Last week’s Reuters scoop about Beijing taking control of Hong Kong’s local administration, helpfully confirmed by Global Times, suggests that someone high-up in the city’s establishment is trying to put some distance between themselves and the national government. Reuters now follow up with another exclusive: Carrie Lam really is, as most of us suspect, trapped, unable to get her hair done and close to slashing her wrists in despair.
Here’s the audio from a gathering with a group of businessmen a week or so ago. She admits fault and a wish to resign. She says (and apparently believes) that Beijing will let the unrest in Hong Kong continue through October 1 – no deadline, no PLA, no concessions. Most of all, it’s a ‘national security’ issue, so out of her hands. ‘They’ (as she refers to Beijing several times) are mindful of international opinion, but will let this drag on for as long as it takes regardless of the costs to IPOs and tourism (a threat, not a promise, to this audience).
While she sounds fairly candid by her emotionally detached standards, she remembers to plug the Greater Bay Area. If she expressed any empathy for the people of Hong Kong, it doesn’t appear on these clips. On the other hand, she does convey (you may feel) the classic underlying Hong Kong-bureaucrat tone of contempt, as if to suggest that all 7 million of you have brought this on yourselves and you can all rot, see if I care.
But we are, perhaps, being Hong Kong-centric here. Maybe she really means ‘all 1.4 billion of you’.
So you’re not in charge, Carrie? OK, we believe you.
This new leak can be seen as a pre-emptive exposure of the impotence/non-culpability of the local administration whose top figures are being set up as scapegoats. It could, in theory, shock Beijing into accepting that the game is up and it needs to take ownership of the disastrous handling of the situation. Maybe even cut the Communist-dictatorship crap and use some common sense for a change. Alternatively, maybe such a feeble show of defiance by the local establishment nematodes will just annoy the CCP even more.