More on the ‘important speech’ study sessions… HKFP counts no fewer than 60 such events in the month since Xi Jinping’s historic oratory. Organizers include local and central government departments, pro-Beijing groups and schools. Participants range from senior civil servants to kindergarten kids.
“I believe this is a gradual transfer of the mainland’s political culture to Hong Kong. Hong Kong was not used to having to learn about a leader’s speech. That [practice] has a long history in the mainland though,” [academic Ivan] Choy told HKFP.
…“Those who used to criticise Hong Kong for being too political now support these political learning sessions,” Choy said.
Not sure whether ‘gradual’ is the right word. The NYT has also picked up the story…
In a government news release describing the [study] session, the term “important speech” was used 10 times, in nearly every paragraph.
…While Hong Kong has long had to abide by Beijing’s decisions over major issues, the bureaucracy’s conspicuous embrace of Mr. Xi has crystallized the city’s new identity as a territory firmly in Beijing’s grip. The performance of loyalty to Mr. Xi is the latest feature of the Communist Party’s assertive approach to Hong Kong and its efforts to tame the city’s defiant political streak.
It’s one thing to have all these loyalty-focused rituals in the Mainland, where the practice goes back decades (centuries, millennia) – but surely different to impose them almost overnight in a previously free and pluralist environment.
If officials try too hard to appear avid in the eyes of Mainland overseers, they risk looking farcical to much of the public. That said, one possible side-effect of forcing Hong Kong’s local elites to perform overt patriotic rituals will be to drive a symbolic ‘values’ wedge between them and their erstwhile peers overseas. It must be tough to hobnob as an equal with your Western buddies while clutching a copy of Xi’s latest must-read volume.
I could think of more effective ways of winning hearts and minds – especially in a city with serious inequality and ample resources. But, as a multitude of observers remind us, the idea is not to gain sincere admiration from the populace, but simply to force them to acquiesce, if not kowtow. That is the way to create harmony, progress and thousands of years of civilization.
Your daily whiny outburst-tantrum comes courtesy of the official response to the UN Human Rights Committee, which has modestly requested Hong Kong to repeal or at least suspend the NatSec Law. (Did Luxembourg get this upset as well?)
But that’s nothing compared to the ballistics we can expect if overseas activists go ahead and set up a Hong Kong parliament-in-exile. Cynics might doubt such a body would have any credibility – but that’s before the mouth-frothing rants start.