The Abducted Hong Kong Booksellers Saga continues with Beijing insisting ever more strenuously that its lies are the truth, using Lee Po, Lam Wing-kee’s girlfriend and the others as helpless co-erced puppets. Presumably no-one is going to swallow such obviously contrived BS. But it serves a purpose: it drops a lifeline to Beijing’s apologists, who can at least point to ‘two-sides’ of the story.
The Chinese regime is in a privileged position. It can state blatant falsehoods and still be surrounded by media, advisors, bureaucrats and others who assure it that it is correct, while having the luxury of disregarding anyone who differs (not that it works). The Hong Kong government, on the other hand, has to worm and wriggle its way through a morass of propaganda and illogicality and still try to make sense to a hostile and skeptical world.
Hong Kong’s government concedes that the mechanism whereby Mainland authorities notify the city when they arrest its residents apparently failed in Lam Wing-kee’s case. The city’s administration cannot admit that the Chinese security services have made a mockery of Beijing’s own claims that it always detains and treats suspects ‘in accordance with the law’. It cannot admit that, on the other side of the border, there is no law. It certainly can’t bring itself to openly face the fact that, when the Communist Party decrees it, there is no law on this side of the border either.
The Hong Kong government would like to say that everything is fine, boys and girls – just provided you don’t sell subversive books on the Mainland. That would put everything in perspective. Despite this little bookseller unpleasantness, those of us who do not push seditious literature over the border can still rest assured that the Communist Party won’t break the rules in the case of, say, a legal dispute with a well-connected Mainland company.
Unfortunately, such a clarification would undermine the official fantasy – maintained even by top Communist Party Officials – that ‘One Country, Two Systems’ is totally inviolable. Even when Beijing publicly smashes Hong Kong’s autonomy into pieces, the city’s own hapless leaders have to stand there and assert that it’s still intact.