Presumptive (HK English media’s fave new word) Chief Executive John Lee releases his ‘manifesto’. Reuters report here. Even by the standards of Hong Kong’s past ritualistic ‘CE campaign’ documents, it is thin, full of platitudes and devoid of specifics.
One slightly noteworthy theme does emerge in the first third or so of the platform. It concerns proposals for district and citywide emergency response capacity to enable volunteers to help out at times of crisis, and vague but apparently parallel measures to enable the community to contribute ideas and feedback into government decision-making. This sounds – possibly – like an acknowledgement that the NatSec regime has depleted Hong Kong’s civil society by dismantling pan-dem District Council and other activists’ neighbourhood networks. Or that the NatSec regime sees a need to displace independent charities still functioning. (For example, we might well have seen higher elderly and overall vaccination rates if local pan-dem politicians’ ward offices were still operating.)
Otherwise, Lee promises to solve housing problems and boost Hong Kong’s competitiveness. just as every CE ‘candidate’ has in their own hastily patched-together platforms – and of course none of them have delivered. Can an ex-cop accomplish serious reforms in these areas? His non-answers to softball questions in the televised ‘Q&A’ session suggest he has little or no familiarity with social and economic issues.
If Beijing had wanted the new CE to have an exciting and detailed platform, it would have happened. John Lee looks to have been hand-picked to do whatever they tell him, and to waffle inanities until they’ve worked out what that will be. This could leave him vulnerable to bad advice from vested interests lurking among the shoe-shiners – hence maybe the weird thing on Saturday about keeping property prices stable in order to boost younger people’s home-purchasing power.
(It should be obvious by now that someone somewhere does not want Hong Kong to have affordable housing, instead prioritizing the accumulation of massive government reserves through sales of artificially scarce land. For a clue, remember that Beijing insisted on limiting land sales back before the 1997 handover. Where competitiveness is concerned, bear in mind that Hong Kong’s only comparative advantages since the 1840s are due to the city being different from – and not being run by – the Mainland.)
Forbes’ William Pesek asks whether China has been ‘juicing’ its GDP growth numbers. (Meeting economic growth targets that are maybe double the underlying real rate is like achieving zero-Covid – officials must appear to do it.)
A major dose of personality cult from state media in the run-up to the CCP’s 20th Party Congress later this year (probably November).
Locked-down students in Guangdong singing Beyond.
Interesting article on how Beijing is having a hard time adapting to a resurgent Western alliance apparent following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine…
…China arguably senses it is under attack politically, economically, ideologically, and militarily by the US-led West. And, like any living being – from a tiny organism to a titan organization – China reacts in three distinct ways to the threat: freeze, flight, and fight…
One US official was quoted as saying that the US intends to “make Beijing feel pain over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” an idea elaborated by Pottinger: “the way to break the dictator-to-dictator entente of Putin and Xi is to lash them ever tighter together, so they have to live like Siamese twins with each other’s mistakes and miscalculations, and then they’ll be begging for surgery to freaking rip them apart.”