Carrie to be ousted by corruption frame-up? Place your bets

This Bloomberg chart shows how Carrie Lam’s approval ratings have plunged. But it’s out of date – she has now hit 17%. My MS Paint rejig is about right.

In the absence of a functioning Hong Kong government, the Chinese Communist Party is determined to see how well Mainland-style intimidation and thuggery will work in a free society. Two Hong Kong protest organizers, Jimmy Sham and Max Chung, were attacked on the street in separate incidents yesterday. Andy Chan (formerly of the now-banned HK National Party) was arrested at the airport last night. And police bundled Joshua Wong into an unmarked vehicle this morning. (Update: now Agnes Chow, too.)

For the ‘good cop’ side of the routine, they are putting more pressure on Cathay Pacific and other companies and schools to spread fear among their staff; they are also engineering vague (and, to most rational people, scarcely credible) threats that military units are prepared to move in, and the authorities might use emergency powers to censor the Internet.

It all looks calculated to provoke a bigger turnout at tomorrow’s (non-authorized, Chater Garden 3pm) assembly in Central, and further strengthen broad anti-government sentiment. To people in free societies, the most logical explanation is that Beijing is deliberately creating a scenario that warrants military force. But to the control-obsessed CCP mindset, this multi-pronged crackdown is the only conceivable alternative to sending troops in. It is not so much sinister as farcical, and increasingly tragic.

The Washington Post struggles to make sense of a ‘Hong Kong government’ that mysteriously stands silent and motionless while the city (figuratively) burns. Some quotes in the article hint at the possibility (or fact) that Beijing has essentially suspended the administration, while pro-government figure Regina Ip says that concessions would encourage protests. A (venerable) rhyme from my childhood comes to mind…

As I was walking down the stair

I met a government that wasn’t there.

It wasn’t there again today.

I wish that government would go away!

Maybe, in its indecision, Beijing is just going to sweat it out until after the October 1 National Day. Either way, poor Carrie is being horribly set up. At some point Beijing will have to lose face – and it will deflect that onto the hapless Chief Scapegoat. A trumped-up corruption allegation, perhaps? The CCP are not original or subtle when it comes to these things.

I declare the weekend open with some worthwhile links.

Atlantic looks at how the CCP’s bullying forces Hong Kong companies ‘to do the dirty work to ensure that their staff don’t take part in the demonstrations’ and shows that Beijing ‘places political control over economic reason’.

New Yorker sees Hong Kong from Xi Jinping’s standpoint: ‘…a massacre reminiscent of Tiananmen would be almost incalculably costly’.

New Statesman adds to the buzz about 2019’s big urban geography story – the role of shopping malls in Hong Kong’s fight for democracy.

A quick Twitter thread on why the CIA isn’t behind Hong Kong protests. (Could this be the same CIA that manages agents in China so well that 20 of them were caught and executed eight years ago? Yes it could!)

A Comparativist academic analysis of Hong Kong’s protests

From [the June 16 mega-march] forward, the movement was no longer about the bill itself but the structural contexts that got us in the situation in the first place: an unelected, unresponsive, illegitimate, and reviled HKSAR government that now responded with excessive force whenever activists showed signs of doing anything more than march along designated routes or gathering in parks.

Chinafile explains that not all Mainlanders believe Beijing’s line on Hong Kong.

For anyone hadn’t guessed, Inkstone says Hong Kong’s example is pushing Taiwan even further away from taking a One Country Two Systems arrangement seriously.

Al Jazeera asks if China can accept Hong Kong’s unique identity. To give us a clue, the Globe and Mail looks at the CCP’s thing about forced confessions, which reflects…

…the inability of the Communist Party to tolerate any independent voices … They can’t live with a plurality of opinions, so they are obsessed with censoring everything – and with putting words into people’s mouths.

For fans of rail, logistics and murk, Panda Paw, Dragon Claw reports all you want to know about the empty trains on Belt-and-Road trans-Eurasian routes, down to financing arrangements involving the likes of HNA and CEFC.

A history professor’s YouTube series asks How much of China is really China? If you’re in a hurry, fast-forward to 14.08 (oh, go on) for the essential two-sentence summary. If you have time, check the guy’s other talks on Mongols, Greeks, the lot.

And more Hong Kong protest artwork – from ‘hellowong’. Maybe just me, but this could be one of the best yet.

And lastly, whatever happens in Hong Kong, at least we won’t have to suffer the delights of American cuisine. For gastronomes out there, this video takes 2 mins 20 secs, but seems more like a very hellish, nightmarish hour (I was looking away by the end): ‘It kept getting worse’.

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19 Responses to Carrie to be ousted by corruption frame-up? Place your bets

  1. Clucks Defiance says:

    Thanks for these great links every Friday. Browsing the Atlantic piece on CCP bullying of companies I was prompted to do a quick check on whether or not certain US government organs had removed Taiwan as a ‘country’ on their websites.

    The White House has eliminated Taiwan from its ‘Contact Us” form drop-down menu list of countries. But someone needs to dig a little deeper on the site – specifically in the jobs section. Lurking there is a drop-down menu titled “Country” that indeed still lists Taiwan as such. One assumes the White House welcomes applicants.

    Moving to the State Department ( a similar purging exercise has been undertaken, but again with limited success. If you are looking for a job in the US government, you can still find Taiwan labelled as a country by entering it in the “Location” search box here:

    The FBI deals with the issue on its online ‘Tips and Leads’ reporting form listing it as “Taiwan, Province of China”.

