Macabre Sense of Humour of the Week Award goes to the Hong Kong government for creating a severe shortage of affordable housing, then having a photo-op of an official handing out fire extinguishers to tenants in tiny and dangerous subdivided apartments. In a Korean dystopia-flic, the next scene would be the guy’s entrails slithering down the grimy stairwell.
A United Front zombie casts doubt on whether the Democratic Party will be allowed to run in the new fake-election system, saying it…
…must review its platform, respect the Communist Party-led state system, not act against national security to meet the minimum requirements of the principle of ‘patriots ruling Hong Kong’. This is the only way it could hope to be reborn.
Beijing’s overseers would probably like a token ultra-moderate to take part for the sake of appearances. Watch the DP agonize over this.
Another United Front drone says the Buy-One-Get-Two No Extra Charge locally-enacted Article 23 NatSec Law will – heard this before? – affect only a small group of people. ‘Who’, he goes on, ‘have been told repeatedly to stop’. Who wrote Tam’s lines for him? Do I detect the same spin-doctor who thought up the fire extinguisher PR stunt?
Similar you-won’t-feel-a-thing cheer from Financial Secretary Paul Chan, who says the Evergrande problem will have only a very minimal impact on Hong Kong – as our stock market hits a 52-week low, and the China-only index a five-plus years one. While over the border…
local authorities … are resorting to various measures to protect the interest of their communities [ie, to stop Evergrande from using local assets to pay off out-of-area obligations], as they are anxious to ensure stability and a protest-free period during the ruling Communist Party’s centenary [or any time].
To put it in context: these stats say salaries in Shenzhen are around a quarter of what they are in New York City, yet property prices are maybe a fifth higher. (Not sure of the source, or whether it includes migrant workers, etc, but it sounds about right – an affordability ratio of 30 or 40.)
Paul Chan’s confidence may be well-grounded: Beijing’s policymakers will surely blink at some point and do whatever it takes to stop the Mainland’s property bubble from bursting. Assuming, of course, they can. What happens if, for example, thousands of Mainland owners rush to sell their Hong Kong apartments? Contagion can be surprising sometimes.
On cultural matters… Fascinating clip (in Canto) about how film-makers brought the streets of 1980s Hong Kong back to life for a movie about Anita Mui. Especially interesting for bores like me for whom anachronisms (hairstyles, dress, billboard ads’ typefaces) jump out and ruin recent-modern period dramas. Watch out for the venerable old Lee Theatre at 0.38. I remember watching David Lynch’s Blue Velvet there – had to go to a nearby bar and order a double whisky afterwards.