Most of the questions for candidates at Sunday’s ‘election’ debate came from pro-democrats. Beijing’s loyalists in the audience apparently found the submissions box too hard to find. We are tempted to infer that pro-Beijing folk – or at least the ones at the debate – are on average a bit dimmer than their opponents.
This would make sense. The businessmen and bureaucrats who publicly identify as pro-establishment out of commercial or career necessity mostly stayed away from the debate. That leaves the committed followers of the Chinese Communist Party, who by definition are obedient opportunists at best and unquestioning, gullible dolts at worst.
Think of younger ‘rising-star’ members of the DAB like Edward Lau (in the HKFP item), the ridiculous Holden Chow, figurehead Starry Lee, etc. You would expect them to score lower in tests of intelligence or initiative than original, thoughtful, even provocative individuals like Farsi-speaking land campaigner Eddie Chu or welfare activist Fernando Cheung.
These pro-Beijing personalities also fail in terms of image. They are fake and one-dimensional – like Mainland boy-band TFBoys – compared with the authentic gritty wit of Long Hair or the trendiness of Joshua and the other young radicals. (The SCMP article on the TFBoys bizarrely tries to present the state-packaged act as China’s version of the Beatles. The point is that ‘soft power’ is non-, even anti-, government. James Dean/ Rolling Stones = rebelliousness = sexy. Holden Chow doesn’t make it.)
But the clunky, unglamorous and laughable nature of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing figures is itself a lure and a façade – even if unintentional. We tend to forget what it is, far to our north, that these dimwits are following and representing. We see glimpses of the oppression of non-Han cultures in Tibet and Xinjiang, the rounding-up of lawyers defending the persecuted, and the outflow of illicit kleptocrat wealth. We get little idea of the sheer brutal and medieval nightmare deeper beneath the surface.
This is a long drawn-out way of recommending a vivid portrayal of the barbarism at the top of China’s power structure (especially if you didn’t read John Garnault’s Rise and Fall of the House of Bo). The BBC’s Carrie Gracie’s account of (some of) the horrifying, atavistic, bestial murk that accompanied Xi Jinping’s rise to power – Murder in the Lucky Hotel.