The Great Hibernation is declared open

stan-bj-praises

Winter Solstice heralds the pre-‘two-long-weekends-in-a-row’ wind-down and the Great 10-Day Hibernation. Hong Kong unites in wishing CY Leung an especially joyous final Christmas as Chief Executive. Our leader was up in Beijing yesterday getting his ‘Last Duty Visit’ kick in the teeth in true Communist Party-style – insincere ‘praise’ more rancid than recycled Mainland gutter oil.

scmp-complicatedsits

According to the South China Morning Post, Foreign Minister Wang Yi conceded that CY in office faced ‘complicated internal and external situations’. The word ‘complicated’ is the nearest Communists get to saying ‘we really screwed up there’. Maybe this will help add a little cheer at the Leung family holiday gathering. Perhaps they will also draw some comfort from the fact that, while CY has been the most hated CE since the 1997 handover, the others were also widely loathed, if not quite as much. And – while we’re looking on the bright side – each CE leaves office more detested than his predecessor, so in the long run he may not seem quite as wretchedly disastrous, relatively. In 15 years’ time, we will be looking back almost fondly and saying, ‘Wow – remember when we thought CY Leung was bad?’

stan-mutations

A glimmer of hope for 2017 comes in the SCMP’s Lifestyle section. Not usual reading material, but I can’t resist the headline ‘Not enough bankers: overpriced crap restaurants struggle to make ‘overpriced crap restaurant’ model work’.

The paper examines a place called Picnic on Forbes (which sounds like you get a sandwich presented on a Gordon Chang article – pretty cool concept if you get the pricing right). The owner is trying to attract customers with live jazz, an appearance by a Parisian butcher, and a revamped brunch menu. (If it were me, I’d attract customers by removing the live jazz and the Parisian butcher, but what do I know?)

scmp-notenoughWe are left wondering if this will work. And we fear it will not, as the SCMP writer, overcome with seasonal goodwill, lapses into advertorial-mode, plugging the aforementioned brunch menu, referring to the hefty price as ‘reasonable’ with no quote or source to verify it, and laboriously translating ‘poulet frites’ into English, as you would if you wanted to attract the sort of unworldly riffraff the owner did not originally have in mind.

Not far from Picnic on Forbes in Western (indeed, all over Hong Kong if you know where to look) restaurants thrive despite (or maybe because of) Not enough bankers. The fare is more likely to be Vietnam, Shandong or Malaysian, the décor more Formica, the prices around a third – the food amazing. So long as the Michelin pests don’t discover them…

Another sign for a saner 2017 comes in the suitably down-to-earth form of a bus going past a window in Central. It is not advertising skin-mutilating ‘serum’ beauty products, pop-star tutorial centres, a new luxury real-estate development, mind-numbing vacations in the Maldives, or diamond and gold watches. Just plain, humble, utilitarian Scotch Tape…

bus-scotchtape

Hope that Hong Kong can be held together?

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9 Responses to The Great Hibernation is declared open

  1. Tamey Tame says:

    ‘If it were me, I’d attract customers by removing the live jazz and the Parisian butcher’

    Missing a trick there. Set the Parisian butcher loose on the live jazz band and … bingo!

  2. Feilo says:

    2017 can well be the year in which we finally discover what binds together mainland China. For all their supposedly Leninist prowess, the Communists are running against a population pretty much against them, having failed to deliver for the umphteenth time, and in times of crisis this is not a good omen for any authoritarian government. As a personal Christmas gift, i would be absolutely delighted if the young master on the Liaison Office, Zhang whatever (can’t they get a nicely sounding Cantonese name rather than the uncouth pinyin translitteration?) is given the boot by Xi dada? The smirk he wears in his face on almost all pics taken is annoying enough.

  3. WTF says:

    Lufsig is out of it, in so many ways. He was pushing One Belt, One Road while Xi is hoping everyone will forget he ever brought it up, and is maneuvering to lay all the blame on Li Ke-Qiang. Or maybe it’s his puppet masters in Beijing trying to get a final bureaucratic dig at Xi on Lufsig’s tab. As a friend in one of the CCP’s state enterprises has put it after being hosed over on several half-completed projects by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE).

    …China was promoting one belt one road, but the enterprises now have found it difficult to put up committed equity in overseas projects. Much of our capital is now tied up in projects that may be years late in paying back, and we risk being sued or losing control over them if Beijing can’t force these governments to eat the their own losses on IMF, World Bank, and AIIB financing.

    How many people noticed the massive move in China in December to protect the banks from fintech rivals? The Chinese gov announced that people will only be allowed one Tier 1 account (full banking rights) and that Alipay and Tencent have 30 days to close any more than 1 account owned by 1 person that is linked to a bank account. That means 4.8 billion accounts. Yes, billion (many people have 5 or more such accounts). PBOC orderd blocking the kinds of investments that can be funded from a China UnionPay account. (For those who may not know, CUP does more payments than Visa and MasterCard combined). All designed to shore up the deposit base of zombie banks and make it even harder for yuan to exit the country.

    and yet here is our own dear leader, misinformed, playing the fool.

  4. Big Al says:

    I hate bingo …

  5. Red Dragon says:

    WTF, nice little link. Thanks.

    I note the words:

    “The meeting with the commission was the only event the media was given access to, and officials did not say what else they will be doing on Thursday”.

    No doubt, they’d been invited to watch CY get thrown under a bus.

    A merry Christmas to one and all.

  6. pie-chucker says:

    Good link, WTF.
    The handshake rejection is the epitome of factionalism.

    Oh well, CY can now retire to count his money overseas. Then return and rehabilitate himself with the easy insouciance of Old Tung.

  7. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    I returned to HK for a short holiday last month after 3 years absence. The most jarring sight was seeing the Burger King in Soho. It seemed oddly out of place. Perhaps it was the prospect of poor quality food at a realistic price.

  8. WTF says:

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/12/when-a-business-you-like-dies.html

    assume you might find this interesting, vis HK not being alone in closing out many of the things that make the city interesting.

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