Today’s Standard editorial begins with the remarkably candid words: ‘Hong Kong’s chief executive election has always been a charade as the winner is preordained by Beijing.’
While the statement is pure fact, it blatantly contradicts the Chinese and Hong Kong governments’ official line that some sort of competition is taking place. For reasons that are unclear, even respectable international media (BBC, NYT, etc) repeat this fiction in their reporting – typically just mentioning that the small group of ‘voters’ are mostly Beijing loyalists.
The Standard’s bluntness follows Beijing official Zhang Dejiang’s recent visit to Shenzhen, during which he seems to have told the aforementioned loyalists that Carrie Lam is the one that the Communist Party has chosen. Beijing is reassuring (or dissuading, or nudging) nervous (or stroppy, or wavering) Election Committee members in order to avoid a repeat of the 2012 confusion, when some of the pro-Beijing camp ended up siding with the ‘wrong’ candidate.
The South China Morning Post is too coy to use words like ‘charade’, but reports that the Politburo finalized its choice of Carrie as the winner at a fun-packed, festive Christmas Day gathering.
The message is: You can (indeed will) vote for Carrie with confidence.
Why is Beijing dispensing with pretense and half-admitting that the whole thing is rigged?
Partly because Xi Jinping is just a no-bullshit kind of guy. Partly because Beijing abandoned much of the facade back in 2014, when it insisted Hong Kong could have ‘universal suffrage’ only if the Communist Party chose the candidates. And partly for fear that the pro-democrats could use their 25% weighting on the Election Committee to create mischief, say by nominating a candidate who might split the loyalist vote.
Communist paranoia can almost be endearing at times. If the pro-democrats were organized and unified, they would focus on further reducing the next Chief Executive’s credibility and legitimacy. That could mean nominating John Tsang with his higher public approval as a spoiler. It could mean abstaining from nominating or voting for anyone to deprive Carrie of even a symbolic challenge. Whatever best undermined any shreds of integrity the result might have.
But they are unlikely to get their tactical act together. Trotskyite icon Long Hair is tempted to run for no obvious reason. Idiotically, many pan-dems persist in terming the exercise a ‘small-circle election’ – when even Beijing is openly indicating that it’s a hoax.
No matter. Carrie Lam looks set to start her term in office as CE with less credibility than any of her predecessors. Beijing’s determination to ensure that she improves on CY Leung’s 689 votes will, as the Standard points out, backfire and make her even less popular. She will bring all the unconvincingness that Henry Tang would have, receiving the job on a plate with no policy ideas on offer. And she will be cursed with CY Leung’s coldness and remoteness, destined to be mocked for her toilet paper and MTR woes.
Tittle-tattle du jour: I hear her PR people are telling her that the thousands of ‘angry’ emojis on her Facebook page are being posted from overseas, and are orchestrated by her enemies.