One of Hong Kong’s tackier tourist attractions nearly gets wiped off the map. Never mind– better luck next time.
Meanwhile… I have returned from my recent trip bursting with what may or may not be new and exciting insights.
For example, have we noticed how the Donald Trump worldview has similarities with Beijing’s? Each sees the world as hostile and lacks the capacity to accommodate alliances or partnerships. Each despises the post-war West’s liberal multilateral consensus. Each sees international affairs in crude zero-sum transactional terms (though the Chinese leadership, with its average-human attention span, works on a more strategic timescale). Each is prone to boorishness or puke-making flattery, reflecting self-delusion and self-absorption.
The difference is that the Trump/fringe-nationalist thing is a fluke, and many of those around it surely know the joke will be up some time, probably before too long. Chinese Communist Party rule, on the other hand, is institutional and monolithic, assuming a thousand-year mandate of heaven as a right. Its days are also numbered, but after it goes no-one will look back and laugh.
An outburst of commentators’ chatter invites us to believe that, following Trump’s abandonment of the Paris climate accord, Europe and others will eagerly accept and encourage China’s rise as the Planet’s Number-One Mature and Responsible Leader, as Beijing selflessly works for low-carbon free-trade rules-based globalization, and nobly takes on the role of world’s economic engine, conscience, adult, etc.
The paranoids of the Chinese Communist Party must be watching the US squandering its international reputation and influence and wondering what the catch is. While Obama was in office but otherwise engaged, China’s instinct was to make itself Asia’s regional power by semi-discreetly bullying other nations into obedience. With an idiot now in the White House, Beijing spies an opportunity and shifts to an oh-so enlightened and statesman-like approach, aiming to lure its smaller neighbours into its warm and cuddly ‘Belt and Road’ debt trap. It is cancelling its annual ‘Tremble and Obey Tributary States Conference’ to show its kindhearted sincerity.
In the long run, how will things sort themselves out? Presumably, with their subtlety gauges out of whack after trying to work out Trump, the Chinese will overreach and out-obnoxious themselves in their eagerness to fill the vacuum apparently left by the US. Beijing will find itself facing a circle of suspicious, alienated and uncooperative regional players, while the Trump freak-out-interregnum passes in the US, and more-or-less normalcy returns.
In the UK, they are about to have an election. The international media tell us that the country faces major threats. One is from mouth-frothing continental visionaries determined to punish the country for so impertinently quitting the bloated proto-post-nation-state Euro-blob. Another is online-Islamo-psychopath inadequates who are so tough and manly they can kill crowds of 12-year-old girls.
But it takes more than Eurocrats and Wahhabi-zombies to scare the plucky Brits. I was dragged to a Green Party rally in a district where the sustainable eco-types believe they have a chance of winning…
Many dozens of nice middle-class white people attended, and the mood was generally positive and calm. Maybe one in 20 households in the neighbourhood displayed ‘Vote Green’ posters, and around the same number had ‘Vote Labour’ ones…
That superficially suggests a community that wants change. The other 90% of households were being curiously reticent about their voting intentions.
As for Hong Kong, I am still catching up with the latest. I notice that someone has rumbled the truth about the city’s international schools…