Don’t Panic!

Trying to think of historical parallels for dictatorships crushing developed free societies. The qualifiers mean the fall of Cuba or South Vietnam to Communists don’t come close. Czechoslovakia in the late 1940s? Though it was in ruins.

Here’s an interesting comparison: Taiwan in the 1950s, after the Kuomintang Mainlanders took over the former Japanese colony. (The article is from 2018 when Beijing’s creeping ‘comprehensive jurisdiction’ was starting to replace Deng’s non-mixing of well and river waters.)

To take your mind off such things, smarmy Chinese officials and local Hong Kong weasel-puppets rush to say ‘don’t panic!’. Beijing’s direct imposition of national security laws is aimed at only a few people, will end Hong Kong’s problems and reduce the risk of terrorism and improve the investment environment. So stop demonizing! After all, every country has to protect its security and sovereignty.  

It’s almost as if they are shocked at the negative reaction.

Their defensiveness won’t reassure skeptics. Hong Kong already has laws to punish terrorist acts and other forms of violence. Even without national security legislation, it has an outdated colonial Public Order Ordinance and even creakier common-law riot and incitement charges. It uses ‘lawfare’ against political opponents – like public-health regulations to ban protests, and even inane Trade Descriptions offenses to trap activists. Indeed, Beijing already has the ability to force companies like Cathay Pacific to fire staff for their opinions. No new or extra laws seem necessary. What are the ‘loopholes’ that need to be plugged?

Until Beijing can convince us otherwise, we must assume that the intention is to criminalize acts that are currently legal (because harmless to society), or to justify other curbs on citizens’ freedoms. In short, to silence dissent – to control, to Mainlandize.

The Bar Association notes that sidelining local political and legislative structures is unconstitutional. Except according to Leninist logic it can’t be. So this whole exercise formalizes direct rule by Beijing.

The CCP obviously intends to take greater control of courts. As Reuters says, the NPC motion…

…states that Hong Kong’s “judicial organs” along with its government and legislature “must effectively prevent, stop and punish acts endangering national security”.

Danny Gittings points out that even if the courts don’t fall into line, Beijing can issue an ‘interpretation’ simply declaring the new law to be in line with the Basic Law (thus not subject to the latter’s free speech and other protections).

Perhaps a likelier possibility is a Beijing-obedient parallel national-security court system, with only dependable loyalist judges. Either way, Mainland security agencies will operate overtly here. George Magnus expects:

They will be diligent in trying to suppress dissent, curtail freedom of expression and assembly, and introduce arbitrary detention and other forms of repression. 

Perhaps this parallel jurisdiction will have its own prosecutions agency and prisons, too. They will presumably need a lot more cells. To quote Prof Ma Ngok: “Usually the penalty will be much heavier when it is national security.”

One of the main targets for national security laws, as Tofu-for-Brains and others ceaselessly remind us, is Evil Foreign Forces conspiring with radicals in plots to overthrow the CCP. In practice, as Antony Dapiran points out, this could endanger foreign media organizations and reporters, foreign NGOs, academics and ‘any foreign business or individual whose home country has a turbulent or strained relationship with China’. It will also of course (and primarily) ensnare locals who have dealings with such evil foreigners.

If Mainland use of national security laws is any guide, anyone – local or foreign – can ‘subvert the state’ simply by openly disagreeing with it, or helping or talking to someone who does. Just the threat of being accused of such vague, catch-all offenses intimidates every individual, group or business.

Among other delights, there is Mainland-style tech, telecoms and surveillance regimes to look forward to – Internet censorship, bans on VPNs, and the ‘dystopian’ facial-recognition social-credit scores and so on. And propaganda in and out of schools. And loyalty tests for the public sector. And who knows what else.

But it will only affect a small number of extreme radicals.

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One last spin for the old faithful ‘We Are Right, You Are Wrong’

For two decades, the Hong Kong government has relied on a default template to promote and explain its latest steaming pile of garbage: the oh-so persuasive We Are Right and You Are Too Stupid to Understand argument. After deploying it to dazzling effect with a certain Extradition Bill a year ago, they bring it out again (perhaps for the last time) for Beijing’s National Security laws.

