Enter the Jasper

‘Jasper’ Tsang Yok-sing, elder statesman of Hong Kong’s CCP-front DAB, writes (in Chinese) in AM730 that foreign forces are not mounting a classic ‘color revolution’ in the city – their anti-China aims are more nuanced, owing to business interests here, etc. To the extent they are leveraging local influence, he says, it is only possible because Beijing has failed to win the people’s hearts and minds. The people have lost confidence in One Country Two Systems because of Beijing’s closer control, and are dissatisfied with local governance. He quotes Mao to support the principle that internal problems enable external interference.

Tsang has a habit of blithely side-stepping the official line and coming up with a sort of ‘common sense with CCP characteristics’. That’s to say, he totally supports the absorption of Hong Kong into the one-party state – he just gets annoyed that the Mainlanders are getting it all wrong and (from a loyalist’s viewpoint) making things worse.

While Beijing wonders what to do, the painful charade of the ‘Hong Kong government’ continues. Chief Executive Carrie Lam missed an opportunity to restore love and harmony following the recent period of calm. (That was the weekend before last – if you had a nap at the time, you’d have missed it.) Instead, she just sailed impassively along on auto-pilot, oblivious to the events around her.

It is indisputably eerie, and has prompted even the mildest-spoken among us to use such descriptions as ‘lobotomized’ and ‘zombie-like’. It is also enormously frustrating to many pro-establishment moderates (and more candid die-hards, like Tsang). Even if you accept (as you should) that Beijing’s officials have in effect relieved her and the administration of their posts, you still wonder how she can look so inert and lifeless. One theory is that it is a silent protest or cry for help.

The SCMP asks its style correspondent to find out whether Carrie’s fashion choice says more than she does. (Yes, silly question – a used Kleenex is more enlightening.)

On a darker note, an academic who knows all about non-violence and overthrowing oppressive regimes expresses concern about where Hong Kong is going. At this rate, someone’s going to get killed, and then we have martyrs, and a slide into long-term conflict. He warns of Northern Ireland 2.0.

Perhaps not a perfect parallel in terms of politics, culture and history (pro-democrats = Catholics/Republicans, pro-Beijing camp = Protestants/Unionists, and the PRC/PLA = UK/British forces). But in terms of intractability, it sounds all too believable.

The thread includes comments bemoaning the lack of figures who can connect the two camps (such a lack that Christine Loh gets a mention as a ‘Trojan horse reformer’).

This is a deliberate outcome of the CCP’s Leninist United Front philosophy: anyone who does not kowtow and obey is an enemy. Think how things could have turned out if moderates like Martin Lee had been allowed a role in government after 1997. Instead, the CCP has squeezed out everyone except a bunch of shoe-shiners and buffoons from having any input into local governance.

Would Tsang Yok-sing go for co-opting moderates? Actually, he prefers giving the Liaison Office a formal role in running Hong Kong directly – squeezing the shoe-shiners and buffoons out of the equation as well. This looks the least improbable long-term outcome.

For fantasy-fiction fans: Asia Sentinel concocts a possibly drug-induced, semi-genius scenario in which Tsang teams up with Carrie and boldly saves the day.  

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18 Responses to Enter the Jasper

  1. Boris Badanov says:

    Tsang would be an inspired choice. Informed, balanced and moderate. But is he trusted? Anyway Carrie and BJ are anything but inspired. So I don’t see this happening. They’ll continue to rely on their failed but known bag of tricks: denunciation, paranoid rants, trucking out the ghastly wax figures of useful idiots, patriotic education for insufficiently adoring HK youth, PLA displays of wolf warrior-style awesomeness, geeing up patriotic triads and fraternal associations to let loose in occasional Brownshirt style street thuggery and indoctrinating the police as the loyal foot soldiers of the party. Tsang would certainly not uproot the united front though – he’s a central figure in it. Just one who has a mind of his own, which is rare.

