HK Mainlandization approaches the unthinkable

An update on the Hong Kong government’s extreme attempts to imprison pro-democracy activists, notably by ‘aggressively appealing non-custodial sentences’. With China now following a ‘Stalin-model centralization of power and suppression of dissent’, the city will be seeing more repression. Disrespecting the national anthem will soon be a crime, while collective veneration of the tune in schools will be compulsory (it will be interesting to see whether/how this will be enforced in the private and international schools top officials’ kids attend).

Mainlandization need not stop at silencing dissent and brainwashing kiddies. It could, in theory, go beyond civil liberties and human rights, and infringe the most precious of Hong Kong’s core values – property developers’ margins.

Hong Kong’s post-1997 governments have passively and actively pushed up housing prices and subsequently lamented that there is no short-term remedy. Officials have contemptuously dismissed suggestions of a vacancy tax or serious bars to overseas buyers as absurd and impossible. But while Xi Jinping was consolidating his emperor-for-life power up in Beijing in the last couple of weeks, something slightly weird happened: Financial Secretary Paul Chan criticized developers’ hoarding and drip-feeding of new apartments, and floated the idea of a tax on vacant properties.

The instant, universal reaction was that this will never happen, because anyone who knows anything about Hong Kong knows it can’t happen. But then, why did Chan even mention it – a policy option that was hitherto unutterable?

Meanwhile, a couple of tycoons call for action on housing. Charles Ho (whose media relentlessly talk up property prices) proposes tough measures against overseas buyers and moving prisons to the Mainland to free up land (why not some luxury malls, government offices or bank support functions too?) And developer Cecil ‘Playboy’ Chao blames the housing crisis for local discontent.

It could just be that Chan has been drinking, and the two second-tier plutocrats are trying to burnish their reputations for humanitarianism. Another explanation is that the government and tycoons are trying to shift blame onto each other following signs of impatience from Beijing. In other words, the Mainland officials who have ordered the jailing-at-all-costs of young protestors have also ordered serious action on housing. ‘Tough on HK protestors, tough on the causes of HK protestors’.

If hoarding apartments is wrong, what about the hoarding of land? It sounds hard – OK, impossible – to believe. But then, the government prosecutors’ obsessive pursuit of activists would have been unthinkable a few years ago. In Xi’s New Era, is anything sacred?


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9 Responses to HK Mainlandization approaches the unthinkable

  1. Oh come on.

    Free your mind at least.

    Stop being locked up in your tired clichés.

    Stalin-style indeed.

    The last time I looked the USA was still being sued all over the world for illegal rendition and was still running Guantanamo Bay.

    You are turning into a Daily Mail leader writer.


  2. Headache says:

    I’m just here to remind you all that today is the last day for donations in the Hong Kong Free Press funding drive. If you care at all about the way HK is going (and you do, because you’re here) then sling them some cash so they can continue keeping the bastards honest. Seriously, you probably paid for the SCMP in the past so you better balance that cosmic ledger.

  3. And by the way, any online newspaper which needs funding is obviously full of worthless hacks.

    Give in to oblivion.

  4. Joe Blow says:

    Remember that Steven Vines magazine about 10 years ago ? Forgot the name: I think it had something to do with a nail. Or maybe a pinhead, cuz Nuri was involved. I tried to read it in the bookstore but they stuck the pages together with a bit of sticky tape. Do you remember when supermarkets sold magazines and newspapers and greeting cards ?

    Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away and way before Lan Kwai Fong, you could buy a Heinie in a hotel bar for $ 6-

    Btw: BOYCOTT LAN KWAI FONG. Let’s give it that last little push, shall we ?

  5. steve says:

    George, please attempt to move your cognitive apparatus beyond 1992. You apparently haven’t noticed that journalism is already primarily an online profession, and professional journalists (such as those at the HKFP) prefer to be paid for their services, so they can buy food and such. Perhaps you prefer the Huffington Post (or NTSCMP) model of journalism, in which people write for the sheer joy of it. But many thoughtful people understand that such ventures are either ego-driven, parasitic, or both, and in any case not sustainable models of practice.

  6. LRE says:

    Donated; because George said not to.

    @Joe Blow
    Boycotted; because Joe Blow said to (and it’s shite).

    BTW if anyone is feeling a bit donatey today might I also suggest buying a copy of the splendid A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo? Support two very worthwhile charities by irritating Mike Pence — “You’d be doing a nice thing in a really dickish way, and isn’t that the dream at the end of the day?”

  7. Gooddog says:

    I Love HK Free Press and support it vigorously. Anyone who loves free speech and fears our Orwellian future, should do the same. Give generously!

    Truth! Beauty!

  8. Why is it that Georgie Boy’s answer to any criticism of China is another tirade against the USA? Yeah, we all know US imperialism stinks and Trump is a brainless bag of overblown ego. That doesn’t make Xi Jinping an angel, turn China’s black prisons into holiday camps, or excuse the Tiananmen Massacre.

  9. Chinese Netizen says:

    Absolutely outsource prisons to the mainland to support their soon-to-be, publicly listed Prison Industrial Complex (see the evil USA for lessons). AliJail anyone? Surely the enterprise will be run by a fu er dai son of a connected CCP apparatchik.

    I mean…WHY plow over a golf course or polo ground for peasant housing when you have prisons, country parks and carcinogen saturated former container ports and warehouses?

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