Among the many excitements at the ‘two meetings’, Tam Yiu-chung replaced Rita Fan as Hong Kong’s Supreme Principal pro-Beijing Heavyweight-in-Chief (in technical terminology, he was ‘elected’ to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee). The role of Heavyweight involves making vaguely menacing statements in a supposedly personal capacity while behind the scenes Communist Party officials ponder their corresponding next move in crushing local rights and opponents.
Thus a few days ago Tam opined that avowed critics of one-party rule could be barred from Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, as pro-independence voices have been. This was clearly news to our local government officials, who mumbled about doing things in accordance with the law. Now one of Beijing’s people in Macau backs Tam.
Maybe the word will come down that, on the contrary, candidates are perfectly free to call for an end to the one-party state – sorry for any misunderstanding, haha. Otherwise, we can expect this additional loyalty test to screen out undesirables from the local legislature, now on a clear course to NPC-style rubber-stamp status.
With a national anthem law being rushed through, more of this is to come (a ban on insulting Xi Jinping, for example). Pro-democrats, finding it increasingly difficult to get their head around this Communist-dictatorship concept, will express wrathful anger. Hong Kong officials will put on forced smiles and pretend all is well.
It’s quite possible that Beijing goes from prohibiting ideas to making the opposite beliefs compulsory – thus it becomes an informal requirement for moderate, meek-and-mild pro-establishment-by-default figures to publicly endorse one-party rule. For the businessmen who need to get along, the eager-to-please political-social climbers, the grasping vested interests and others in the United Front herd who quietly keep their heads down, passive shoe-shining will no longer be enough. They’ll need to earn their safety and their pats on the head, and get their hands dirty with overt fealty.
And of course, it’s highly likely that bans on ideas will extend from election candidates to everyone, which means censorship, through National Security laws or other means – but we know that. (When asked, Tam Yiu-chung said it would be OK for private individuals to ‘chant slogans’ against one-party rule, but as we recall with Rita, the Heavyweights have no clue what is actually happening.)