Beijing clearly didn't expect such a mass "Umbrella Revolution" in Hong Kong, and it is secretly scared by it. After taking the line that the Occupy Central movement was instigated by "a small number of people," and spun the line, accompanied by loud laughter, that "Hong Kong extremists are a paper tiger," Beijing must have believed, once it had come up with its plan for fake universal suffrage, that it had the situation under control, and that victory was within its grasp. What it hadn't bargained for was the mood of protest among Hong Kong people.
The official media mouthpieces of the ruling Chinese Communist Party have criticized the Occupy Central campaign in the manner of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). They have launched broadside after broadside of acrimony and shrill rhetoric on the Hong Kong protesters, day in, day out. Their criticisms focus on three areas:
1. The Occupy Central movement is illegal and represents an attack on the rule of law in Hong Kong. Actually, it's the central government that has led the way in attacking the rule of law in Hong Kong. Their dictum that judges should set aside their judicial independence and be "patriotic," (which means they should love the party) is just one of a number of dire examples.
2. The Occupy Central movement has harmed Hong Kong's economy. Ever since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule [in 1997], the [ruling] Chinese Communist Party has been damaging Hong Kong's economy with its close ties between officials and companies driving up property and consumer prices, widening the gap between rich and poor and turning Hong Kong to a money-laundering center for party officials. This has not only made Hong Kong people angry; it has dealt a real body blow to their economy.
3. The Occupy Central movement is the result of "overseas forces." Actually, the U.K. and the U.S. have given out quite vague messages on this occasion, causing dissatisfaction among the people of Hong Kong. Beijing's accusations that "overseas forces" are somehow involved is pretty far-fetched, and puts words into other people's mouths. Back in the day ... the Chinese Communist Party quite openly engaged foreign powers to sow civil strife and cause disarray, so as to seize power. For it to shout about overseas forces now is the pot calling the kettle black.
Beijing's propaganda about Hong Kong is all about the "Three Unswervinglys": to unswervingly implement the "one country, two systems" principle and the Basic Law; to unswervingly support the development of democracy in Hong Kong to promote the rule of law; and to unswervingly safeguard the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.
In the past 17 years, the party has in fact unswervingly tampered with the "one country, two systems" principle and the Basic Law, unswervingly hindered Hong Kong's democratic development, and unswervingly damaged our long-term prosperity and stability.
From the point of view of Hong Kong people, who have enjoyed freedom of the press, Beijing is making a noise and having its say, but what it says is a joke. Beijing's media offensive has been either ineffective or counter-productive when aimed at Hong Kong people. In fact, the gentlemen of Zhongnanhai probably already know that. Because their massive wave of criticism hasn't been aimed at the people of Hong Kong at all, but at those in mainland China.
The thing the Chinese Communist Party fears most isn't the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, but the possibility that the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong might spread to mainland China.
That is the fear that prompted the party to detain people for passing on information about the Occupy Central protests inside China. In a burlesque parody of their own paranoid weakness, Chinese police have even started questioning people with raised umbrellas on the streets.
Beijing's order to C.Y. Leung that he move the Hong Kong police in hard and fast against the protesters [on Sept. 28] also sprang from the same fear. The result was an equally quick defeat.
That tactic failed, so they tried another; mobilizing the triads to attack Hong Kong students with violence. The red and the black staged this joint farce, which bore all the hallmarks of the Communist Party: violence, bloodshed, sexual assault, corruption (sending people to pay the anti-Occupy mobs)...
Refusal to change
After dealing with the Tiananmen bloodshed of 25 years ago, the Chinese Communist Party leadership came to the following conclusions:
No concessions to be made from the outset; the pro-democracy movement should have been labelled unrest from the outset; and there should have been clear-cut opposition to said unrest from the outset.
Faced with the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement today, Zhongnanhai has learned its lesson of no compromise and no concessions from 25 years ago, while all this daily verbiage from the People's Daily's op-ed columns is nothing more than a rehash of that infamous [April 26] editorial titled "Resolutely Oppose Turmoil."
All of this shows that Beijing still relies on imperial modes of thought when faced with the question of democracy in Hong Kong. Even this new leadership has been unable to escape the old ideas from 25 years ago.
Such is the banal quality of its leaders' minds and the backwardness of the Communist Party, that it can only respond to innumerable changes with a refusal to change.
Translated by Luisetta Mudie.
Chan Pokong is a U.S.-based author and political commentator.