The dumbing down of Hong Kong’s political system continues apace, with the CCP and its servants in the city not only demanding that they be given free rein to destroy this city, but also demanding that you express your sincere and unending gratitude to them for this always mighty, glorious, and correct destruction.
The latest pseudo-problem requiring “fixing” and “improvement” is blank ballots, a topic that pro-establishment figures have (for reasons beyond any sane person’s comprehension) become fixated upon in recent days.
As a researcher focused on Hong Kong politics and culture, it never even occurred to me that blank ballots were much of a problem. I have to admit frankly that I never gave much thought to the issue prior to this week. Yet even if there had been a flood of blank ballots in every Hong Kong election such that no ballots could even be counted, I would still feel quite strongly that this would be a minor issue compared to some other problems facing the city.
Yet the ability to think about such issues in a logical manner disqualifies me from ever becoming an adviser to the Hong Kong government, which thrives on urgently addressing completely absent challenges and promoting absolutely meaningless objectives: “protecting” the national anthem, “improving” the electoral system, funneling endless amounts of your tax dollars into silly white elephant projects like the high-speed rail to China and building tomorrow’s Lantau, and now addressing the non-issue of blank ballots.
The question is not whether blank ballots are a problem. Of course they are not! The question is, rather, why Peking loyalists are so eager to be talking about blank ballots right now.
First, blank ballots are a distraction. Peking has in recent weeks completely destroyed any hope of genuine democratization and universal suffrage in Hong Kong, a move that, to put it very gently, does not accord with mainstream public opinion in the city.
If I was running a pro-Peking party in Hong Kong, my priority would obviously be to set up a street stand with some goofy signs, collect a bunch of fake signatures, falsely claim that millions of citizens support the “improvement” of the electoral system, and then of course immediately change the subject.
We have seen every step in the above formula deployed, with this blank ballot talk being the final step of changing the subject: it shifts responsibility for the destruction of the city’s political system away from Peking and its minions to the completely manufactured threat of millions of voters casting blank ballots to the point that it threatens “national security.”
As always in these discussions of political reform from the establishment camp, the conclusion is that the reason one cannot have democracy is definitely not one’s colonial rulers denying one democracy: the blame is always fully yours.
This distraction also shows just how much Peking loyalists are able, undoubtedly with encouragement and assistance from the central government, to hijack the news cycle and force the city to discuss meaningless matters.
Second, blank ballots are one of the last means to express dissent in Hong Kong, so of course they will be targeted for suppression by those who cannot handle even the slightest disagreement: at this point, basically the entire government.
In a political system in which candidates who actually reflect public opinion are no longer able to run for office, in which legally protected political activism is reinterpreted as a threat to national security, and in which the most popular political slogans of just a year or two ago are now strictly forbidden, people in Hong Kong are left with very few options to express their opinions.
A blank ballot is a statement of opinion: it could be read as anything from an expression of dissatisfaction with one’s choices to a protest vote. The best example of the latter, without a doubt, is the anonymous and actually not-so-blank 2017 Chief Executive ballot famously emblazoned with the character diu, projected onto a screen during the counting process.
Whatever a blank ballot means, and there are undoubtedly as many interpretations as there are blank ballots, it definitely does not constitute a dire threat to your regime’s security. If your security is threatened by some blank ballots, your first priority should probably be working on strengthening your own sense of security.
After all, even representatives to the National People’s Congress, China’s absolute joke of a “legislature,” are able to abstain from a vote. Think about that: an act that an NPC representative can feel completely comfortable doing openly in the center of power in the Great Hall of the People is inching toward illegality in Hong Kong.
But let’s also think about that from another perspective: we cannot cast doubt on whether NPC representatives are patriots, that might be illegal, so we need to affirm that all members of the National People’s Congress are patriots; we cannot cast doubt on whether some NPC representatives have cast blank ballots, that might be illegal, because we have seen this reported on Xinhua and we all know that everything reported on Xinhua is absolutely true!
We then know that some patriots have cast blank ballots in the Great Hall of the People, the center of power in the motherland that all Hong Kong people love so fervently. So, when you really think about it, the best way for a Hong Kong citizen to demonstrate his or her patriotism might just be casting a blank ballot in honor of the mighty, glorious, correct and of course patriotic NPC representatives that we all know and love!
Finally, even in the lies of Peking and its minions one can still always find a kernel of truth, even if it is a kernel of truth being targeted for suppression.
The simple truth (or cruel reality) brought to light by all of this discussion of blank ballots is that you don’t need to literally cast a blank vote in order to cast a blank vote in Hong Kong today. The basic truth is that every vote in Hong Kong today is a blank vote, even if you fill it in: the Chinese Communist Party just wants to force you to fill it in to give it an illusory meaning that is otherwise lacking.
No vote will be able to stop the increasingly aggressive and repressive approach that the Chinese Communist Party is deploying in Hong Kong today. There is no point in placing any hope in working within the system anymore.
What Peking and its enablers in Hong Kong want to hide with their pseudo-crisis of “blank ballots” is that in reality, every ballot in the city from today until the end of the communist rule is blank no matter what you write on it.
In that sense, just go ahead and do as you please: Peking certainly will.
(Kevin Carrico is Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies and the author of the forthcoming book Two Systems Two Countries: A Nationalist Guide to Hong Kong)
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