Yes! Tonight’s the Spring Festival Gala! It will be livestreamed on YouTube if you don’t have access to CCTV. (The content is cringe-makingly dire, but the camera scans of the carefully selected, creepily enthusiastic audience is gripping.) Alternatively, you can follow gloriously sarcastic commentary on Twitter from one of the callous foreign beasts stuck with their in-laws in Beijing or somewhere.
Here’s the line-up. This year’s show has a heavy emphasis on the Greater Bay Area, with a lot of performers from ‘Hong Kong, China’, including Jackie Chan singing ‘The Great Wall Will Never Fall’ (around halfway through, part 15(1)). All the usual acrobats, martial arts and kids’ choirs, but none apparently from Wuhan/Hubei. Presumably they’re under quarantine. Or… otherwise indisposed.
The inane CCTV extravaganza – it looks like self-parody but is by all accounts deadly earnest – is a venerable institution, dating back through thousands of years of civilization. The nearest Hong Kong equivalent in terms of crassness is the fake-traditional ‘New Year Carnival’ contrived some years ago as a tourist attraction and studiously ignored by all right-thinking local residents. And tourists. This year’s has been cancelled. Will anyone notice?
Fireworks and other events are also off. First, they scrapped them because of the Dreaded Protester Menace, then because of the Wuhan Coronavirus. I declare the long four-day weekend open with a profound question: For what other reasons might Hong Kong cancel events in the forthcoming Rat Year?
And a selection of things to look at…
On the subject of detailed reports, an expert explains all you ever wanted to know about the effects of tear gas with reference to Hong Kong.
Reuters assembles its scoops, investigations, graphics and photographs of the Hong Kong Uprising in one slick presentation.
Atlantic takes a look at Hong Kong’s new pro-dem district councils. (Who would ever have thought that these councils might be interesting as 2020 unfolds? With even the Police Commissioner turning up, teeth grinding, to be questioned, the government obviously realizes it can’t ignore or boycott these constitutionally formed bodies.)
Perhaps the most important article on Hong Kong this week is this HK Free Press piece by a prominent Macau lawyer. Basically, this is Hong Kong’s future…
Money and obsessive stability – not liberty, creativity and social dignity – are becoming the ultimate goals in a materialistic and protectionist region that has grown used to easy money and easy ‘success’. Being ‘patriotic’ – that is, loving the Party – is becoming the highest moral attainment. Economic dependence [on] Beijing is now absolute and freedoms are being traded as commodities.
George Magnus on the US-China ‘more a trade agreement than a deal’.
The Spectator on how Xi Jinping’s dictatorship is more tragedy than farce.
The Guardian on China’s probably-doomed attempts to convince (or direct) women to go back to being baby machines.
For something both literary and relaxing – the London Review of Books has an occasional diarist who’s a government official in Beijing and a member of the Chinese Communist Party. Here’s her account of the civil-service entrance exam. Other very readable columns here and ‘how we covered up a local bureaucrat’s death at a banquet’ here.
The SCMP contrasts the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ Chinese in Cambodia.
And a Lunar New Year version of ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ – with synthesized pipa.
(OK – don’t say I don’t do anything for you…)