"Yet, what happened? There was a fifth of the population out on the streets. I have never been anywhere in the world where this has happened for any reason. As well, it was in such a controlled, orderly manner where there was absolutely no need for policing during those momentous days."
Vines' book Hong Kong: China's New Colony pulls no punches, Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents' Club President Diane Stormont said in a review of his book, "The title lays out the central thesis which is cogently argued throughout the book. I have no problem with his view. Like Steve, I believe that it was China's intention all along to inherit a docile colony and continue to run Hong Kong as such. Indeed Hong Kong was a docile colony when the Joint Declaration was signed in 1984. Ideally, Beijing would have liked to freeze-dry the place and its people for the next 13 years. Hence all the dismay over any plan to introduce more representative government even before the Tiananmen massacre overturned so many cozy assumptions and sent the future leaders back to the drawing board to draft herder-nosed plans for assuming the reins of power."
The receiver said the nub of the argument is contained in Chapter Seven, titled "The Shameless Elite". The chapter heading sums it up rather neatly:
"When it comes to colonies, probably the most important lever of power for the rulers lies in picking and shaping the comprador class - members of the elite section of the community who serve at the conduit between rulers and the ruled. The British were masters at this. And as Steve details, Beijing has shown itself to be just as adroit."
Not that it had much persuading to do in terms of winning hearts and minds. "The most assiduously pro-British members of the old establishment were the most active in making their obeisance to the new masters," he wrote.
He calls them Rice Communists and spares no blushes, singling out individuals by name. He weighs up Hong Kong's elite and finds them wanting. "The members of the elite, who are genuinely prepared to stand up for the interests of the Hong Kong people can be counted on the fingers of a single hand," he states. Later on, returning to theme, he muses: "The average person expects little from the elite and is rarely disappointed."
Reviewer Stormont said. "The first person style of the book makes for a comfortable read. It also enables him to paint a picture of living in Hong Kong through anecdotes.
"There is already a more Chinese feel to Hong Kong," she quotes Vines although he goes on to admit this is hard to pin down. He gives a glimpse of a brush with triads and a very tiny glimpse into his time as Editor of the Eastern Express which ended in acrimony." (2)