What now?

As the clean-up starts at the Legislative Council, the Hong Kong government and its friends go into choreographed hair-pulling meltdown over disgraceful young thugs wrecking our precious rule of law. You’d almost think the protestors had tried to force an extradition-to-the-Mainland bill through.

It’s common sense that the local administration absolutely must now Do Something to fix basic problems. And yet, it is equally obvious to anyone who lives here that these officials neither want, nor know how, to do that. It was for these very inadequacies that Beijing chose them.

A satirist would joke that the government will appoint a property developer’s son to head up a Let’s Listen Earnestly to Young Folk Committee – but that’s been done already. Unless our bureaucrats can out-parody themselves on this, expect nothing from the local puppet show.

So it’s up to Beijing.

Vice quotes the estimable Steve Tsang as saying that “a more liberal response is not in the genetic pool of the CCP.” Leninists can’t do ‘hearts and minds’ because that would essentially make them democrats. So that’s out.

Guardian columnist Simon Tisdall sees the conflict in a global liberalism-vs-authoritarianism context. He thinks the most attractive option to Xi Jinping could be “Imposing de facto direct rule from Beijing while maintaining the rhetoric of ‘one country, two systems’ and the pretence of self-governance…”

This is what we already have, but presumably he means serious, no-nonsense de facto direct rule – not this namby-pamby version.

It’s a question of pace. If Beijing wants to speed things up, we can expect some sort of ‘national security’ laws criminalizing anti-CCP activities and opinion. This must entail curbs on the press and Internet, and on the independence of the courts. It also entails more people on the streets, and maybe this time the kids will take over the whole Government HQ complex and not give it back.

AFP quotes an academic who points out that Beijing is in a bind, and expects a ‘mix of carrots and sticks’.

Put yourself in Beijing’s shoes: what would you do? You can’t leave things as they are – but you can’t change them either.

Writing in the NYT, People’s Republic of Amnesia author Louisa Lim admits that ‘no-one knows what will come next’. Bingo!

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19 Responses to What now?

  1. Big Al says:

    A “mix of carrots and sticks”? In CCP-speak, surely this means, first we get beaten with the stick, then we get beaten with the carrot?

  2. Cassowary says:

    So, the beatings will continue until morale improves?

  3. Stanley Lieber says:

    It’s doubtful Beijing is in a panic over Hong Kong. For the CCP, ordering Mrs. Lam to withdraw the Extradition Bill (presenting it as her own decision, of course) and then throwing her to the wolves is all in a day’s work.

  4. Chinese Netizen says:

    “You’d almost think the protestors had tried to force an extradition-to-the-Mainland bill through.”

    Love it.

  5. Stephen says:

    It’s tempting to hope that Beijing insists Carrie sticks around for 3 years, rather than slink off to Cambridgeshire. It will be a pleasure to watch her being tortured. However probably better to let the bumbling Matthew take over. Rest assured he will do nothing of note and it’s doubtful whether Beijing would trust his ability to do anything important. Of course there is the problem of his massive property portfolio …

  6. HillnotPeak says:

    I wonder what have happened if John Tsang was the CE? He always looked more approachable and common sense to me, or was it just the moustache?

  7. Des Espoir says:

    Come back Donald, all is forgiven…

  8. C.Law says:

    A statement and a question:
    “Hong Kong has nothing left to lose” and
    “what next?”
    Firstly HK has a lot to lose, even under the current mockery of a government the situation here in respect of personal freedoms is way better than on the Mainland [and, as an aside, the undoubted difficult prospects for the younger generation are not limited to HK but are similar to the problems in many other places around the world, given that the benefits of economic development are being concentrated in the bank accounts of the few, not the many. They may be exacerbated by the particular factors in HK but they are not a function of our form of government.]
    Secondly, it has been apparent for some time that Beijing has a plan for HK, namely to absorb it into the mainland – the steps towards this have been reflected frequently in the pages of this blog. This will entail losing the personal freedoms that we have at the moment, the question is: how quickly?
    The fact that peaceful protest hasn’t worked in the past (though that is not entirely true) certainly does not mean that non-peaceful protest will do any better. One thing we do know is that the CCP understands violence very well.
    So, best case: the violent protests cease, the Police conduct their investigation and charge people with Criminal Damage – based on the great deal of physical evidence they have taken out of LegCo that could be quite a lot of people – things settle down and we bumble on as usual (perhaps even with a bit more effort from the Govt on livelihood issues) gradually losing our freedoms until almost unnoticably being absorbed into the mainland in 2047.
    Worst case, the violence resumes or increases, the CCP acts to counter the direct challenge to it’s authority and we lose what we have immediately.

