A mid-week Great Leap Backward

Half the MTR system seizes up this morning. But Transport Secretary Frank Chan has a chauffeur-driven car – so everything’s fine. So long as you can get to Wuhan in three hours at Mach 0.8.

Meanwhile, up in the Motherland… The abduction/arrest of Interpol president Meng Hongwei has damaged China’s image (in stark contrast to all the non-stop cool and hip fun that has been enhancing the nation’s reputation recently). Was this simply the grabbing of another crooked official that was clunkily handled and leaves Beijing looking clueless or disdainful about what foreigners think? Or was it a swift pre-emptive strike against a genuine and acute political threat to the regime?

The South China Morning Post’s Wang Xiangwei sees it mainly as an example of bad PR – just a routine elite-bribery arrest that would be no biggie if it weren’t for the arrogant and heavy-handed approach of the anti-corruption system.

Another SCMP piece argues that it is a bigger deal, concluding Xi Jinping’s methodical purging of the security apparatus of Zhou Yongkang’s people. It does look like part of an extensive pattern. But if it’s so methodical, why the sudden recall and disappearance of the guy, embarrassing China before the world? (Perhaps just that ‘bad PR’ problem. Beijing has contrived a relatively clever ‘ethical high ground’ spin about how the unseemliness of the arrest is proof that no-one is above the law.)

The other theory is that this is a major incident, countering an attempted ‘soft coup’ against Xi by Jiang Zemin’s faction and other malcontents. The aim would be to restrain the Chairman of Everything for Life, rather than overthrow him. These forces oppose Xi’s concentration of power because it harms the nation’s well-being, also known as their families’ accumulation of wealth.

The fact that no-one can tell which (if any) of these explanations is accurate underlines the absurdity and scariness of what is supposed to be the world’s number-two country. I declare the mid-week mini-weekend open with a big read on how Xi is overseeing a Great Leap Backward. It is a picture of greater uniformity and rigidity, the closing off of China from the world, and of significantly greater risks of mistakes – a picture in which Hong Kong’s gradual decline is just a speck.



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4 Responses to A mid-week Great Leap Backward

  1. Probably says:

    Meng Hongwei’s ‘crime’ was not following through on the Interpol Red Notice China insisted upon being issued against Guo Wengui (Miles Kwok) – another Jiang Ziamin stooge.

    And did he really fly from France to China of his own volition or did he travel in the manner that booksellers tend to do?

  2. Knownot says:

    For the holiday

    The Tale of Kong Linlin

    Courage! With modest pen I dare to write
    The Tale of Kong Linlin, her lonely fight.
    A Joan of Arc, a Mulan, or an Amazon,
    A Boadicea – indeed a just comparison!
    If she can beard the lions in their den,
    How can I hesitate to wield my pen?

    The Tory Party met, and nearly all
    Assembled and debated in the hall;
    But “on the fringes”, meaning at the back,
    A quiet, shadowy, surreptitious pack
    Of plotters, traitors, murmured, softly planned
    To separate – to split the Motherland.
    (And how ironic it is, furthermore,
    To be a traitor with the surname *Law*!)
    Striding through the shadows and the gloom
    Our heroine came and burst into the room.
    She heard their dangerous words – they crossed a line, these
    English meddlers. “You are not even Chinese!”
    “The rest of you are traitors!” Even bolder,
    She slapped the English thugs who tried to hold her –
    Insulting her, aggressive, impolite,
    They tried to make her leave. “You have no right!”
    Sarcastic in the video, we hear her say,
    Accuse, “This is democracy of UK!”

    [ The following lines are awkward and I want
    Them printed in a different, smaller font.
    Ms Kong, although she loves the Chinese nation,
    Has doubts about her country’s education;
    And so, impervious to ridicule,
    Her son’s a pupil at an English school.
    Many a tycoon, many a politician,
    Reluctantly have made the same decision.
    But now he’s been expelled. The action comes
    Because of misbehaviour like his mum’s.
    So maybe what provoked her outburst there
    Was anger at this family affair.
    Her Embassy would vigorously rebut
    Suggestion that the lady is a nut. ]

    The timid British Ministers debate,
    Not knowing whether to retaliate.
    “We must be firm, but diplomatic. She’s a
    Heroine. Dare we – not renew her visa?”

  3. Joe Blow says:

    Nury is back.

  4. Stanley Lieber says:

    @Joe Blow

    You spoiled my day off.

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