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 Post Posted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 5:56 am 
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If the Chief Executive and his allies are not in favour with the powers in Beijing, it seems weird to ask Beijing to do some action on their behalf. Or are there enough layers in between for that still to be viable?

Could it be, that both factions jockey for approval from Xi? Like one shows off, how strong their leadership is, while the other shows off, how wise they are, trying not to rock the boat?

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 Post Posted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 9:25 am 
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Could it be, that both factions jockey for approval from Xi? Like one shows off, how strong their leadership is, while the other shows off, how wise they are, trying not to rock the boat?

I think this is a probable scenario. While all of these shenanigans have been going on down here, Xi has consolidated his power in Beijing. He got the other members of the Politburo to recognize him as China's 'Core Leader', a term that hasn't been used since Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s. The last two presidents weren't so self-aggrandizing and it was hoped that China was transitioning to a predictable rule-by-committee system. Now Xi's dragged it back into strongman territory. So probably some purges are coming up. I imagine the various factions are desperately trying to save their own bacon.

The uncertainty has led Hong Kong elites to start jockeying for power. Chief Executive CY Leung's term is up next year, and he will only "run" for a second term if OK'ed by Beijing. There are several people scrambling to get themselves anointed as Hong Kong's next leader, most of whom are insufferable.(1) Very strangely, some unknown faction of moderate elites has put up the closest thing they will come to a protest candidate: a very polite retired judge.

(1) A choice between poop flavoured chocolate, chocolate flavoured poop, and poop.

The other scenario is that CY Leung was merely using the empty threat of legal reinterpretation to threaten the local judge into ruling his way, and his rivals called his bluff.

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 Post Posted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:16 am 
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What are the various democrats and localist faction doing?

Are they trying to forge alliances with the more moderate elites taking part in intrigues, or are they more watching from the sidelines?

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 Post Posted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:45 pm 
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Apart from the guy who is taking on the rural kingpins (I met him once, he's impressive), the localists are trolls at heart. Imagine 4Chan formed a political party. They wouldn't be seen dead with the moderate elites. They think the mainstream democrats are sellouts.

The mainstream democrats are caught up in protesting the government's attempts to disqualify the 2 localists. The majority of them are lawyers, which means they care more about rules and process than anyone else. They're not really big picture strategists. I don't know if they're going to publicly back the retired judge. He might not even want their backing.(1)

There is a small splinter group of centrist democrats who've been trying to position themselves as the honest broker between Beijing and the democrats, but everybody just ignores them.

The moderate elites are basically John Kasich to the hardliners' Donald Trump. They don't particularly like the idea of democracy, they generally think that the plebes should pipe down and let their betters make the decisions, and that the purpose of government is to facilitate private profit. They yearn for a return to more peaceful times before all these rabble rousers showed up. They just don't hold much truck with all this conspiracy-mongering, punitive rhetoric and nationalist chest-beating that the hardliners traffic in. It's bad for business.

The retired judge characterized the Umbrella Protesters as a bunch of starry-eyed youth who maybe just got swept up in the fun and peer pressure. That's about as charitable an assessment as you'll get from the elites - I mean, it's better than "CIA-brainwashed trash youth". He also generously said that the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre was "inappropriate". I don't exactly blame the localists for not wanting to be seen dead with the likes of him.

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 Post Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:51 am 
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The hardliners have won, because of course they did. The National People's Congress has decided to reinterpret the law. The local court will never get to make its ruling. Beijing will make it officially illegal for legislators to publicly disrespect China or advocate independence. Thought crime will be codified.

It's hard not to feel a little bit angry at those two idiots who were so strategically incompetent. If you're going to poke the bear, don't do it indiscriminately.

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 Post Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:38 pm 
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:bert: bah! What did they think would happen?

My guess is, they didn't think about what would happen at all.

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 Post Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:20 pm 
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If i understand it correctly, they got voted by protest votes, so rocking the boat is what their voters wanted of them. And while that is indeed risky, poke the bear to convince other people that the bear is not tame is a possible strategy.

They managed to make a rift in the elites public and most likely did upset some internal power games there. Hard to say if the effect is in the end good or bad, but it possibly is a bigger effect, then what they could ever get, with just their votes.

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 Post Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:35 pm 
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Well, they just blew their voters' support on 15 minutes of fame. If they had waited those 15 minutes they would've acquired a platform from which to poke the bear for the next 4 years, and it would have been much harder to get rid of them. Some people are darkly muttering that those two are so stupid, they must be plants.(1) (Kind of like how some people think Donald Trump must be a Clinton plant).

But what's done is done.

