What Beijing’s stooges in HK and Taiwan’s KMT have in common

June 21, 2016 13:03
Beijing-friendly KMT bigwigs (left) like Ma Ying-jeou share a lot in common with Hong Kong's pro-establishment parties like DAB. Photos: KMT, Legco

Causeway Bay Bookstore founder Lam Wing-kee has been dropping bombshells after mainland security authorities who detained him for eight months allowed him a brief return to Hong Kong.

It's now clear that Beijing is the author of Lam’s ordeal, and in the farce that followed his abduction, Beijing is talking gibberish, obfuscating plain facts and trying to turn black into white.

That's not at all surprising; it’s in the blood of the Communist Party.

What is more fascinating to see is how its lackeys in town are responding to the latest episode of this saga.

TVB, now being ridiculed as CCTVB for parroting Beijing’s views, has angered its audience after it abruptly scrapped an interview with Lam.

Other members of the city’s pro-Beijing camp have rushed to the defense of their mainland masters with a plethora of “explanations”:

These booksellers deserve to be punished for leaking “state secrets”, yet the “sensitive political” books they publish and sell are nothing more than exposes and hearsays about the top leaders’ private lives.

There are also hints that Lam and his colleagues sneaked into the mainland to consort with prostitutes or hook up with some women, and some even suggest it’s but another plot by evil overseas forces.

So what’s next for Hong Kong?

One interesting observation is that the city’s government and business sector have come to bear all the hallmarks of today’s Kuomintang in Taiwan when dealing with cross-border affairs.

Today’s KMT is everything other than what it was during patriarch Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) rule, as the KMT historically saw commies as its mortal foes.

But today the island’s businessmen are rushing to kowtow to those on the other side of the strait, and even the just retired Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is so eager to show that he is still useful to Beijing after leaving office.

A KMT whip recently wrote in his blog that “Taiwan must be reunited by the Communist Party and now is the best timing for decisive actions when opportunities present themselves”.

His words remind me of some pro-Beijing businessmen who called for earlier expiry of the “one country, two systems” to pull down all the physical borders and immigration checks.

As Beijing seeks to tame the city, these people will prove to be useful.

There are several key fronts in the struggle.

In politics, local election systems must be remolded toward the way National People’s Congress delegates are “elected”. The super district council seat is in truth modeled on the design of NPC constituencies on the mainland.

Beijing may also give its go-ahead to the SAR government to table a new constitutional reform bill in order to lure the pan-democratic camp into the exercise.

In the economy, more red capital will flood the territory and the impact can even be felt in the livelihood sector.

Local enterprises will have to dance to Beijing’s tune, like participating in the Belt and Road initiative.

Clouds are gathering in other equally vital areas such as education, judiciary and ideology, etc.

This could be seen in the veep appointment saga at the University of Hong Kong and how an op-ed at a Communist Party mouthpiece has brought an international brand to its knees.

Still, the younger generation’s pervasive feeling of estrangement from China, the emergence of nativist political groups and the shift of focus from democracy and universal suffrage to defending a free Hong Kong are all the reasons for cautious optimism.

If the traditional pan-democrats want to catch up with all these developments, they have to retool themselves, shatter the stereotype and step out from their comfort zone.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 20.

Translation by Frank Chen

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Former full-time member of the Hong Kong Government’s Central Policy Unit, former editor-in-chief of the Hong Kong Economic Journal