Are Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing bores ranting uncontrollably about people disrespecting the Chinese national anthem as part of a competition to see who can shoe-shine the Communist Party most avidly? Or are their often-contradictory screeches masterminded by psy-ops United Front controllers at the Liaison Office to mesmerize us? The grim Rita Fan, Maria ‘heavyweight’ Tam and now former Justice Secretary Elsie Leung are all spouting dire warnings ahead of the forthcoming respect-the-anthem law.
Elsie says the new law could be retroactive if too many young people are naughty and misbehave during the anthem in the interim. She obviously intends to intimidate, but it also reveals her instinct for ‘rule by law’ – under which the regime micro-manages how and when actions are criminalized on an ad-hoc basis depending on the degree of harshness citizens deserve at the time.
A legal expert opines that a retroactive law would be unconstitutional. But of course this would be true only under a system of constitutionalism, also known as rule of law. Where Hong Kong is going, anything is constitutional if the Leninist one-party state says it is.
Beijing’s obsession with eradicating incorrect activities (and, before long, ideas) in Hong Kong seems to contrast with its total obliviousness to what might be causing resentment and opposition. Communist logic seems to say the youths are misled because of a lack of indoctrination in childhood, and probably hostile foreign forces – it can only be fixed through coercion.
It must be frustrating to Beijing officials. After decades of struggling against Hong Kong’s older, now exhausted, democrats, they find the post-colonial generation is nightmarishly worse. The traditional mainstream pan-dems always supported the return of the city to the motherland; the kids don’t even want to be Chinese.
Either way, the only response in the Communist toolkit is force – the one that will harden and deepen the alienation-going-on-hatred. ‘If you do not love me, I will force you to’. That’ll fix everything. Otherwise we set Elsie on you.