Carrie sleepwalks to Beijing

Losing count of the opportunities our leaders have had to do something… There was the Policy Address – a grand occasion on which the Chief Executive could announce attention-grabbing, earth-shattering radical initiatives, but didn’t. There was the District Council elections, which was the perfect reason (or excuse) for a major wake-up call that changes everything, but passed by unnoticed. And now Carrie Lam is making her annual high-profile photo-op/visit to China’s top leaders.

Chairman Xi Jinping lavishes implausible praise upon her. He also urges her to hurry up and quell Hong Kong’s violence, while forbidding any method but force to restore the local government’s legitimacy. Premier Li Keqiang brilliantly expresses the impossibility of this task through his renowned gift for emotional mime.

Back home, yet another frustrated and increasingly anxious business type says Hong Kong needs to ‘restart talks on universal suffrage’.

Phrasing is important here. ‘Restart talks’ implies that they began in the first place. ‘Universal suffrage’ is the wording Beijing insists on, as it allows for a system in which the CCP chooses the winner, and everyone has a vote in a subsequent ceremonial or rigged election that produces the required result. There is no point in going through that again – indeed, after 2019, it would be even more absurd.

It should also be clear after 2014 that the CCP’s Leninist outlook will not allow a democratic system that requires it to, in effect, share power with the people. (See also, while we’re at it, this piece on the recent District Council polls.) Under Chairman Xi Jinping, it is certainly not an option.

What is, theoretically, possible is the appointment by Beijing of a loyal Hong Kong administration with instructions to govern as if it had a mandate from the people, and were accountable to them (subject of course to paranoid-CCP ‘red lines’ like ceding the territory to the CIA). That way, the local government gains at least some legitimacy by delivering policies that are vaguely responsive to public opinion. And Beijing can (in theory) relax and stop trying so desperately to Mainlandize the place.

That look on Li’s face is not just because Carrie has that effect on people. The great news she will bring back from her annual work report/kowtow is that Beijing has no idea what to do.

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8 Responses to Carrie sleepwalks to Beijing

  1. Joe Blow says:

    Is there any news about The List Of Four ? Four secretaries (and I don’t mean the short-hand types) were listed to be replaced soon. I don’t give a rat’s ass who is going to be terminated (Lau Kong-wah would be nice, though) but I am mighty curious who would want to get any of those vacant jobs.

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    “Business in that area could be lost to regional rivals such as Singapore, Levesque said.” Well bravo to him for squeezing that little nugget in to keep the “rivalry” alive and well…

  3. Cassowary says:

    What would a government that governs as if it had a mandate from the people look like? The fun thing about having an illegitimate government is that it cannot so much as scratch its arse without sending up howls of outrage from some interest group or other.

    Build more housing? Depending on where they put it, they’ll either piss off the developers, the Heung Yee Kuk, the environmentalists, or NIMBYs. Hire more doctors from overseas? Medical council objects. Air pollution controls? You’d better be prepared to pay the goods vehicle industry large sums of money. Congestion charging? The 3% of the population who drive cars into Central will be baying for blood. Truth in advertising laws? The snake-oil industry (which includes the makers of baby formula) freaks out. They can’t even move a bus stop over 20 metres without District Councillors going ballistic. Without elections, without votes, without reliable polling, the HKSAR Government is a ping-pong ball batted about uselessly between headlines saying “X Group is Pissed About Y Thing”. Which is why every policy is a half-arsed half-measure designed specifically to give the appearance of Doing Something while changing as little as possible. I don’t see how a faux populist administration is going to get around the basic problem.

  4. Stephen says:

    China has had a bit of a “annus horribilis.” USA, Taiwan and Hong Kong has all gone very wrong. The world is slowly waking up to what’s happening in Xinjiang and even if you are a supporter of the NBA or Arsenal football club, the panda doesn’t seem as cuddly anymore.

    China will only change when its people demand it changes and we are far from that point yet. Only when the west moves their factories and the economy tanks will all the current nationalistic hubris die down. Then the Chinese will start looking internally at their system and their self appointed CCP President who is getting it so very wrong. Until then Hong Kong can go whistle.

    So whilst we may see a bit of window dressing in 2020, a new CE, cut from the same cloth, but more, much more, of the same. At the moment they are the mighty CCP, with the biggest cock in the world, they don’t back down to anyone. They will to their own people when its time.

  5. so says:

    The Two Systems One Country, works!

    The use of the criminal justice system to reinforce that idea, works.

    The use of public funds to pay for these ideas, works.?

    Trousering public funds in a pretence of administration of these ideas, that’s when it collapses from its own rottenness!

  6. Taking the mikado says:


    I can’t help but note that the reason the CCP is having an annus horribilis is because they act like such an anus horribilis to everyone.

    You’d think the Grand Pooh Bear of all people would have been a bit more savvy avoiding a situation where the punishment so obviously fits the crime…

  7. Din Gao says:


    Our New No 1?

    Ex-Hong Kong No 2 official Rafael Hui freed after serving five years for bribery, misconduct.

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