The Hong Kong Coalition – fronted by former Chief Executives Tung Chee-hwa and CY Leung – is apparently supposed to lure the middle ground to vote for the pro-government bloc in September’s Legislative Council elections. Instead, it is a vivid reminder of how unappealing the pro-Beijing brand is.
Its recruits so far are the usual depressing ‘heavyweights’ like Maria Tam, Henry ‘basement’ Tang, Regina Ip and the less recognizable industrialist Irons Sze. You can picture the rest: former Justice Secretary Elsie Leung perhaps, Executive Council people like Fanny Law and Arthur Li, some tycoons/tycoons’ kids and semi-forgotten retired officials. To add a dash of sexy and trendy, actor Jackie Chan or landlord Allen Zeman.
They will generally be old. Most will be rich. Most will have some base motive, like wealth or status, for publicly backing Beijing. Many will be ugly, in terms of personality if not physically. Only the spineless who parrot the official line will be accepted. Anyone under 40 will either be pitifully dim or (if they drag in some medal-winning cyclist) dependent on the state.
The HK Coalition will be a rancid line-up of not-very-nice-people. Nobody remotely hip or cool will join in because no-one who is smart, intellectual, sensitive, funny, caring, aware, creative, noble or heroic supports the Chinese Communist Party.
It is a toxic product, and this is the marketing campaign from Hell. For example: your target audience is the sort of person who admires the hospital staff who risked their lives working on the front-line and their jobs by striking to force the government to close the border. And this Coalition wheels out a spite-filled woman who rants about punishing and suing the doctors and nurses.
I declare the weekend open with a quick selection of diversions…
China Heritage/Geremie Barme translates an essay by journalist Lee Yee despairing at the arrests of Martin Lee et al as the end of any possibility of a third way for Hong Kong…
As the Communist authorities have directed the local authorities to arrest men and women such as these — remember, they have consistently been the most mild advocates of democratic norms in the territory — they have, in effect, wiped out what remained of a middle ground. Now the only choices open to Hong Kong people are: align yourself with a totalitarian regime or rise up to resist and oppose it.
A Hong Kong Free Press interview with Martin Lee. Another is from DW, translated here. He still shows a touching faith in the US Cavalry coming to the rescue, and in constitutional niceties – hoping a pan-dem majority in the legislature could prevent National Security laws, as if the CCP lets voters give the orders. Also, the Catholic Herald does a feature on the veteran pro-democrat.
Ben Bland at the Interpreter looks at the CCP’s recent power-grab in Hong Kong…
Beijing has always seen the One Country, Two Systems arrangement as a messy compromise to smooth the handover from British rule in 1997 rather than a long-term basis for political freedoms and autonomy for Hong Kong. In the last 10 years, and especially since Xi Jinping took power in 2012, it has intensified efforts to assert control over Hong Kong’s politics, economy and society…
By pushing so hard, the authorities risk intensifying the very nemesis of political violence that they claim to be opposing.
Prospects for the pro-democracy movement include…
…fighting a rear-guard action to disrupt the authorities while hoping to keep the flame of resistance alight until something dramatic changes in Beijing.
We could also add that Beijing is doing all the right things to encourage the growth of a genuine pro-independence movement.
Michael Davies in the SCMP asks (more or less) why we bother having a Basic Law if Beijing can change it anytime it likes.
From Harpers – a rather literary inside account of last year’s protests.
To celebrate HK-Taiwanese-Thai solidarity against the CCP, Milk-Tea Alliance protest artwork.
For heritage enthusiasts – the abandoned Peak Tram station.
And 7-Eleven has launched a worthwhile initiative where customers can team with the chain and some charities to donate lunch boxes to the needy (using a convoluted high-tech system involving gamma rays and blockchain – because just putting cash in a box wouldn’t be any fun).
A thread on the craziness of China’s latest South China Sea claims.
Bloomberg thinks China has pushed Europe too far this time on the virus crisis. It sounds serious, provided there is an entity called ‘Europe’ that carries weight on the world stage, and the region’s various national leaders have backbones.