Govt PR-hunt generates bad PR

So… one day Executive Council member Ronny Tong tells us the ‘whole weight of Common Law’ will ensure justice, and former judge Henry Litton says no Common Law court would convict you of subversion simply for holding a banner. The next day the Justice Secretary admits the National Security law won’t be compatible with Hong Kong’s Common Law system.

And now a Beijing official says the central authorities will have jurisdiction over rare cases involving ‘serious threats’. We don’t know what constitutes a ‘serious’ threat. Nor do we know whether ‘central jurisdiction’ means separate courts, transfer of suspects across the border, or what. But then we still don’t even know what the new law will say.

Amid this confusion, it’s no surprise that the Hong Kong government has suffered a tragic setback in its second desperate and forlorn attempt to lure PR agencies to help repair the city’s battered image. The prize catch – the venerable Edelman company – has dropped out of the bidding

This call for pitches in March-April was more focused on a global business audience, and supposedly less daunting than the one last year (which expected PR firms to magic away the whole protests/police brutality mess). Officials probably saw the Covid pandemic as a window of opportunity – then Beijing dropped the National Security bomb and the challenge became more impossible than ever.

For a taste of how badly the government needs advice on communication, here’s a  wretchedly bad video trying to convince you that the National Security law will be all fine and dandy.

You might ask why, when evil foreign forces are infiltrating our city and trying to topple the CCP, the government wants Western expertise. Surely, 20,000 years of civilization, Confucian wisdom and Xi Jinping Thought should ensure that Chinese PR skills are at least as good as a bunch of American hucksters. We could go further and ask why, when officials routinely denounce foreign comment on our ‘internal affairs’, the government deigns to give a damn what Westerners think anyway.

Patriotic Mainland academics lament Hong Kong’s failure to de-colonize its thinking, and the Western world is waking up to the CCP’s true nature and starting to disconnect from China. But Carrie Lam and her fellow puppets are stuck in a time-warp where Asia’s World City still exists and craves the approval of white businessmen.

Even Beijing’s own state media believe that the ultimate killer trump card in this battle of ideas is Vindication by Gwailo.

China Daily presents a Canadian guy doing one of those ‘impromptu pour-heart-out behind the wheel’ vids explaining why Hong Kong needs to be CCP-ized. (This guy has also been wheeled out on CGTN wanting his kids to be proud Chinese. Some demented conspiracy theorist on Reddit thinks he’s real – ‘a Shenzhen loser who wants some extra income by selling his ass’ – but I assume it’s a computer-generated thing.)

Where one audience is concerned, the propagandists are correct in thinking that whites have more credibility. Many older educated Hong Kong middle-class blue-ribbon types – Regina Ip fans and other products of the colonial-cringe era – pass these videos around on Facebook avidly. My theory is that it helps these anxiety-ridden identity-confused outcasts assure themselves that they are not turning into parochial Mainland hicks. 

The quest for a PR agency with sub-zero integrity continues.

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21 Responses to Govt PR-hunt generates bad PR

  1. Chinese Netizen says:

    I’m guessing Mr Dumbrill is of South Asian stock…parents immigrated to Jia Na Da a while back and despite his best efforts to play hockey, he was never fully assimilated by the white kids and suffered some possibly nasty teasing as a kid.

    This in turn led him to pull the “I’ll show you!” card as he huffed and stomped off to be a “business man” in China (where he met a woman that would actually shag him and have his kids – poor girl was probably thinking of getting a CA passport with a nice lifestyle in comfy, civilised Hongcouver like Meng Wanzhou of Huawei).

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    Oh, and there’s nothing that says “legitimate” like a man-in-the-car rambling as if he’s trying to convince his drinking buddies why people need to become oppressed.

    CCP: We hate imagined or real foreign meddling but the first guys we pull out of mothballs to give our side “cred” are washed out English teachers from western countries scraping for a few shekels. I think even Da Shan wouldn’t have stooped this low.

  3. asiaseen says:

    Chinese PR skills “We are right, you are wrong”

  4. YTSL says:

    “The quest for a PR agency with sub-zero integrity continues.”

    Singapore’s Redhill to the rescue…

  5. Mary Melville says:

    Looks like Dumbrill’s homebrew kills the brain cells. As one post puts it:
    “Its a business strategy. He is brewing craft beer in Shenzhen and the more publicity he gets and the more pro-beijing he seems, the more likely his business will thrive. Both customers and the goverment will support him. It´s also an opportunity for him, as Shenzhen and rest of China is full of fake products, including beer, and he markets his product to be all imported ingredients (even the chinese don´t trust chinese products, which is why mainlanders come and buy baby milk powder and chocolate in HK)”
    With his PR skills he should tender for the government promotion campaign.

