No-one in HK choosing anything

Carrie Lam ‘will not seek a second term’ – her words, quoted in numerous international media, which then take them at face value and fail to point out that a second term is not hers to seek. 

We are now going to see a flood of overseas press reports referring to Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive being decided by an election, even if there is only one candidate. Reputable and normally conscientious outlets (Reuters, NY Times, etc) will attempt to qualify this by saying only a small group of Beijing loyalists have a vote. But this will still be incorrect. Even calling it ‘stage-managed’ or ‘rigged’ is misleading. There is no ‘election’. Sticking labels saying ‘ballot’ and ‘voter’ on inanimate objects doesn’t alter that.

Xi Jinping’s number-one skill is painting himself into corners. An insistence on meeting GDP growth targets creates a spiral of debt and wasteful construction that Beijing wants to stop but can’t. The delusion that ‘the West is in decline and China will replace it’ is trapping the country in a dangerously hubristic foreign outlook. The obsession with annexing Taiwan looks ever-less realistic. And now China is committed to two more utter losers – a zero-Covid approach to Omicron, and support for Putin’s genocide in Ukraine – with no non-humiliating ways out.

In its minor and localized way, the choice of John Lee as Chief Executive is part of this pattern. Presumably there will be a reshuffling in which the visibly less enthusiastic senior bureaucrats are replaced with obedient loyalists who take Beijing’s word literally. Whatever the cost in institutional, commercial or cultural capacity, the work of making Hong Kong less distinct must continue, to prove a point about the city as a Western-infested national security weakness.

Reports (with some overlap) on the inane zero-Covid approach in Shanghai here and here

As more residential communities are blocked off with metal barriers — some entrances reportedly even welded shut with iron bars — people are becoming increasingly unhappy about the policy.

Samuel Bickett considers the pros and cons of foreign judges resigning from Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal.

Thought for the Day from Isaac Asimov: 

“When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent.”

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25 Responses to No-one in HK choosing anything

  1. Hamantha says:

    “Xi Jinping’s number-one skill is painting himself into corners. An insistence on meeting GDP growth targets creates a spiral of debt and wasteful construction that Beijing wants to stop but can’t. The delusion that ‘the West is in decline and China will replace it’ is trapping the country in a dangerously hubristic foreign outlook. The obsession with annexing Taiwan looks ever-less realistic. And now China is committed to two more utter losers – a zero-Covid approach to Omicron, and support for Putin’s genocide in Ukraine – with no non-humiliating ways out.”

    Going off the two/three blunders mentioned by Hemlock as committed by Xi Jingjing, I’ve gone ahead and listed a few more, just for my own amusement…

    -The “One Belt, One Road” initiative.
    -Militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea.
    -Bullying nations bordering the South China Sea with China’s 9-dash-line claims.
    -Instigating military conflict with India over border claims.
    -Genocide in Xinjiang.
    -The “Greater Bay Area” initiative.
    -Anti-corruption initiative (?).
    -Invasive state intervention into family planning (adherence to the old one-child policy, followed by shift to a two-child, and later three-child policies).
    -Constant threats of, and wartime preparation for, invasion of Taiwan.
    -Coverup of the China Flu, aka COVID-19.
    -“Dynamic Zero COVID” post-2021 for China, HK, Macau.
    -Pushing Traditional Chinese Medicine over effective modern medicines.
    -National Security Law in HK.
    -“Patriots Only” governance in HK.
    -Semi-nationalizing medium to large scale enterprises in China.
    -Undercutting the tech, education, and property sectors.
    -Allying with Russia in its unjustifiable war of aggression in Ukraine.

    Just the first bunch that comes to my head!

  2. Low Profile says:

    @Hamantha – add continuing support for the unpleasant Kim dynasty in North Korea to that list (as well as partnering with other corrupt dictatorships around the world). Plus refusal to accept the international legal judgement over competing Chinese and Filipino claims in the South China Sea. Not to mention unilaterally abrogating the Joint Declaration with the UK over Hong Kong’s future. And kidnapping booksellers Xi doesn’t like. Destruction of churches and mosques. Once you get started building a list, you could write a whole book of them.

