Carrie Lam’s Dialogue with the Riffraff Show was too bloody to be just a lame gimmick. Predictably, the lady stuck to robotic lines-to-take. But she also endured a ‘barrage of anger’ that showed – according to taste – that Hong Kong still undeniably has freedom of speech, or that the government is, incredibly, even worse at PR than everyone thought.
Are officials so out of touch that they never realized 80% of the population are smarter than they are and hate them? Or did Carrie cunningly calculate that this would force Beijing to see the intensity of the movement – or nudge them into finally letting her go?
Although there’s seems to be little point, more of these events are planned. It will be interesting to see whether they stick to this masochistic format. (The word among cynical activists is that the whole thing was a trick to make everyone feel better and not march on October 1.)
How did ‘seemed taken aback’ Carrie get through it? I can reveal a special Roman Catholic survival skill (they taught us at the convent) for unpleasant occasions: you just concentrate on how our Lord felt as he suffered in agony on the cross.
I declare the weekend open with the usual selection of fine reading matter …
Nottingham U’s Asia Dialogue asks how Beijing and its local proxies have managed to mess up the handling of Hong Kong so staggeringly…
We can only speculate why the authorities opted for such a dysfunctional approach on this occasion. Some have argued that it has to do with Beijing’s filter bubble and track record of misinterpreting Hong Kong. Others think that elite conflict is to blame. An alternative explanation is a dogmatic interpretation of events.
From that AFR link on elite conflict…
A pragmatic, sensible course of action – which would seek to find a way of defusing the situation through compromise, accommodation and dialogue – is not possible because of elite politics in Beijing. President Xi Jinping has many enemies who have been waiting years for him to slip so they can attack him. This is their moment.
Compromise would be seen as weakness and a vulnerability. This is one of the consequences of strongman political leadership. It closes off sensible options. The problem for Xi, and his opponents know it, is that he has no other option.
…because sending in the PLA would be a disaster. Thus the protest movement has the CCP over a barrel. Discuss.
Atlantic on Hong Kong’s greatest soft-power export for decades: student activists.
Which brings us to this week’s protest art: evolution of a protester and an amazing collage (click to enlarge). And a ‘thread of threads’ on Hong Kong resistance-movement creativity. Think a book divided into chapters, or a museum with galleries. Click to see whole sections on: myths; cats and dogs; variations of Delacroix’s Liberty; women; posters; ‘Glory to HK’; and the bauhinia.
From one app: translation of a LIHKG thread on how New Territories interests make huge money from the small house scam.
(Now Beijing’s scapegoat-hunt has turned to the property developers, Time Out has bumped up this old Hemlock article on the tycoons from 2012 – though they seem to have forgotten its authorship. Some Twitter users had tracked down the whole feature, including graphics, here.)
A summary of a Caixin report of senior CCP economics guy Huang Qifan on why China is destined to rule the world (pretty much) – the whole hubristic nationalistic fantasy, even creepier when stripped of the usual CCP officialese.
A huge paper on the United Front. For a bite-size item on the topic, CNN examines how the CCP/United Front are weaponizing ethnicity to influence politicians in democracies – in this case Gladys Liu/Australia. (Compare and contrast with how Muslims who win public office in the West are accused of/distance themselves from fundamentalism.)
The Diplomat on CCTV as not just a propaganda outlet, but a weapon of repression.
And for those planning an escape from all this, a look at how some Hongkongers are faring in Taiwan. In a nutshell: if you open a shop there, remember Taiwanese do not all have high purchasing power, are not living in high-density neighbourhoods with tons of foot traffic, and – even though they find the concept trendy – might not like authentic cha chaan teng dishes.