Eats, shoots itself in foot and leaves

While Beijing supposedly wants Hong Kong to calm down in time for the National Day holiday, it seems determined to provoke residents into holding the mother of all mega-marches to mark October 1. In a particularly desperate stunt, the CCP is resorting to the hackneyed ‘visiting prostitutes’ smear against the UK Consulate staffer they disappeared.

One theory is that Beijing does not expect the world to believe trumped-up charges, show trials and forced televised confessions – the aim is to intimidate others by saying ‘we can do this to you’. This doesn’t exactly make it a better PR move.

Which brings us to the most amazing thing about China’s response to Hong Kong’s anti-government movement: its absurdly disproportionate nature.

National or local authorities could have nipped the extradition-bill disaster in the bud on several occasions, but didn’t. Even now, Hong Kong is hardly descending into anarchy (try Baltimore). Yet Beijing has (among many other things): used triad thugs and trashed the reputation of the local police; encouraged its nationals overseas to attack Hong Kong supporters; started messing with cross-border travellers; shrieked about foreign forces; and – most shockingly – bludgeoned a major airline into firing staff for political reasons.

Yes, they are paranoid about popular dissent crossing onto the Mainland. But these measures permanently damage China’s international image and lose it much of whatever goodwill and respect it previously had – just because of some demonstrations in one city (it’s not as if Taiwan declared independence). It is irrational to pay such a cost for something so small. It suggests a leadership that cannot analyze what is happening and does not think through its responses.

As Antony Dapiran says, Beijing is shooting itself in the foot, and inviting more decoupling from the Western world.

I declare the weekend open with a looooong selection of worthwhile links…

A Polish guy runs with Hong Kong protesters, and notices what residents don’t: how much activists utilize the city’s urban geography, especially malls and the MTR.

Ilaria Maria Sala on Hong Kong’s protest movement as a revolt against unrepresentative government, including its roots in heritage and environmental fights. Timothy McLaughlin on another of Beijing’s achievements: nurturing a distinct Hong Kong identity. Doom-laden commentary from Bloomberg suggesting that Beijing could resolve things if it can stomach some representative government – otherwise “military intervention … is how one of the world’s greatest new economy success stories will end”. Rich S on how the ‘if we burn, you burn with us’ slogan is a taunt to the CCP, ‘calling out on the bullshit’. And an interview with David Webb on the situation (podcast).

You’ve seen amazing Hong Kong protest graphic design – how about Mainland anti-protest artwork? Here’s a nice example. Since it’s Friday, we’ll give it a ‘5’ for draftsmanship. But it is conceptually annoying. First: note that the HK ‘baby’ does not age while in the care of the British foster parent, but starts growing after being returned to its mother (who has become younger, but is presumably rejuvenated post-1949). Second/Third: the objectionable ideas that China gave Hong Kong ‘gifts’/lavishing your child with tatty luxuries is a good thing. (Also lots of gender and patriarchy uncoolness, discussed here.)

From HK Free Press, how Asia’s finest became a branch of China’s security services, and why the government can shut up about protests damaging the economy.

The SCMP has done a series of in-depth features on the background to Hong Kong’s protest movement. A bit tepid, but not bad. The failure of government public-opinion monitoring since 1997, focusing on district bodies, but also mentioning the weakening of other advisory and consultation mechanisms. Why does Beijing get Hong Kong wrong? – a litany of intel-gathering bureaucracy screw-ups, though not much on the systemic problems of self-censorship of upward feedback in a dictatorship. And the CCP’s inability to convince Hong Kong young people to be patriotic. Answer the following question: What does the CCP have to offer young Hong Kong people? I’ll wait.

If you want serious doom-laden, try this. Some factual errors and iffy analysis (downplaying Beijing’s role in appointing the Hong Kong government and exaggerating tycoons’ clout) – so probably no need to take it literally. But that doesn’t mean the conclusions must be wrong…

A Chinese student in Australia explains the pro-CCP activists on campus.

Now look what you’ve done – naughty protesters scare Alibaba’s listing away. Time for another analysis of the company’s latest financials from deep-throat-ipo.