  3. donkey says:

    You see how big China is and you automatically want to believe that the leader — especially the supreme leader — must be some really big potato who is really smart and knows what he’s doing.

    You really do want to root for the guy. I honestly think there is a human tendency to think it. But then…

    To echo Hemlock here, he is a really really shitty leader. He’s like a boss who got promoted because he was someone’s son and doesn’t have the first clue about how to manage people, project stability and calm, or even a predictable future. And to top it off, nobody is scared of him, they are scared of his minions, who are EVEN WORSE than he is.

    I suppose there is comfort in knowing that history is very predictable. Authoritarian regimes simply do not survive. The Leninist ones especially seem to believe that human will is not real. That idealism is a cancer. That hope is some kind of twisted decadence that is set to poison any regime that buys into it. But all of these things they think are weaknesses are really strong, and they end up squishing authoritarianism like a bug.

    Poor Xi. He tried!

  4. Quick Silver says:

    Beijing blundered in appointing a cop to run the government. They can’t admit error, but moving him up to governor neatly solves the problem. When given instructions he can be counted on to salute and say “Yes sir!” then have someone with sufficient experience to do the implementation.

  5. Chef Wonton says:

    Trivia alert.

    Former Hong Kong Heads of Police later appointed as Hong Kong Governor/Chief Executives.

    John Lee will be the second. There has been one before: Francis May, who headed the police 1893-1901 and then was Governor during the Great War years from 1912-1918.

  6. MT says:

    May was, as it happens the only governor of Hong Kong to be the target of an attempted assassination. So far.

  7. Mary Melville says:

    https://www.dimsumdaily.hk/central-govt-liaison-office-urges-election-committee-to-support-john-lee-who-will-be-nominated-as-ce-candidate/
    So appoint him over the weekend with a guaranteed supply of Grecian 2000 and save Hong Kong from the ordeal and international humiliation the ‘selection’ will generate.

  8. Guest says:

    Love the Asimov quote. I see examples of it all over the world.

  9. Kwun Tong Bypass says:

    Commie mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s Great Illusion:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvBlzDz9ttM
    skip to 8:40

    And then we got a “worker-peasant-soldier student’, who read a bit of Marx and Lenin while fittingly living in a cave for seven years, and apparently later got a degree in Chemical Engineering!

    And for LKY “fans”: Watch his reaction from 14:10 onwards

  10. Chinese Netizen says:

    donkey said: “He’s like a boss who got promoted because he was someone’s son and doesn’t have the first clue about how to manage people, project stability and calm, or even a predictable future.”

    He’s not “like”…he IS. Remember, despite daddy being persecuted during the CR, Shit Jumping is still “Red Royalty” and THAT is what makes so many of the princelings act as though they’re infallible. Ain’t that right, Bo Xilai?

  11. A Poor Man says:

    Mary – How about this one “Police officer leaves gun at hair salon after hair cut in MTR Tin Shui Wai Station”.

    Are po po allowed to carry their service guns when not on duty or did the po po in question get a haircut while on duty?

  12. justsayin says:

    The HK voting system does seem to resemble a cargo cult at this point.

    Those articles about the Shanghai lockdowns were quite chilling. I sent friends there emails to ask how they are doing but the thought police read all their emails and I doubt they will send back much more than praises of the great helmsman Shit Jumping and reaffirmations of the need for all in society to contribute their part to win-win dynamic zero covid with Chinese characteristics.

  13. MT says:

    @justsayin – It’s like a cargo cult, except in this case it’s a cargo cult that hates and fears aircraft.

  14. reductio says:

    @Kwun Tong Bypass

    Good catch at 14:10 : FREE PRESS ALERT – FREE PRESS ALERT Exterminate! Exterminate!

  15. Vag on the rag says:

    John Lee is resigning.

    Let the CE Selection Tombola commence.

