Just before the Hong Kong government launched a public consultation on political reform in 2014, Beijing issued a de facto edict stating that there could be no meaningful political reform. In the following months, Hong Kong officials had to go through a drawn-out pretense of deliberations before finalizing a preordained proposal for an election system that was basically a scaled-up version of the existing rigged joke-poll that rubber-stamps Beijing’s choice of Chief Executive.
Now, on the eve of Carrie Lam’s Meet-the-Peasants Dialogue Platform, a member of China’s local Foreign Ministry office meets with the press to declare that there will be no more concessions to the city’s protest movement. He also says the 2014 joke-election package is all Beijing will ever allow, and whines like crazy about the US. (Full transcript of his remarks here.)
While one of the protesters’ demands (democracy) might come under Beijing’s jurisdiction, others (like an independent inquiry into the police) should in theory be up to the local administration to decide – but ‘One Country, Two Systems’ obviously means something different these days.
Carrie has in any case pulled the rug from under herself in a NY Times op-ed aimed at convincing a US audience that She Is Right and You Are Wrong (I haven’t wasted a free view on it, but link here).
Furthermore, she is including the hapless Lau Kong-wah in the Dialogue Platform line-up of scintillating and hip personalities with whom the natives will be allowed to share their views. Maybe this is an attempt to introduce a few laughs into an otherwise pointless exercise, or perhaps she is trying to additionally sabotage the events as a silent protest.
The police are preparing for clashes outside the venues. Hopefully, protesters will sense that the farce will undermine itself superbly, uninterrupted.
Another day of history in the making. What we are getting here is a close-up lesson in how the CCP’s only conceivable response to opposition is to bludgeon it – even where that further strengthens the resistance, and further corners Beijing in a more intractable mess.
In entertainment news: a Hong Kong property developer ‘donates’ farmland to be used for affordable housing. This is a classic semi-pre-emptive shoe-shine – a shameless and obsequious gesture aimed at appeasing a wrathful CCP hunting for scapegoats, while getting a head start on rival tycoon families who must now emulate the nauseating kowtow.
The Standard calls it ‘social conscience’. They mean ‘cowardly self-preservation’.