Pro-Beijing businessman Michael Tien holds forth on Bloomberg TV, explaining that the Chinese leadership want Hong Kong restored to warm-and-cuddly peace and harmony well before National Day on October 1. He says Beijing might be cool with one or two thousand people marching on the big day, but a turnout of 100,000, however peaceful, would be unacceptable. (A million people look at their calendars and smirk.)
As just one member of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing camp, Tien is not especially clued-in to the thinking in Zhongnanhai. Indeed, being relatively presentable and human-sounding, he is probably less trusted than many other loyalists.
Still, this suggests three options…
If the CCP really must have absolute calm in Hong Kong by mid-September, it needs to make a few concessions (like officially withdrawing the extradition bill) pretty soon. To save face, Beijing would dump the humiliation on the local administration.
Alternatively, as we are constantly reminded, China could send the troops in – but this would wreck the National Day ceremonies (and much else) far more than any number of Hongkongers on a protest.
Thirdly, they just muddle through and go back and look at it all later. This seems the obvious choice – assuming they are not totally obsessive-compulsive about the headcount at Victoria Park on October 1.
If Beijing favoured the first option – hurry up and do a climb-down – it would now be pushing Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to stop being such an embarrassing klutz.
So, what is she up to right now?
She wouldn’t really set up a committee to set up the committee that will do some dialogue to resolve Hong Kong’s unrest? Would she? But of course – Carrie Lam invites ‘dozens of [old, stale, credibility-voiding] prominent figures’ to discuss how to establish her previously announced platform.
Among the worthies will be billionaire scion Henry Tang whose qualifications for the task include: nice-but-dim, into wine, former owner of an illegal luxury basement, and lost a rigged Chief Executive ‘election’. Other notables are academics, clerics, former pro-government political types, and there’s a microbiology professor. They are all ‘conscientious’ – though not objectors.
This is the Hong Kong establishment unwittingly up to its neck in self-parody – asking elite insiders to find a way to listen to the public. The solution to the problem is the problem.