  2. Cassowary says:

    Too bad Beijing has about as much use for a lifelong devotee like Jasper Tsang as they do for any of their instant noodle patriots. The whole thing is that Beijing does not negotiate with anyone because it doesn’t recognize anyone’s influence besides its own as legitimate.

    Christine Loh (who was always more of a pragmatist than most people realize) has been reduced to arguing that like Thomas the Tank Engine, we must convince Beijing of how very useful we are, lest we be sent to the scrapyard. And we must learn to like it.

  3. Reactor #4 says:

    If some people occupying some far-flung pimple on the 4rse-end of their country want to beat themselves into mush over the words “dead” and “withdrawn”, then I say let them get on with it. Lots of non-natives concern themselves way too much with the situation. The fact is, things are beyond our control and only a highly restricted pool of voices can be heard. Outsiders proffering solutions and/or bellyaching will achieve nothing. As individuals we should instead focus on maximizing pleasure, satisfaction, security and wealth (as everyone else does elsewhere, including those Han outside of Hanland).

  4. Mary Melville says:

    Note that Tsang did not touch on the subject of how complicit his own party is in the bad governance. Its rubber stamping every proposal put through the district councils and Legco regardless of strong objections in the community has played its part in fomenting the current unrest. He should have resigned from DAB if he was genuinely concerned about maladministration and its impact on society.

  5. carrie's clothes horse says:

    Two things I keep thinking over the past week:

    1. Why has Alex Lo been given the column inches to spout nonsense about what the protestors want, why the police behave the way they do, and to warn us all that “someone is going to get killed?” The man is not on the ground and not at all aware of what is happening on the street. Has he interviewed a single source? Why allow this man a platform to spout invective and completely ignorant bullpoopy?

    2. Isn’t this all coming together the way Beijing wants it to? Carrie Lam seems to be using dialogue or really the lack of any public aspect of it to promote some kind of platform. Isn’t the platform just the CCP method of governing? Take notes, listen, and then pronounce some punitive long term strategy to limit personal freedom and civil liberties?

  6. Joe Blow says:

    Christine Loh’s pragmatism has never reached beyond the point of ‘how can I squeeze a nice juicy and well paid position out of this situation?’.

  7. MarkLane says:

    @Reactor #4 “The fact is, things are beyond our control and only a highly restricted pool of voices can be heard. Outsiders proffering solutions and/or bellyaching will achieve nothing. As individuals we should instead focus on maximizing pleasure, satisfaction, security and wealth (as everyone else does elsewhere, including those Han outside of Hanland).”

    In most heirarchies, the higher you go, the more likely you are to find sociopaths. You know, the kind of people who generally tend to maximize their own pleasure at the expense of others.

    It’s for the betterment of maximizing societal pleasure that these people are kept in check, and Hong Kong citizens are pretty astute in recognising that the CCP and pro-Beijing legislators–the ones at the top of the governing heirarchy in the two regions–are not working toward such maximization, and may indeed be working in the opposite direction.

    It would be silly if you were just talking about maximizing one’s own, personal, individual pleasure, as expanding such a concept across entire societies would lead to the exact situation that Hong Kong now faces, where sociopaths find it pleasureable to enact their desires upon those around them.

    In any case, I realise you were just being glib, as usual.

  8. Reactor #4 says:

    It’s a well established fact that humour is one of the most effective ways to beat sense into the rioting classes. To this end, Carrie Lam should consider knocking out a “Dead Extradition Bill” sketch. A Joshua Wong or Benny Tsai lookalike could play the foil – at appropriate points they’d parrot “Ah, but it’s not withdrawn”.

  9. Not my usual name says:

    Does anyone understand what Reactor #4 is trying to say? And who is a “non-native”? After four decades here, I feel much more native than the restricted pool of twats in the Liaison Office.

