Friday, 16 August 2019

Li Ka-shing's Cryptic Message

Li Ka-shing spent a lot of money on advertising in newspapers today
Everyday there are so many things happening it can be hard to keep track. Today was no exception.

First was seeing Li Ka-shing buy full-page ads in several newspapers -- but not Apple Daily -- and wrote a cryptic message that readers were keen to solve.

In each paper he bought two full page ads facing each other. On one side was the word "violence" with a red circle and line through it, and it was flanked with slogans about loving China and Hong Kong. At the bottom it reads: "stop anger and violence in the name of love".

The left one refers to melons, the right against violence
The other page was more curious. The header reads: "the best of intentions can lead to the worst outcome" but he did not clarify what he meant or who he was referring to.

Then below were eight characters that literally translate as: "The melon of Huangtai cannot bear the picking again", referring to a Tang dynasty poem. It basically means something that has suffered so much, that any further attack would ruin it.

The poem was written by Li Xian, the crown prince of the Tang dynasty who lived between 654AD to 684AD. The sixth son of emperor Gaozong and the second son of empress Wu Zetian, Li Xian was an intelligent and capable prince.

His brothers were killed one by one by his ambitious mother until Li Xian was installed as the crown prince and heir apparent. She became suspicious of him and put Li Xian under house arrest. In desperation he wrote the poem to his mother as a subtle protest.

It basically translates as:

Growing melons beneath Huangtai,
Hanging heavily, many grow ripe,
Pick one, the others will be fine,
Pick two, fewer are left on the vine,
If you want to get yet another one,
That’s where we must draw the line,
For if there is any more reaping,
You will end up with an empty vine.

However, the poem did not move his mother and she sent him to exile, and in 684, forced him to commit suicide.

Alain Robert with his strange banner on Cheung Kong
As a result, melons have become a metaphor for suffering in the face of persecution.

On Friday Li issued a statement through his spokesman, saying Hong Kong's prosperity hinges on "one country, two systems", and the most important priorities now were to stop the violence and maintain rule of law.

"We need to cherish ourselves, our identity as Chinese and a Hong Kong citizen, just as we treasure freedom, empathy and rule of law," the statement said.

And then we also got a visit from "French Spider Man" Alain Robert climbed up Cheung Kong building -- Li's office -- to unfurl a banner that had the Chinese and Hong Kong flags along with a handshake below and a smiling sun.

Robert said he hoped the protests could be resolved with peace.

He seems to have a simplistic understanding of what's going on... but we're glad he didn't fall or injure himself as he doesn't climb with a harness. Please just stick to climbing buildings....

Former Cathay CEO Rupert Hogg resigned today
Then finally in a shock announcement in the late afternoon, Rupert Hogg resigned as CEO of Cathay Pacific, along with Paul Loo, the chief customer and commercial officer. Even more surprising was that it was first reported by Chinese state media CCTV and the airline hadn't yet issued a formal statement.

It appears they were taking the responsibility for the pressures China has imposed on the airline in the last week or so, from supplying lists of the crew flying over Chinese airspace, to state-owned companies ordered not to fly on Cathay, and the shut down of the airport on Monday and Tuesday that caused the cancellations of hundreds of flights on each day.

But it also seems they were forced to resign by Beijing, as Cathay chairman John Slosar said in a statement: "This is regrettable as we have always made safety and security our highest priority... We therefore think it is time to put a new management team in place who can reset confidence and lead the airline to new heights."

Did Cathay compromise its safety and security? Seems like that was a self-criticism there meant to appease the powers that be. At first the airline flip-flopped on its employees supporting the protests and now is "harmonized" to say they can't do any of that without the risk of being fired...

Hope that's enough to keep Beijing happy for now.

Thousands gathered at Chater Garden to Stand with HK
Tonight there was a rally at Chater Garden organized by the Hong Kong Higher Institutions International Affairs Delegation, made up of students from 12 local universities and colleges. Some of the speakers via video message included democracy academic Larry Diamond and Brian Leung Kai-ping, the only protester on July 1 who removed his mask in the Legislative Council after the protesters stormed the building.

Several thousand people attended the event that spilled out onto Chater Road and the cenotaph a few blocks away.

This weekend brings another round of protest marches and rallies. So much going on...

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