For the second time in a week, security men assault Hong Kong reporters covering sensitive stories on the Mainland. Outraged citizens imagine that the Hong Kong government will take a stand – but they should be thankful for a bit of pro-forma hand-wringing.
It’s like expecting Hong Kong leaders to indicate whether candidates calling for an end to one-party dictatorship in China will be barred from the ballot. Their response is essentially: don’t ask me, I’m only in charge of the office paper clips. In the background, behind a half-closed door, a Beijing official rants that China is not a one-party dictatorship and calling for an end to this non-existent regime is forbidden.
If you were representing Hong Kong’s puppet/doormat administration awaiting instructions, you would mumble inanities too.
The UK’s Benedict Rogers, chair of Hong Kong Watch, summarizes the ‘lawfare’ Beijing (in the guise of the Hong Kong authorities) is using against the city’s pro-democrat activists. It is a damning synopsis. The government, he notes, has prosecuted one in three pro-dem legislators since Occupy, often using desperate and archaic charges.
Unfortunately, Rogers’ proposed remedies are also unconvincing and stale (presumably influenced by our traditional mainstream pro-democrats).
He says the public prosecutions function should be transferred from the Beijing-approved Secretary for Justice to independent hands. This directly contradicts the Communist Party’s view of ‘seamless’ government – the reason police, electoral and other departments have lost their (relatively) impartial public-service character in the last four years and become political tools. He also hopes, or dreams, the international community will do something.
If it’s any consolation, Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her colleagues, grasping for something coherent to say while Beijing freaks out, can sympathize with such helplessness.