No, I don’t mean the menu at the Guizhou lamb noodles restaurant in Tung Choi Street – I mean the barrage of Mainlandization and related horrors hitting Hong Kong while I was on ‘staycation’. I count eight or so.
Behold the CCP’s extreme phobia about civil society. From a Leninist point of view, what citizens did here was usurp powers that belong solely to the government – holding a plebiscite or similar means of determining the popular will (remember the freaking-out over a ‘referendum’ on strike action).
Amusingly, they don’t know how to frame their loathing of the exercise – so they rant about it as: cheating ahead of the actual LegCo election in September; a flagrant attempt to, er, win more seats; a ‘provocation’; an attempt to subvert the government through paralysis of LegCo; illegal because not specifically mentioned in the electoral laws; a Covid-transmission risk; and/or something to do with foreign interference.
All five electoral districts have new – and, you’ll surely agree, obedient-looking – officials with the power to disqualify candidates suspected of thought-crimes. Assuming they dutifully DQ the lot, can the pan-dems get their acts together and arrange a voters’ boycott of the LegCo election? Perhaps they can hold a parallel vote on the same day for a people’s assembly. (Cue the sound of total Panda-tantrum. It’s easy to torment people with extreme phobias.)
The CCP couldn’t care less, but this inevitable trend conflicts with the long-held position of Hong Kong officials who felt the city’s status as a media hub was worth boasting about.
Our worldly bureaucrats are going through more culture shock than many of us realize. The US measures against Hong Kong (more on that in a day or two) include the ending of cooperation in police training. Some impressionable young folk are shocked that this was even a thing. The reality is that, up until the last few years, Hong Kong was exempt from projecting a Glorious Motherland identity and free to be an honorary part of the Western/free world. Local officials took pride in this and relished the friendly hob-nobbing with overseas counterparts. No more. To make our bureaucrats sweat and squirm even more, the US measures also potentially include sanctions against them personally.
3. Facebook, Google and others suspend accepting government requests for user data, and VPN providers are pulling servers out of Hong Kong (or high-mindedly not doing so).
4. Hong Kong’s top Taiwan
compatriots representatives are sent packing for (shockingly) not signing a ‘one China’ statement.
This is presumably not just bloody-mindedness but due to Beijing’s suspicions that Taiwan is among the evil forces masterminding Hong Kong’s rebellion. The envoys would be – perhaps uniquely – exposed to collusion or other charges under the NatSec Law.
5. Carrie Lam agonizes over social media’s negative influence on vulnerable youths. And a NatSec Law/all-purpose patriotism study centre for young Hongkongers will open in Shenzhen. More such ‘bases’ will follow.
Full marks to the Hong Kong industrialists and other eager United Front shoe-shiners of SOFA (the Shenzhen Overseas Friendship Association, duh) for being first off the blocks in setting up a national education camp. Rather like the hasty establishment of Belt and Road Research Institutes a few years ago.
7. Amid all this, Hong Kong succumbs to a new wave of Covid.
We will look back one day and remember these times. In fairness, with such a frenzy of Mainlandization to implement, it’s a wonder the government has even remembered to pay hospitals’ electricity bills, let alone actually keep up all the testing/tracking/tracing.
8. This is just the beginning: Xi Jinping strengthens Party-centric ideology.
On other NatSec matters…
Donald Clarke in SCMP: it doesn’t matter what the law’s wording says – it’s all in the new all-powerful, unaccountable institutions. (There’s an echo of Beijing’s 2014 ‘universal suffrage’ proposal here. Endless detailed fuss about the complex multi-stage nomination process, yet it was all irrelevant because the end result was that the CCP would choose who was on the ballot – and thus who would be the next Chief Executive.)
Amnesty offers 10 things you should know about the law.
Speaking at a Law Society gathering (stacked with pro-Beijing figures), former Director of Public Prosecutions Grenville Cross ventures to raise some slight
problems issues with the technicalities of the NatSec Law.
And State TV cheerfully reassures viewers that all that extreme stuff you heard about how anyone in the world could be liable under the Hong Kong NatSec Law is, um, correct!