While Beijing dithers over what to do, Hong Kong people can entertain themselves with the sight of their ‘government’ and its supporters wallowing in their own cluelessness.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung repeats the banal bleating about listening to the people. He stresses that the photo-opportunities at which officials plan to meet the peasants should not be seen as a PR stunt. Such hackneyed and unconvincing charades would have been insulting even before this crisis; now, after years of bad governance have blown up in the administration’s face, some bureaucrat comes up with this brainwave. The community is indeed looking forward to these Neighbourhood Warm-and-Cuddly Dialogue Fun Days. The ministers will have to meet the hand-picked commoners behind huge water-filled barriers and rows of riot-police, just to get back to their chauffeur-driven limos without being lynched.
Cheung, who almost triggered a police mutiny when he expressed shock at the Yuen Long MTR triad attack, is a bit predictable. For serious wackiness, we turn to Executive Council member Fanny Law, who regales RTHK listeners with her lurid fantasy about teenage ‘comfort girls’ servicing burly, virile rioters on the barricades amid swirls of tear gas. Is she saying this because CCP propagandists told her to? Or did the 66-year-old, breathlessly dabbing the sweat from her brow in the studio, actually believe it?
Back on Planet Earth, Fitch Ratings gives Hong Kong a downgrade. This is dry stuff, but the first two main opening paragraphs are worth a careful look. Key phrases…
Hong Kong’s conflict and violence are testing the perimeters and pliability of the “one country, two systems” framework … Hong Kong’s [growing linkages with the Mainland] imply continued integration into China’s national governance system, which will present greater institutional and regulatory challenges over time. In Fitch’s view, these developments are consistent with a narrowing of the sovereign rating differential between Hong Kong and mainland China…
Ongoing events have also inflicted long-lasting damage to international perceptions of the quality and effectiveness of Hong Kong’s governance system and rule of law, and have called into question the stability and dynamism of its business environment.
Reading between the lines: Mainlandization (as a reaction to public discontent) is going to damage Hong Kong’s integrity as a business centre; certain events (which, unless they mean Carrie Lam’s hair issues, must refer to politicization of the police, Beijing’s bullying of Cathay Pacific) are specifically going to screw the place from investors’ point of view.
Fitch are not blaming the protests or protestors – but Beijing’s response. The local administration is superficially dismissive, and most likely seething.