So did we all enjoy yesterday’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office press briefing with ‘new’ content? In case you hadn’t guessed from the 800 rounds of tear gas the police managed to fire on Monday, Beijing’s policy on Hong Kong is to make no compromises, but simply rely on the cops to bludgeon and arrest the city into calm – and threaten worse if disobedience continues.
Mainland officials are summoning pro-government figures to Shenzhen later today, where they will state that everyone present adopt this bone-headed and unpopular position as a matter of loyalty. Tremble and obey. One of those moments when shoe-shiners must put their brushes down and contemplate the gleaming boot in their face.
Beijing’s poverty of ideas is partly by default – there’s not much else in the CCP’s toolkit. But it also suggests a genuine inability (or refusal) to read the situation. It holds that the bulk of the population are (or can easily be brought) onside, thus isolating a small number of nasty foreign-manipulated pro-independence radicals. It’s denying the reality here.
This is noteworthy because Beijing has good reasons to go for a pragmatic and low-risk approach. One increasingly pressing priority must be to pacify Hong Kong in time for the October 1 National Day – the 70th anniversary of the PRC. It should be unthinkable that we have disorder on the streets on that glorious celebratory occasion. It would be a shame, to put it mildly, if they have to hold the flag-raising ceremony indoors again.
When we look back at all this one day, one thing that will stand out is the key role played by rigid, unthinking and heavy-handed police tactics in consolidating Carrie Lam’s alienation and embitterment of public opinion. We will surely relish the irony – that the tactics prompted by Beijing undermined Beijing locally.
A couple of quick, topical videos you might have missed: a brilliantly cruel mashup of a Tourism Board ad with scenes of today’s real Hong Kong (Stay an extra day!); and a slow-motion mayhem-as-ballet set to Louis Armstrong (this owes something to Good Morning Vietnam).
Being summoned across the border – and agreeing to of one’s own volition – to receive a tongue lashing for not being grateful enough must be ten times better than the alternative: extradited, being read one sided charges, and receiving a GUILTY verdict from a “justice” system that secures 99.99% of prosecutions.
I look back and think that if Carrie Lam had said “The extradition bill is dead” — not even “The extradition bill has been withdrawn” — on the evening of June 9th or any other time before June 12th, all this mess might have been averted. But with each passing day and week, more demands have been heaped on to the plate, and each new case of police over-reaction and government inaction only increases people’s anger and defiance. About the best thing to say about the situation is that the end isn’t in sight: because I fear that if/when it all ends, it’ll do so because Beijing really has gone and definitively subdued Hong Kong, and destroyed it too.
O Carrie! our Carrie! you’ve been away so long
While thugs have roamed and gas has choked the people of Hong Kong.
New start, new hope, new days, new times the people all are needing;
And high and low they rise and call: a leader should be leading.
But secretly you stay,
Far away and dumb.
And still the place is empty,
Carrie doesn’t come!
O Carrie! our Carrie! now you’ve met the press
The gas has spread, the streets are blocked, an even greater mess!
For peace you call, for harmony, for laws obeyed not broken,
But really it would be much better if you’d never spoken.
O Carrie! dear Carrie!
The people are inflamed.
You’re the one that lit the fire;
Don’t you feel ashamed?
O Carrie! poor Carrie! while in your hole you cower
Hear the hero in Beijing boast of China’s power.
See the People’s Liberation Army putting down a riot.
Don’t you want to go away and find some peace and quiet?
But staunch is their support
And firm the bottom line.
Alas for you! alas for us!
Carrie can’t resign.
with acknowledgement to ‘O Captain! My Captain!’ by Walt Whitman
@Knownot: I was reading it as “Diary of Horace Wimp” in the beginning…
I’d love to see the list of the 500 attendees.
I have read an AFP article in the Guardian which listed four options available to the central government, dealing with HK. As our own blogger wrote yesterday, all of them are unpalatable.
1. Wait and see.
As in 2014, contain protests, and wait for them to just end. This time, it might happen quite soon – early next month, when the new terms begin at school and university.
2. Up the ante.
Similar to the first option, but increase pressure and intimidation.
3. Make concessions.
4. Send in the troops.
I truly hope Boris will make it clear to Carrie there is no place for her at the English countryside. Let her retire in Shenzhen or some other picturesque place.
Carrie was spotted today in Tai Wai and Yuen Long, perhaps among a few other places…
She was apparently not invited to Shenzhen for the pep rally.
Beijing and what remains of the HK government are dreaming if they think waiting things out is a viable strategy. The beginning of the new school year will mean only that protests will take place much more extensively than they have so far on school and university grounds. And there are likely to be messy confrontations between local and mainland students–and, in some cases, between local and mainland faculty and administration.
I tend to agree with that scenario – the start of the academic year will just provide loads more opportunities for conflict, discussion, new ideas etc. Very unlikely to quieten down.
@Knownot: Occupy 2014 began during the school year.