What an ‘impossible’ independent inquiry means

Buzzfeed News gets hold of MTR reports to transport officials on service interruptions, and – surprise, surprise – the rail operator has been shutting stations at the request of the Hong Kong Police to make citizens’ lives difficult. (Reports here.)

The police, rather than ending Hong Kong’s protests, have replaced the extradition bill as the biggest and most pressing cause of anti-government sentiment. But they are also a symbol, perhaps example, of the underlying problem: Beijing’s increasingly direct and oppressive role in Hong Kong.

The Beijing-friendly SCMP today gingerly supports an independent inquiry into the police as the only way forward. Mary Hui at Quartz asks why the HKPF seem untouchable and adds some comments in a Twitter thread, including the question of whether the HK government really has ultimate authority over the force.

Some establishment insiders claim that the government is resisting an independent inquiry for fear of damaging police morale, or even (reading between the lines) provoking a mutiny. Meanwhile, the government seems curiously unalarmed by the recent police discovery of a Glock pistol and ammo and an apparent nail-bomb-making operation – events that should at least prompt public anti-terrorist alerts and other contingency plans. The impression is that civilian officials do not take the seizures of weapons seriously (ie, the cops planted them).

This all suggests that the HK Police are in practice somehow now under Beijing’s guidance and protection. If so, to the CCP, a genuine independent inquiry into the force would be an intrusion and challenge to its own power. In which case it obviously cannot happen.

I declare the weekend open with more-riveting-than-average links…

A tale of two sieges: HK Free Press talks to protesters who escaped from Poly U when it was surrounded by the police; and an account covering the time a few dozen folk blockaded Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s dismal ‘dialogue’ session for hours…

Her bumbling radicalized a famously apolitical city, destroyed the Hong Kong police force, and welded an amorphous and diverse set of interests into something like a national identity.

Merics sums up the state of things now

The impression is left of a government that is out of touch with the population, unable or unwilling to represent Hong Kong’s interests against China and, most of all, without a game plan… The Chinese authorities … seem to have little interest in a genuine understanding of Hong Kong or finding ways to allay the apprehensions about China among large sections of the population.

Also from HKFP, more on how female frontliners confound the HK Canto-princess bimbo stereotype.

The big impressionistic report from the (much-bitched-about at the time) writer Jiayang Fan New Yorker parachuted in for the protests over the summer.

The SCMP runs a column by a self-described ‘expat’ editor on why he supports the protests. Not the most raunchy writing on the subject, but surprising to see it at all.

The (apparently) first big academic survey of Hongkongers on the protest movement, bursting with interesting statistics (I expect).

Simon Cartledge on Hong Kong’s economic stagnation since the handover. Comparisons with Shenzhen are futile (the city wouldn’t exist without Hong Kong or CCP Internet censorship). But the post-1997 administrations’ short-termism, laziness, self-indulgence, cronyism and distortion of the local economy – and the power structure that enabled them – are inextricably linked with the situation today.

For cartoon fans, from LIHKG, a LinPig for every district in Hong Kong.

A tabloid view of Beijing’s predicament in Hong Kong from the somewhat excitable (but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong) Gordon Chang.

The Diplomat on China’s problems arising from its increasingly wearisome victimhood/nationalist freak-out thing.

Reuters on how its own distributor censors its Hong Kong and other coverage.

If you’ve got nothing to do next week – the CCP Watch 2019 Report, pondering ‘The evolution of elite economic priorities’ and asking such questions as ‘Can tighter cadre control produce better governance?’

More on Chinese netizens turning against Huawei, and a deeper analysis of this phenomenon as a sign of growing disaffection among China’s non-elites.

On the subject of growing disaffection, Merics looks at grassroots opposition in Belt and Road countries.

And a public health warning: keep away from Chinese quack pseudo-science ‘medicine’.

To mark the UK election: 12 people and things that ruined British politics.

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7 Responses to What an ‘impossible’ independent inquiry means

  1. Reactor #4 says:

    If the MTR, which is government controlled, hadn’t followed Police requests, surely it have been complicit in aiding the rioter activity?

    During the initially disturbances, the Police didn’t enter the MTR properties (e.g. Sheung Wan in Round #2 or #3), thus is was like a glorified game of “tig-on-high” where if you can get yourself into a certain physical position you were safe (e.g. off the ground by clasping onto railings/into the portal of an underground station). I thought it was nuts. It was like some cretinous computer game involving battles for a magic kingdom.

    To this end, when the “rules” were reassessed, I took great delight (close to origamic) in watching the Police’s Athlon team pummel a dozen or so shouty-louties on one of the escalators in one of the Island Line stations (?North Point).

    Anyway, that is how I see the situation.

  2. It’s hard to take seriously any list of “people and things that ruined British politics” which doesn’t include Margaret Thatcher. Her economic legacy laid the foundation for the massively unequal distribution of wealth which in turn underlies Brexit – and which will only get worse under Prime Monster Boris Johnson.

  3. reductio says:


    Not sure about that last link:

    “The NHS has not only distorted rational debate about health and social care, it has become the institution by which a delusional Britain sees itself as a cut above the United States, its free-market fellow traveler.”

    What’s delusional about trying to provide decent health care for all? Just about anything is a cut above the bloated, money-grubbing, I’m-alright-Jack US system.

  4. Is origamic delight when you fold up in ecstasy? And what does it say about your character if the sight of people being beaten up gives you such a thrill?

  5. Cassowary says:

    @reductio: Health care is one area where the US and mainland China have more in common than either would like to admit. The Mainland version just has more outright fraud and fist fights.

    @Private Beach: And this is the guy who likes to call other people infantile. Pfffffft.

  6. Mun Dane says:

    Politico really needs to get its commentators to do a smidgen more research before stepping outside the US political scene doesn’t it. Embarrassed themselves there. As mentioned above, no Thatcher. Also no mention of the much stronger anti Semitic attitudes in the Conservative party. And where is Eaton College. I mean, most of the responsibility for Great Britain’s current shit storm falls right on the front steps of that privileged, rotting edifice.

    And of course Mr Varadarajan will have a shot at the NHS, a public health system is anathema to a think tank like the Hoover Institution.

    I could go on but the impending pleasure of some seasonal drinks and intelligent conversation drag me away.

  7. Guest says:

    @reductio: Amen.

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