It must be a sign of old age, as I thoroughly enjoyed watching The King and I on TV the other night, one of my favourite films from childhood. Thank God, no CGI! It turns out, though I never realised this before, the more recent Anna and the King with Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-fat is much more political than the original with Yul Brynner. In the first film, a slave girl tried to escape with her secret lover, and the king must decide whether to punish her because her elopement was a personal affront. In the 2000 version, Anna, the British governess, didn’t know the king was ready to show mercy, so she tried to pressure him publicly to spare the girl from execution. A king could not be seen as beholden to a foreigner. He had no choice but to execute both lovers. With the best of intentions, Anna as good as killed the girl herself. Beijing slams report ‘filled with lies’ about security law and Hong Kong protests When Hong Kong’s opposition politicians and anti-government activists hobnob with leaders in Western capitals to urge their governments to pressure and threaten sanctions against China and their own city, the incident in Anna and the King comes to mind. The latest news sees a group within the European Parliament pushing for a European Union version of the Magnitsky Act to direct sanctions against Hong Kong over alleged human rights violations. That predictably prompted an angry late-night response from the Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong. I have no doubt that some Westerners, like Anna, have the best of intentions, most others, though, not so much. Do they seriously think Beijing would ever concede to Western demands over Hong Kong, a city under Chinese sovereignty? There can only be harsh blowbacks and retaliations. Most outsiders have little understanding of the complicated relationship between Hong Kong and the mainland. Pompeo slams China over Hong Kong protesters’ arrest and coronavirus toll Beijing is willing to talk; it wants Hong Kong to succeed. But like the king, it cannot be seen as bowing to foreigners, especially Americans. In 2010, a few courageous members of the Democratic Party met liaison office officials in Sai Wan to cut a deal for a considerable expansion of the franchise in 2012 for the city’s legislature. If only the opposition could produce credible leaders who could pull along the rest of the movement, they would know who they should visit and negotiate with – for the sake of Hong Kong. If only… Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.