Say What, Premier Wen?

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Hong Kong’s Chief Executive picked up his official appointment for a 5-year term in Beijing yesterday, but Premier Wen Jiabao gave him a life sentence. Quoting a line from the Analects of Confucius, Wen said:

The scholar must not be without scope and persistence, for his responsibility is weighty and his way is long. Perfect virtue is the burden, which he considers it is his to sustain: is it not weighty? Only after its death does it end: is it not long?

The point, as the premier explained to Tsang, was that, “You have to fully devote yourself to the prosperity, stability and harmony of Hong Kong until the last moment of your life.” But the talk of death perked up a few ears. Albert Ho, the head of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, told the South China Morning Post he was afraid it meant the Chief Executive should push through unpopular policies. As The Standard noted, former premier Zhu Rongji used similar language from the Analects, but then again he was a corruption fighter facing the sort of problems that really could send someone to the grave. (He’s still kicking though.) Tsang definitely has his hands full running Hong Kong, but it hardly needs to kill him.