Exciting new meaningless label announced

Willy Lam asks whatever happened to ‘One Belt One Road?’ The veteran China-watcher reckons that in recent months the grand concept/theme boondoggle-vision has faded from high-level official Mainland discourse, such as at the National People’s Congress gathering. The people still bleating endlessly about the unfathomable project are out-of-the-loop shoe-shiners like Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung, who devoted his entire January policy address to it.

Lam suggests that Xi Jinping’s dream of covering everything from Kazakhstan to Venice to Sri Lanka in vast, high-speed rail and port networks is (to summarize) an egomaniac’s financial disaster, and is quietly being dropped.

Some evidence that he is on to something comes our way in the form of a new exciting slogan: ‘Smart City’. Unlike ‘Belt and Road’, it does not entail hallucinations about China hijacking half the planet’s infrastructure development plans, but focuses more modestly on the Motherland. But it has all the fun and attraction of ‘Belt and Road’ in that we can all jump up and down in joy about it, even though no-one has a clue what it really means.

According the South China Morning Post, previously unheard-of ‘Smart City’ alliances SCMP-BorderNofrom the Mainland and Hong Kong are agreeing to do lots of cooperation and partnership and ‘fruitful exchanges’ to promote the mysterious but immensely worthwhile idea. CY apparently proposed using East Kowloon as a ‘pilot area’ for it last year. Mainland Cyberspace Administration boss Xu Lin thinks our Cyberport could serve as an ‘innovation hub’. The guy in charge of our Science Park waves his hand to remind everyone that his little bureaucratic empire has turned up to the show. The Hong Kong ‘Smart City Consortium’ convener grumbles that while the Mainland has 277 pilot areas, we have only one.

Digging deeper to discover the meaning of ‘Smart City’ in practice, I think I know where that one pilot area is: Sceneway Garden in distant Lam Tin. The bus-stop there has a space-age screen telling you how long you will wait before the Number 641 to Central arrives. Actually, even Macau has had this technology – in every neighbourhood – for years, but Sceneway is the only place I’ve seen it in Hong Kong, where ‘innovative’ means ‘benefits residents not property tycoons’.

Next amazing breakthrough in Hong Kong’s ‘Smart City’: having sidewalks wide enough to accommodate the pedestrians.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Exciting new meaningless label announced

  1. WTF says:

    “Smart” City means more white elephants, more torn up pavement, all with the purpose to tap those reserves at a smart pace, get them gone before they get spent on plebeian infrastructure — stupid things like a real health/preventative medicine program or a proper social retirement income scheme.

    Smart City most certainly doesn’t mean having a CE and shoe shiners with either a high EQ or IQ. Moar solylent green, make use of the poor wish the cads at Lion Rock Institute, and I say yes. Let’s put all 5 of these poor examples of humanity in the reactor with CY and his team. Problem though, who’d eat any protein made with that FILTH though is a question.

  2. Enid Dahon says:

    But you’re never a real sceptic until you ride a bike in Hong Kong. You’re a moving demonstration in the saddle when you do that. Join us! You can ride on the pavements on a small-wheeled bike.

    Notice how the gasoline lobby is coming out against electric cars. Their cage has been rattled. Expect more disinformation.

    Close your eyes and imagine all the roads as green pastures with little cafes and canals. A network of electric trains purrs overhead where the walkways used to be. Why is Hong Kong so primitive? I guess this is why I stay here. To see what a mess hyper-capitalism makes out of people’s lives. But sometime I get tired of gloating.

  3. Probably says:

    And those pavements you refer to are invariably reduced in width by a further 15% to accommodate the installation of pedestrian barriers/ free advertisement for politicians space.

  4. LRE says:

    Absolutely the last thing the CCP wants in this world is smart cities with smart citizens all connected. They want to keep as many people as stupid as they can. Not for nothing does the CCP in HK use the acronym “DAB” — Docile, Apathetic, Brainless. Just how they like their supporters.

    Innovation is a further CCP anathema, which is why almost every innovative internet thing is banned in China.

    Let’s face it, faced with a city full of clever innovators, the CCP’s reaction is along the lines of “send in the tanks”.