Beijing was looking for a pretext to screw us, so they probably would've done something like this sooner or later. But the more they crack down, the more the younger generation is going to rebel. The polls are very clear. 80% of everyone under 30 hates Beijing. So the more you tell them that being Chinese means you have to be loyal to the government, the more they're going to say "Fine! I'm not Chinese then! Screw you!"

So, if those two localists aren't going to be allowed to take their seats, I wonder how the government intends to fill them. Normally there would be a by-election, but I suspect they're going to twist the law even more to avoid holding one.

(1) Muddied by the fact that there were actual cases of mysterious Beijing-backed businessmen offering large sums of money to fund some localist election campaigns with the aim of splitting the democratic vote. They tried to back a few no-hopers in competitive districts. Said candidates said "oh hell no". And that's how the middleman was arrested for attempted electoral bribery. The mastermind got away with it of course. That doesn't mean that these two are necessarily plants.

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 Post Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:08 am 
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As i read in our media, there are protests again.

They have rocked the boat, and likely caused internal diagreements in the elites and i guess they have embarassed the powers that be in Beijing. That might not be a smart thing to do, but i would argue thats what they have been voted in for. Could they really have caused more havoc in the next for years from within, if essentially their power is to vote against the goverment?

And if there are replacements for them, especially if they are pro Beijing replacements, they still can at every vote loudly proclaim how they would have voted and imply that thus the vote had a different result, and leave it for experts to figure out, that they would not have changed the outcome of the vote only the margin. And generally give overblown impressions, what they could have done, if they have gotten in.

In short they can still do populist protest politics, arguably they can even do that better as martyrsfrom the outside, then from the inside. What they can do less is any contrutive, deal making politics, but they do not seem, like they had planned doing any of that from the start.

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 Post Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:43 am 
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They can't formally do much as legislators sure, but as a legislator you get an office, you get a budget, and the government can't ignore you. The guy who went up against the rural landlords has been calling up government departments to force them to release the details of their shady planning decisions. He also went to the UK on a fact-finding mission because he suspects that the new President of the Legislative Council (speaker of the house equivalent) somehow got expedited treatment from the British consulate to give up his British citizenship in time to be sworn in. They have to take him seriously because he's not just some guy anymore. That's effective activism. And now he might be next.

The two who got kicked out - they probably won't care that much and will continue to rabble-rouse on the outside.(1) It's the damage that's being done to everything else that's disturbing because Beijing has been given a pretext to crack down.

They have now announced that it is illegal for pro-independence candidates to run for office (because their beliefs preclude them from swearing allegiance to China). Not only that, even if they do swear the oaths without any shenanigans the government has been given discretion to disqualify them if they are judged "insincere". (How does anybody know for sure if someone's insincere or not?) And not only that, China has also decided that any legislator who becomes pro-independence after taking office can be retroactively disqualified and face legal prosecution. They've also said that supporting "self-determination" is tantamount to independence.

Thought crimes are officially a thing now.

The next fight: new national security legislation. If the government manages to chip, chip chip away and disqualify enough democrats based on things they have ever said and done throughout their political careers, they will lose their 1/3 veto. And then thought crimes will be illegal not just for legislators, but for the rest of us.

(1) It should be noted that many of their voters voted for them not because they supported their beliefs and approach to political trolling, but because they were polling high enough to have a chance. People split their votes strategically to try to get as many butts in seats so as to retain the veto.

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 Post Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:47 am 
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NPR had an interview with Emily Lau - chairwoman (or vice-chairwoman?) of the HK democratic party, today. Having read about this here, I didn't find anything she said surprising. It got the commuters up to speed on your situation pretty well, I think.

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 Post Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:16 pm 
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I do have to say that a constitution that cannot withstand the actions of fools is not worth the paper it's printed on. They've been running this place on fairy dust and the Wile E Coyote Don't Look Down principle for the last 19 years. Freedoms only meant anything as long as you didn't try too hard to exercise them. It's all a bit of window dressing designed to look good to investors, nothing more.

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 Post Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:24 pm 
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They only have to remove one more legislator to demolish the veto and they've already picked out the target - the woman who read her oath in slow motion. I voted for her. She was already allowed a do-over and has been sworn in, but they will surely argue that the second attempt doesn't count. They probably don't even have to succeed; they just have to tie her up in court long enough to ram through the national security legislation and then her very existence will be illegal.

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 Post Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 2:37 am 
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Now, between 8 and 15 legislators are in the crosshairs.

I think a purge is coming.

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 Post Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 8:12 pm 
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The government has filed suit to disqualify a third lawmaker, the one who read her oath in slow motion.

They have also put together a legal team to investigate 8 or 10 other politicians for oath-botching. I think they are actually going to do this. I wouldn't put past them to either find some excuse to avoid holding by-elections.

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