Beijing ejects four pan-dems from the Legislative Council via an almost blasé NPC Standing Committee edict (reports here, here and here). What we say goes, and to hell with due process or existing laws and procedures.
Although pan-dem lawmakers go into wrist-slashing-and-wailing mode (much to the delight, presumably, of their CCP tormentors), there really isn’t a downside to this. It doesn’t hurt Hong Kong democracy or ‘political development’ because there isn’t any. It doesn’t end One Country Two Systems, because that ended with the imposition of the NatSec Regime. It doesn’t turn LegCo into a rubber stamp – it just exposes the fact that it already was one. It does confirm that the Basic Law that supposedly protects the rights of Hong Kong people means nothing if and when the CCP finds it inconvenient.
Hong Kong’s freedom movement should see this as a gift that brings clarity. The remaining pan-dems being used as ornament-scapegoats can finally come to terms with the futility of staying in LegCo and quit. To take part in this fake political system is to pay tribute to Beijing. You can’t fight the Chinese Communist Party playing by its rules on its field. The future is an asymmetric conflict. Young techies, satirists and Milk-Tea Alliance meme-makers will have more effect than middle-aged lawyers urging us to vote in rigged elections and then ranting that the Leninists aren’t fair. The shared resentment of life under a malevolent colonizer will be more inspiring than high-minded demands for democratic structures.
Faced with a choice between ejecting dissenters and retaining a shred of legitimacy for the legislature, the CCP goes for the former. Makes the local puppets a bit embarrassed, but who cares? On a slightly amusing level, the squeezing out of moderate democrats from formal public life will leave members of the old-style tycoon-bureaucrat shoe-shiner establishment more exposed (Felix looking nervous). Loyalty (or ‘patriotism’) tests will also presumably apply to pro-dem District Councils. That leaves the independent judiciary on the CCP’s to-do list – indeed, the edict disqualifying the four lawmakers is specifically designed to sideline the courts.
Related links… NPC Observer discussion of the edict. From AFP, the purge of LegCo in vivid graphics. Badiucao’s rather excellent cartoon. And a poem – perhaps aimed at cliched journos, but could be dedicated to certain incessantly despairing (now ex-) pan-dem lawmakers.