New! Improved!

Continuing: show-trial hearings of 47 Hong Kong politicians arrested for planning to win an election and now in jail without being found guilty of anything. Among the 47 is Carol Ng, local British Airways union leader. Haven’t the CCP heard about the perils of messing with cabin crew

We also have Beijing’s ‘improvements’ to Hong Kong’s election system. The two are related. After pan-dems swept last year’s District Council poll – inspiring the 47’s plans – the CCP gave up hope that Hongkongers will vote democratically for parties that are… anti-democracy. From now on, voters will be limited to only Beijing-approved candidates.

Under the ‘executive-led’ system, elections and elected bodies have little or no material impact on who holds actual political power. However, the process bestows some moral legitimacy on the pan-dems who win – and the CCP simply can’t handle it. 

Official explanation here. Reports here and here

Given that so many pan-dems have already been/soon will be disqualified by separate loyalty tests, the ‘improvements’ look like overkill. Essentially, Beijing will: 1) screen all Legislative Council candidates (via local proxies); and 2) reduce the proportion of seats pan-dems could conceivably win anyway. Why both 1) and 2)? To repeat – these exercises are largely a pretense in terms of affecting who holds political power. We’re so paranoid we have to cheat even though we’ve already rigged everything.

Even today, some commentators seem fascinated by the details of the size, composition and formation method of the election committee and legislature – how many seats there will be and who will be entitled to nominate or elect. But the new-look structures and processes are more meaningless than ever. It’s a charade to divert attention from what is really happening: the elimination of the remaining vestiges of separation of powers and the presence of awkward critics or opposition, with wall-to-wall rubber-stamp stooges being put in their place.

For example, one academic taking the structures at face value here naively suggests that further packing the Election Committee with loyalists and small-circle representatives will increase vested interests’ influence over the Chief Executive. Well, that would be true if the EC genuinely chose the CE – but it doesn’t. The inbuilt majority of the Committee merely rubber-stamps Beijing’s decision. And the way things are now, few tycoons or other shoe-shiners would even dare cast a protest vote (assuming the CCP allows an alternative candidate on the ballot). These supposedly elected bodies are simply a parade of puppets and zombies, with no influence over anyone. Speaking of which, nice-but-dim Henry Tang says it’s about having more diversity.

The main impacts on real life will be to further enlighten the world about the obsessiveness of this Leninist takeover, and to further piss off an already-angry local populace.

On it goes…

A Bloomberg op-ed on the decline of Hong Kong’s legal system

…the program is to move posthaste toward China’s unitary system, where legislators and judges are part of the same grand edifice working toward the same ends under the leadership of the party. 

Yuen Chan in Mekong Review on Hong Kong’s waning press freedom, and on RTHK under its new management. (Speaking of RTHK – a bit of nostalgia for the days when Hong Kong was free.)

And of course the CCP are coming for the universities.

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12 Responses to New! Improved!

  1. where's my jet plane says:

    What hasn’t yet been mentioned is the purging of the voter rolls. Permanent resident or not, anyone not holding an SAR or mainland passport or return home certificate will not be allowed to vote.

  2. odaiwai says:

    Is the purging of the voter rolls and actual plan? I just checked my voter registration (at and I’m still registered, despite only being a PR, not a Chinese National.

  3. YTSL says:

    Why not do away with the post of Chief Executive of Hong Kong? Remind me again: how much more is the salary for it than what Xi Jinping is officially paid?

  4. Fish says:

    Now that conspiring to win elections appears to be accepted as a violation of the national insecurity laws, will there be prosecution of those establishment politicians who conspired to support loyalty oaths be similarly dispatched to the gulags?

  5. Chinese Netizen says:

    Ironically what you write about the CCPs “election” rigging in the name of keeping some pretend “democracy” alive in HK as a pretense of some amount of freedom could be a playbook the NeoGOP in the US would consider.

    The more they talk about “freedom” the more they try to deny it to a large swath of people.

  6. Big Al says:

    The reason why CCP is “improving” Hong Kong’s electoral system using the “death by a thousand cuts” approach instead of, say, in one fell-swoop making Xia Baolong the Mayor, sacking the entire Carrie Lam administration, and cancelling all these pesky elections, is because they want to pretend that “one country two systems” is still a thing. At least for a little while longer – the snouts in the Hong Kong trough need a little more time to pull out. Until then, and I’m sure that Carrie Lam will “welcome” it, as she does with every other CCP pronouncement, anyone who says otherwise is either interfering in China’s internal affairs, hurting the feelings of the Chinese people, or both.

  7. Voting not to vote says:

    @where’s my jet plane
    Frankly they’d be doing those folk a favour: who wants to go to all the trouble of deregistering themselves? And yet ironically deregistering is the only meaningful vote left in town.

  8. Toph says:

    I think the overkill is meant at least in part to bring Hong Kong’s elites under even firmer control. The directly appointed legislators are probably going to be card-carrying CCP enforcers put in to keep tabs on the tycoon and DAB incompetents. Yes, the elites had no real influence over leadership selection, but they were running a grift – sweetheart deals and favourable treatment for the price of some idle flattery and boring meetings. The people of Hong Kong got screwed in the process, but the mark was Beijing. Discipline must be imposed. This is why they cleaned house at the Liaison Office. The cadres had gotten complacent, content to hobnob with tycoons and blow smoke up their bosses’ arses.

    Why they think their new batch of lackeys will be any better than the old is a mystery. If they ever figure out the reason that they could only recruit fools in Hong Kong was because unlike in the Mainland, there were plenty of better things for intelligent and capable people to do with their time, they’re going to go to some lengths to make sure that this is not the case in the future.

  9. Kwun Tong Bypass says:

    Who knows, maybe even Donald Tsang can come out of the woodwork again. Just say something nice.
    Well, I guess, next ‘elections’ I will get my voting paper, and instead of going to the voting booth I will walk over to the nearest trash can, and dump it there.
    Now, that I have revealed my devious scheme, I am sure the voting paper will have a small print on the bottom saying “any alteration, damage, and disrespect of this paper is an offence under the NAZIonal Insecurity Law”

  10. bigdonkeyballs says:

    By now it should be clear to all who seek to inquire why Carrie Lam was so eminently fine with any outcome. This enables her to play pretend that she has established herself as the dictator over Hong Kong, even though it is obvious she was put in place there by her elders. Of course, this is every Hong Kong executive’s fantasy — that China would love him or her so much to allow them the charade of pretending they are in charge of something.

  11. de Cervantes says:

    If we were surprised about the strength of anti-Beijing/government feeling in 2019-2020, we can at least find a rationale. Beijing can’t. They have got post traumatic shock disorder.

  12. Mark Bradley says:

    “ What hasn’t yet been mentioned is the purging of the voter rolls. Permanent resident or not, anyone not holding an SAR or mainland passport or return home certificate will not be allowed to vote.”

    Stop spreading hearsay. This isn’t happening yet.

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