  10. Cassowary says:

    If Christine Loh merely wanted to be rich she would have stayed in banking. As a wealth maximization strategy, spending a decade running a non-profit in the hopes of being co-opted into the government is risky and highly inefficient. It wasn’t money she was after, it was policy influence. Always be careful what you wish for.

    At least the air quality improved somewhat. (That’s not made up, look up the historical data on the Hedley Index).

  11. In the Name of the Father says:

    N Ireland 2.0: Don’t forget the Boston mob–somebody has to do the gunrunning.

    This has the makings of a pleasantly diverting parlour game. You could play it with the Intifada 2.0, Sarajevo 2.0, Beirut 2.0, Mogadishu 2.0, the possibilities are almost inexhaustible. There could even be a deluxe edition, for proper toffs, featuring Carthage 2.0, the Defenestration of Prague 2.0 and the Boxer Rebellion 2.0. I would probably stick with Rio 2.0, with the rich partying on while the rest are crowded into a squalid favela where lawmen fear to tread, i.e. Kowloon Walled City 2.0.

  12. Joe Blow says:

    @Cassowary: apart from the fact that not everybody in ‘banking’ makes a glorious career out of it (I bet most don’t) , Christine Loh -once a progressive, liberal voice- was picked out of nowhere by 689 to fill a 3 million a year ‘desk job’ including an official car and driver plus the perks. Not only did she relish the opportunity, she became one of 689’s most ardent supporters, once seated in her plush office. Before, during and after Occupy Central, Christine buried herself in complete silence. She never made the slightest sound in support of Occupy and what it stood for. In the name of fairness I shall not bring up the awkward, embarrassing episode where Christine asked the BBC interviewer to ‘turn off that camera’ when it threatened to expose her incompetence.

    Little Christine with her cute round glasses, who loves to shop at Sogo in CWB btw, enjoyed her tenure under CY Leung so much that she got a taste of it. And now she wants more. And principles be damned. My guess is that she never had principles in the first place. It was, and is, always about Christine.

  13. Cassowary says:

    I’m not saying she didn’t compromise her values, I’m saying she compromised them for access rather than money. I think you’re underestimating the value of access to ambitious people – that’s worth far more to them than five years on a government salary plus a car. There’s money to be made in lots of places, there’s only access to power in one. Such people shut their mouths and bob along to madness because they want to be influential on the inside. See: just about every elected US Republican Senator who hasn’t died or quit in the last 3 years.

    Incidentally, Anthony Cheung took exactly the same career path. One of the founding members of the Democratic Party, left to found a think tank, became minister of Transport and Housing, accomplished bugger all. I’ve never heard you say diddly squat about him though.

  14. Reactor #4 says:

    @Cassowary (x 2) and Joe Blow (x 2)

    Am I missing something? Who is this Christine Loh person you talk about?

  15. Hermes says:

    @ Not my usual name – Who knows? Often in an excited state, possibly some control rods missing and experiencing a meltdown.

  16. Irritated Observer says:

    For the less savvy amongst us, https://www.google.com/ is a useful resource. Welcome to the 21st century.

    @Not my usual name
    Just the usual condescending insistence all of us should subscribe to the same values, while trying to make a Benny Tai reference.

  17. Irritated Observer says:

    @carrie’s clothes horse

    SCMP is owned by Alibaba, so their editorial line and invited columnists tend to tack to the rule by law camp. Allowing these types a platform while providing commendable reporting (before editing) is exactly the objective.

    Beijing would prefer not being put under the spotlight, hence violence does not suit their agenda. They would much prefer peaceful marches which they can ignore, or “the Hong Kong way” as I roughly remember Carrie Lam putting it earlier. “Dialogue”, like the extradition bill, is simply something else everyone but the government misunderstands. “Dialogue” is the Hong Kong government telling you why it will do what it wants to do while ignoring everything you say, as one of the traditional mechanisms they adore. Beats them why there are people on the street at all.

  18. Guest says:

    @Cassowary: Ronny Tong as well?

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