It’ll all be over by Christmas

Beijing’s global ‘soft power’ campaign isn’t going to well right now. Not that they’re exactly prioritizing it.

In an uncharacteristic fit of good taste, Facebook and Twitter are banning Chinese state-funded fake news and propaganda aimed at ‘undermining the legitimacy and political positions’ of Hong Kong’s anti-government protest movement.

The movement itself is buying more ads in international newspapers. If they seem dramatic and emotional, that’s the point – to grab the attention of the Spanish, Korean, Swedish and other people concerned. These audiences might also have read about the nastiness of Mainland students at pro-Hong Kong gatherings on campuses around the world. CCTV will need to ramp up the cuddly-panda videos.

In Hong Kong, the weekend’s outbreak of large-scale non-mayhem is making things harder for what passes for the local government, which finds itself with no evil wicked naughty violence to condemn.

Anthony Neoh, head of the Independent Police Complaints Council, goes rather off-message, calling for official withdrawal of the extradition bill and sounding vaguely OK with a commission of inquiry. He is telling Chief Executive Carrie Lam that the police cannot fix what is a political problem (she is ‘working on it’). He does not sound impressed by the official line that the government cannot and will not take any action until and unless protests totally cease and everyone sits down, shuts up and behaves.

The insistence that ‘the protests must end first’ is a current pro-establishment mantra. There is no reason why the anti-government movement should take it seriously (remember that promises of reform following protests in 2003 and 2014 came to nothing). The demand is also illogical if only because – by definition – the onus is totally on the government to resolve a problem that’s bringing millions of people onto the streets. The semi-official explanation is that the Chinese Communist Party will not submit to pressure, although we know from experience that it does, sometimes. At the moment, with October 1 coming and a trade-turning-Cold war to deal with, it is under a lot of pressure.

There are rumours that Beijing is getting so sick of Carrie Lam’s constant requests to resign that they might actually let her go. This could break a logjam in the short-term (she could be replaced by one of the under-puppets, who could make some symbolic concessions). But this doesn’t solve Beijing’s Hong Kong problem.

Some local establishment voices are hinting at big changes on the way – notably to housing and land policy, and to political consultative mechanisms. As well as being too little too late (they had 20 years to do that), it sidesteps the basic contradiction of how a Communist one-party dictatorship absorbs a free pluralist society. It sounds like wishful thinking by elites desperately trying to stay relevant.

Here are three ‘big-picture theories’ from deep in the heart of rebel territory about how things will work out. The US Cavalry will definitely not come riding to the rescue. And expulsion from the PRC for being too annoying (like Singapore from Malaysia) is too gloriously wonderful to be true. The third – outliving the CCP – sounds do-able.  

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11 Responses to It’ll all be over by Christmas

  1. Reactor #4 says:

    Re Para 7, It is inevitable that Carrie Lam will step down soon. However, it is hard to see this happening before the Big Birthday Bash (exactly six weeks today). The issue that then arises is her replacement. I am pretty sure that whenever the Mainland has had problems in its remoter areas it has always sent in a hard-man. I am certain they will stick to the playbook with HK (actually, there isn’t an obvious “good cop” who wants the job and who is deemed suitable). To this end, Regina Ip could be installed. Critically, she wants the job and would positively enjoy stamping out dissent using proper bullets (not tear gas and hacky sacks), street-corner security posts, and roving armored personnel carriers. Today’s title is: “It’ll all be over by Christmas”. How very prescient.

  2. napoleon says:

    Communists and marxists love to say that capitalism is a contradiction that eventually collapses on itself but it does seem to look like this is indeed projection of what inevitably happens to communism or any militant dictatorship. China not only has a hong kong problem. it very likely has a Xi Jinping problem. it’s delicious to me that all of this happens almost like Animal Farm.

  3. Joe Blow says:

    Of course HK will outlive the CCP. The demise of the CCP is historically inevitable.

  4. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    I agree with napoleon: Winnie the Pooh seems to be the issue here. Xi Jinping is consistently doing what an enemy of China would do (though he’s a communist, so he IS an enemy of the people, yes?)

    IMO this will not be over by Christmas: Taiwan’s presidential elections will be held on 11th January, 2020. (Is 111 an auspicious number?)

  5. old git says:

    Dialogue with the HK Government occurs only if the persons with whom the Civil Service is to have dialogue, are listed in the Central Personality Index.

    Consultation exercises lasting for a fixed period; and invitation for submissions on law reform, are not intended to be dialogue.

  6. dimuendo says:


    Remember, in Animal Farm, the pigs did not lose power, simply became indistinguishable from what had gone before.


    You may be right as to Regina Ip wanting the job. You may even be right as to her penchant for live ammunition, not withstanding her much publicised degree in democracy. However you ignore the fact that she is not really a divisive figure anymore, simply disliked intensely (not least for her ambition) by the DAB etc and simply hated/loathed by the vast bulk of the HK population.

    If your friends up north were to appoint Regina Ip as CE, then the protests they have seen so far would be as nothing, regardless of the type of ammunition. To be fair, I doubt very much the HK police force, notwtithstanding current revelations, are into mass killings. Which brings back the PLA. HK is completely stuffed once they openely come in, and open fire. Your friends up north may be out of touch with what makes HK tick and the current mood, but they are not so stupid as to impose a power made woman with a killing penchant (if she has, which I doubt, much as I dislike her).

  7. Carrie Lam’s current position is essentially that she will not solve the problem until the problem no longer exists to be solved. Does anyone know the procedure for getting an obviously insane person committed to a psychiatric hospital?

  8. Cassowary says:

    “Some local establishment voices are hinting at big changes on the way – notably to housing and land policy, and to political consultative mechanisms.”

    In which direction? Considering that these policies are being made by people who think we should be grateful for gold-buying tourists and are allergic to elections, I’ll eat my hat if they don’t propose bigger white elephant projects combined with a United Front political machine on steroids. They must know that their days of buying supporters with boxed lunches and field trips are limited; actuarially most of the people impressed by such goodies will be dead in a decade. They’ll have to go big with the pork-barrel spending, like tying access to housing and school places to political loyalty.

    Anyway, I plan to outlive Xi Jinping, but the question is what comes after him. It’s no bloody good if the CCP collapses only to be replaced by the bog standard military junta. Does China even have the institutional capacity to liberalize?

  9. pla beaver says:

    I think the reason Carrie Lam won’t engage in demonstration politics is because if she does acquiesce, she risks looking like a splittist to Beijing cadres. And that is precisely what would bring the pla out. because the pla is used primarily to avoid disunity.

  10. Chinese Netizen says:

    Yes…the days of a putrid box lunch and a liter of gutter oil for showing how much you love a totalitarian system while living in a mostly free one are over

  11. JY says:

    Re. Beijing’s soft power campaign, perhaps they should try in HK the Ferrari-blockade tactic as their overseas operatives had implemented in Toronto’s HK rally. Will definitely get the kids kowtowing (with laughter) quicker than the PLA.

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