Thus we have a swiftly orchestrated show of support from top officials whose opinions the public consider buffoonish at the best of times. Even poor Chief Health Dweeb Sophia Chan is required to cut and paste stuff about terrorism on her Facebook page, apparently at 3.56 am. (Update: here comes more.) As a kiss of death, Beijing officials add their toxic endorsement to the campaign. If all else fails, we can always have a video of Jackie Chan as Goodwill Ambassador singing the Internet-Censorship-is-Good-For-You theme song.

It seems some Mainland and local officials are slightly perturbed by the negative reaction from the markets and international community to the National Security law plans. They assumed the world would look the other way, as it always has with South China Sea grabs, Uighur prison camps or Belt and Road debt traps. Maybe Xi Jinping has miscalculated this time. If so, we can expect them to tone down the We Are Right spin, and put more effort into convincing us that the new laws will ‘only target a small group of people’. With oodles of sincerity, charm and warmth, of course. But perhaps, following the Covid pandemic, the rest of the world might finally have woken up about Xi’s China.

Hong Kong represents an impossible contradiction: a free, pluralistic society that’s part of a one-party Communist dictatorship. Leninist logic is that anything the CCP can’t control is by definition a threat to the party’s monopoly of power. (If you have an independent judiciary or free media, it follows that the party does not have a monopoly of power.) But you can’t have a vibrant international financial centre without rule of law and a free flow of information and opinion. ‘One Country Two Systems’ was supposed to accommodate this contradiction. But unless Beijing genuinely treats Hong Kong as essentially detached and insulated from the rest of the country, the two systems are incompatible – one of them has to go.

Jimmy Lai has joined Twitter; Global Times already sees grounds for prosecution…

A couple of interesting items:

A new view of Hong Kong protests – from a bicycle.

And should we in Hong Kong start thinking about VPNs?

Also some lengthy responses to the National Security clampdown…

NPC Observer explains the NPC’s decision on a NS law, how China’s legislative process would insert a law into Annex III, and the issues of overlap with the basic Law and potential conflict with Article 23 legislation (suggesting Beijing’s lack of concern or preparation). Scroll down to Section 6 for the main point – ultimately they can do what they want.

From CHRD, a long list of ways Beijing uses ‘national security’ as a tool of oppression in the mainland, and a statement demanding withdrawal of the planned laws.

Human Rights Watch’s statement.

And one from Human Rights in China.

Also, a huge report from the Progressive Scholars Group on the Hong Kong Police.

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‘One Country Two Systems’ over – in case you hadn’t noticed

There is at least a morbid fascination in watching – in real time – a dictatorship destroy a free society. In just seven days since ‘Freak-Out Friday’, we’ve seen the LegCo coup, a ban on the June 4 vigil and choreographed attacks on the once-independent RTHK and exams authority.

Now Beijing has decided to impose a de facto Article 23 national security law on Hong Kong by directly inserting it into Annex III of the Basic Law. Don’t quibble about whether this is legal: if the CCP does it, it is.

All we know is that the new law will ban sedition, subversion, foreign intervention and ‘terrorism’. There are no details as yet, and the final wording will no doubt be intentionally vague. The aim is to hugely expand the pretexts for silencing and punishing dissent.

Whatever the wording, the outcome is likely to include criminalization of opinions, such as mere advocacy of  Hong Kong independence or the downfall of the Communist Party. This points to Internet or print censorship. The new law will probably enable suppression of a wide range of opposition activities – for example the banning of websites used to organize protests, or even possession of anti-government banners. It could include the intimidation of lawyers who defend opponents of the regime or people who help fund activist causes (‘subversion of state power’ in the Mainland).

The ban on foreign interference will obviously target ties between the pan-dem camp and overseas politicians or other ‘foreign forces’, and probably enable the freezing of any (allegedly) foreign-sourced funds going to pan-dems. It could also be used to bar more people from Hong Kong – and even to kick out non-locals like teachers or journalists who are deemed to be infiltrators helping the opposition.

