As if it does not already look ridiculous enough, the Hong Kong government is to ban face masks.
This sounds staggeringly desperate, like the sort of thing some banana-republic dictator would do after renaming the capital city after his mother. And heaven knows how they will enforce it. (Will the police raise a banner saying ‘Remove masks or we start arresting’?)
Presumably, the idea comes under pressure from Beijing, whose local minions were recently rolled out to demand such a ban. The Mainland officials are probably less interested in whether protesters cover their faces than in the precedent it sets by using sweeping emergency powers legislation dating to 1922. That law supposedly allows the authorities to do pretty much anything – ordering curfews, arrests, censorship, property seizures, whipping posts, and whatever. As one pro-democrat puts it, the government likely won’t be able to resist the temptation.
The administration is admitting defeat, though perhaps it hasn’t noticed.
I declare the long weekend open with – naturally – a fashion-spread on the masks of Hong Kong.
Ryan Ho Kilpatrick on how Hong Kong has turned from fighting Beijing to fighting the police (which is kinda convenient for Beijing, you might think).
HK Free Press on how the police relaxed their guidelines on using force the day before they shot an 18-year old. It’s only a matter of time before they kill – then what sort of reception will the cops get in Taikoo Shing? (Interestingly, the SCMP can’t bring itself to use its usual description of ‘radicals’ to describe the neighbourhood’s famously middle-class residents who were protesting.)
Some useful advice on why it’s so easy to make your own MTR signage. (Another tip: check for typos – the font is Adobe Myriad Pro, though ‘Myraid’ might sound more appropriate under the circumstances.)
The Guardian on the culture clash between Hong Kong and China…
Reflecting their Marxist-Leninist perspective, Chinese officials see material issues as the only solution … They would rather not touch the “superstructure” of ideology, political institutions and the state authority, says Wu Qiang, a former politics lecturer at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University. “They’re not willing to use political solutions or democratic dialogue to resolve problems … They don’t understand Hong Kong.”
An AFP correspondent tells how he thought his Hong Kong posting was going to be dull and was wrong…
It’s clear that in the long run Beijing is fed up with Hong Kong and will be determined to find ways to lance what it sees as an increasingly frustrating democratic boil on its otherwise authoritarian body.
The Cartoonists’ Rights Network International award for courage goes to Badiucao.
Atlantic looks at how Hong Kong is winning the international public-opinion war. Natural brilliance and good looks, obviously, but a loathsome oppressor also helps…
“The most basic weakness of the external communications of the Chinese party-state is the fact that foreign audiences, and their values and interests, are never truly considered,” David Bandurski, co-director of the China Media Project, told me. “Sure, the messages are directed at foreigners, but the language is still the internal and insular language of the party-state.”
And for demographics nerds, an in-depth thing on China’s aging society (short version: they’re pretty much screwed).
Lastly, on the subject of Badiucao – did Duane Allman create the Hong Kong ‘Lennon Wall’ flag design back in the early 70s?