Another day in Beijing’s hearts-and-minds disaster

Few openly suggest that the People’s Republic of China is actually an empire – not to say the world’s last surviving one. In the West, the trendy ‘Free Tibet’ cause implicitly SCMP-NoMinorstates it. But generally, the regime in Beijing does a good job of obscuring this provocative slur/obvious fact, and induces the world to see China as a multiracial and unified nation-state.

At the same time, the government in Beijing also manages to convince the world that it has a unique status and even right to represent ‘the Chinese’ as a race and culture. To con the rest of the planet into accepting both these notions pretty much without question is impressive.

Take the plight of Taiwan. Anyone who visits the place knows instantly that they are in an independent country. Yet Beijing routinely belittles and humiliates the place – and inconveniences other states – in its insistence that it has sovereignty over the island and its people. The world acquiesces. To get an idea of how outrageous this is: imagine if the UK refused to have diplomatic relations with any country that recognized the government in Dublin or threatened to invade if the administration there declared a Republic of Ireland, on the grounds that the place was still British.

While gullible and distant international leaders still kowtow, there are signs that, closer to home, this mythology of ‘China as nation, as culture, as race, and as CCP monopoly’ is breaking. Beijing’s atrocious people-skills and self-delusion have convinced many young Taiwanese to see China as a malevolent force. It’s fairly mind-blowing to think that another place where this is happening is Hong Kong. It is less than 20 years after the handover, and we are surrounded by people talking and thinking about how to insulate the city from the danger represented by China, up to and including independence.

At the establishment-friendly end of the scale, a South China Morning Post piece today agonizes over the harm done by the (alleged, etc) abduction of book-publisher Lee Po, Chief Executive CY Leung’s apparent abuse of power over his daughter’s bags at the airport, and the distrust and polarization in Hong Kong. The writer would prefer Beijing to be more understanding. The list is of course much longer, from cronyism, to swamping the city with Mainland visitors, to the denial of universal suffrage, to the smears and intimidation of pro-democrats, to attempts to tame the media and academia, to eradicating street culture, to hassling kids with cellos on the MTR – in sum, simply imposing a worse colonial regime.

Away from the tycoon-owned media, Beijing’s massive failure to win Hong Kong’s confidence or respect, let alone filial warmth, continues. Young localist writer and broadcaster ‘Lewis Loud’ turns the rhetoric of alienation up a notch in his latest Passion Times piece. The first two paragraphs above summarize much of it; he also claims a Hong Kong ethnicity, which happens to pre-date the Chinese one by 70 years. You might dispute facts, detect callowness, or be impressed by the breadth of ideas. But you can’t deny the sheer audacity, or the sense that, with opinions like this stirring things up, Beijing – with its current tactics – has already lost the battle.

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16 Responses to Another day in Beijing’s hearts-and-minds disaster

  1. Chris Maden says:

    Slurring ‘Free Tibet’ as `trendy’ suggests that you’re already succumbed to the PRC’s PR…

  2. Big Al says:

    China’s claim that Tibet, Taiwan and great swathes of the South China Sea have “always” been a part of China is made by reference to China’s historical control of these areas. That is true but only to a certain extent. If we were to roll the clock back further, the same argument could apply to Mongolia. By 1279, the empire of Chinggis Khan and his progeny encompassed all of China, much of Central Asia and part of Europe. So, taking this argument to its conclusion, the world belongs to Mongolia, not China.

    But not to worry. Once China runs out of money and is no longer the world’s second largest economy, the kowtowing will stop and they’ll be told to get fucked.

  3. Red Dragon says:

    Of course that part of China presently (and not, I hope, for too much longer) under communist rule is an empire. I’ve always said so. Not only is it a political empire, it is a racial empire – just ask the natives of Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, Turkestan and Tibet. That this is so, of course, is borne out by the fact that all these ethnic groups have their quislings (Yonden Lhatoo springs immediately to mind) who acquiesce in the communisation and Hanification of their lands to the detriment of their languages, cultures and religions.

    Had Chiang Kai Shek won the civil war (and, my God, it was his to lose), I don’t think things would have been much better. For evidence of this, one only need look at what he did in Taiwan when he and his Han marauders landed there in 1949. Now, however, that the people of Taiwan have pretty much shaken off the baleful legacy of that murderous old rogue and forged an enormously attractive identity of their own, they act as a beacon to all those who still suffer under the heel of the CCP.

    When the day comes that the communist party flag no longer flies over Peking, I hope that the CCP’s Han successors will not only consign “socialism with Chinese characteristics” to the dustbin of history, but also that sense of Han racial superiority which has done such damage to the other ethnic groups which have the misfortune to dwell within the bounds of the red empire.

    The “Stans” of Central Asia provide evidence of what can happen when ethnic groups are freed from the political and racial control of foreigners, in their case the Russians. It is all the more ironic, therefore, to see them targeted by Xi Jinping’s belt and road bullshit with all the political, economic and ethnic shackles which this entails. I trust that the irony is not lost on them.

  4. Cassowary says:

    Meanwhile, over at SCMP, Peter Guy says Hong Kong’s tycoons are a bunch of entitled hypocrites for constantly whining about “politics” getting in the way of making money, and this is received as daring, edgy commentary instead of a statement of plain fact.

    Meaning that on an ordinary day, the working assumption is that the rich deserve deference every time they open their mouths, and that the proper purpose of government is to facilitate the rich getting richer. To suggest otherwise is nearly too subversive to print in the SCMP. We’re doomed.

