Most thinking people in Hong Kong probably already have an opinion on the Andy Chan/Foreign Correspondents Club controversy. You are either pro-free speech, or pro-Communist Party/anti-troublemaker.
But in case anyone was undecided, along comes former Chief Executive CY Leung, determined to use all his subtlety, warmth and charm to at least get the FCC’s rent hiked, if not get the Club evicted from its publicly owned premises. (To be clear, the Club is hosting Andy Chan to enable news coverage, but not aligning itself with his views.)
So far as we can tell, Beijing dropped CY after one term as Hong Kong’s boss because his devotion to the Communist cause was so virulent, obsessive, spiteful and disturbing even to loyalists, he was ‘bringing the community together’ against himself.
Hong Kong’s elite golfers would keep thousands homeless, indeed sell their grandmothers to glue factories, before sacrificing their greens at Fanling. But by definition, FCC members would rather lose the clubhouse than submit to restrictions on free speech.
CY helpfully/vividly/rabidly illustrates the coercive and obnoxious nature of Beijing’s United Front operation – in case anyone is still sitting on the fence.
On the subject of the United Front – here’s the best thing you will read on it this year, by John Garnaut.
I would miss the FCC Quiz. There isn’t one this month, but here are a couple of questions to keep everyone going…
1. On which rail line in Hong Kong are you most likely to encounter drug-resistant bugs in the morning?
2. Who, so far as we know, has the longest property leasehold in Hong Kong? (Note: not freehold, so it’s not the Anglican Cathedral.)
Some illiterate birds while you ponder…
After I expressed surprise that researchers would use volunteers to grab MTR handrails to collect microbe samples, someone kindly sent me a link to the methodology. Among the findings is a hidden facet of Mainlandization: trains on the ‘cross-border line’ (East Rail, or the old KCR) are unique in hosting a high proportion of tetracycline- and vancomycin-resistant bacteria – all-day long. On other lines, such medicine-defying beasties turn up mainly in the afternoon and evening.
(My non-scientific guess: after people coming over from Lo Wu carrying the things on their grubby paws have had time to move around elsewhere in Hong Kong later in the day, spreading their icky germs.)
The US has the longest property leasehold in HK, and probably anywhere in China, for its Garden Road Consulate.
It’s a mystery. Did Tung Chee-hwa think the diplomats came under Disneyland? Will Trump want to redevelop the site? Seriously – what was Tung thinking? This was just after the handover, and one of his supposed attributes as first Chief Executive was his oh-so amazing deep and meaningful connections with both Beijing and the US. Was this some sort of personal diplomacy thing to ingratiate the motherland with the Americans? And would Trump put a casino there?
“We bought it, we built it, we paid it for it, and we intend to keep it.”
Maybe the Consulate lease was a confidence-building gesture intended to show the world that Beijing was serious (then) about One Country Two Systems?
The basis of all USA foreign policy is that it must never be the subject of any foreign power: in other words, that’s why the lease is effectively outright ownership of USA territory via the purchase option