On Freak-out Friday the CCP orchestrated a Mainlandizing shock-and-awe assault on Hong Kong. Antony Dapiran gives a good summary.
The sentencing of a young man to four years in prison for riot was perhaps coincidental (if we charitably assume that the Liaison Office is not yet micro-managing the courts’ schedules as well as judgements). But the message is clear: anti-government protesters who plead guilty to throwing some objects around will get harsher punishment than pro-Beijing nasties who stab people.
The Legislative Council coup shunting pro-democrats aside enables the government to force through the National Anthem (Compulsory Adulation) Bill. No more of that separation-of-powers stuff requiring an elected legislature to check the executive branch. LegCo is now destined to be a rubber stamp, the way the CCP likes it.
With the contrived uproar over a question in a high-school history exam on Thursday, Beijing is launching a cultural revolution in the education sector. Teaching kids to think critically now means ‘hurting the feelings’, ‘leaving the chicken-coop [of impressionable young minds] without a roof’ – and ‘there is no room for discussion’. You don’t need to be a huge cynic to suspect that the inclusion and/or wording of the question was a set-up.
The SCMP quotes a pro-Beijing mouthpiece as saying that schools have become an opposition stronghold…
“I expect the Hong Kong government to take tough measures in the years ahead to tackle problems regarding curriculum design, the vetting of textbooks and public examinations.”
To complete the Mainlandization-overload, the Independent Police Complaints Council released a blatant whitewash of a report into police tactics against protests during part of last year. Amnesty calls it impotent and biased.
But it gets creepier. To quote Dapiran…
…most galling was the manner in which [Chief Executive Carrie] Lam presented the findings: in front of a vast backdrop of images of fiery destruction from last year’s protests, emblazoned with the slogan ‘The Truth About Hong Kong’.
Carrie also hinted at future measures to curb or censor the press, such as a licensing regime for reporters, and police action against online ‘rumours’.
Awkwardly for the government, Clifford Stott – an overseas expert who quit the IPCC inquiry – is doing a report of his own. He sees Hong Kong 2019 as an academic case study. Out in a month, his report looks likely to suggest that much of the protesting is a response to police tactics rather than vice-versa.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung says critics of the IPCC report have ‘bad intentions’ and we should not take seriously the one-sided videos, misleading information, and false accusations some people have posted online. So there.
A pause for breath…
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government is trying – for the second time – to invite PR companies to help it out. From PRovoke…
This time around, it is understood that the [government] has sought to frame the brief as a purely economic effort, distancing it from chief executive Carrie Lam’s office and underlining that political consultancy is not required. In addition, the new tender is an open one, compared to last year’s invite-only affair, and features a far lower threshold for participating firms…
Edelman is reportedly among the agencies willing to take on a challenge to help out a city they love (aka ‘hungry for fat juicy accounts from desperate, deep-pocketed and naïve clients’).
Even though the government is supposedly asking agencies to focus on a narrower ‘economic’ brief, this comes as the overall ‘China’ brand is being degraded globally following the coronavirus pandemic.
To pick a few little PR problems at random: overseas universities are barring the HK Police from recruiting on campus; consultants are discreetly advising companies to think twice about Hong Kong (read the comments); and a UN Special Rapporteur joins in the criticism of the round-up of aging lawyers.
The prosecution of Martin Lee, Margaret Ng et al starts today. Although a trifling incident in the whole Mainlandization campaign, it is a clear example of how the CCP’s ‘Marxist-Confucian idea of law’ is coming to Hong Kong. Unlike the convoluted exam questions or LegCo coup, the dragging of grey-haired intellectuals before the courts will attract media coverage overseas for its classic, vivid shithole-banana-republic angle – and there’s nothing Edelman could do to spin it otherwise.