A busy week for Hong Kong’s NatSec regime ends with a focus on education. Most schools sign up for NatSec workshops, to train teachers on forthcoming NatSec classes. Teachers will also at some stage have to take an oath (presumably similar to the civil servants’ one).
And Baptist U introduces a compulsory NatSec element to its graduation requirements. It doesn’t exactly sound onerous: a two-hour lecture, a similar amount of reading, and a ‘quiz’. (Remember what Henry IV of France said.) It’s the symbolism that counts. Of course, there’s always room for curriculum development. No word yet on when university academics will be subjected to oath-taking, Vitasoy-employee and other screening and rectification treatment.
In areas where CCP-overseers are not giving the orders, local officials are less efficient. You wouldn’t have thought they could screw up the handing out of free money – but they manage to do it. (Any idiot could have told the bureaucrats: offer free rice at the same time.)
Some weekend reading…
William Pesek in Nikkei Asia wonders if Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam realizes just what a difficult position Hong Kong is in, with the ‘Dickensian’ inequality that fueled the protests even worse than before, and a government in Beijing apparently on a drive to downgrade capitalism…
Asia’s “world city” now trails Brazil and Mozambique when it comes to inequality … Beneath the billionaire tycoons, chauffeur-driven bankers and gleaming skylines, many of the city’s 7.5 million people are falling further behind — and perhaps more keen than in 2019 to take to the streets.
…now the billionaires, too, might be bracing for what is to come. Xi’s Maoist turn is putting trillions of dollars of market capitalization at risk…
…Once COVID-19 passes, Hong Kong Inc. will likely be more unbalanced than it was before the pandemic hit. An economy that satisfies no one but Xi in Beijing is not one with a vibrant future.
Moron Western fund managers are still sticking with the ‘invest in China’ dream years after it ended as an investment concept. (Reminds me of the time a Fidelity superstar called Anthony Bolton (?) turned up in Hong Kong to perform his stock-picking miracles with a China fund just as the Mainland market peaked. The smart thing – he says modestly – was to move into Vietnam and India five years ago.)
From Niao Collective, a thread of categorized protest-art threads.
For history fans, a niche but fascinating subject – how Hong Kong (Chinese) moveable type spread into the Dutch East Indies.
And for map/WWII freaks, an impressive cartographic database on military preparations before the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941 (intro here). A vivid illustration of how the Brits didn’t expect invasion from the north.
Your take this morning on the worrying trend of inequality really conjures up for me an apposite point of view. It very well could be that the downgrading of capitalism is in fact precisely what the CCP believes will rectify the inequality in Hong Kong and, dare I say, the world.
I am not an expert on communism, or leninism, but I did read a little about Marx, so I may sound ignorant. My take on the reading I have done is that leadership like the CCP is agreed to believe in an ideology that focuses on national development that is precisely “development.” Capitalism and democracy (it’s more evil idealistic cousin) do nothing but sow seeds of inequality and chaos, because it creates an imbalance due to social networks being the driver of most improvements in money-making, profitability and economic growth.
The Communists believe, I think, that society has to be flattened out, that little pockets of “differing” opinions or “incorrect views” need to be eliminated because they encourage and spawn idealogies that counter the trend of eliminating social imbalance. Now, is that true? I don’t know, but look at the trend. The trend is your friend.
Elimination of social groups
Elimination of political groups
Elimination of celebrities and their pop culture social messaging groups
Rolling back the commentary and the social influence of peoiple even as idolised as Jack Ma
Curtailing social gaming
This is not a reaction. This is a plan.
It’s always been the plan, I think, to ride on the back of capitalism, profit from it, and then use that profitability to do a judo move on social society and global diplomacy.
To now wield influence and SHUT DOWN those very same things that helped the Chinese rise, and put in place something that is more ideological and more nation-driven.
My only point here is, I don’t think anyone is invulnerable to this. We can sit here and say that the communists are wingbats, and they are. It’s true. Leninist communism is a paranoid ideology.
But it’s powerful.
The likely thing to happen is that China will envelope Hong Kong and indoctrinate it. The world will ignore it, because that’s what people do en masse. Then one day, people will realise that it’s happening in their own towns. It’s happening on their school boards. It’s happening at the big boarding schools on the East Coast of the US. IT’s happening in the town planning meetings. People with influence who have a communist bent will suddenly have to be reckoned with.
