Beijing in new bold push to win HK hearts and minds

In the last few days’ horrors…  Local CCP media blast a senior civil servant at the Unpatriotic Mural Removal Dept for supposedly turning a blind eye to Lennon Walls, causing divided loyalties for laboriously patriotic Regina Ip, who (correctly) sees a Cultural Revolution smear. Reuters finds that two NGOs – the New School for Democracy and Global Innovation Hub – have left Hong Kong for Taiwan, fearing safety of personnel and bank accounts. HK Baptist U cancels a photo exhibition; Chinese U disestablishes its student union; and a nursing school dismisses its principal. 

The latter case is linked to the really big one: police charge 47 pan-dems with ‘conspiracy to commit subversion’ – or participating in a primary election. (The aim being to maximize pro-democracy seats in the Legislative Council – election since postponed – to gain some political influence over the executive branch through legitimate means recognized in the Basic Law. The NatSec regime sees this as ‘linked to a plot to overthrow the government’.) Since these are NatSec offences dealt with by specially picked judges, we can assume they will be jailed with no bail for ages, and finally given at least three-year (and in many cases harsher) sentences. (More background from Xinqi Su. Comment from Hong Kong Watch.)

Most of the pan-dems are here: Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, biggest vote-winner in any Hong Kong election; Benny Tai, academic and theorist/strategist for Occupy and the primary elections; former airline pilot/lawmaker Jeremy Tam; journalist ex-lawmaker Claudia Mo; Long Hair; Joshua Wong (already in prison); Ray ‘Slowbeat’ Chan (one of my esteemed Twitter followers, making it slightly more personal); young aspiring politicians; and on and on. (More here, and farewell messages here.)

Curiously, a handful were not charged yesterday (they must await further decisions). Could it be the authorities thought jailing non-ethnic Chinese and healthcare workers on such idiotic charges would look bad?

Meanwhile, we have Martin Lee, Margaret Ng, Jimmy Lai, Albert Ho, Cyd Ho and others, including Long Hair, again, awaiting trial for other charges. Basically, anyone who enjoys support from the majority in Hong Kong is now in jail, unless they are in exile.

The sheer overkill in all this is bewildering. It’s not enough to twist laws to bar critics from elected bodies and public life – you have to arrest them and imprison them, often multiple times. Erick Tang will only need to work harder on his ‘love the CCP’ theory. 

The usual explanation is that the wanton cruelty and injustice is the point: we can do this to anyone so shut up and kowtow. Worked in Russia in the 1920s or China in the 1950s. But a large number of Hongkongers have met at least one or two of these figures in person, and millions have voted for them. Jailing them all on trumped-up BS charges might momentarily stun onlookers in the midst of pandemic. But in the long run, all the CCP is achieving here is an increasingly bitterly angry populace feeling under occupation – many probably pondering how to resist or avenge.

Speaking of which, Hong Kong authorities wouldn’t be aware of it, but as many have noted: yesterday was the anniversary of the 228 anti-Mainlandization uprising in Taiwan in 1947.
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7 Responses to Beijing in new bold push to win HK hearts and minds

  1. Chinese Netizen says:

    It just seems like max oppression while the getting is good (pandemic lockdowns, minimal tourism and the such) is the order of the day. Wonder if the approved media thought police can make the pandemic go on for a few years even after the rest of the world gets back to business? Guess that would take absolute control of the HK interwebs?

  2. Toph says:

    The term “hearts and minds” originated in warfare, especially colonial counter-insurgency. Sure, it means doing nice things to undercut the resentment of occupied populations, but this does not negate the occupation part, nor the warfare. It has a very mixed record. Notable examples of “hearts and minds” campaigns include the American occupations of Vietnam (ha) and Iraq (haha). It usually involved food aid, medical care, and infrastructure development – not the actual relinquishment of control. Sound familiar? It always was a candy-coated boot, which any self-respecting Hong Konger would tell you to shove where the sun don’t shine.

  3. new nom de plume says:

    Just back from West Kowloon Magistrates Court. Large media presence, but kept outside the confines of the grounds of the court buildings, not just the building, let alone the court. Even larger police presence. Public present but not in huge numbers, although including a couple of brave youngsters in black T shirts emblazoned in yellow with “Hallelujah to the Lord” on the front.

    Inside, public queue, not moving, not taking up all the allotted taped area for queuing. Presumably “social distancing” rules are carefully being applied inside the court room, if not outside.

    No court list for NSL on the electronic boards. Duty Lawyer office saying they not been given an NSL list.

    My local district councillor one of those arrested, and who now no doubt going to be banged up for ages. Very pleasant inoffensive young lady, with whom I have never had a conversation about other than about my dog, a dog park, opposing the erection of a building that has taken over the site of a much used volley ball court and caused nice tress to be chopped and the stupid encroaching of railings on the pavement. I did not even vote for her in the plebiscite that is seemingly the conspiracy to subvert.
    Mr Hemlock your musical knowledge is admired and choice today is acknowledged, but really difficult.

  4. YTSL says:

    “a large number of Hongkongers have met at least one or two of these figures in person, and millions have voted for them.”

    I was just thinking of the former bit myself last night. Something else I’d add: a good number of Hong Kongers also have witnessed — personally, on ‘live video stream’, etc. — many of the 47 arrestees trying to calm things down and/or acting to protect people during the extradition bill protests. E.g., Wu Chi-wai on June 12th. Shouting “I want to see your commander” at the police even as they fired tear gas in his vicinity.

  5. Just Following Orders says:

    “… But in the long run, all the CCP is achieving here is an increasingly bitterly angry populace feeling under occupation – many probably pondering how to resist or avenge.”

    I imagine people will begin to see that Magnitsky sanctions have a very limited effect on CCP dictators who are ably supported by bankers, accountants and lawyers as well as their own corrupt system; or at least they will perceive the effects to be too little and too slow. Some people will want to see their CCP tormentors pay a far more personally painful price for the atrocities they’re inflicting on their victims and some of those people will be looking for weak points where they have a reasonable chance of being able to administer vengeance. There will be blood.

  6. Mary Melville says:

    “Tam said that there was a need to restrict the registration of voters in functional constituencies to trade unions and organisations with 4 to 5 years’ service records, proof of recruitment and taxation, and a track record in the relevant constituencies to prove that they are not in a hurry to register as voters in functional constituencies.”
    That should exclude hundreds of dodgy registrations, particularly for the IT sector.
    Heavyweights should be careful what they wish for.

  7. Gooddog says:

    The beatings will continue until morale improves.

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