In this week’s episode of How to Turn Asia’s World City into a Banana Republic, Carrie Lam finds ways to discard the government’s old free-and-pluralist look, and build up a new global image as illiberal, intolerant and vindictive.
Hong Kong Immigration hold a 78-year-old retired Philippine senior judge and Ombudsman for questioning. Some media report that Conchita Carpio-Morales was refused entry, others that she decided to cancel her visit (in Filipino, it was ‘nixed’). All agree that she made a complaint to an international court about Chinese leader Xi Jinping several months ago, and that Hong Kong looks pathetic.
Turning undesirables away at the airport is kid’s stuff. Other examples in the last couple of years (presumably/obviously) at the behest of Beijing include Falun Gong adherents, exiled Mainland dissidents, Taiwanese politicians and activists, campaigner Benedict Rogers and FT editor (expelled) Victor Mallet.
If you really want to be taken seriously as a Third-World dictatorship, you need citizens qualifying for political asylum in the free world. In a significant breakthrough, Germany has given refugee status to two Hong Kong localist activists on the run from Mongkok fishball-riot charges. The fact that it is Germany – boring, straight-laced, mildly inclined to Panda-hugging – makes the blow to Hong Kong’s reputation even more cringe-making.
As a Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong must submit to Beijing’s rule more openly than a mere doormat-vassal state (like, say, Cambodia). Chief Executive Carrie Lam spares no effort in defending Chinese officials’ hands-on management of the formerly autonomous city’s new extradition measures. In case you need reminding, Beijing has to intervene because foreign governments are recklessly criticizing Mainland judicial and human rights systems. (Just a thought: what happened to Carrie’s all-ready-to-move-in retirement home in England? Empty? Sold? Rented out?)
Is there anything we’ve missed? Of course – the media. Carrie pops up along with Huang Kunming, Politburo member and the head of the Communist Party’s propaganda department, to tell the press to talk up the Greater Bay Area (Opportunities!!!) Themed Concept Hub-Zone Vision to absorb Hong Kong physically and mentally into the glorious motherland. The Party is your middle name.
At some point, Carrie and her zombie-puppet colleagues must have to appear, with ridiculously solemn we-are-taking-this-so-seriously looks on their faces, at a Xi Jinping Thought study function. I would say within 12 months.