Mid-week links

We’ll alight from the ‘Sick of Teresa Cheng’ bandwagon today to make room for all the pro-Beijing loyalist and shoe-shiner lawmakers clambering aboard. (If the Liaison Office spin-doctors were really clever, this would be a cunning way to boost the beleaguered Cheng’s public image – if the toady sycophants hate her, she must be OK.)

Instead, some mid-week links.

A good, fairly comprehensive reminder of the ways Hong Kong’s rule of law has been eroded* under previous Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen. The flaw in this is that the author, in complaining that Rimsky failed to speak out or defend rule of law, sees the individual as the cause rather than the effect of the process. The Justice Secretary is simply implementing Beijing’s policy, so there’s no point hoping that a new one will be any different – whether it’s Cheng or some wretched inferior (?) stand-in they scrape from the bottom of the barrel.

On a related note, all you ever wanted to know about oath-taking, by the Bar Association’s Philip Dykes.

China’s official press are steadily elevating and burnishing the pedestal on which Xi Jinping stands, recently declaring him to be the lingxiu of the new international order. (This recent hubris relies on a very simplistic zero-sum assumption: the more of a mental and moral midget the US President turns out to be, the correspondingly greater China’s leader becomes. Is life that straightforward?)

As we know in Hong Kong, China’s new-found strength and confidence sometimes looks more like paranoia and insecurity. Among the things worrying the Communist kleptocrat elites is the Mainland middle class, whose own insecurities are growing – one of many reasons we sense that we are at ‘Peak Panda’.

Maybe China is not a giant-socio-economic pyramid scheme about to collapse, but it looks like the historic recovery from the Mao-inflicted depths has run its course, and the country is settling down as (in developmental terms) a massive Mexico. This article on how the rise is over asks…

How will they handle the trauma of confronting a middle-income trap as hundreds of millions of people enter old age in one of the most polluted environments in all of human history? Will the fear of disorder drive the scholars, the nationalists, and the broader society to support Xi Jinping in his efforts to reinvigorate authoritarian rule? Or will it intensify national turmoil?

*Just had an amazing revelatory insight-flash. One of our era’s linguistic annoyances is the use of transitive verbs as intransitive – for example some people would write that sentence “…the ways Hong Kong’s rule of law has eroded…” even though the rule of law is the object of the erosion. Nothing we can do about this; but is it a result of hyper-sensitivity and aversion to the dreaded passive voice (“has been eroded”)? Just a thought.

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