Hong Kong has entered the ‘confluence of unfortunate occurrences’ zone.
Long drawn-out prosecutions of Benny Tai and other peaceful protest organizers on desperate ‘public nuisance incitement’ charges came to a conclusion, with the court blandly accepting questionable government points. The result is that we now have academics in prison for their political beliefs.
At just this time, the administration introduced the Mainland extradition amendment to the Legislative Council. Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her colleagues seriously underestimated not only the resistance from local opponents, but the alarm in local and international business and other circles. Spotting a humiliating backdown looming, Beijing officials have impatiently nudged their local puppets to one side and taken charge of the lobbying effort to ram the measure through.
And now it transpires that a couple of localist activists who jumped bail following the Mongkok fishball riot have been given political asylum in staid, respectable, moderate and thoroughly democratic Germany. Political asylum is for torture victims from Third World dictatorships. And Germany, unlike the wacko evil US or nasty UK, is unimpeachable – a byword for integrity. This is not so much embarrassing as Does Not Compute.
If the West and China are indeed parting ways over economic and other differences, it might be best to recognize that our own post-1997 arrangement is over. The Chinese Communist Party has never willingly accepted constraints on its power. It has had to grit its teeth over the years as Hong Kong mocked its rule implicitly or explicitly. Under Xi Jinping, it has decided that ‘One Country Two Systems’ is an intolerable affront to its sovereignty.
Carrie’s task now is to remove barriers that hinder CCP control on this side of the border. It is a delicate job, as she has to claim the barriers weren’t there in the first place. Look at the government’s tortuous attempts to avoid acknowledging that drafters deliberately omitted China from existing extradition arrangements on account of the Mainland’s joke justice system. That omission was once a much-valued shield to protect us; now it is a ‘loophole’ that exposes us.
Just as the Sino-Western Split of 2019 is causing torment to fence-sitters and extreme optimists, this is going to test some centrist Beijing loyalists, who have assumed that the CCP would deep down be a decent bunch of folks who cared about their and Hong Kong’s image. Slight Hissy Fit of the Day Award goes to Regina Ip, trying to get her head around Germany giving Hongkongers refugee status.