In case you’re wondering what he’s doing all day – new Chief Secretary John Lee says all hopeful Election Committee candidates will have their past words, deeds and interviews scrutinized. He and his Vetting Committee will thus make sure only sincere patriots take part (even though they don’t have enough time to do thoughts).
This will worry hundreds of businessmen and other ‘secular’ pro-Beijing shoe-shiners who want to win seats on the (essentially) rubber-stamp body. They want to do this for the same reason they have sucked up to the CCP since becoming ‘instant-noodle patriots’ in the 1980s: it served their personal interests (not to mention their vanity). The pre-Xi national leadership was happy with that, but it is no longer good enough. Chances are that no big names will find themselves rejected, but they will understand the message – and realize that they are in a trap.
By contrast, the devout and faithful can face the inquisition with a clear conscience. A CCP-friendly union boss talks of getting on the Election Committee as a way to fix the problems caused in Hong Kong by ‘capitalists’, including housing – the main source of profits for the tycoon shoe-shiners.
Meanwhile the Justice Dept decides that Frederic Choi – NatSec cop found at an illicit ‘massage’ place in Wanchai – is innocent of any crime. (“Is he a speech therapist?” “No, Mr Prosecutor SC, he’s a Senior Assistant Deputy Chief Vice [wink] Sub-Inspector.” “Oh well, that’s OK then!”) The really cool thing: he’s made HK Police director of personnel and training – which (you know it’s going to get better) covers discipline.
Some recommended reading for the next day or two…
SCMP op-ed: increasingly ‘uninvestible’ Hang Seng Index (ie Tracker Fund) as metaphor for Hong Kong as it is absorbed into Bay Area concept and Mainland governance.
The Globe and Mail on the decline of Hong Kong’s anti-corruption service…
…“the perversion of institutions is now so blatant that there are no longer any respectable excuses to pretend otherwise.”
A few HKFP pieces: an interview with film director Kiwi Chow; former district council members try to stay active as the NatSec regime squeezes out civil society; and how the government disregards the law in that process.
On Mainland affairs, an SCMP article on household debt in China: a Shenzhen couple struggling to pay mortgages on apparently three or four unsellable investment properties, while (presumably male) migrant workers are borrowing to pay big wedding dowries.
“Everyone’s loans and leverage are piling up. If you don’t increase yours, you will lag behind in wealth. Of course the risks are growing like crazy, but no one dares to lower leverage, neither the rich nor the government.”
Plus comment by Michael Pettis.
Willy Wo-lap Lam on Xi’s struggle to keep himself at the top (the second half has the meat)…
In the run-up to next year’s 20th Party Congress, Xi and his supporters are tipped to promulgate more internal and public regulations affirming the imperative of the leadership core staying in power as long as his health permits.
Project Syndicate on Beijing’s apparent fiddling of its population stats…
…an analysis of the country’s age structure suggests that it has far fewer citizens than the census reported and that its population is already declining…
Western leaders are overestimating [China’s] economic and geopolitical prospects. They see a fire-breathing dragon when what stands before them is really a sick lizard. This raises the risk of strategic miscalculation on both sides.
Kevin Caricco’s latest on…
…a toxic bottom-up nationalism masquerading as official, while at the same time being intertwined with top-down official nationalism’s targeting of “foreign media.”
A Spectator column by a former UK diplomat on Chinese Olympic cyclists wearing Mao badges, and the IOC’s kowtowing to Beijing. Worth reading for the final para.