Carrie takes her punishment

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.

Here’s a blow-by-blow commentary on the big night, and a report from one of the audience.

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 Technology Review, the role of apps and videos in Hong Kong’s protest movement. And let’s not forget games: Hong Kong’s ‘revolution of our times’ enters World of Warcraft.

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.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Carrie takes her punishment

  1. reductio says:

    Great Friday links, as usual, but anyone else having difficulty with the LIHKG link? Surely the Heung Yee Crooks couldn’t have been that fast of the mark?

  2. MarkLane says:

    As I was reading the emigration article linked at the bottom of the post, I was a bit dumstruct to see the article referencing much, much lower average salaries in Taiwan as compared to Hong Kong. As I didn’t think the salaries could be that much different between the two (given Hong Kong’s already-low salaries), a very quick and minimal search resulted in this:

    “Salaries are generally significantly higher for skilled workers in Singapore (with a per capita annual income of about US$55,000 and a gini coefficient of 0.463), and lower in Taiwan (US$21,000 per capita, and a gini coefficient of 0.342), compared to Hong Kong (US$38,000 per capita, and a gini coefficient of 0.537). The cost of living in Hong Kong and Singapore are comparable, data is inconclusive, yet it is probably slightly higher in Singapore. In comparison, the cost of living in Taiwan is roughly half that of Hong Kong. However, for prospective long-term immigrants, Singapore offers a more efficient welfare scheme, in particular in terms of housing, whereas Taiwan’s is more comprehensive.” (Source:, 2015)

    USD $21,000 average per year, per skilled worker, in Taiwan!?! Even with lower housing costs and a lower cost of living, that’s kind of insane. My dreams of living in Taiwan may have to stay in the bedroom…

  3. Reactor #4 says:

    A large number of comments that were raised in “An Audience With Carrie” were that friggin’ stupid (yes, I do have access my own Cantonese translator, and a very nice, pert little one she is), it’s no wonder that Beijing won’t bestow upon us a Western-style democratic political system. If such a government-choosing mechanism is to be introduced (God forbid), I suggest that it be brought in over several centuries using the English-UK model as a guide.

  4. Din Dan Che says:

    Was whetting my lips for Heung Ye Kuk thread, but the long hand of the Great Firewall got their first, it seems – rather like their reach into BNP Paribas. Tragic that company boards are rolling over so eagerly when the ‘hurt feelings’ missives go out

  5. MarkLane says:


    Your old article as featured in Time Out, detailing the tycoons controlling the Hong Kong economy (and government), is truly a depressing read. Seems not much has changed since you wrote it in, what I’m guessing was, 2012-2013.

  6. ccpcookie says:

    Two things: About Taiwan. Everything in Taiwan is more than reasonably priced, so this salary number is not at all insane. It only looks insane to people who are living in a world that is horribly overpriced. You can live in Taiwan as a middle class and do very well on just a bit more than that number. Imagine that many are living with parents like they do in other cities, and cost of new home ownership doesn’t look ominous in Taiwan.

    And the second thing: Hong Kong is going to defeat the CCP.

  7. wherethepoonat says:

    My question is where was Alice Poon last night? She should have been given a front row seat. Also missing, Christine Loh. I would have invited them as observers, impartial, objective and very accurate ladies.

  8. Cassowary says:

    @Din Dan Che, reductio: Check out the Liber Research Community’s work on abuse of the small house policy.

  9. Mark Bradley says:

    “And the second thing: Hong Kong is going to defeat the CCP.”

    God I hope so. I was really heartened to hear Hemmers say that HK has the cretinous CCP over a barrel.

  10. reductio says:


    Thanks very much for the link, very illuminating.

  11. steve says:

    @Reactionary #4

    Your elitist/colonialist contempt for Hongkongers is depraved, and your sexist/racist contempt for Hong Kong women is just disgusting.

  12. M Anon says:

    An alternative explanation…

    Could this be Carrie’s way of bypassing Sai Wan and communicating the situation of ‘the masses’ in Hong Kong to BJ? Possibly at the request of BJ?

    The current crop of leaders in Beijing are mainly Leninists. Key Maoists (BXL, ZYK) have been purged/sent down or are invisible (JZM), with a few holdouts, e.g. propaganda dept, or Zhang DJ at SOHKMA.

    The key difference between Maoism and the Leninism isn’t the conception of society (Hegelian dialectic between economic classes and ideologies, and historically inevitable class conflict), but the role of the party state. Leninists believe the role of the party-state is to manage existing conflicts and shape them through the control of information, and by extension ideology, to assist and support meeting centrally planned policy goals. Maoists believe that the party should initiate and amplify these conflicts constantly, as a perpetual state of violent conflict between the masses and state appointed enemies is necessary ‘to progress the glorious (yet ephemereal) revolution’. The more mass violent confrontation the better for these dudes, e.g. the GLF, CR, Fallen Gong.

