Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Deputy [since February demotion] Director Zhang Xiaoming delivers a webinar-speech explaining Beijing’s reasons for the Grand Mainlandization.
His remarks ‘avoided wolf-howls’ and were, by Beijing officials’ standards, quite candid. As commentators note, he broke with the traditional analysis and said Hong Kong’s problem was ‘political’ rather than ‘economic’. This might sound heartening to those who insist that blaming inequality and housing is missing the point and the root cause is the city’s underlying rotten and unrepresentative political structure. But that’s not what the CCP means by ‘political’.
Zhang’s comments reveal Beijing’s deep frustration with Hong Kong’s free speech, free press, liberal education, civil (and cosmopolitan) society, impartial civil service and rule of law and independent judiciary. So long as these institutions are not under CCP control, they are a challenge to national sovereignty and security. Added to that is alarm over the perceived role of the US and other foreign forces in infiltrating the city and instigating subversion. National-security laws will be an anti-political virus software.
Among Zhang’s more interesting thoughts is a righteous (his word) rejection of the idea that CY Leung’s contrived January 2015 freak-out over ‘Hong Kong independence’ was anything other than well-founded. Localists’ attempts to take part in 2016 LegCo elections were part an attempt by pro-independence forces to seize power, and such elements are still plotting ‘terrorist’ activities. Hence the disqualifications of candidates and expulsion of FT correspondent Victor Mallet.
It’s clear that Beijing’s officials are also mightily miffed that Hong Kong simply isn’t into the ‘China Dream’ or indeed the China anything. The media here dwell on the negatives about the Mainland (and we thought they were mostly shoe-shining), and, Zhang complains, we have ‘boycotted’ the Greater Bay Area visionary hub-zone thing (well spotted!)
Reading between the lines, I would guess that one of the biggest impacts on the coming rectification campaign will be on schools and the shaping of young minds. Government opponents, civil servants, anti-China forces and the media are all in for serious treatment – but schools will be a big one. These guys are serious about long-term re-engineering of people’s thinking.
Also some whiny semi-tantrum foot-stamping about how China has due process, presumption of innocence, proportionality of punishment and other legal principles and protections just like real grown-up civilized countries.
Zhang also stressed Hong Kong’s importance as a financial centre. Carrie Lam is hinting at Beijing’s support in this area – so presumably someone is worried about US sanctions.
Bottom line: if you thought they were just play-acting, you’re wrong – they really are paranoid psychos.