  16. ex-pd says:

    Apologies for being slightly off-topic. The SCUM reported today that “Authorities began distributing anti-epidemic packs – containing 20 rapid tests, 20 KN95 masks and TWO boxes of proprietary traditional Chinese medicine – to nearly 3 million households on Saturday.” The ex-pd household only got one voodoo box of magic alchemic potions.

  17. Terms of Enslavement says:

    Re: Carrie Lam ‘will not seek a second term’
    As I remember it, she didn’t exactly seek the first term: she was all for nicking off to the glorious patriotic motherland of China Surrey. In soviet Hong Kong, the term seeks you.

    @justsayin
    “The HK voting system does seem to resemble a cargo cult at this point.”
    Himfella comment bilong nambawan! Spot on!

  18. dimuendo says:

    For those who say authoritarian regimes always fail, it can take a very long time. Remember Mao and Stalin, among others, died peacefully in their beds.

  19. Paul Jackson says:

    Does dynamic zero covid mean that the CCP get to define “zero” dynamically, or “covid” dynamically, or both?

  20. Northern Menace says:

    My reaction when I heard that Carrie Lam has decided not to run for re-election to spend time with her family.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjGaUMXOmSw

  21. Chinese Netizen says:

    @Paul Jackson: Yes.

    @Mary Melville: Since when did “urge” become “commands”? Esp if the “urging” is coming from the central liaison office? Ha!

    @ALL: Remember early-to-mid 2000s “Asia’s World City”? So much ambition, hopes and dreams. Those were some heady times, no? Gone forever…

  22. Toph says:

    @dinuendo: plus, in case anyone hasn’t noticed, Russia and China are still authoritarian.

    Many individual autocrats meet with turbulent departures or nasty ends. It’s a built-in feature of being too egotistical or paranoid for a succession plan. But they are as often as not replaced by yet another autocrat.

    Democracies, like bicycles, are stable once established but difficult to get started. They require all major political actors collectively deciding to abide by a set of rules that limit their own power, instead of trying to kill each other. All too frequently, people reach for their guns.

  23. Duck Feet says:

    Boy oh boy, the powers that be picked on the wrong guy in Samuel Bickett, who is maintaining staunch support for HK, while clearly not expecting to return any time soon, viz “we are focused on the eventual liberation of Hong Kong and its people”.

    (btw, I’m not letting anyone steal “staunch support” from my lexicon.)

  24. Red Dragon says:

    Dimuendo.

    Re. Uncle Joe. Not exactly a peaceful death in his bed, I would submit.

    I quote the wikipedian oracle:

    On 1 March 1953, Stalin’s staff found him semi-conscious on the bedroom floor of his Kuntsevo Dacha. He had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage. He was moved onto a couch and remained there for three days. He was hand-fed using a spoon, given various medicines and injections, and leeches were applied to him. Svetlana and Vasily (his children) were called to the dacha on 2 March; the latter was drunk and angrily shouted at the doctors, resulting in him being sent home. Stalin died on 5 March 1953. According to Svetlana, it had been “a difficult and terrible death”.

    The Great Helmsman’s final years don’t sound much fun either.

    Again from wiki:

    Mao’s health declined in his last years, probably aggravated by his chain-smoking. It became a state secret that he suffered from multiple lung and heart ailments during his later years. There are unconfirmed reports that he possibly had Parkinson’s disease in addition to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. His final public appearance—and the last known photograph of him alive—had been on May 27, 1976, when he met the visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He suffered two major heart attacks, one in March and another in July, then a third on September 5, rendering him an invalid. He died nearly four days later, at 00:10 on September 9, 1976, at the age of 82. The Communist Party delayed the announcement of his death until 16:00, when a national radio broadcast announced the news and appealed for party unity.

  25. dimuendo says:

    Duck Feet

    Let us compromise and agree the great leaders died natural deaths (seemingly in.their repective beds) and did not end up like, say, Chercheschu (sp) – whose death belies my point, a little.

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