We still don’t have a name for it, but before long the media and academics will start referring to this moment in 2017-18 as Xi Jinping’s ‘Red Restoration’, ‘Counter-Reformation’, ‘Grand Centralization’, ‘Revenge of the Princeling’, or something (presumably) catchier. It will be portrayed as the turning point that led to… whatever history brings next – the rise of China as the planet’s sole superpower, or the collapse-coup-mayhem that ended the world’s last empire.
The term-limits Emperor-for-Life thing will be part of it. But the commentators will probably put greater weight on other moves to concentrate power. There’s the new anti-graft system – an inquisition that can purge or discipline anyone for anything with no due process. And a consolidation of ministries that enables tighter Communist Party rule, including what Anne Stevenson-Yang calls a return to a ‘pre-98 financial system that is the handmaiden of politics, re-centralizing pricing and standards management’.
While we are waiting for the zippy slogan to describe this new era, a new sub-genre of China-watching commentary has emerged, about how China is really, seriously, deeply not going the way Western and other optimists supposedly expected back in the 80s and 90s (today’s example).
Few places are finding it as hard to come to terms with this disillusionment as Hong Kong. People in the city fervently wanted to believe that ‘One Country Two Systems’ meant complete insulation from Mainland politics and culture, that ‘high degree of autonomy’ meant self-rule in domestic affairs, and that Beijing would keep its apparent promise to allow democracy.
The mainstream pan-democrats still believe these fantasies. Beijing’s local puppet-officials and shoe-shiners awkwardly clarify or re-define the promises, or cheerfully claim everything’s fine. Grim-faced Mainland officials despise them all, and get on with converting a pluralist society into a Leninist system with as little fuss as possible.
Thus the Hong Kong Bar Association warns the Legislative Council against passing a bill to allow Mainland immigration to operate at the cross-border high-speed rail station. The lawyers’ arguments that the plan is not Basic Law-compliant look persuasive – Beijing’s (National People’s Congress) edict authorizing the arrangement contradicts and disregards the local constitution’s wording. This is neither legally nor logically possible. Unless, of course, the party-state is above the constitution. The co-location case will end up establishing this, neatly diminishing local rule of law. Which is where we came in.
“Coronation” would be a suitable term?
So other than a minor nuisance and some uncomfortable forehead sweat, Theresa Cheng is happily the uncontested, undisputed “Justice” Secretary for the foreseeable future?
Yes, it looks like Theresa has got away with it. No surprises there.
Just as she and her ilk expected, the media locust swarm has moved on, and the overwhelming number of people graced with a short attention span have already forgotten what all the fuss was about.
More evidence, perhaps, that notwithstanding the occasional noisy outburst of frustration, the customary inertia of the average citizen can be relied upon to ensure that Hong Kong will continue to enjoy the rock-bottom standard of governance that, alas, and for that very reason, it so richly deserves.
@Red Dragon – it isn’t just Hong Kong, it’s human nature. Look at the passivity of the British in the face of the imminent Brexit balls-up, for example.
Really sad and bad that the suppression of dissent up north extends to the micro management of blanking out a head and eye roll by one reporter when another makes a tediously long, pointless question/statement, not even to the great leader.
ON. Whether or not Brexit is or will be a balls-up is a matter of opinion.
As, l suppose, are the benefits or otherwise of the increasing mainlandisation of Hong Kong.
I’d say the Xi Jinping forever slogan has to be: “The Great Leap Backwards”.
Brexit is definitely a balls-up — it was only meant to keep the conservatives’ loony wing of genteel amateur fascists and imperial revivalists quiet, by proving they were completely out of touch. Sadly, Dave the Pig and his cronies were also completely out of touch: a few years of austerity, and everyone forgets why there’s austerity in the first place and starts looking for scapegoats. Only a tiny minority of people who can still remember, like Frankie Boyle here, are left to be exasperated by the forgetful majority.
The objective proof that Brexit is a balls-up is that it’s architect, Dave the Pig, resigned from both his post as PM and leader of the Tories as soon as it happened. That’s the act of someone who knows without a shadow of a doubt that they’ve shat the bed really badly.
My rule of thumb — if the bloke who did it resigns over doing it, it’s a balls-up.