son of ATV’s Deacon Chiu. On the air already.

  12. JD says:

    Sorry, also forgot ViuTV’s mainland partners including Guangzhou’s largest real-estate developer R&F Properties and Lenovo private-equity subsidy Hony Capital, which also runs Pizza Express.

    No mainlandisation and nothing to see here, I’m sure…

  13. reductio says:


    Luxury tax: I knew there was a God!

  14. Joe Blow says:

    One day the whole lot of you subversive geriatrics will be rounded up by the HK Police Public Security Bureau and placed behind barbed wires in Chi Ma Wan. See if your Flipper helpers will come over and throw bananas over the fence.

  15. WTF says:

    Joe Blow:

    The police won’t have to dirty their hands much longer. It’s more likely we’ll board a self-drive taxis which will lock us in and drive over the border and right into the Shenzhen Prison at Longgang..

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