As well as all the more overt and forceful signs that the Hong Kong Police are under Mainland direction, there’s the force’s absolute refusal to admit any kind of error or misjudgment.
Yesterday’s shooting of a teenage protester could, in theory, be an opportunity to show some leadership and at least acknowledge the possibility of a less stupid and belligerent approach to protests. Instead, Commissioner Lo digs his heels in and declares the shooting ‘legal and reasonable’.
No hint of any doubts about the de facto banning of marches, the closure of much of the transport system, the splitting of cops into small and outnumbered groups, the apparent mental-health problems of many frontline officers, the bizarre running-into-each-other-and-falling-over routine, the all-too obvious fact that the cops are creating far more violence than they are suppressing – or that, with the Extradition Bill long forgotten, they have become the primary object of popular anger.
Nor does whoever is in authority want to consider that the Hong Kong Police have managed to further reduce the local government’s legitimacy (which you wouldn’t have thought was possible – but they managed it). Or that the cops’ counterproductive tactics have elevated Hong Kong to one of Beijing’s biggest global image problems (again, no mean feat).
With the October 1 National Day behind us, will Beijing now get its act together and decide what it wants to do with Hong Kong?
The smart thing to do (as with the police) would be to change tone and indicate at least some willingness to address Hong Kong’s real problem: the collapse of public confidence in the very institution of local administration.
While you ponder how likely that is, enjoy the Hong Kong float from yesterday’s National Day parade in Beijing: an absurdly over-repulsive-looking ship ‘symbolizing how the city is constantly moving forward in development and progress’, manned by press-ganged artistes from the (government-funded) City Contemporary Dance Company.