    Based on the history of the protests this year, who do you think is running Sai Wan and built the UF in Hong Kong after the handover? A Maoist perhaps? Does the name Zeng QH ring any bells? Zeng QH is JZM’ s political strategist, who built China’s control structure (police, triads, tycoons and the kuk) post handover.

    The problem with hubris is you start to believe your own bullshit. One wouldn’t be surprised by conversations in BJ around the numbers in the protest –

    “well, it’s only 2 million people in the streets, we need to get the silent majority fired up, all those country luvvin patriots, get them to turn against the protests, fight them as enemies, etc etc”

    “Ok, well let’s look at the short term tools we have – bribey and violence? Sound good?”

    “Yes if we make the protesters look violent and anti-nationalist, they may lose support in Hong Kong, and it plays well in China. Let’s also give the masses some freebies, Chinese are hardwired to love us if we throw gifts their way”

    …. 3 months later it is now established, in the public record, that a randomly chosen, statistically significant sample population of Hong Kongers are very angry at the state, not because they all want independence, but because of the evidently counter-productive violent and repressive tactics employed by the police and triads. You can bet the entire natsec apparatus in BJ was watching intently last night, with the SOHKMA affairs eunuchs shitting bricks while they contemplate terminal defenestration of their careers as influence networks.

    So, expect climb-down in the short run, some form of fake or managed inquiry into police tactics, and Lamb Curry disposed of and saddled with blame.

    Long to medium term

    – tycoons getting kicked in the teeth over and over will continue, until they tire and exit, with SOEs moving in on them with state backing. This is known by the tycoons – check net capital flows since July (and note this is not the first time our tycoon class has run away from the commies, but this time it will be financial paper assets moved well in advance, instead of gold sewn into clothing hemlines).

    – the entire legitimacy of the party state will be brought into question domestically, in particular the eliding of socialist/marxist ideology with state-corporatism and fascist practices. If XJP survives and gets to retire into the true authority of post-retirement backroom leadership, and if the party elite get serious about entrenching their wealth, expect political reform to be mentioned in the last year of XJP’s presidency.

    – Depending on the story over the border, geopolitics, duration of global economic slowdown, Hong Kong is either going to play a critical role in the forthcoming political liberalisation of China, or do a Singapore and become independent with critical life support infrastructure agreements with its former sovereign.

    The party elite, esp. 3rd+ gen are more like Hong Kongers then they are like their mainland brethren. Kids go to US universities. Wealth secured behind byzantine holding structures in multiple domiciles. What they want is a capitalist system with an illiberal bias, a la Singapore or the good ole US of A, where their first mover advantage and existing capital base allows them to be the 1% in perpetuity, with a nice meaningless facade democracy that advances their agenda irrespective of which party is voted in, or out.

    There will be many assymetric opportunities for grassroots interventions as this plays out. It cannot be discounted that the next big non-linear shift in how we structure society and it’s political economy, as a species, the next flowering of evolved human consciousness and the collapse of the existing coercive, dysfunctional status quo structures – is starting right here.

    If there is one overriding lesson from the last 200 years of Chinese history, it is this – Chinese imperial governments fuck with the Cantonese at their own peril.

  13. Reactor #4 says:


    It is, and always has been, all about resource acquisition. As it isn’t personal, how can feel guilty about the losers in the grand game I inadvertently find myself participating in? At this very instant, I feel incredibly alive. I thrive on mess.

  14. Mary Melville says:

    28 Sep [Ming Pao]: Carrie Lam: Studying Cancelling All District Council Elections if Poll Surrounded; Pro-Beijing Camp Meets CE, Calls for Anti-mask Law during Illegal Assembly
    More than 10 Pro-Beijing lawmakers met with CE Carrie Lam yesterday to discuss the anti-ELAB troubles. Sources say that the lawmakers were concerned over the fairness of the District Council elections set for November, some were worried that Pan-Democracy supporters would surround the polls…………
    So cut to the chase, they want the DC elections cancelled because they know they will lose seats if there is a fair and open election.
    Wheeling grannies to the polling stations is not going to work this time around as elderlies are showing they can no longer be relied on to give their vote for a free lunch.

  15. Knownot says:

    M Anon –

    I’m surprised no-one else has said it, so: Thank you.

    “So, expect climb-down in the short run, some form of fake or managed inquiry into police tactics, and Lamb Curry disposed of and saddled with blame.”

    Those three more or less desirable things: would they end the protests?

  16. dimuendo says:

    M Anon and Mary Melville

    Your respective posts are worthy of much wider dissemination than they will receive being confined to the esteemed

  17. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    #M Anon : thank you for the detailed view.

    #Mary Melville : yes, the fun continues!

Comments are closed.