Undisputed Chinese supremo, Xi Jin Ping, with his eternally undecipherable half-smile and one, static expression, and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, are both wobbling on sticky waters when it comes to Hong Kong. So sticky is their political situation that they themselves could not have believed that they could land up in such an embarrassing and slippery quagmire in their lifetime, especially with the kind of unprecedented and unbridled power they have wielded over the years.
This is the kind of totalitarian and unquestioned power they have flaunted so blatantly in mainland China over the years, and especially so after Jin Ping became the unelected president-for-life. And this is the power which has found a black hole in Hong Kong.
Indeed, Lam is the direct protagonist and puppet of the ‘mainland’ Chinese regime in Beijing, and, thereby, predictably so, not trusted at all by the people in Hong Kong who have tasted the fruits of democracy and freedom of expression, something effectively denied and suppressed, often brutally, a few miles away in China. No wonder, the vast masses in Hong Kong, especially the restless millennial population, are in no mood to accept the jackboot dictatorship of the Communist Party of China and President Xi Jin Ping, or his hand-picked loyalists in Hong Kong.
The current crisis peaked in Hong Kong, one of top global cities in terms of its strong and lucrative linkages with the global market, in the early days of June after the ‘One Nation, Two Systems’ once again experienced the deep strains and constraints of an impossible balancing act between capitalist authoritarianism and free market democracy. Lam unilaterally imposed a new diktat pushing a law which would have compelled residents of Hong Kong to be extradited to China for trial and punishment in case of criminal or other charges and accusations. Hong Kong simply put its foot down, even as Lam and Beijing flexed their muscles, threatening to crack down.
‘Lay off Hong Kong’, seems to be the writing on the wall. The president-for-life, with his twisted half-smile, will do good to read this graffiti which is at once a call for revolution, and a chronicle of a prophecy foretold.
Even as the massacre of June 1989 in Tiananmen Square came back as a resurrected memory in Hong Kong, which is also home to several Chinese human rights activists and political dissidents, Lam’s order became an evil message of bad faith. Hong Kong holds massive rallies and candle light marches for days in early June every year in mourning, homage and prayer for those killed in Beijing and elsewhere during the brutal Tiananmen Square crackdown against peaceful an unarmed pro-democracy protesters, mostly students.
Lam chose a wrong time to push this draconian extradition order, even as all the wounds of the past came rushing back, including the fact that there is nothing like a justice system in undemocratic China. Between crime and punishment, in China’s totalitarian society, there is no justice system worth its name. Every document or narrative from the mainland, where even foreign journalists are often not allowed to report, says that – especially so about the concentration camps of tens of thousands of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang, or the repressive state apparatus in the ‘prefecture’ of Tibet.
A wrong word on social media can make you disappear, a radical Marxist study circle in a top campus in the capital can lead to hounding, persecution and clampdown, an utopian freedom charter can mean a life-time of prison, and an open protest will be inevitably followed by alleged torture, prison or even death. Free internet is banned. There is no free press. All information is controlled, doctored or planted by the official information structure. And public expression is monitored, as much as private life and times.
Basically, people just disappear into the black holes of the justice system once the top bosses decide that they are not fit to live in this so-called ‘open society’ in total, collective and happy subjugation. Dissent is crushed. Democracy does not exist. And freedom is a bad word which should be avoided at all costs in public or private spaces.
Between crime and punishment, in China’s totalitarian society, there is no justice system worth its name. Every document from the mainland says that – especially so about the concentration camps of thousands of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang, or the repressive state apparatus in the ‘prefecture’ of Tibet.
In such a scenario, extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China meant the death-knell for the universal principles of democracy, dissent and freedom which Hong Kong has enjoyed under colonial rule post-war, even as one of the most ruthless and competitive free market democracy before the Chinese take-over. That is perhaps why Hong Kong does not want to become another Shanghai. That is why millions came out on the streets, in wave after wave of massive tides of protests, stunning the Chinese regime and the communist party bosses, refusing to go back, or succumb to the threat of bloodshed or a bloody clampdown.
Indeed, the whole world watched as Xi Jin Ping, perhaps for the first time as a Chinese dictator, had to bend to accept the demands of the people of Hong Kong. What seemed impossible, became a reality.
The people won, the students won, the artists, the housewives, the old on their wheelchairs, the workers, the journalists, teachers, writers, the school girls and young women professionals – they all won a hard, protracted resistance struggle. Millionaires, big time restaurant owners, those in the glitzy malls, celebrities, traders and businessmen, refused to succumb. Even the porn industry shut shop in solidarity.
Lam finally accepted in pubic her unilateral defeat. The extradition law was declared dead, null and void, without future or substance.
And, yet, the summer of discontent seems to continue in infinite rage.
The people won, the students won, the artists, housewives, the old on their wheelchairs, the workers, journalists, teachers, writers, and the school girls – they all won a protracted resistance. Millionaires, celebrities, businessmen refused to succumb. Even the porn industry shut shop in solidarity.
Hong Kong has overcome the ultimate fear of the repressive state apparatus of a totalitarian regime. They are now routinely on the streets, spontaneously, often with no leadership or programme, demanding freedom, the resignation of the top-heavy state apparatus led by Lam, the idea of a police state, and the slow infiltration of mainland Chinese populations in Hong Kong, especially in the borders, as has been the time-tested Chinese ‘Han’ strategy in Xinjiang, Tibet and other regions. They even captured the legislature and the citadels of power, despite police action and arrests, something unprecedented in post-Mao Chinese history. And they seem to keep coming in waves, like a tide after another tide, day and night, in full sunshine and bathed in a full moon, obsessed with the heady slogans of freedom, dissent and democracy.
Like the unarmed, fasting students at Tiananmen Square in June 1989.
“Lay off Hong Kong,” seems to be the writing on the wall. The president-for-life, with his twisted half-smile, and one static and eternal facial expression, will do good to read between the lines of this graffiti which is at once a call for revolution, as much as a chronicle of a prophecy foretold.
There is a Red Star over Hong Kong. And it is shining bright.