Just as Xi Jinping ascends to Core Mao-like-status Chairman No-clear-successor No-women General-Secretary of the world’s next Unbeatable Nothing-can-go-wrong Superpower, the Mainlandization of Hong Kong runs into a few embarrassing problems.
In the Legislative Council, smart-ass lawmaker Eddie Chu exploits an obscure parliamentary procedure to postpone a debate on the stationing of Mainland immigration at the West Kowloon rail station. At the same time, sleuth-reporters discover a ‘dormitory’ in the station complex, suggesting that said Mainland officials will crash in the basement overnight.
The High-Speed Rail link is partly a white-elephant scam for the construction parasites and partly a symbolic Mainlandization project, with a dash of cram-more-tourists-in. The co-location aspect is a done deal (where the officers snooze is a side-issue), and as a ‘pragmatic’ transport solution rather than overtly Creepy Communist Thing, it does not greatly stir public opinion. But the episode will remind China’s Liaison Office that the conversion of Hong Kong’s legislature into a proper rubber-stamp organ is still some way off.
Meanwhile, the Court of Final Appeal springs young activists Joshua Wong and Nathan Law from prison while they appeal against their re-sentencing. So long as they are back in the spotlight, the government has to be on the whiny defensive about how this isn’t a political persecution and wasn’t commanded by the henchmen in the Liaison Office. Maybe the court can finesse some sort of ‘with time already served’ middle-way that releases the kids yet vindicates the state prosecution. But in any case the government loses – either Hong Kong continues to have political prisoners, or Beijing demands further ideological rectification of the evil foreign-style independent judiciary (thus even more political prisoners).
China’s Education Minister chooses this time to reiterate that Hong Kong teachers must love and identify with the glorious motherland and force the little kiddies to do likewise. As Maximum Creepy Communist Stuff guaranteed to freak people out, this is unwelcome. Chief Executive Carrie Lam does her best smiley-hand-wringing act. And it might have blown over, except someone in the local education bureaucracy issues an edict semi-requiring schools to make kids watch some televised mind-numbing gibberish forum on the Basic Law featuring Li Fei, a Creepy Communist official from central casting.
Yet again, we have to ask whether apparently stupid or evil local bureaucrats are in fact cunningly subverting Beijing’s rule in Hong Kong. This even goes for Carrie, with her laughably painful excuses: the kids can close their eyes, and this ‘live TV’ technology is so new to classrooms isn’t it? As Joshua Wong and Nathan Law, bail paid, start doing interviews on the Li Fei Forum Education Bureau mess, Mainland officials must be wondering the same thing.