Lost the link, but… Another day, another well-meaning column (I think from AFP) wondering why the Chinese leadership doesn’t do the obvious thing and toss a few concessions at Hong Kong.
It’s simple. All they have to do is officially withdraw the extradition bill (remember the extradition bill?), fire Carrie Lam (maybe someone would notice) and allow an independent inquiry (just a vague, not too independent, 18-month one). It would appease moderates, isolate the radicals and calm things down. Duh.
And yet, as Beijing officials made clear to the assembled shoe-shiners in Shenzhen yesterday, it’s not going to happen. We must double down and crush this color revolution, however much it just makes things worse in the long run, let alone invites continued unrest in coming weeks as the People’s Republic approaches its 70th anniversary.
A couple of familiar explanations come to mind. The CCP is infallible, so by definition if anything goes wrong it must be someone else’s fault. And China’s top-down bureaucratic structure feeds the top leadership feel-good info rather than accurate intelligence.
But perhaps Beijing has also painted itself into a corner. It has stoked up considerable, indeed virulent, hostility among Mainlanders towards Hong Kong’s opposition movement – even towards Hong Kong itself, as an ungrateful and disobedient long-lost orphan and self-styled half-breed that badly deserves a good thrashing.
It is on TV, the papers and even foreign university campuses – but especially on WeChat, Twitter with ‘Chinese characteristics’ (if such a horror is possible). Having whipped up anger among their own people at Hongkongers as crazed, foreign-influenced beasts who attack innocent bystanders, assault the police and repeatedly chuck the nation’s sacred flag into the sea, China’s leaders can’t take the relatively easy steps that would help diffuse the crisis.
The best they can hope for is that, as with Occupy, toughing it out will eventually exhaust protestors and public opinion, and everything will go back to some sort of new, post-Teargas Apocalypse warm-and-cuddly normal.
But even if that works, Beijing still has to pander to the WeChat-hyped nationalistic domestic audience it has created when it comes to the US trade conflict, Huawei, Taiwan and a dozen other thorny problems.