  5. You’re not up to speed with developments. No one is kowtowing to China. They are preparing a war. Do take a look at John Pilger sometimes. You may not like the opinions but the facts are always accurate. The question for Hong Kong is: how will all those cars get to the airport?

  6. dimuendo says:

    Why do I have to learn from the Guardian website of the sacking of Ming Pao’s editor?

    Red dragon

    I have noting in faour of the CCP or their Hanification superiority. However, the “Stans” of Central Asia cannot be held up as any kind of exemplar.

  7. Sojourner says:

    John Pilger’s “facts” are hardly “always accurate”. He is one of those bitter, hard-left polemicists who hasn’t had anything worthwhile to say since 1980.

    Not that US/UK foreign policy isn’t often execrable, but the trouble with Pilger, et al, is that their Manichean hatred of the “global capitalist order” is such that they often become near-apologists for some pretty downright nasty regimes.

  8. Probably says:

    Amazingly the Standard today also reported the sacking of Ming Pao’s editor however the only name they mentioned in connection with the Panama Papers was Henry Tang. How far the mighty have fallen…..

  9. Probably says:

    Which leads to the question of who owns Ming Pao and has the power to sack the editor?

  10. WTF says:

    Some might enjoy this old, but very relevant interview with Luttwark, particularly the point about 8 minutes which has fun implications for the one road, one belt being a single ego maniacs project. Then 11 minutes we might see a bit of Lufsig’s and Beijing’s talking past each other, yet thinking they are on the same team.

  11. Pilgers’ books and films since 1980 are widely recognised, lauded and have constantly garnered awards. His stature has grow ten-fold since 1980. He is never bitter but increasingly optimistic about the self-empowerment of people all over the world in their fight against the USA’s violence and propaganda.

    I have never heard him act as an apologist for any nation. His focus is on the downtrodden, the bombed, the betrayed, the dispossessed.

    Books since 1980:

    Aftermath: The Struggles of Cambodia and Vietnam (1981)
    The Outsiders (with Michael Coren, 1984)
    Heroes (1986), ISBN 978-1407086293 (2001)
    A Secret Country (1989)
    Distant Voices (1992 and 1994)
    Hidden Agendas (1998)
    Reporting the World: John Pilger’s Great Eyewitness Photographers (2001)
    The New Rulers of the World (2002; 4th ed. 2016)
    Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and its Triumphs (ed.) Cape (2004)
    Freedom Next Time


    D. Arts, Lincoln University
    D. Litt, Staffordshire University
    D. Litt Rhodes University, South Africa
    D. Phil, Dublin City University
    D. Arts, Oxford Brookes University
    D. Laws, St.Andrew’s University
    D. Phil, Kingston University
    D. Univ, The Open University
    1995 Edward Wilson Fellow, Deakin University, Melbourne
    Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor, Cornell University, USA

    Selected Awards

    1966: Descriptive Writer of the Year
    1967: Reporter of the Year
    1967: Journalist of the Year
    1970: International Reporter of the Year
    1974: News Reporter of the Year
    1977: Campaigning Journalist of the Year
    1979: Journalist of the Year
    1979-80: UN Media Peace Prize, Australia
    1980-81: UN Media Peace Prize, Gold Medal, Australia
    1979: TV Times Readers’ Award
    1990: The George Foster Peabody Award, USA
    1991: American Television Academy Award (‘Emmy’)
    1991: British Academy of Film and Television Arts – The Richard Dimbleby Award
    1990: Reporters San Frontiers Award, France
    1995: International de Television Geneve Award
    2001: The Monismanien Prize (Sweden)
    2003: The Sophie Prize for Human Rights (Norway)
    2003: EMMA Media Personality of the Year
    2004: Royal Television Society Best Documentary, ‘Stealing a Nation’
    2008: Best Documentary, One World Awards, ‘The War On Democracy’
    2009: Sydney Peace Prize
    2011: Grierson Trustees’ Award

  12. Red Dragon says:


    I do not seek to hold up the “Stans” as exemplars of anything.

    I merely used them to illustrate the precedent of ethnic groups (more or less) achieving their freedom from foreign communist domination.

  13. LRE says:

    It’s definitely not Beijing’s day — Tammy Tam has killed another mainland leader! This time she’s put Xi Jinping into an early grave. After killing Jiang Zemin six years ago on ATV (bonus irony: Jiang outlived ATV in the end).

    @Enid Kissinger:
    There may be a use for the HK-Macau-Zhuhai bridge after all: a route to alternate airports.

  14. FOARP says:

    “Pilgers’ books and films since 1980 are widely recognised, lauded and have constantly garnered awards. His stature has grow ten-fold since 1980. He is never bitter but increasingly optimistic about the self-empowerment of people all over the world in their fight against the USA’s violence and propaganda.”

    You are John Pilger and I claim my five pounds.

    Back in the real world Pilger is a joke outside of a narrow set of RT-watching, Venezuela-worshiping dead-end leftists.

  15. dimuendo says:

    Red Dragon

    Thanks for correcting my name, to what it should be. Unfortunately a typo in my original post conferred my moniker, which I have kept.

    More to the issue, while I understand your point, I would question whther the indigenous population of the Stans have achieved “freedom”. From everything I read and hear (including of people currently working in two of the Stans), it appears not.

  16. WTF says:

    Another slap for Lufsig and his band of blood sucking ghouls.

    This funny even shows how craven yet stupid are these local University Think-tank’s (usually) American directors. He and his speakers obviously wants to get in good with Beijing, but sticks this label on this promo for Bernard Charwut Chan as CE is kicking Xi in the teeth.

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