And if you have the time or inclination, the agonies of being Xi Jinping.

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22 Responses to Eats, shoots itself in foot and leaves

  1. Cassowary says:

    “But these measures permanently damage China’s international image and lose it much of whatever goodwill and respect it previously had – just because of some demonstrations in one city”

    This isn’t a miscalculation, it’s a middle finger. China now feels arrogant enough to stop caring what anyone thinks, it’s going to whatever the f**k it wants and the rest of the world can shut up and deal. I think you’re overestimating the value Xi and his buddies put on international goodwill.

  2. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    Paranoid Nationalists make great customers.

    I have opened a boutique shop which caters to triads and police, and we can’t keep our special gear in stock! Why, just this week we had large groups purchasing the ‘North Point Lucky Package’ (white t-shirt, face mask and wooden club), without even asking for the usual discount! The ‘Wumao Package’ (red t-shirt, English language dictionary and a Winnie-the-Pooh computer mouse), sold out in 5 hours! Amazing. All paid for in cash, one should add.

    I’ve got plans for a number of outlets all across the SAR, and I see our sales skyrocketing when we introduce such items as the ‘HK PoPo Blinders’ (put them on and you can’t see a thing!), ‘Funky Fujian Street Package’ (complete with a snakehead pin and empty Blue Girl beer bottles), and, of course, a loveable Carrie Lam squeeze doll with lifelike dull and medicated expression. (It won’t respond to your affection, so don’t waste your breath.) We’re still working out the details for the ‘Li Ka Shing Ever Fortune School Bag’, which will feature a printed message pleading for peace even as it swallows all of your possessions.

    Who says that the plucky Hong Kong spirit is dead?! Bring it on!

  3. Stanley Lieber says:

    @Cassowary

    Right on.

    There is scant evidence that Mr. Xi cares all that much about retaining Hong Kong as a functioning international financial centre or that he is averse to using force to quell Hong Kong’s social unrest.

    Indeed, it’s entirely possible that he sees political advantage in portraying himself as a hard man amongst his international peers and domestic opponents.

    His only calculation must be whether he will lose the mandate of heaven if he fails.

  4. Reactor #4 says:

    @Cassowary.

    Excellent. Finally, someone else who reads this blog who is beginning to get it. Almost all of the clever-dick analyses that people post on the site miss the point. China wants certain things to happen in HK and they will happen. Resistance is futile. Three options are available: (i) leave, (ii) get with the programme, (iii) stay but spend your life bashing your head against the wall fighting the system (possibly inside a jail cell). The choice is yours.

  5. Big Al says:

    Well, as soon as the “miracle” Chinese economy falters – as it inevitably will – and the house of cards comes crashing down, the CCP will find that it no longer has the upper hand on the international stage. All the countries and corporations that it has pissed off over the years (e.g. South China Sea nations, Cathay Pacific, etc.) will be queuing up to give it a good kicking. I will enjoy watching that spectacle if I’m still around …

    And speaking of getting a good kicking, I doubt Carrie’s retirement in the South of England will work out as planned. I’m sure that she will have no option but to join all the other former CEs (who haven’t done gaol time) as a Vice-chairman of the CPPCC, in itself a fate worse than a fate worse than death. No more than she deserves.

  6. Real Fax Paper says:

    @Cassowary … and as corollary, Xi and his buddies are seriously underestimating its value, to them too. The CCP has decades of experience in enjoying little to no serious international pushback. I don’t think they are at all equipped to deal with a world that not only stops giving in to their tantrums, but increasingly sees each new tantrum as further good reason to push back.

    Granted, it wasn’t goodwill so much as self-interested and greedy looking the other way, perhaps, but whatever it was, Beijing is torching it now.

  7. Cassowary says:

    @Stanley: I reckon the CCP cares about leaving enough of Hong Kong intact to function as an international conduit for its vast sums of money.

    I think they’re pushing to see just how much they can get the rest of the world to shut up and deal. As evidenced by the major banks lining up to support the government, plead for an end to the protests, and probably soon sack employees for Facebook opinions, it seems to be working well enough for them.

