• Fri
  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 7:02am
Jake's View
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 July, 2014, 3:25am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 July, 2014, 3:25am

Police can handle Occupy protest, so why the paranoia from Beijing?

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said yesterday that government operations could break down if Occupy Central brings the main business district to a halt.

South China Morning Post, July 11

There is something missing here. Are we being told that more than 33,000 policemen will be utterly helpless in the face of a few hundred protesters sitting down on the streets of Central?

OK, let's say it will be a few thousand protesters. I very much doubt it, but let's paint the most threatening scenario. The police will still outnumber them 10 to one. Are we being told that the police cannot pick them up, bung them into a holding pen and have the streets clear again in less than half an hour?

Here we have a police force that has known since the mid-1990s that the People's Liberation Army garrison is unwilling to help maintain civil order. The force then established a tactical training school at Fanling specifically to train its members in riot and crowd control.

It has put class after class through all the latest techniques in gradated force. It has armoured command vehicles with handholds charged at 300 volts if any rioter is dumb enough to climb on them. The police have been preparing for this for almost 20 years.

In fact they had a trial run at it the other day, picking up 500 protesting kids after the democracy march. Everything went tickety-tick. More toilets and lunch boxes may be needed next time, perhaps, but that's about it.

If they say they are not yet ready, if they cannot prevent the breakdown of government and business operations in Central, if Occupy Central truly has them cowed, then there is only one thing to do: sack the commissioner and everyone in the next two ranks down. They are obviously complete incompetents. We shall have to start afresh. But I don't think this is actually the case. I think what we actually have here is Beijing's paranoid fantasy.

On the mainland, it would be easy to stop Occupy Central before its supporters could even occupy a bus seat to get there. As soon as they stated their plans they could be thrown in jail for causing trouble and being quarrelsome.

Jurisdictions governed by the rule of law have trouble with this concept, however. Robbery, assault and murder are crimes, but whose rights have been infringed by "trouble"? Who suffers broken bones because someone is "quarrelsome"?

In fact, in most societies it is the troublemakers who bring about the greatest reforms or, at least change. Mao Zedong was a troublemaker and yet his face still graces every banknote in China. Public dispute is essential to social advance. It is how society works out where public effort should go.

But while public security officials in Beijing do not have to put up with such notions at home, it frustrates them enormously that they must still do so in Hong Kong.

And it particularly worries them that, like Falun Gong, Occupy Central appears well organised. They see real danger in this. A spontaneous mob is one thing but organised opposition is a potential threat to the primacy of the Communist Party.

They have thus been active behind the scenes in recent months, drumming up anti-Occupy support from sympathetic businesses and citizens, who make ever more dramatic claims about how ruinous a Central sit-in will be.

It's nonsense, unless the police deliberately let it happen, under instruction.

I don't really blame the banks and accountancy firms that have had to fall for it. They are peculiarly vulnerable to this kind of coercion.

The accountants, for instance, were recently told they would be excluded from audits in China. To do a proper job for their clients they must see this ridiculous edict unwound. They cannot afford to annoy Beijing just now.

It is also notable that the Beijing operatives stirring up this alarmist brew don't dare show their faces over the lip of their cauldron. They sneak about and whisper, hiding themselves from public view. What a wonderful model for good government.

Carrie, you have a police force. Just tell them do their job.

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This article is now closed to comments

icsl
Very disappointed with Jake. "Occupy Central appears well organised." you must be blind. Most followers are young radicals, we have seen them in recent events acting violently, disturbing law and order.
The impact of OC is not a joke, it affects all of us. Majority of Hongkongers is against OC. We do not want to be threatened by OC. The organizers are very irresponsible, OC cannot be a peaceful demonstration when the objective itself is illegal. I would like to see these cowards coming forward taking full responsibility when things get out of control.
Warnings from Carrie Lam and many others are valid warnings. The master-mind behind the scene disguised under "Fighting for democracy" cares nothing about democracy for Hongkongers. They just want to harm the PRC by damaging Hong Kong. Sad to see our young ones being manipulated.

iandubin
Right on Jake, as (pretty much) usual.
53c27550-ef40-49f6-804b-08ea0a3209ca
Let's see the United States is moving most of its military to surround China as part of the Asian Pivot.
It is negotiating a trade deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership that will surround China economically and start to undermine the Chinese economy.
And, the United States has become expert at using "democratic revolutions" to create mischief and even undermine governments. The color revolutions, most recently in Ukraine, have become an effective tool of US foreign policy.
I'm not saying that is what is happening in Hong Kong, but there is no doubt the US is watching and figuring out how to use this to its advantage.
ejmciii
You should lay off the acid, dude. It is making you delusional.
kctony
Don't flatter ourselves. You need to list out concrete moves otherwise you are just blowing up things.
Hong Kong is a golden goose for the damn Americans in Wall Street. I seriously doubt the Americans want to see HK in chaos.
iandubin
You might want to phrase that as 'ATTEMPTING to figure out how to use this...'. Considering the CIA's record of (ahem) success I wouldn't lose any sleep over this one if I were you.
53c27550-ef40-49f6-804b-08ea0a3209ca
Let's see the United States is moving most of its military to surround China as part of the Asian Pivot.
It is negotiating a trade deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership that will surround China economically and start to undermine the Chinese economy.
And, the United States has become expert at using "democratic revolutions" to create mischief and even undermine governments. The color revolutions, most recently in Ukraine, have become an effective tool of US foreign policy.
I'm not saying that is what is happening in Hong Kong, but there is no doubt the US is watching and figuring out how to use this to its advantage.
ejmciii
Not paranoia at all, just that the masters in Beijing not understanding the difference between people in the Mainland and people here. In the mainland you have millions who barely get enough to eat and have been used to a lifetime of threats of hunger and uncontrolled repression from the military, secret police, police and party. They fear the repression because they know it well. They know of the work camps where the police can send you if they feel like it and that in most cases the judges who try cases are just an organ of the Party. So their threats of instability and repression to Mainland people work pretty well. A few dissidents now and again but most of the 1.3 Billion know the score. Their access to information is controlled by the masters who want to make sure that the people realize how terrible the world is outside China. In HK we are not used to that. Few people in HK struggle to eat on a daily basis. They may be worried about the mortgage payment but they are not facing famine. Also most are reasonably educated at least through age 18. They have full access to all the media of the world and travel. Threats of stability leading to a post-apocalyptic HK are largely silly. Worst case scenario is a traffic jam in Central. Stock exchange operates, the banks operate, watch stores operate. The MRT works just fine but buses in some areas are slowed. We're not threatened and do not buy it, propaganda notwithstanding.
chaz_hen
Actually, the wu mao note does not have The Chairman's portrait.
captainlui
DOES THE BRITISH FORCE IN HONG KONG HAD SUPPORT HONG KONG POLI CE FORCE DURING THE 1960 ERA ?

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