    “What next?” take your pick.

  9. YTSL says:

    Sacking Carrie Lam and fully withdrawing the extradition bill (whose introduction can be blamed on her) would placate millions of Hong Kongers, if not the truly frustrated youth. I wonder if Beijing could be moved to at least grant Hong Kongers that? If, say, Zhou Enlai were in Xi’s current position, I could see it happening. With Xi, who knows? Weren’t there hopes early on that he’d actually be progressive? (Hah!)

  10. Ann says:

    … and the fact that he actively cheered on the Hong Kong football team (and knew how to find a stream of the match online).

  11. Dyslexic Cnut says:

    A mix of Carrie and the schtick

  12. Joe Blow says:

    I like the fact that nobody knows what’s next. This is a worst case scenario for HK’s civil servants’ Government. Committee ? Report ? In depth (inept) investigation ? Inter-departmental consultation ? Closer co-operation with errr…? Independent commission (featuring Ronald Arculli) ?

    Okay, something else: whenever a tall building goes up in HK, a crane sits atop. Louis’ Question of the Day: how do they get that crane down to ground level once the building tops out ? Those giant concrete slabs at the rear for balance: how they get down again?

  13. I Married Miss Fang says:

    Carrot and stick to the current CPC leadership is just an evolution of the old saw about Mao getting a cat to bite a hot pepper : first the beating with the stick, then the carrot rammed up the arse. Dry always, sideways if Xi wants to make a point.

  14. FOARP says:

    I honestly don’t think anyone knows where this will end up. There has been an almost-imperceptible escalation in protest tactics, from the 2003 street demonstrations, to occupy in 2014, to the smashing up of LegCo and it would be unwise to think that this escalation will not go further. The reason for this is that at the same time repression in HK has also escalated, reaching a low-point (but far from its end-point) with the banning of pro-independence candidates and the heavy-handed police tactics seen this year. Drawing a straight-line through both trends, martial law is not unimaginable.

    It might even happen along the Polish model – an emergency crack-down by the local government done out of fear of the central government sending in the army. Polish martial law caused hundreds of deaths, and this suddenly does not seem so impossible in Hong Kong.

    @Joe Blow – The crane disassembles itself (the cab is lowered past the point at which a section is connected and that is then detached and lowered to the ground by the crane) and lowers itself down to ground level down the side of the building, in the same way it initially built itself up.

  15. Crane Operator says:

    @ Joe Blow

    Re the cranes atop buildings, that’s easy! They’re dismantled, like meccano, and taken down in the lift, bit by bit.

  16. Gromit says:

    A small detail, perhaps, but interesting that Jasper Tsang Yok Sing’s portrait was left intact. Most probably not a coincidence, which would indicate in itself a considerable level of political awareness of the Legco protesters, rather than the mindless vandals portrayed by the frothing-mouth brigade. And perhaps an indication of someone who would be acceptable to the broader HK public and trusted to heal the divide dad well as being a back-handed rebuke to Beijing for leaning on him not to run for CE last time out). Not sure how his health is these days, and whether he is up to/for the task. Anyone know?

  17. Din Gao says:

    Perhaps Jasper TSANG Yok-shing, former LegCo President, co-founder of the DAB, aceeptable to both sides (they didn’t trash his portrait in LegCo), could be brought in to mediate.
    Perhaps too our hapless CE could initiate an amnesty (a la Jock the Sock) for all those, on both sides, suspected of committing public order offences since the demonstrations and marches began, obviating the need for a prolonged and divisive judicial inquiry.
    Perhaps she herself could state that she is handing over the reigns of local government to the CS, Matthew Cheung, while she carries on dealing with BJ.
    That just leaves the bill; the protesters should perhaps accept that it is dead and that demanding that the government “withdraw” it is in reality unnecessary.
    Perhaps I need my head examining….

  18. Ichabod's Sleepy Hollow says:

    @Joe Blow
    YouTube is your friend! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUQalhFFnOE

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