    The UK has a much more elegant solution to the whole problem. On its government websites that use pull-down menus with country listings it doesn’t use the word “Country” at all. In a diplomatic sleight-of-hand the problem has gone away by simply changing the nomenclature to “World Location”. Brilliant!

    Hope this is vaguely interesting. I clearly have way too much time on my hands….

  2. Links you says:


    A kind of pork sausage.

    The van is ready for you.

  3. Bagesty says:

    There’s only one practical solution for western companies fearing the red hand of peak Panda – stop making stuff in China, figure out how to make it somewhere else. In essence, ‘de-coupling’. Not great for HK, but I’m not sure the alternative is that great either.

  4. Cassowary says:

    Speaking of urban geography, now that the Saturday protest has been declared illegal, I expect the MTR will cut off the Tsim Sha Tsui to Admiralty link. Three quarters of Hong Kong’s population lives in Kowloon and the New Territories. They’re going to make it an absolute nightmare for people to get on and off the Island. If I were the dickhead in charge of the police, I’d station riot cops right around the Star Ferry Piers so that the media can get some nice footage of us chasing the protesters into the ocean.

  5. Cross says:

    @Cassowary Just imagine the international headlines tomorrow. Police Dickheads latest tactic: Water. Drown citizens in Victoria harbor.

  6. Chinese Netizen says:

    Nice research, Clucks. Obviously the UK Foreign Office IT guy studied Mandarin in the free, democratic nation of Taiwan and decided he preferred the 文明 Chinese folks over the mainlanders…which usually happens when one has spent any amount of time on that lovely island nation.

  7. This is Madness says:

    It’s very easy to understand what is happening in Hong Kong. You have an unelected leader preoccupied with passing a law outlawing mockery of the Chinese National anthem, building oversized bridges and high speed rail stations, fantasising about artificial islands and purging the local political landscape, instead of worrying about things like runaway real estate prices and the scarcity of public housing, cleaning up the horrific air quality, curtailing overcrowding caused by Mainland Bus tourists, fixing the overcrowded public healthcare system. Now dutifully brainstorming innovative techniques for subjugating the restless millennial mob. This won’t end well.

  8. Casira says:

    @Cassowary: Protesters can swim, I’m not so sure about riot police in full gear.

  9. Stephen says:

    If you add a wave of high profile arrests to a ban on a large scale mass march, what result are you likely to get ?

  10. Clucks Defiance says:

    @Casira @Cassowary @Cross

    I’m reminded of the comment from Bob Barker a couple of days back on this site. He suggested a new motto for the HKPF new motto:

    “The beatings will continue until morale improves”.

    An interesting turn of phrase with an equally interesting etymology.

    It is also the title of a song on a 2003 album from Murder By Death inspired by a story about the Devil wiping a small town off the map. Link here:

    The name of the album:

    “Who Will Survive and What Will be Left of Them?”

    Sort of sums up where we are right now between the party, the police and the protesters. As said above, this won’t end well…

  11. Penny says:

    I have heard that a secondary school had incoming Form 1 students practicing marching – Chinese jackboot style – for some hours at a recent overnight camp. I also heard that another school has informed its students that they all now have to join a uniformed group.

    I assume that this is at the instigation of the Education Department, presumably via an instruction to principals and headteachers.

    Does anyone else have any information about this?

  12. Cassowary says:

    @Casira: Riot cops don’t need to swim. They just need to make it difficult for other people to get out of the water without being arrested.

    @Cross: Imagine the People’s Daily headlines. “REVENGE OF THE DROWNED FLAG!”

  13. @Cassowary – why not chase the MTR bosses into the harbour instead? Much more constructive.

    For the benefit of any cops reading this, I am being facetious, not serious. (You can’t be too careful these days – though if Odious Ho can get away with publicly advocating murder, I don’t suppose they consider it a serious crime anyway.)

  14. Clucks Defiance says:

    I’ll take the jump clutching the flag. You take the photo. We’ll split the $1M bounty. Deal?

  15. Mary Melville says:

    On the bright side, all those empty hotel rooms will come in handy. Govt can lease them to house the growing number of detainees. According to
    Apart from 23 correctional institutions, there are three half-way houses and two custodial wards, which altogether accommodate about 8 200 persons.
    Even an early release for current inmates whose sentences are almost completed could hardly provide for the expected mass incarcerations to come.

  16. Mornington Crescent says:

    SCMP, 8.05 pm, 10/31/19: “Despite the first use of coloured dye today, Vicky believes the protesters will be able to find a solution and will not back down.”

    Young Vicky (patronizing tone, patronizing tone). Without doubt, this is THE quote of 2019.

  17. Joe Blow says:

    I propose that the PoPo transform the under-used Hong Kong Stadium to an internment camp, like the Japs used to do in old Shanghai. Spacious enough, many parts are covered in case of rain and the inmates can practice their marching skills (Chinese style, of course) around the pitch.
    In order not to cause noise pollution to the upper middle class neighborhood, beatings will be applied to miscreants. This will also build character. Win-win.

  18. Reader says:

    @ Clucks Defiance
    Thanks for the update on the Imperialist Satan’s (partial) kowtowing on the ‘Taiwan as a country’ issue.

    Back in the dawn days of the Interwebs, I assiduously and successfully reminded errant webmasters that Hong Kong deserved its own option on their lists, and Taiwan too.

    I hope that effort contributed to the (until recently) near-universality of such distinction, and slows the belated Panda rollback.

    PS. agree, huge props to the Brits for artfully changing the list head to ‘World location’.

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