  6. Hamantha says:

    Off topic, but I wonder if anyone can clarify this point about British BN(O) passport eligibility.

    Basically, in newspaper articles on the subject, I keep seeing statements saying that anyone born in Hong Kong before 1997 is eligible for a BN(O) passport.

    For example, here is one such statement from the Hong Kong Free Press, saying “some 2.9 million people — anyone born before 1997 — are eligible for BN(O) status and Britain has said any citizenship plan will also include them.”

    However, according to the United Kingdom’s own BN(O) information page, it says that anyone who did not register for a BN(O) passport before the handover in 1997 is no longer eligibile for it.

    Am I missing something here? Are all of these articles wrong?

  7. Roddy the Rodomontade says:

    No wonder Edelman pulled out. The firm is still smarting from its decision to work with, then drop, the US’s largest private prison provider Geo Group. Was a total PR disaster for the PR giant.

    Mind you, they’d be in good company working with the commies up north if they decide to bring similar concentration-camp-style accommodation to Hong Kong after the National Insecurity Law takes effect.

  8. Dumbrill & Dumbrillo pads? says:

    @China Netizen
    Perhaps the funniest part of the wheel-out-the-foreign-forces-to-do-pro-China-videos fiasco is that they apparently couldn’t find anyone who actually lives in Hong Kong to do it.

    For some reason he reminds me of his fellow Canadian, Alex “I love China so much that I left my home town as soon as it became Chinese and moved to a different continent to avoid living in it” Lo.

    Both spouting CPC bullshit about HK without having even the common decency to live there.

  9. Din Dan Che says:

    Apparently Dumb-shrill had to wait six-months plus to get licensing and other official blessings for his premises in Shenzhen to operate. Maybe he’s now eternally grateful to the powers that be.
    According to someone on the Twittersphere he’s also alt.right, but bucks their disdain of leftist authoritarianism when it comes to China. He was said to be crushed when that Australian-Israeli right-wing vlogger came up to HK from Melbourne during the district elections and was impressed by the protest movement.
    I wouldn’t underestimate the Dark-shrill, he’s one of those “sixth-tone” rent-a-quotes we’ll be seeing more of as the CCP wheels out its tankie westerners in a bid to excuse totalitarianism. After all… Regina, Alex Woeful and Yonder Latrine are pretty crap at doing so.

  10. Justsayin says:

    @asiaseen Chinese PR skills continued ‘you don’t understand China’

    Hemlock. Among the list of serious threats will surely be included HK banner waving, mocking the PRC anthem, and publishing books about Xi Jinping’s mistresses

    @China Netizen, at last checkign Da Shan in fact has not stooped so low, but I am not sure how his attempt at becoming a standup comedian went.

  11. caractacus says:

    Din Dan Che says Dumbro is alt right and says this is somehow incompatible with “leftist authoritarianism”. Just because it calls itself an elephant doesn’t mean it’s an elephant. If it looks, sounds and acts like an extreme nationalist right wing conservative, then it’s a Nazi, Din Dan Che.

  12. Stanley Lieber says:

    After displaying the “Five Demands, Not One Less” hand signal to a bunch of riot police loitering about Causeway Bay collecting overtime on Friday evening, I was followed for several blocks by a mainland-looking plainclothes police official.

    Be careful out there.

  13. Joe Blow says:

    For those of you who are afraid that HK is becoming a police state: too late! HK is already a police state. When I got back to CWB at around 6 PM the whole place was swarming with Green Objects. They were everywhere.

  14. Din Dan Che says:

    @caractacus – So, he’s a Shenzhen-based Nazi, craft-ale puller now? Read the contribution again. I attribute those morsels to a discussion seen on Twitter, Caracaca-ca-ca-kak

  15. Pokemon says:

    I guess Chinese netizen is alluding to the fact that this DumbShill guy is a friend of, and routinely quoted by, our favourite but controversial Southeast Asian “humourist”? Birds of a feather, clearly.

  16. asiaseen says:

    Why does Geo needs the like of Edelman? Their own PR is not too bad:
    “…heard directly from individuals entrusted to our care…”

  17. asiaseen says:

    Xi Jinping’s mistresses
    He has sex?

  18. asiaseen says:

    Given the description for pro-West Chinese as “bananas” (yellow on the outside) is there an appropriate designation for the likes Litton and Grovelling Cross (and, perhaps 直腸4).? Anti-banana doesn’t quite cut it.

  19. Clucks Defiance says:

    @asiaseen – try ‘boiled egg’. White on the outside, yellow to the core…

  20. @asiaseen – egg: white outside, yellow inside. But we need to fit ‘red” in somewhere.

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