Just in case you needed reminding that Beijing’s Liaison Office is now running Hong Kong, its boss Zhang Xiaoming delivers a Policy Address and Update. He describes recent subversion of the city’s legal principles as ‘rule of law’ and the overturning of democratic election results as ‘a heavy blow against independence’. He also declares himself satisfied that the local masses now better understand ‘One Country Two Systems’, and they think the stationing of Mainland cops at the new West Kowloon High-Speed Rail Station is just fine and dandy too.
Zhang is now in effect our Party Secretary, representing the higher authority and watching over the local administrative appointees in China’s ‘church and state’ system. We can be pretty sure that he and his malevolent sidekicks are behind the continued hounding of evil counter-revolutionary elements, such as the attempt to bankrupt disqualified lawmakers a la Singapore. It is a Rectification Struggle no-brainer – banish the dissidents from public office, deprive their radical groups of fat Legislative Council allowances, and scare the monkeys.
This also goes for the even more questionable/intriguing/harebrained effort to jail Joshua Wong et al for the Great 2014 Storming of Civic Square and Triggering of Umbrella Mayhem.
To Communist Party Commissar Zhang, hurling the deviant foreign-influenced enemy and dissident into a dungeon is a matter of patriotic duty, to defend the Glorious Motherland from hostile forces. And a particular type of grumpy loser – certain newspaper columnists, for example –will get a kick out of seeing the annoying little twerps put behind bars. But for local officials like Chief Executive Carrie Lam, wringing their hands and hoping to create unity and harmony, this could be at least a minor nightmare.
Leave aside the local impact. To some influential audiences overseas, Joshua Wong is famous – probably the only Hongkonger they’ve ever heard of (give or take an aging uncool actor). He is the city’s mop-topped teen heartthrob, geeky rebel and fighter for freedom and justice, covered by trendy journalists and even featured in a documentary film for demanding democracy.
The courts hearing this case are, if Zhang is correct, now just tools of the executive. So are Beijing’s ogres and their local minions really dumb enough to turn an icon of Hong Kong soft power into a prisoner of conscience?