If we are to be honest, we will miss Zhang Dejiang after he leaves Hong Kong today. The Hitherto Little-Known Ultra-Important Beijing Official has made a unique impact on the city in his three days here. As Like the representative of some alien planet, he has been kept in sterile environments within expansive sanitized zones, transported in sinister, dark-windowed, bullet-proof, lead-lined limos, and surrounded by layers of security, from giant barriers to sniffer dogs to SWAT teams and mysterious men in black – maybe for his protection, maybe for ours. Hardly anyone actually saw him in the flesh, and some say he has not really been here at all, or even that he doesn’t exist, and the whole thing is an elaborate Roswell hoax.
One official reason for Zhang’s presence here was to speak at a ‘One Belt, One Road’ summit. The South China Morning Post claims that ‘for the first time, he [or anyone] spelt out how Hong Kong can seize a role’ in the grand yet incomprehensible vision/initiative/hairball. Except, of course, he didn’t: it was just the usual blather about professional sectors, financial services, ‘people-to-people exchanges’ and cooperation with the Mainland. To my knowledge, no-one has ever identified an actual business opportunity arising from ‘Belt and Road’, except for conference-organizing PR-gloss hype-pimps.
With that out of the way, Zhang turned to his presumed real task: winning the hearts and minds of Hong Kong. Few sights are more painful to behold than a senior Chinese Communist Party official attempting to be nice. They do it with undisguised distaste, only when the usual thuggish methods like violence and bribery have failed, and as part of a calculated strategy to subsequently crush/control/consume the target.
He did it pretty well. He acknowledged Hong Kong’s non-Mainland characteristics (in contrast to Beijing’s 2014 white paper proclaiming the city a mere speck in the Party-State’s domain – which helped spur the Occupy/Umbrella backlash). He vowed not to Mainlandize the place. He admitted there were local problems. Obviously, he doesn’t mean it, but it takes some ‘eating bitterness’ for a totalitarian regime’s spokesman just to utter these conciliatory words. He even said that ‘localism’ was OK in moderation. Democratic Party veteran Emily Lau came away from a brief chat mildly impressed by his non-frostiness.
What does this tell us? It tells us our ‘pro-independence movement’ friends are hitting a major, major nerve.
The Communist system is institutionally incapable of sincere, sustained ‘hearts and minds’. It is a zero-trust mindset: control the masses by force, pat shoe-shiners on the head while they are useful, and anyone else is hostile and a mortal threat. It can’t not alienate pluralist societies. Tsai Ing-wen is being sworn in tomorrow as Taiwan’s new democratically elected President. China’s gracious warm-and-loving gesture to its compatriots? A mock military invasion.
It was as cuddly as Darth Vader nursing a basket of puppies.
The puppies however all lined up, pencils and teacups at the ready.
And the looks on their faces….
As emetic as a dog turd soufflé.
He’s going to sit on that clapped out Air China rust-bucket back to Beijing and wonder what the hell that was all about for HK to detest mainlanders that much. Then he’s going to realise its not mainlanders that they hate at all (except for the ones that shit everywhere), but its just the CCP and it’s ridiculous doctrines and corrupt hypocrisy.
I for one shall miss him, if only for the spectacle the SCMP desperately contorting themselves trying to make the non-event of the century exciting, by running a “one event, twenty stories” campaign on a spectacle that was slightly less interesting than watching glue drying on bricks.
The only interesting part of the whole thing was wondering how or where the next “I want real democracy” banner was going to appear, and how badly embarrassing it would be this time for our 8,000 highly-trained, clean-cut, government-approved boys-in-blue to be proved for the nth day running to be delightfully ineffectual and easily outwitted by a bunch of (according to the Party narrative) spoilt, lazy, decadent, undesirable, young unachievers on drugs.
Zhang’s parting speech to the assembled 300 arselicking worthies amused slightly too: firstly because it was evidently so awful and nauseating, one of the uber-faithful felt so unwell he had to leave (perhaps Zhang hadn’t wiped properly).
Secondly, because of this nugget from another of the faithful: “He also hoped that Hong Kong … can unite and work together for the city’s development.”
Be careful what you wish for! I suspect Hong Kong is already fairly united, just not in a way that’s good for the CCP: do they really want them working together as well?
Has Alan Zeman started selling cuddly Zhang dolls at Ocean Park yet?
Obviously the dickheads “running” this place are terrified that the bullyboys in Beijing will see for themselves what we really think of them.
Deploying 6000 cops just to prevent this formerly faceless bureaucrat from observing firsthand the reality of HK (banners, protests, etc) reveals just how much the local bumlickers are filling their pathetic pants and will only embolden the opposition.
The Emperor of China used to wear a little hat fronted by a tassel curtain he could deploy to shield him from unpleasant sights. Perhaps these hats should be issued to any of China’s senior tyrants visiting HK. Save us taxpayers some $$$.
I noticed the presence of Tofu Brains and other has-beens. But where was Donald Tsang ?
From the SCMP:
“Visiting state leader Zhang Dejiang warned that everyone would have to pay the price if Hong Kong became chaotic, in a 20-minute speech to more than 220 representatives from various sectors at the government headquarters this morning.”
Did they say “various sectors”? Where have I seen that phrase before?
Love the police’s “Please keep going” banner on Twitter — think of all the money and embarrassment they could have saved if they had tactically deployed that on the airport runway by Zhang’s plane on Tuesday…
Hemlock’s comments on Zhang quoted by Banyan in this week’s Economist.