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.