Photo: HKFP.

In China, everyone knows the government’s favourite currency is lying. Lying is an accepted fact of life in the mainland. This pervasive culture of lying now transcends even China’s national borders and is nowhere more visible than in the charade economists and media play when reporting about Chinese economic data. Only yesterday, China gloriously announced that despite red-charts right across most sectors in the economy during 2015, GDP obediently rang in at the targeted 7% projection, minus 0.1% for effect. Everyone knows the data is preposterously false, but everyone engages in the eloquent fantasy, because this is the nature of China, lying.

As an outsider, understanding China is essentially a tedious deciphering of all the lies, eventually arriving at something that could plausibly be called the truth. The notion of truth is something that the Communist Party of China (CCP) spends most of its time obfuscating. A great absence of truth is the hard reality of life in China.

Conversely, living in Hong Kong, where we’re supposed to have a free media and genuine rule of law, we have believed that we don’t need to accept the incessant lies coming from Beijing and that truth is a valuable commodity. But the case of the five missing publishers has resoundingly put an end to this thought.

Photo: HKFP

Putting aside the fact that this case rocks One Country Two Systems to its very foundations, one other jolting consequence of The Missing Five is that it puts Hong Kong’s unique culture of honesty and fairness gravely under threat. The culture of incessant lies that dominates mainland life could quickly become the norm here too

No one of any intellect believes the lies that the Chinese government and Guangdong police are now putting out about Lee Bo or Gui Minhai. No one buys into their crude, ISIS style, television confessions, and hand-scrawled messages. But the stark reality is, that it’s not the point. Beijing does not care whether you believe the narratives that they put out or not. They don’t care if netizens can meticulously pick apart the ludicrously fake stories. The Party is not trying to hide the truth from us but instead is now deliberately flooding Hong Kong with implausible lies. What we’re now experiencing is a war on common sense, aimed to dumb down the Hong Kong population and brain bash it into compliance through the ultimate show of force. Or, resolutely demonstrating that nothing is greater than the CCP. Even truth or facts.

Photo: HKFP.

The Party is not interested in those who can see through the lies, but all those who are willing to speak up to defend them. These are the loyal servants that the authorities are looking for to further their design for Hong Kong. These are the ones who will be recognized as having potential, suitable for reward and high recognition in the new, mutated culture of Hong Kong with Communist Party characteristics. More than we could have possibly imagined, our city is to become like the mainland. Where the government’s lies hold the highest currency over all other things, and where anyone who disagrees with the official line are branded liars and rumourmongers.

Beijing’s chosen lie about the missing publishers now in the public domain, the next phase is for those that wish to cement the lie to come forward and speak out in support. So on cue, we have Chief Executive CY Leung trundle out and caution the public about the case: “We shouldn’t speculate. All comments made should be based on facts.”

Yes exactly. The facts as determined by Beijing. CY’s advice is, avoid speculation on all other pertinent facts and concentrate only on the truth and facts as provided by the Party. Or, to echo CY’s view, we have Pan Pey-chyou spouting utter absurdities on live radio about how, given the lack of any hard evidence, he is inclined to believe the TV confession of Gui as they’re the only available facts. Because he is not one to speculate.

Photo: HKFP.

Comments like this may initially insult our intelligence. But the CCP are master crafters of this type of intelligence battery and abuse. For them, they have no compunction in befuddling society with confusing lies and concocted facts. Lies are their creed. Lies grease the wheels of the communist machine.

Unfortunately, a new front has now opened in the battle for Hong Kong, and Beijing will not rest until Hong Kong’s confidence in the truth is as utterly shattered as the populace on the mainland. In war, the truth is always the first casualty, and this will be nowhere more apparent than in the war on truth about to be raged in Hong Kong.

Richard Scotford

Richard is a freelance writer and long term resident of Hong Kong. He has a Master's Degree in Chinese Studies from CUHK and describes himself as a noisy muser on all things China. He has travelled extensively in Western China and once owned a trekking lodge high on the Tibetan border. He has a raw style of Opinion Journalism, with special interests in the South China Seas and deciphering Hong Kong's Localist/Independence groups.