And so our visionary leaders try the latest ‘Tsuen Wan model’ mayhem-based solution to a citywide uprising provoked by 20 years’ atrocious governance and the creeping imposition of a one-party authoritarian regime: shutting down MTR stations, deploying the much hyped-up water cannon, having cops wave their .38 revolvers around – and of course yet more upon more tear gas. (Plus the platform for dialogue, maybe?)
One school of thought is that the Hong Kong authorities are trying to prove to their masters in Beijing how big and tough they are in order to dissuade the CCP from sending the troops in. Another theory is that Beijing and its local zombie-puppet administration are upping the mayhem as a pretext to deploy paramilitary forces.
A third hypothesis would be that Beijing is clueless about what to do and is wetting itself. Its threats are hollow, and its insistence that it won’t back down is bluster. If that’s the case, the Chinese leadership needs to deflect the blame and humiliation away from its infallible and exalted self with a nifty narrative about what was really happening.
For example, Beijing could arrest Carrie Lam and her cohorts for treason and put them on a show trial at which they admit full responsibility for sabotaging national sovereignty. Xi Jinping is supposedly a great fan of Joseph Stalin. And ultimately it is the Da Da derriere on the line here.
Meanwhile, how’s that October 1 deadline coming on? One SCMP column maintains that it is getting tighter, so the government really must make those oh-so-obvious-and-easy little concessions to get this mess wrapped up for the National Day festivities. Another suggests that Beijing is turning cool, calm and suave, and sneering about how We don’t need no stinking deadlines. Again, there is a third hypothesis – a petrified Panda pee-pee panic going on behind the scenes.
A story that seems to have slid by this weekend was that Carrie Lam’s Committee to Form a Committee told her to just withdraw the stinking bill and launch an independent investigation into the police, already, but she admitted that she couldn’t do those things. Couldn’t as in wasn’t allowed to.
Whether the obstacle is Beijing or our own vested interests, that is Hong Kong governance in a nutshell.
1. Observe problem
2. Rule out the one action that would solve the problem right off the bat.
3. Wring hands about how problem is so hard to solve
4. Accuse people advocating for the one obvious solution of being troublemakers and obstructionists
5. “Can’t we focus on livelihood issues?” in which “livelihood issues” means “trickle-down economics”.
6. Go back to step 1.
Live television allowed me to witness the water canon Mercedes approach, dalek-like (and sounding like one too), a wall of those red and white water-filled barricades placed in its path by protesters. The escorting police stormtroopers stood back as the canon spewed forth a jet of (one assumes) water to move the offending barrier out of the way. There was palpable anticipation, with officers standing back with pride to show off the awesome might of their latest toy.
Oh yes, the liquid sprayed forth – but to no avail. The dalek had failed to exterminate! The barrier remained in situ and it was eventually up to the brute force of a dozen or so shield-carrying troopers to shift the offending article out of the way so that they, and the Mercedes could proceed towards its first, more effective, and much more dramatic human drubbing.
I really didn’t expect to get Dr Who flashbacks – but the dalek-like voices emanating from within were something to behold, and hear! Lost on the kids, unfortunately…
Tammy Tam got my vote (unusually) with the observation that, if Beijing really had a plan – or even ambition – to close this all out by 1 October, it would have shown its hand by now. Like the rest of us, ‘commentatators’ don’t even claim to know where we’re going, but have jumped on the 1 Oct ‘deadline’ as a thing.
I tick the box for ‘petrified Panda pee-pee panic’.
Ridiculous…tying in a so called deadline of ending the “unrest” to the self ass kissing, self back slapping wonderfulness of a mere 70th birthday of the latest dynastic iteration.
Yes…only 70 years of existence as a “nation” in this WESTERN stylized form of oppressive dictatorship. Get over it CCP…you do NOT speak for thousands upon thousands of years of “Chinese civilisation” (and the attached stigmas of “humiliations” – other than what you bring upon yourselves).
@Clucks: Did the Mercedes tank then promptly illegally park with the driver hopping into a nearby chaa chan ting to pick up his wonton noodles??
Let’s count the ways that the CCP has–very publicly–entrenched itself in Hong Kong internal affairs. What am I missing here?
