With the WHO’s blessing, China’s leadership magics the coronavirus away and – while we’re distracted – puts Gui Minhai in prison for 10 years. This is the same leadership that has placed new (as in plucked-from-pre-retirement) bosses into its more-streamlined Hong Kong Affairs bureaucracy. Of which some more analysis…
Suzanne Pepper at HK Free Press says the appointment of obedient loyalists with zero clue about Hong Kong doesn’t look good. But she sees a slight (theoretical) glimmer of hope:
Director Luo is said to be a soft-spoken man with a knack for solving difficult problems. If he can use the new streamlined channels of communication to correct the official narrative on Hong Kong resistance and foreign force infiltration, he would at least be taking a step in the right direction.
I can picture it now… “Hey guys! Guys! You’d never guess, but it’s nothing to do with hostile foreign forces – it’s all our fault for not letting them have more representative government or respecting their identity and freedoms.”
Philip Bowring at Asia Sentinel doubts the two new bosses know what they’re in for:
Hong Kong is an entirely alien environment for Luo. He might as well be walking on Mars. He will be bewildered by its freewheeling press, pesky reporters, rude politicians and impolite students…
Xia Baolong will have no qualms stomping on his liaison office teams, or threatening civil servants who question his bombast. Winning hearts and minds was never his concern. He may hector the protesting youth, academics, civic activists and pro-democracy politicians … He will have to stomach the lampooning, cartooning, and graffiti that Hong Kong typically showers on pompous bureaucrats.
There is that. Watching these two grapple with the sheer strangeness of a free pluralistic society might be entertaining. Speaking of which, on the apparently mystifying continued presence of Carrie Lam as Chief Executive and nominated scapegoat, Bowring intones:
The party will not concede to protest calls for her removal. That would be showing softness to dissidents, which is never an option for the party. Besides, Lam has always been the loyal marionette, who never let judgment or dignity get in the way of her obedience.