After delaying moves towards representative government in Hong Kong for years, Beijing is now obviously moving the city away from it. The older pan-democrats are toothless and have nothing to add to their traditional pleas-and-marches. The younger radicals scare the Communist Party, and are being hounded out of participation in what is anyway an increasingly ceremonial participatory process. Where will they go and what will they do instead?
For an in-depth look at the Agnes Chow-disqualifying Leninization of Hong Kong’s political system, see HK Free Press’s opinion piece here (parts 2 and especially 3). (If you prefer your analysis insipid and pointless, try the SCMP’s full-page thing here – the contrast is quite something.)
Beijing presumably hopes to intimidate and disillusion Hong Kong people into sullen acquiescence. But this is still not the Mainland, where the dictatorship can eliminate opposition and criticism any way it wants and sweep the mess under the carpet. Chinese officials must find it frustrating to have to confront dissent so timidly and ineffectively, rather than just crush it like they would back home.
It would help the Communist Party if its puppet Hong Kong leadership could divert the population’s attention with halfway-decent governance. The city faces a huge range of livelihood and quality-of-life issues (housing, the elderly, health, traffic, air, etc) begging to be fixed. Instead, despite vast financial resources and the world’s highest-paid civil service, Carrie Lam’s administration is clueless and inert.
There must be scope for localists like Agnes to branch out into populist rabble-rousing here. One amusing little example is what to do with the Hong Kong Golf Club course at Fanling, which is begging to be fixed as a site for housing. Critics can make the government squirm by pointing out that if it spares the golf course, it is admitting that the ‘shortage of land’ that justifies unaffordable housing is a fiction.
On the subject of real estate being wasted on the tedious and the tacky, there’s Hooters facing closure for non-payment of rent, again. And quicker than you can say #MeToo, Steve Wynn’s palatial money-churning operation in Macau finds itself in a roughly similar position. Couldn’t happen to nicer people.
Hong Kong has no future outside CPC control unless the mainlanders turn on Zhongnanhai, which isn’t likely on any reasonable timescale. And if the CPC does face serious trouble on the mainland it won’t be remotely delicate if simultaneous protests emerge in HK. So if you’re young, value your freedoms and want to use your talents, get out before the trap shuts. Taiwan, Canada, Oz, NZ, Europe, any democracy that’ll take you. Sad as I am to say it, leave HK to wither. It doesn’t deserve its young people.
I would agree with Regina’s O Face (oh god the mental picture alone), but Taiwan? Sooner or later Xi will want another trophy to put on his shelf when his rule starts to wane a bit.
Go west young man! (Preferably not along the belt and road.)
Taiwanese are slowly but surely refusing the traditional identification with China. A people with a sense of nation and community becomes very difficult to subjugate. Xi Dada needs to make his mind soon about invading the island, because time is not on his side and the human and reputation cost will be far more than even a tame mainland populace can support.