While the Chinese Communist Party is increasingly targeting Hong Kong’s radical and pan-democrat opposition, life for the city’s pro-Beijing loyalists isn’t getting any easier. Delegates to the nation’s rubber-stamp NPC and CPPCC are under orders to start taking their status-symbol roles seriously – attending those tedious annual meetings in the capital and submitting reports on their selfless patriotic work back home during the rest of the year.
This will put pressure on pro-establishment professionals and businessmen accustomed to keeping their heads down when things get ideological. The message is: stop sitting on the fence and give us some displays of love for the glorious motherland and overt support for United Front campaigns.
So, when the word goes out that everyone is to (for example) scream and rant about the horrors of Benny Tai’s latest comment, they should rush to sign – nay, organize – petitions and statements dutifully freaking out. Beijing officials might be watching and noting each loyalist’s efforts, or they might not be. It doesn’t matter. The shoe-shiners will lie awake at night worrying whether their pre-emptive gratuitous gestures of obeisance have been enough. As intended.
Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing ‘politicians’ – lawmakers and council members – already publicly follow the Party line, so they know what it feels like. It feels crappy, because you have to align yourself with unpopular and stupid government policies and people shout at you in the street because of it. Yes, zombies have feelings, too.
Imagine the bitterness when, after all your devotion to the patriotic cause, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has dinner with the dastardly Democratic Party, and even gives them a HK$30,000 donation (hey, it’s not the principle, it’s the money). They are sorely miffed and feel taken for granted.
Carrie has reasons for supping with the Dems. To the Liaison Office, the veteran opposition group of has-been weenies probably looks ripe for splitting from radicals in classic (tiresome, obsessive) United Front fashion. And although our formal political process is increasingly ceremonial, pan-dem backing for relatively non-idiotic policies lends officials some desperately needed credibility.
But it hurts the pro-Beijing camp to see Carrie giving face to the enemy. Face is the only reward they really get for their loyalty. (As pro-establishment business types know deep down, the Communist Party mainly compensates its supporters by withholding harm rather than bestowing positive advantages.) Now they are finding it hard to recruit youthful ‘talent’. Having to recite Beijing’s line on anything means that, even if you win an ‘election’, you still look like a loser.
Bottom line: the Communist Party kicks its devotees in the teeth in the end, anyway – you might as well have enjoyed your freedom and conscience as part of the dreaded, despicable hostile forces.
Feels like time for another four-day weekend – but tragically it is not to be. Some reading for those with time to spare over the next couple of days…
A wrap-up on the NY Times story on the South China Morning Post (so you don’t have to read either of them!)
Some more deepening grimness on the deepening grimness of Xi Jinping’s dictatorship.
A tour of Beijing’s forgotten theme park/resort wastelands.
And I declare the weekend open with the best PhD thesis ever on songstress Denise Ho.