PRC safe from HK geek threat – for now

The Hong Kong High Court’s decision to disqualify Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching from the Legislative Council is greeted as a splendid victory by the local administration and pro-Beijing camp. But a victory over what? The establishment is in a gleefully vindictive mood – removing the Youngspiration duo’s names from their Legco office doors within minutes, and drooling at the thought of chasing them for back-pay and legal costs. Such pettiness suggests that they think persecuting and punishing the pair re-establishes order, rights a wrong, and is the end of the matter.

ming-pao-highRather than solving a problem, the government is laying the ground for far bigger and longer-running ones. The Youngspiration pair might appeal. And the courts may or may not give similar treatment to other pro-democrat Legco members who arguably fail the Oath Sincerity Test. (There are signs that the government is not dumb enough to want a full-scale purge, but excitable patriotic rabble-rousers are on the case.) Result: additional alienation and hostility building up among somewhere between 20% and 60% of the electorate.

Then you’ve got by-elections, and thus the potential for more disenfranchisement-through-loyalty-tests, or for de-facto referenda, or other assorted mayhem.

To the extent that dissidents are removed from the legislature, opposition activity moves into the informal and non-official sphere. Young localists seem to have a flair for the unpredictable, so this could mean anything. If they want to capitalize on their ability to panic and alarm Beijing, increasing visible activity in schools and colleges would be an option, as would developing contacts with counterparts in Taiwan. (Any chance of some business boycotts?)

To the extent that the legislature becomes more of a rubber stamp, the dreaded Article 23 looms its head. Elsie Leung again acts as spoilsport and says that piecemeal and incremental amendments would install national security laws without upsetting the public. This may be too subtle for the more rabid Liaison Office officials and local Communist sympathizers, for whom Article 23 is an overdue symbol of sovereignty to be implemented with maximum noise and triumphalism. Either way, anything with the Article 23 label is going to be toxic, and it would take a foolhardy administration to try it – and foolhardy seems to be a given.

Not least, commandeered to whatever extent by Beijing’s ‘interpretation’, Hong Kong’s courts have assumed a significantly more effective Mainland-style role as political tools of the government.

One theory is that this whole obsessive struggle against ‘Hong Kong independence’ has been a way for Chief Executive CY Leung and the Liaison Office to take advantage of Xi Jinping’s weaknesses and instincts and get a second term. Such a tactic could still mesh with any strategy Beijing might have to methodically re-shape Hong Kong as a subdued territory. But the opportunistic and over-zealous character of the anti-localist campaign has (perhaps fittingly) a more home-grown and amateurish feel to it (a bit like the bizarre HK Youth Army theatrics in early 2015).

If this is the case, CY/Liaison Office get their second term – but at a cost of: more elections and courts chaos; heightened uncertainty about the integrity of institutions; deeper alienation of the young-educated populace; all manner of potential new ‘threats’ as separatism goes guerrilla; and quite possibly some heavy street action. And the timing of many of these consequences will be beyond official control. One riot or high-profile street-occupation in the period before Beijing finalizes the CE quasi-election ballot, and CY could yet be finished. Some victory, in any case.


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10 Responses to PRC safe from HK geek threat – for now

  1. Joe Blow says:

    ….some heavy street action….. Ah yes, how I yearn for some heavy street action.

  2. Enid Fenby says:

    Pour encourager les autres.

    You may have difficulty understanding the Communist mindset even now. Waste is good. Diversion is good. Suppression is good. Put some stick about. Better to be safe than sorry. Stalin deported whole peoples on a whim and stayed in power a quarter of a century.

    You are looking for a thread of reason which isn’t there perhaps. There’s no obsession, no struggle., no plan. It’s just blind wasteful chaos like most of Chinese history.

  3. LRE says:

    As Isoroku Yamamoto remarked of a similarly decisive victory in Hawaii: “I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack.”

  4. Paul Lewisq says:

    I’m waiting to see what happens about the questioning of other oath takers.
    The interpretation says it must be “accurate” among other things.
    Many on both sides of the political divide failed that.
    Abraham Shek is a good example.
    Was his oath accurate? No.
    Why is he not being disqualified?
    Can he take the oath again?
    Why is no action being taken?

  5. Joe Blow says:

    I saw Adams riding his muppet bike in CWB this afternoon, helmet and all. I hope this his not an evil omen.

  6. @Paul – the answer to your last question is that he’s on their side, not ours.

  7. Chinese Netizen says:

    @Paul: his *intention* was most obviously sincere. Unlike the young ‘uns.

  8. Laguna Lurker says:

    For once, George Adams sounds almost sensible.

  9. pie-chucker says:

    The blog comment might be more interesting if you could get over this internecine George Adams giggling.

    Highlight flaws in Hemlock’s take on things that day, or agree and expand (more likely), or add anecdotes of a personal encounter with ‘personalities’ in public life mentioned. At least add spice. Or reflection; or prediction of how this intrinsic tension of 1C2S works out.

  10. Headache says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, pie-chucker, but I’m tired of dissecting this thoroughly dead frog. It’s hard to summon much more than a resigned sigh for this place. Much more rewarding to see my Hexit arrangements taking shape.

    But I’ll try. My question: why would CY want a second term, especially if it involves him taking on risk by aligning with one CCP faction against another? He has other positions which are less hassle and interests which are more lucrative.

    Alternative views: he really is ordered to run; he really is that much of an authoritarian fascist; he really is that greedy for whatever hidden benefits he can extract from the rigged economy over the border – all plausible I suppose.

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