Communication problems

ICAC boss Simon Peh feels a need again to give the impression that any public mention of boycotting the December 19 quasi-election might be illegal…

“I’m not saying that offering such an option in the survey [is] definitely against the law, but I don’t know how they would ask the question, how they would collate the data or how they would release the result,” Peh said.

“If there is any element which amounts to inciting other people not to vote or to cast an invalid vote openly, publicly, that could be liable under the ordinance.”

Peh however noted that it isn’t illegal for people to cast blank or invalid ballots.

When Peh declares ‘I’m not saying’ to be safe, he highlights a key difference between Western and Mainland political rhetorical style. In Western intercourse, speakers often drop in phrases like ‘in my opinion’, ‘in our view’, ‘we feel’, ‘I think’ and so on, to at least appear reasonable. None of that from Chinese spokesmen, who just rigidly recite the official line as incontrovertible, and come across as doctrinaire, hectoring and constantly angry.

Another rule of corporate or political communication is to be consistent and not fall into the trap of sending different messages to different audiences. CNN on China’s weird Peng Shuai dilemma – having a state-run newspaper rant internationally on Mainland-banned social media while maintaining total silence on the issue domestically.

“We could talk here about a two-pronged strategy, about how China has enforced complete silence at home while pushing a narrative externally about meddling journalists and the politicizing of sport. But to call it a strategy at all suggests a sophistication that is not really there,” said David Bandurski, director of the China Media Project.

“What we actually see is desperation … It’s an extremely sensitive issue for the leadership. I think probably one of the most sensitive news stories that’s happened in the last decade.”

Politico on Joe Biden’s ‘democracy summit’, which is guaranteed to annoy all the right people – ‘China is furious’. Beijing misses a golden opportunity to keep quiet and ignore the contrived-sounding event and issues a desperate white paper on its own ‘democracy’…

China’s political system today is as different from Western democracy as Chinese characters from Latin or Cyrillic alphabets. But it does not make this system inferior or less attractive, Yury Tavrovsky, head of the “Russian Dream-Chinese Dream” analytic center of the Izborsk Club, told the Global Times

Global Times offers a similarly laughable comparison between the Chinese and US election systems. Tankies will no doubt take it at face value. Bear in mind that the purely ceremonial exercises in the Mainland are even less pluralistic and up-for-grabs than Hong Kong’s quasi-election, which has vestigial features from freer times, like campaigning on the street and candidates masquerading as opposition.

The ‘we are democratic too’ claims are even richer given that Beijing has long dismissed the core ingredients of representative government – like a free press and independent judiciary – as evil foreign ideas unsuited to the motherland and indeed threats to one-party rule. More mixed messaging.

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7 Responses to Communication problems

  1. D3SH says:

    “The new Legco will become a place for reasoning now that the electoral system has been enhanced.”

    So says Louis Loong Hon-biu. Who knew LegCo candidates had a sense of humour?

  2. donky says:

    I don’t even know where to search to find it, but I remember watching a programme on the web that was originally broadcast in Australia. It was a “town hall” type of event that was sprung up sometime around the beginning of the threats and cajoling over Australian coal and wine, etc. If you remember, China was having a fit about something, I can’t even remember what it was, and they were at the time threatening to “collapse” Australia’s economy which obviously depends only on China for its imports and exports.

    Well, during this town hall, they had a Chinese guy there, who was some member of the Australian embassy or consular affairs team. What began as a slight aside about China not really being democratic turned into this intense back and forth where the Chinese consular official started at first to just delicately explain the “chinese style democracy” and then moved on to just saying, “it is real democracy,” and then, as the audience even started to get into it and jeer him and basically call him a liar it turned into a back and forth with the audience quite correctly saying things like “China is NOT a democracy,” and the consular official just reducing himself to saying “YES IT IS!”
    Funnest and funniest thing I have seen in a long long while.

  3. Any colour you want so long as it's red says:

    Tony Benn’s five questions are basically the best analysis of any claims of democracy:
    1. “What power have you got?”
    2. “Where did you get it from?”
    3. “In whose interests do you use it?”
    4. “To whom are you accountable?”
    5. “How do we get rid of you?”

    LegCo Reps Answers:
    1. We can stop some of the CCP’s projects and laws in HK if we dare, but we won’t because we don’t and if we did the CCP would get rid of us (see also UK monarchy).
    2. The CCP.
    3. The CCP and myself.
    4. The CCP.
    5. The electorate can choose the other CCP candidate in four years’ time or the CCP can arrest me.

  4. justsayin says:

    Taiwanese democracy is better than Chinese democracy so there

  5. Low Profile says:

    So far as I know, the only action it is commonly a crime to incite but not to perform is suicide. Even by Hong Kong’s current fantasyland standards, it seems a bit far-fetched to equate casting a blank vote with killing oneself!

    As for whether a democracy is “real”, the three major questions I would ask are: does every citizen get a free and equal vote, are competing ideas free to be expressed and argued, and do voters have the power to kick out an unwanted leader or government? Hong Kong now fails on all three counts.

  6. Kwun Tong Bypass says:

    Whole-process people’s fake democracy is a complete system with supporting mechanisms and procedures, and has been fully tested through wide participation of unelected CCP apparatchiks. It integrates two major fake democratic models – rigged electoral democracy and mind and media controlled consultative democracy — and it operates a fake democratic system covering a population of more than 1.4 billion from 56 ethnic groups of a vast country, making possible the wide and sustained oppression of all its people.

    As for Simon Peh
    Poor soul, has not yet received the song sheet from the LO. Maybe they are still struggling with the juggling of tennis balls….

  7. Stanley Lieber says:

    “Iranian democracy with Chinese characteristics” has a certain ring to it.

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