The Great 2017 Campus Poster Freak-out Panic

A week ago, mischievous students celebrated the start of the new academic year by putting up ‘Hong Kong Independence’ banners at Chinese University. After the media swiftly reported the shock-horror incident, university authorities panicked, and security guards removed the offensive items. Similar posters sprouted at other campuses – surprise, surprise. Government officials went into panty-wetting mode trying to insist such displays are illegal without specifying how; lawyerly shoe-shiners suggested the use of archaic sedition law. Mainland students attending local institutions contributed to the ongoing free-speech debate by tearing down posters.

Before anyone had time to say ‘Well, that escalated quickly’, much-loathed pro-Beijing kid-brainwashing-proponent Under-Secretary for Education Christine Choi’s son committed suicide. Widespread hateful mockery about her karma ensued, mostly on-line, but also in the form of a poster at Education University. Officials and loyalists, trying not to appear too opportunistic about the common thread – namely, the evil of banners/posters in general – responded with mass-formation mouth-frothing against abhorrent, immoral, debauched, sub-human, disgraceful radical youth. University authorities freaked out and more-or-less wept, campus CCTV footage of the perpetrators was leaked to media, and the university authorities freaked out even more. Thousands of businesses reportedly/supposedly swear never to hire another Education U grad.

Ideally, calm and reason would enter the picture at this stage. Instead, a poster similarly celebrating the death of Mainland dissident Liu Xiaobo appeared at Education U. It looked obviously to be the work of Mainland students – if you credit them with the awareness and subversive flair of their Hong Kong counterparts. Some might suspect scurrilous locals dabbling in black propaganda. Either way, radical students grasped the opportunity to mouth-froth against abhorrent, immoral, disgraceful, etc, and criticize the campus administration for not freaking out, sobbing, etc.

This is not just a succession of storms-in-teacups. The Great 2017 Campus Banner Horror highlights the extreme fear of our establishment lightweights (college administrators, local government officials, all-purpose shoe-shiners) when publicly faced with sheets of cloth or paper bearing the wrong words. They are caught between the vindictive and ruthless Communist Party on one side and an angry younger radical population who know exactly what buttons to push (examples here and here).

Voices of moderation – apparently, some still exist – hope that Hong Kong’s Chief Executive will show leadership and assure Beijing that it does not need to go ballistic over mere banners. This charming idea assumes that a paranoid Leninist regime will take advice from the hapless figurehead stooges it appointed while the wayward city undergoes rectification. Chinese official media meanwhile call for any mention of independence to be criminalized in Hong Kong, ‘as Nazi activities are in Germany’.

The use by both sides of Christine Choi’s family tragedy shows how far Hong Kong has descended in the last few years. The exploitation of someone’s loss of a child is vile – but brainwashing people’s kids is vile. Beijing has ordered United Front intimidation and government persecution of opponents, and an assault on local institutions and values. Its supporters and hangers-on must conform. That means rejecting the relatively decent mutual respect of the old days, and no longer expecting civilized political discourse, or even much sympathy.

 

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10 Responses to The Great 2017 Campus Poster Freak-out Panic

  1. Nina Simone says:

    Hong Kong independence..that’s very funny coming from youths who stay at home living with their,parents until they are 43.

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    “cheap thrills out of getting under Beijing’s skin.”

    Easy…much TOO easy…

    The feelings of the Chinese people have been hurt and trampled on.

  3. Not A Political Decision says:

    What a failure from the government, it had the unique opportunity to quietly push for some restrictions in Legco rules and it just wasted this advantage by overextending and going too far. The independence movement was brain dead after the disqualifications and now it’s back even stronger.

  4. Old Newcomer says:

    Why is it that no other country which has suffered hard times constantly whines that the delicate feelings of its people are being hurt?

  5. pie-chucker says:

    I’m not sure about this button-pushing. ‘Independence’ is the ultimate red rag to the Beijing bull and, of course, our muleta has no sword concealed.

    At best, 3% of the Hong Kong population are in agreement with this demand. More may wish for it, but pragmatism leads us to seeking a more considered accommodation. So, as such, the students are losing support from the local population. Not good, in terms a developing a base of support for the cause.

    I’ve spent decades of my life in Hong Kong as a copywriter, but quite what should be on these banners alludes me.

    We are Chinese.
    We distrust Communism

    Lame, of course, but it presents a bigger conundrum to the Uni Authorities, Liaison Office, Pro-Beijing student body, Carrie.

    By cooling the message we challenge SCMP pundits (in this blog’s sphere of reading) to try to denigrate the sentiment. Don’t encourage mouth-frothing, incite teeth grinding of those in Theatre Lane who cannot refute the sentiment.

  6. LRE says:

    As nasty as the comments were, it’s hard in good conscience to call people out for viciously taking the piss out of members of a government who are so obviously viciously taking the piss out of Hong Kong.

    It is also worth considering that placing someone who’s own kid has committed suicide in charge of an education system that already results in so many suicides may be a somewhat questionable choice in these sensitive times.

  7. Red Dragon says:

    Chinese Netizen: Quite so.

    Not A Political Decision: Can’t quite grasp your point.

    Old Newcomer: I think it has something to do with the fundamental infantilism of the Chinese people, and the way in which the red regime attempts both to harness and reflect this in its childish utterances.

    pie-chucker: Too deep for me, old sport. Your contibution is so gnomic as to leave me rather cold. The word “alludes” in your third paragraph is particularly perplexing. Did u mean “eludes”? After all, you’re the copywriter. And what’s that reference to Theatre Lane all about? Beats me.

    LRE: All good stuff apart from the wayward “who’s”.

  8. Joe Blow says:

    After only 1 year in business. Hooters in Lan Kwai Fong is on the brink of collapse. They can’t pay the rent anymore, like so many other classy outlets in LKF, because Al Zeman only popped in 3 times a week. And judging from the look of the ‘busty’ girls they should have called it ‘The Pancake House’.

    BOYCOTT LAN KWAI FONG

  9. pie-chucker says:

    @ Red Dragon.

    ‘The denizens of Theatre Lane’.

    In the old days, it was the place to go to get keys cut, a chop done in an hour
    and a quick but thorough footwear polish.

    There is a time you have to move on from tired ‘shoe shiners’ and create an another allusion to what is really meant.

    If you think I’m ‘gnomic’, read more China Daily editorials.

  10. bsl says:

    Pie:

    I don’t usually quibble on vocabulary, but calling yourself a copywriter and then confusing the words allude and elude was placing your head on a block. You deserve any barbs you get. Live with it.

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