  8. Chinese Netizen says:

    Answer the following question: What does the CCP have to offer young Hong Kong people? I’ll wait.

    A: A chance at a wealth generating (income vs. salary) civil service career? Or is that mainland only?

  9. Chinese Netizen says:

    @HK Hibernian: The Wumao package couldn’t be paid for in cash as all the dipshits now running around live their lives by QR codes and phone swiping…

  10. Knownot says:

    Hong Kong Hibernian –
    Very good.

  11. It’s the stupid, economy says:

    @Cassowary

    Last year, you’d have been bang on the money. But the orange infant’s pyrrhic trade war and China’s LGLV trust crisis has somewhat shaken the politburo, dampening their general “Janice from accounts don’t give a f**k” swagger, because they need them dollar bills, yo. And the one place they can still get their sticky hands on hard currency without too much of that messy regulatory oversight is Hong Kong.

    So the CCP are a bit more reticent than usual to stomp on world opinion by destroying Hong Kong on two counts. The sabre rattling and jingoistic bluff bravado will continue unabated, but it’s more of a facade than usual. That’s not to say they won’t burn the whole show down if it becomes a realistic threat to their existence: just that there’s a might more caution than usual.

  12. Mark Bradley says:

    I hope you are right “it’s the stupid, economy”

  13. Cassowary says:

    For most of us this isn’t some plush retirement village, this is our home and we can’t leave. These kids would rather go down fighting than “get with the programme”, as you put it. They are fighting for their dignity, but you wouldn’t understand that if you never had any to begin with.

    @ It’s the stupid, economy:
    I think they want to avoid the economic repercussions of mowing us down in the streets, but they will amp up less dramatic methods of repression because if there’s no body count, the international media will eventually lose interest. My guess is that they would rather have the bad press on their 70th anniversary than offer any kind of concession. After riling up their domestic audience, they cannot be seen caving to the “terrorists”.

  14. Clucks Defiance says:

    Couple of days ago I went to meet my cabin crew better half (not a HK airline, so this missive should be safe) off her flight from London. Alighting from the Airport Express we were all herded into a funnel for document and boarding pass checks etc. Wanting to head to Arrivals I had no documentation, and was told Arrivals was closed. and I should go back to whence I came (Tsing Yi). Nevertheless, armed as I was with a persuasive 4-year old boy who was determined to meet his mum at all costs, the security guard relented and let us through while no-one was watching.

    In the (almost) deserted Arrivals hall we were treated to Carrie’s secret weapon to heal the community.

    A dozen singers / dancers- looking remarkably like Disney cast members in civvies – wandering the length of the hall, in group karaoke style, singing rather well to a music track being wheeled behind them on an airport trolley.

    We were serenaded with “What a Wonderful World” and “Heal the World” before they wandered off down the hall, smiling, waving and generally cheering up an audience primarily comprised of a handful of airport workers, idle retail / restaurant staff, hotel guest greeters, myself, my son, and another lady and her young daughter who had also successfully run the gauntlet getting off the Airport Express to make it to the greetings area.

    Our tax dollars at work….bless!

    p.s. there was one little old cleaning lady working industriously with a cleaning cloth removing grime from between the slats of wooden benches. Unlikely there will be another opportunity to get that done for a few years!

  15. Stanley Lieber says:

    @Cassowary

    The financial industry greed-heads will stay as long as their families are safe and they can make a buck, but the day a couple of their senior executives get lifted and brought to the mainland to face trial there for a trumped-up “economic crime”, or a blatantly political decision is handed down on a commercial dispute with a mainland entity in a Hong Kong court, then it’s going to be lights out and Katie bar the door, IMO.

  16. loveHK says:

    How do you find these articles?! Not to gush, but huge fan. Read your blog often and appreciate hearing from someone (thoughtful) who knows the history, the various personas and factions explaining it all and linking what’s happening now to what has happened before.