1. Militarily – Amassing a huge military presence across the boarder in Shenzhen. Allowing Triads from Fujian province to come to Hong Kong, in order to join their Triad brethern as they use violent force against otherwise peaceful protesters. Ramping up production of tear gas. Deploying Chinese police and para-military units into the front lines of the Hong Kong Police Force (supposedly).
2. Economic – Forcing the senior management of local companies to kowtow to Beijing, from adhering to the broader CCP propaganda campaign against the protest movement, all the way to the forced dismissal and/or resignations of company officials who do not take strong action against employees involved in the protest movement. Cathay Pacific, the MTR Corporation are the most obvious examples of this.
3. Public Relations – Formally requesting major news publications to take the government’s side and report the “truth”. Coordinating massive advertising campagins denigrating the movement and spreading false information on major platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc. Deploying vast armies of “wumao” / paid commenters to flood online news forums with anti-protest movement propaganda.
4. Digital – Deploying sophisticated teams of digital sleuths to break into major protest movement communication tools, such as Telegram. The installation of street-level surveillance apparatuses which can identify faces, telephone information, credit card information, etc. and which have been linked to the mass-surveillance systems used in concentration camps in Xinjiang. Investigating the phones, photos, social media accounts of all visitors travelling across the boarder into Shenzhen (and even if you don’t bring your phone, the authorities somehow already have photographic evidence of people who have attended rallies or protest events).
5. Political – Rejecting Carrie Lam’s repeated requests to resign (supposedly). Labeling Hong Kong protestors as “terrorists”.
6. Academic – Installing Beijing-friendly academics at the heads of major tertiary institutions, who allow police onto university campuses to investigate students engaging in legal activities.
7. Legal – Unlawfully kidnapping Hong Kong citizens in Hong Kong for activities legal in Hong Kong, and imprisioning them in Mainland China. See Hong Kong booksellers case from a few years back.
I stand by my assertion that Xi is in real trouble at home.
As of today, the protests/violence have gone on longer than Occupy in 2014.
I am hoping a toy version of the water cannon will soon become available. I’ll “use” it on my collection of plastic dinosaurs and Barbie Dolls.
@MarkLane – don’t forget the anthem and flag laws. The ongoing financial support for pro-Beijing parties, mainly the DAB. The LegCo oath-taking disqualifications and loyalty tests for election candidates. The HK National Party saga. The attempts to blur Hong Kong’s identity into the fictional Greater Bay Area thingie. And the gradual replacement of Cantonese with Mandarin (and downgrading of English) for official communication. The probable next step is the conversion of RTHK into a state propaganda organ (which will promptly lose most of its audience).
I loved the show of impotence by the big $27m squirty white elephants. Able to push a water filled barrier a whole half metre! Able to make a completely empty street slightly wetter! Worth every penny.
And as if that wasn’t funny enough, let’s discharge live rounds because we tried to be all gung ho but it didn’t work out for us at all and one of us dropped their gun! Then let’s scarper off to hide in a stairwell for twenty minutes looking rather sorry for ourselves as the nasty press shout questions at us about police procedure on firearms.
Asia’s finest, eh!? Colour me underwhelmed.
@Not my usual name (getting paranoid)
Very good recall! Although to your point about RTHK, I’ve only sporadically read its online version and listened to its radio news programme, but my thinking was it seemed pretty reasonable most of the time. Or, at least, I didn’t get the impression that it was veering into CCP propaganda territory.
Beijing’s actions seem to defined more by what they won’t do than what they will. They won’t send the military in to enforce martial law because of what it would do to Taiwan relations, and they won’t give a single concession because they’re afraid of looking weak. That leaves “beat heads until they get tired and give up” but each new debacle fuels the fire.
From their point of view that’s probably the least bad option. Just let Hong Kong go to hell for the foreseeable future and milk it for propaganda to shore up the base back home. They’re going to need all the mindless nationalism they can get to keep people from thinking too hard about the looming recession.
Yes, and “pretty reasonable” is precisely what enrages Beijing and its local minions. RTHK hasn’t been purged yet, but it’s been a united front target since before 1997. The volume has been turned up in the current environment.
I’m sure that toy water cannons will soon be on sale in the souvenir shop in Police HQ where you could also buy a Colonial Police doll and a truncheon to beat it with. But…
They might not let you out again…
@MarkLane and @Not my usual
Let’s not forget:
150, 150, 150, 150, 150, 150, 150 …