    Perhaps the CCP, like the CPSU before it, in an uncharacteristic moment of genuine soul-searching sincerity wants to give up power, and has set this up to start funding its own demise. Here’s hoping… but I suspect really it’s more a load of trendy buzz-word nonsense designed to be both pro-active looking economically and vague enough to be completely deniable when it inevitably fails (due to any resulting innovations that are actually useful being immediately banned).

  5. Headache says:

    On the other hand, smart cities are exactly what the CCP wants. Everyone carrying a mobile device pivotal to all aspects of their personal and working lives and plugged in to a centrally-administered network facilitating 24/7 monitoring of the population and the deployment of control measures at will. It may not be the Matrix but it’s definitely 1984.

  6. LRE says:

    Then they’re playing into Celine’s First Law:
    National Security is the chief cause of national insecurity

    Every secret police agency must be monitored by an elite corps of secret-police-of-the-second-order. There are numerous reasons for this, but three are especially noteworthy:
    1). Infiltration of the secret police, for the purpose of subversion, will always be a prime goal of internal revolutionaries.
    2). Such infiltration will also be a prime goal of hostile foreign powers, for the same reasons.
    3). Secret-police officials acquire fantastic capacities to blackmail and intimidate others in government.

    And any second order “elite” secret police with the extraordinary powers needed to watch the first set are even more vulnerable to the 3 points above — so they too need to be monitored, by secret police of a third order with even greater powers and secrecy, and this spirals on in a pseudo-infinite regression until the country runs out of people to be secret police or funds to run the force.

    As no surveillance regime is perfect, all the “national security” threats remain a danger, but as the chief occupation of the secret police necessarily becomes spying on its own citizens, the greatest threat to the citizens of the nation is ironically from those who are charged with national security: the secret police, rather than foreign powers or internal subversives who are supposedly the “real” threat.

    These are simple facts of the secret-police game: the seeds of Chaos, Discord, Confusion, and Paranoia are already there, for the simple reason that once a human being develops the habits of worry and suspicion, he or she finds increasing justifications for more worry and more suspicion.

    And once a nation gets to a point where they’re terrified of poets, filmmakers, booksellers and teenage nerds like Joshua Wong, huge purges can be caused by ordinary citizens calling middle-rank officials on the phone and talking in what appears to be a code: “Jean has a long moustache”; “there is a fire at the insurance agency”; “the crocodile jumps over the comfy sofa” or perhaps just playing a few bars of recognisable music. The secret police, of course, are no fools, and are aware that this might be what it in fact is, a form of anarchist humour; but they can never be sure, and they lean towards the paranoid because they’re trained and paid to be suspicious of everyone. Any official receiving such a call will likely be dragged in by armed thugs make his own way to the police station to be sweated and tortured help with enquiries.

    So, dear Headache, revel in the opportunity to create wonderful amounts chaos that your vision of the CCPs smart cities represents! A state where any and all citizens can topple the government with a few phone calls: “telocracy” at work.

  7. Cassowary says:

    “Smart Cities” appears to be the cousin of “Big Data”. Somebody high up must’ve told the civil service to jump on the Big Data bandwagon so they went and set up a government Big Data Website. In classic Hong Kong fashion, the various departments went “Oh, the boss wants a website? Upload some PDFs and call it a day”. The result is a link dump containing nothing more than what a halfway intelligent person would already be able to find on the Census and Statistics Department website, only with prettier icons.

    TL;DR – it’s buzzwords followed by meaningless busywork all the way down.

  8. BUSYBODY says:

    Can’t help wondering, sometimes: Why does this China-hating community, remain so firmly rooted in Chinese soil…?? Their views are clear enough & ugly to boot, but how fascinating their life-stories should be.

  9. WTF says:


    LRE. The CCP tried to move away from the Mao model because they know what happened under it, just as what happened under Stalin. The people most killed under Stalin by % of that population segment were high ranking party members,

  10. Joe Blow says:

    “By Jove. By Celine”.

    Does any of you octogenarians remember this TV commercial ? If you do, you are lying because you are far too old to remember.

Comments are closed.