  17. Mary Melville says:

    Copied from http://www.dimsumdaily.hk
    24th August 2019 – (Hong Kong) Protesters toppled one multifunctional smart lamppost and damaged 5 more. Each of this lamppost cost around HK$2.3m.
    After removing parts from the smart lamppost , protesters confirmed that it contained similar ones used in the mass surveillance system in Uyghur. In Xinjiang, the system is used to monitor people’s movements by tracing their phones, vehicles, and ID cards. It keeps track of people’s use of electricity and gas stations. Human Rights Watch found that the system and some of the region’s checkpoints work together to form a series of invisible or virtual fences.

    The following are the parts found from the lamppost:
    1)Industrial Ethernet Switch – IE 1000-8P2S-LM
    Manufacturer: Cisco (USA)
    Origin: China
    * Awarded “Network Access License” by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, meaning the equipment can be connected to China’s domestic public telecommunications network, and the most commonly used “parallel” networking products for sale in the Mainland.
    2) Bluetooth Locator – SPLD01
    Manufacturer: TickTack Tech (Shanghai)
    Origin: Unknown
    *TickTacck Tech is a subsidiary of Shanghai Three Ideas Light, namely China Skynet Engineering Contractor
    (self-awareness artificial intelligence system)
    3) Battery – HEP-320-24A/HEP-185-24A
    Manufacturer: Mean Well (Taiwan)
    Origin: China
    4) Wi-Fi Access Point – E510
    Manufacturer: Ruckus (USA)
    Origin: China
    5)Wireless Router Single Frequency (2.4 GHz) Fast Ethernet 3G 4G – MAX BR1 Mini
    Manufacturer: Peplink; subsidiary of Tsuen Wan Technology (Hong Kong)
    Origin: China
    *With CSL SIM card
    6) 1000Mbps Multi-Mode Rugged SFP – GLC-SX-MM-RGD
    Manufacturer: Cisco (USA)
    Origin: China

    “I can only conclude that the Smart lampposts can detect the followings:
    1. Bluetooth MAC address of your smart devices, Smartphone, tablet, notebook, BT headphone/ earphone … … any devices with BT connectivity that is turned on (and especially with searchable on);
    2. WiFi MAC address – similar to 1., any devices with WiFi on;
    3.RFID scanner – carrying any RFID including the new ID card and even Octopus card or other “credit cards” or “point cards” or “door key tags” with RFID (e.g. Visa payWave、Mastercard contactless) can be a victim of this feature;
    4. high-resolution surveillance cam that may have face recognition capability;
    any of these can be used to confirm that you were there at the time.
    N.B. MOST PEOPLE FORGET THAT THEIR CREDIT CARDS MAY ALSO HAVE RFID. Put all your Octoplus cards, credit cards, new ID card, smart key (door or car keys) in RFID shield.
    T3 is a company in cooperation with CUHK in the development of the smart-lamp-poles: I can still access it’s facebook page on this coorporation 2 hours ago, and no more now.
    Likely a PRC professor + a fake Hong Kong Company + using Hong Kong’s public money and is delveoping a smart surveillance lamp-pole for PRC’s commies. ”

    Where can we buy RFID shield????????

    AND FOR SOME LIGHT RELIEF
    24th August 2019 – (Hong Kong) Netizens continued to question the authenticity of the court order granted by the MTR corporation yesterday as the word ‘High’ was misspelt as ‘HIGHT’. The seal of the court injunction issued to the Airport Authority was compared side by side with the seal of the court injunction issued to MTR Corp yesterday. The word ‘High’ was found to be correct on the court injunction issued to Airport Authority.

    SO MTR AFTER FAKING ALL THOSE ENGINEERING REPORTS IS NOW GOING ALL OUT

  18. @Mary Melville – I’ve seen RFID shields in some luggage shops or the luggage section of department stores.

  19. Reactor #4 says:

    Aside from handicapped badger bating, where both the dog and the badger have one of their forelimbs tightly strapped to the backs of their necks prior to being injected with cocaine before being let lose, you cannot beat a Han on Han scrap. Johnny Kong must be turning in his grave.

  20. Cassowary says:

    @Private Beach: Several layers of aluminium foil work just as well. You just need something thick and metallic.

  21. Big Al says:

    … like Edward YAU?

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