The weirdness gets a little weirder

For your reading convenience, today’s Standard puts all the ‘Hong Kong Independence’ excitement on one page…


At top left, a localist election candidate dares the government to follow through with its threats and ‘take action’ against him for mentioning the dreaded ‘I’ word. At top right, the pro-Beijing Sing Pao accuses Chief Executive CY Leung and Beijing’s Liaison Office of deliberately stirring up the HK Independence scare; the paper demands that the Mainland’s disciplinary system investigate. At bottom left, ex-Chief Secretary Anson Chan also expresses a suspicion that CY has invented the HK Independence menace to win himself a second term. And at bottom right, like a Greek chorus, a forlorn, halftone quarter-page government ad desperately pushes the much-derided blurb about ‘choice’ to urge people to vote on Sunday.

While the Hong Kong government barred some localists from running in the election, it let some others onto the ballot. (You can imagine any reason you want: maybe it was a cunning attempt to nonetheless maximize the number of pan-dem rivals, or maybe it was confusion, or just stupidity.) Now officials are shocked to find that some of these young and insolent splittists are calling for independence on the hustings. A severe-sounding waffle-statement warns that some sort of penalties could follow – though no word of what, how or why.

Media observers worrying that the South China Morning Post is becoming indistinguishable from China Daily will be heartened to hear that the former files this story under the category ‘anti-separatism’, while the latter goes for plain ‘politics’…


To bar a candidate from the election at this stage would involve blotting them out from the already-printed ballot papers, or declaring them (and their votes) invalid when announcing the results. That would mean additional legal appeals, and presumably an even greater chance that the courts will order new elections. Either way, it’s more of an embarrassing mess for CY and the Liaison Office. If the courts back the separatists’ right to run, it raises the possibility of an ‘interpretation’ by Beijing to give the Basic Law hitherto non-existent meanings criminalizing ideas.

Which bring us to the anti-CY/Liaison Office Sing Pao article. It’s one thing for Dame Conscience to say this sort of thing at a Foreign Correspondents Club lunch, but different for a supposedly loyal media outlet – especially when it also points the finger at the Liaison Office. This organization micro-manages pro-Beijing media and, indeed, has essentially taken control of the local administration’s counter-revolutionary/national security-related work, which means pretty much everything the Hong Kong government is doing these days, apart from bus timetables and dog-catching.

The idea that CY and his master Zhang Xiaoming at the Liaison Office could be caught up in some sort of Beijing power-struggle sounds too tantalizing to be true. There was a bit of gossip about central government inspectors looking at officials posted to Hong Kong and/or CY’s UGL payment, but it was brief. There are all sorts of possible scenarios involving everything from Zhang Dejiang’s recent visit to Hong Kong, to Xi Jinping’s ongoing purge, to an anti-Xi backlash and coup – before long you have a Falun Gong newspaper’s report-thriller.

All we can do is watch the hangers-on, opportunists and shoe-shiners in Hong Kong who are more than averagely publicly and deeply committed to the highly unpopular CY. Do they look nervous? Are they suddenly keeping a low profile? Do they seem a bit distant? Are they avoiding eye contact? You know the signs.

The cops are preparing for an election day uprising – but that’s probably the usual ‘too-much-budget/too-much-manpower/paranoia/autism’ syndrome…


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9 Responses to The weirdness gets a little weirder

  1. There’s more srirrin’ here than breakfast time at Starbucks. If the CIA hasn’t offered you a job, just show them what you write.

    Why is Hong Kong like a cappuccino? Hot, frothy but no stimulation.

    As for the SCMPravda becomjng like China Daily, where have you been since 1995?

    Thank God for Youtube.

  2. PD says:

    Hemlock’s idea that the elections are a bit of a bore does gain some traction when you realise that the courts are likely to strike some of them down.

    Then a retrospective black-is-white, words-mean-what-I-say they-mean reinterpretation? It must be possible because it’s hard to think of anything weirder.

    George has been sounding ever so slightly peaky-ish of late; and his blog seems to have run into the ground. Hope he’s okay.

  3. Cassowary says:

    Looks like somebody is trying the “M’lord, you have been mislead!” gambit. It will most likely fail. I don’t believe that Hong Kong could have been subjected to this much bumfuckery purely due to CY’s fiefdom-building – his leash ain’t that long. Which means the true target must be a lot higher up, which means the “Stop Making Things Worse” faction probably has a snowball’s chance in hell.

  4. Walter De Havilland says:

    Don’t be fooled by the press reports on prescient police exercises. These exercises are run on a monthly basis.

  5. pie-chucker says:

    This from the redoubtable David Webb:

    * Hong Kong people are ready to fulfil the stated goal of “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” by universal suffrage. Nobody is calling for sovereignty or independence from the mainland. A city should be able to elect its Mayor and Council without electing the country’s President. *

    In June 2004.

  6. LRE says:

    Actually, the cops are painfully obviously preparing for the Mongkok Fishball Riot, so that they don’t get caught out — proving that they’re not called “plod” for nothing.

    Interestingly the proceedings did not including lone cops negligently discharging their sidearms to disperse the crowd. Which is odd if we accept the government version of events: why not to encourage acts of heroic bravery by including them into the training as a “thing”?

    As to Sing Pao, it’s most likely Beijing can’t quite wrap its head around the fact that in Hong Kong, only the seriously stupid would work for them (anyone with an ounce of brain is busy bringing forward their familiy’s emigration plan): so instead they assume someone is plotting something clever but nefarious, and they need a mastermind. The natural enemy of the communist party (where all their most powerful enemies traditionally lurk and plot) is, of course, the communist party. Engage paranoia and brace for the purge.

    And ironically any party purge to find the mastermind, will of course naturally select for more paranoid hardliners from Beijing and even dimmer local shoe shiners than before, increasing incompetence levels by an order of magnitude or so.

  7. PD says:

    Yes, except we shouldn’t call Hong Kong a “city”, except, arguably, in “city-state”. Monaco, East Timor, Tahiti, Luxembourg or Andorra aren’t subjected to this humiliating, mainland-generated putdown.

    HK contains several cities, surrounded by extensive countryside. Only geography and history prevent the territory from taking its rightful place beside Taiwan, Singapore, Bhutan, etc, as an entity with its own language, distinct cultural identity, clear borders and autonomous institutions.

  8. Morticia says:

    Adams is writing (yet another) bestseller so that’s where the creative juice is going these days.

  9. Peter Call says:

    I completely agree with PD. Hong Kong is a de facto city state.

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