So many things making China’s leaders frazzled right now.
First there’s Protestant Christianity. China’s rulers have long seen this as a Western plot – they suspected missionaries of using children’s eyes as medicine in the 19th century, and expelled the Rhenish and Elsie Elliot Tu to Hong Kong in the mid-20th. Now they want to Sinicize the faith by removing its ‘foreign characteristics’.
Where do they start… Sexual repression? Golf-playing? Putting the toaster in the cupboard? Not the famous ‘work ethic’, surely. According to the report, Reformation with Chinese characteristics will involve messing with liturgy (which is what leads to Pentecostal snake-handling), sacred music (out with Amazing Grace, in with The East is Red), church architecture (which frankly, in the Mainland, can be pastiche-European horrifying), and clerical clothing (out with dog-collars, in with something brighter). Plus, of course, a rewrite of the Bible (do they know how long that takes?)
The Catholics, of course, are making their own arrangements to be more CCP-friendly.
Then there’s that other terrible threat to the Glorious Motherland – dyed hair. (Obviously, not a la Jiang Zemin: as Henry Ford would have said if he were a stylist, you can have any colour you want so long as it’s Zhongnanhai Black.) TV shows are digitally enhancing broadcasts to tone down young artists’ wacky hairdos, apparently as part of a campaign against ‘strange styles and lack of aesthetic sense’.
When and how do these ideological reforms hit Hong Kong?
With Mainlandization, the scope for Hong Kong to be different from the rest of the country should be narrowing not widening. Protestants of the colonial Anglican, dull mainstream and wacko Evangelical persuasions are all active here, with adherents throughout the local pro-Beijing establishment. Can they keep their traditional Baptist and Methodist preaching and hymns when their brethren across the border are banging gongs and divining oracle bones in praise of the Party? And – truly scary – what becomes of the city if Beijing decides to rectify Hong Kong’s ‘strange styles and lack of aesthetic sense’?