Why can't Queen's Road be renamed as Anti-imperialism Boulevard?

March 09, 2018 17:13
There have been calls among some pro-Beijing politicians that Hong Kong’s street names need to be ‘decolonized’. Photo: Bloomberg

Why can't Victoria Park be renamed as Liberation Park? Maybe Queen's Road can become Anti-Imperialism Boulevard and, of course Statue Square, which has the audacity to honor those who died in the service of British imperialism, could now be known as Tiananmen Square Junior, just like the junior version of the Palace Museum which will shortly be plonked down in the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Yes, it's that time of year when the usual rabble of Hong Kong sycophants, place seekers and flag wavers gather in Beijing to see who can jump highest on command and who can acquire the brownest of brown noses for sticking them, well, you know where. In other words China's so-called parliamentary bodies are in session and the handpicked Hong Kong delegates are on their very best behavior.

We have to congratulate Shie Tak-chung, a local delegate to the Chinese People's Consultative Conference, for leaping ahead of the other sycophants by suggesting that Hong Kong street names need to be decolonized. My suggestions above have no other purpose than to help Comrade Businessman Shie in his endeavors.

But, of course, the prize for long-term sycophancy must go to Rita Fan, Hong Kong's only representative on the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. This former stalwart of the colonial regime, with a Commander of the British Empire award to prove it, has now assumed the role of explainer-in-chief of more or less anything emanating from Beijing that concerns Hong Kong. She has never seen a single ruling from the central government that she does not whole heartedly endorse, nor any move to reduce Hong Kong’s autonomy that she sees as other than being essential; indeed she is usually in the forefront of those urging Beijing to go even further.

After attending meetings with the bosses Ms. Fan eagerly emerges to address the cluster of microphones thrust in her face. She is so enthusiastic (and, to be frank, arguably not the smartest cookie in the jar) in endorsing the party line that she sometimes goes too far.

Here is what she had to say about the plan to remove limitations on the tenure of Xi Jinping as President: "I don't think we can see anyone on the horizon who can pick up this leadership role other than President Xi. So to remove that limitation on two terms, which therefore allows Xi possibly to have a third term, I think is very important for China's development at this stage."

Oh dear Rita, you're not supposed to admit that there's a dearth of talent at the top of the Chinese political system – the party line is simply that term limits need to be removed as they have become irrelevant.

And here's the problem because this handpicked rabble who occupy positions in national bodies are not drawn from the brightest and the best (with just a few honorable exceptions), merely the most loyal. Yet they assume the role of conduits of Beijing’s thinking for the Hong Kong masses. Naturally they are supportive of everything they are told to be supportive of but they just can’t help trying to jump that little bit higher when seeking to prove their credentials.

Chinese officials in charge of Hong Kong used to be slightly embarrassed by this kind of behavior but as the Xi regime consolidates one-man rule it appears that no level of groveling is considered to be excessive.

It matters not a bit that the Hong Kong people who are so promoted to higher levels in these state bodies are either deeply unpopular, unknown or regarded as no more than mediocre back home. Sitting smugly at the top table are the two failed chief executives, Tung Chee-hwa and Leung Chun-ying. Then there are the sons of various tycoons; the old men themselves can’t really be bothered with all this sitting around. They are joined by a smattering of retired officials who are only distinguished by their lack of accomplishment in office and so on.

In their defense it can be said that they do little harm on their visits to Beijing because all they are really required to do is not much more than sit quietly and be lectured by the bosses, followed by a bout of rubber stamping, which they humorously describe as voting.

The very best thing that can be said about most of this mob is that if the regime changes they will be among the first to declare that they had always supported change and indeed had been working behind the scenes for this to happen. Guidance on how this works can be obtained from one of the colonial retreads reborn as steadfast patriots.

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Hong Kong-based journalist, broadcaster and book author