Monday, September 01, 2014

One Way Traffic

Before 1997, there was a slew of books predicting that the advent of Chinese rule would inevitably mean the death of Hong Kong.  For several years, I believed that they were wrong.  I would tell friends overseas who asked how life here had changed that the Chinese government had interfered far less than we all feared, and that by and large Hong Kong life went on much as before.

It is now apparent that these perceptions arose from a false sense of security.  In reality, Hong Kong has been in the position of a woman forced into an unwanted arranged marriage whose new husband chooses not to consummate it immediately - but eventually she is bound to get well and truly screwed.  And now we are.

Among the many betrayers of Hong Kong who have contributed to the dire situation we are in, one name stands out.  Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai CBE - prominent among the sudden patriots I wrote about yesterday - is Hong Kong's only member (one can hardly call her a representative, as she only represents herself) of the NPC Standing Committee that laid down the disastrous fake democracy blueprint delivered yesterday.  As such, she bears a special responsibility for its decision.

The Independent newspaper once asked "What is it about Rita Fan that makes Hong Kong hate her so?"  Well, one obvious reason is that she likes to lecture Hong Kong people on why they are all wrong about Beijing, and boast of her own unique insight into the Central Government's thinking.  A few days ago she warned Hong Kong people not to pressurise Beijing (as if a mouse could apply much pressure to an elephant!), and after yesterday's announcement she reinforced the message:
"If we want something done we have to persuade them in a manner that they can understand.  We should never persuade people in a manner that they feel unhappy about, that they feel they are being pressurised."
OK, so let us assume for a moment that Fan is right.  Since she claims to know how to persuade Beijing in a manner that it can understand, how has she used this knowledge to make them realise that the pseudo-democracy it proposes for Hong Kong can only exacerbate unrest, deepen division, and ultimately destroy the very "stability and prosperity of Hong Kong" to which the Beijing leadership so often claims to be committed?  And has she advised Beijing not to let Hong Kong people feel that they are being pressurised?

Well, nothing at all, and no, respectively.  Fan did not achieve the power and influence she so clearly enjoys by speaking uncomfortable truths to the powerful.  She will tell Beijing nothing about Hong Kong that it does not wish to hear.  And the narrative - or myth - Beijing prefers, and may even fool itself into believing, is of a contented and united populace loyally devoted to the motherland and grateful to the all-powerful Chinese Communist Party for the gifts it so munificently bestows on them, spoiled only by a negligible handful of dissident troublemakers stirring up disagreement.

Fan is not of course the only politician peddling this one-way traffic - passing down Beijing's imperious edicts to Hong Kong, while failing to help the Central Government understand the SAR's needs and concerns.  With a few honourable exceptions, most government ministers and the DAB's leaders are all guilty of the same thing.  But as Hong Kong's only member of the NPC Standing Committee, Fan was in a uniquely privileged position last week to make a real difference to Hong Kong's future.  By going along with a decision that will ensure future CEs continue to speak for the Central Government rather than representing the people of Hong Kong, she has sadly abused that privilege.

As the winter of our discontent deepens, what adds insult to injury is that not only has Fan welcomed the approaching iceberg, but she and fellow Beijing toady Lau Siu-kai, former head of the Central Policy Unit, have even blamed us - the Hong Kong people - for steering the ship into it.  According to them Beijing has taken a hard line against the democrats in Hong Kong, as Lau puts it, "simply because of the the pressure they apply on Beijing".  Yeah, sure - and without that we would surely be living in paradise...

PS - it's hard to believe when you look at her now, but Rita Fan was quite a beauty when she was young.

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