Doesn’t it sound exactly like the 1950s Cold War paranoia that we used to make fun of our parents and grandparents for yelling about at dinner in that decade? There is a reason that Reagan in the US was so gung ho about blowing back communism. He knew. It doesn’t die. It hibernates and it waits. Communism is a very alluring idea, but its hypocrisy, of course, gathers around it all the greed and power and ego-driven mania that it says it solves.
We are up shit’s creek, my dudes. We are in the shit now. I am convinced, things get really bad from here.
Where there is forced indoctrination and the use of loyalty oaths and tests, re-education (institutions/ camps?) must follow naturally for those who go astray. Can’t wait.
@donkey: Yes, BUT….what about “with CHINESE characteristics”??? Will that be the “chink” in the armour??
Back in the early sixties, my auntie Anna, married to a East German, thanks to having a Western European country passport, would somehow manage to sneak out of the „Farmer and Workers Paradise“, and came to stay in our house, and she taught me to sing:
And look what happened…..
Thanks for your illuminating monograph. Food for thought.
I quite agree – the intention is to ‘ruin’ Hong Kong. Xi and the Cadre mob have no affection for the place and there isn’t really anything here they wish to save – they certainly don’t care if a few hundred thousand people leave – nor if foreigners stop coming here; it doesn’t matter – it actually helps them progress the plan faster.
What do they want when it’s finished – just another mainland city.
@Donkey – I do hope you’re wrong, but there’s a lot of sense in what you say. We’ve been slowly chugging up the incline on the rollercoaster of shit, and we’re just going over the crest. Certainly feels like the trajectory is downwards, the only question left being the pace.
Astute. The west went soft on the commies. The commies never went soft on the west. For the past decades the Chinese (and less overtly the Russians, if you ignore Crimea) have been scheming and planning the long game, which they do fantastically well. Whereas, the west has been welcoming their lies, providing them with all the capital they need through trade imbalances, and bickering amongst ourselves every four years, all while getting fat on burgers. It’s survival of the fittest. Who’s the fittest now?
Lam or Sheep
I confess I am
Not fond of Lam
But have a deep
Desire for Sheep.
Lam’s droning words
Can make me ill
But Sheepish words
Give me a thrill.
Though Lam’s dull speech
Can make me sick
Is such a kick.
When Lam’s away
I darkly creep
And listen to
While Lam repeats
The morning lesson
– – – – –
Those fierce Sheep
That harm Hong Kong
Are now in jail
Where they belong.
But Lam’s still doing
And when she’s stewing
What a smell!
Once again more proof how good the comments here can be. Great write up @donkey
Oh and how could I not mention Knownot’s amazing poem?
A caveat, if I may. The CCP want to keep the hard-currency, wholesale money laundry open for business. They do not want to go to London or New York to wash their billions of ill-gotten gains. They reckon the West will allow their international banks to continue to make money in Hong Kong. So far, they have figured it right.
One thing: We have to avoid thinking of the Xi regime as Leninist in the old sense. What’s going on in China is a genuinely contemporary, neoliberal hybrid of Maoist (which is not the same as Leninist) rhetoric and thinking and wonky, cyber-era profit seeking. The classic post-socialist formula for understanding the CCP’s formula for maintaining its iron grip on the polity was nationalism and consumerism. Those factors are still in play, but as Donkey notes, Xi is nudging the needle back in the direction of Mao suits and struggle sessions–but not TOO far.
Truly obligatory reading (did I get this here?): https://qz.com/2051268/china-aims-to-control-but-also-unleash-the-economic-power-of-data/?fbclid=IwAR29m18NpswJgT2s-kZI0Qv4yo17lwWkflt-p4rTIh0ibUQL0vAxHn6-8rY
This is social engineering of a staggeringly audacious magnitude, and also the most ambitious market grab in human history. Zuckerberg and Bezos only wish they had such power.
The bottom line is that capitalism loves a one-party state—the problem for China’s capitalists is that the state insists on not just a cut of the revenues but a permanent appointment as CEO of every corporate enterprise. The relatively freewheeling reform era is over. This is a lesson every western corporation that’s drooled over the Chinese market has learned ten times over. In every transaction, the Party needs to know you’re compliant with their rules, and that you understand that the Party needs to wet its beak, right off the top.
Don’t be too downhearted guys, there are still many simple pleasures left in Hong Kong for those who know where to look:
And don’t forget to read the comment from a certain Skar. The Hang Seng Index 1969-2018 RIP.
How may one go about investing in Vietnam as a small potato? Reliable ETFs dont seem to be available with a focus only on Vietnam it seems.
How could you write “While Lam repeats” and not have it rhyme with ‘bleats’?
My day is incomplete.
Otherwise, very nice, as usual.