Many Hongkongers hope to see a fierce backlash from the US and other countries. Beijing forewarned foreign diplomats of the national security law announcement, claiming an urgent need to address threats posed by a small minority of extremists. The regime probably hopes that by keeping the new law vague, and applying it gradually at first, it can string overseas powers along. Chances are it is right – Hong Kong alone is not enough to bring about the inevitable major bust-up with the West.

Is it the end of ‘One Country Two Systems’ and rule of law? Of course. But those ideas have been redefined into meaninglessness already. More companies will think of relocating. More families will start packing their bags. Even the stock market drops 3.4%. The CCP couldn’t care less. Remember – ‘national security’ = ‘CCP insecurity’. In responding, Hongkongers need to bear in mind that the CCP is petrified and dangerous.

I declare the weekend open with a painstakingly curated selection of items to pass a few rainy days…

Has BrandHK given up trying? For some reason, it makes space on its website for a police-financed glossy (not to say gory) brochure on every evil thing done by protesters, plus much more.

Some inconvenient and worrying stats from the back of the IPCC Report on the HK Police.

Michael Chugani in EJ rails at Hong Kong’s creeping authoritarianism (as of Wednesday or so).

Bloomberg on the protest-supporting ‘yellow economic circle’, which now (this being Hong Kong) boasts its own chamber of commerce. One nice detail: while pro-movement folk boycott ‘blue’ businesses, blue-ribbon supporters tend to be so indifferent (or dim?) that they carry on using ‘yellow’ ones.

The Diplomat is also picking up on the ‘yellow economy’. How long before we see an orchestrated campaign of lawfare/intimidation (as former CE CY Leung has darkly hinted at) against pro-protest shops and restaurants and their owners?

Speaking of whom… Like many, I have memories of going down the big slides at Water World back in the old days, but haven’t been to the attraction since that part closed. And like many, my feeling is: if it keeps Mainland tourists away, shut it down. Anyway – how CY Leung wrecked Ocean Park, by Lo Kin-hei of Southern District Council.

News you can use from HK Free Press: a guide to HK Police rifles. Essentially (as you might have guessed), the ones with orange stocks/magazines fire sub-lethal munitions. The plain ones are loaded with actual 5.56mm rounds. Assuming commanders are issuing these guys with live ammo. If so, what on earth are they thinking?

A link here to Clement Shield, the company set up by an ex-Hong Kong cop that (perhaps, allegedly) trained the LegCo security guards. Design fans will notice the website has that very recognizable, superficially flashy we’re-hucksters-who-charge-suckers-high-fees aesthetic – also used by financial advisors, private-school consultants, etc.

Hong Kong seems to be a popular subject for overseas college media – the Yale Daily News on the Revolution of Our Time.

A Polish supporter of Hong Kong suggests non-violence resistance methods, including mockery.

No fewer than three items in the ‘World is Rethinking China’ category.

1. A former Republican US Senator writes in Newsweek: ‘We gave China a chance. They blew it’.

2. Francis Fukuyama in American Interest explores what Xi Jinping’s regime owes to ancient and more recent Chinese governance…

One of the great dangers today is that the world looks to Xi’s totalitarian model, rather than a broader East Asian model that combines strong state capacity with technocratic competence, as the winning formula in facing future crises.

3. Perhaps best of the lot, The Tablet asks where the CCP is coming from and what it’s trying to do

As Beijing sees it, China’s success depends on discrediting the tenets of liberal capitalism so that notions like individual freedom and constitutional democracy come to be seen as the relics of an obsolete system.

(The Tablet is my kind of ‘new read on Jewish life’, including thoughts inspired by Who guitarist/songwriter Pete Townsend’s – allegedly Semitic-looking – nose.)

As well as reassessing China, the world is suddenly starting to take a fresh look at Taiwan. The New Statesman offers a piece on identity and independence in Taiwan (with reference to Hong Kong). And Oxford Academic asks why plucky little Paraguay still has relations with the Republic of China (summary: partly because it’s nicer to be a big friend of a small country than a small friend of a big country, plus a shared experience of overweening neighbouring states).

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Tycoon’s kid carries own luggage for motherland

Spare a thought for those Hong Kong tycoons who have to attend the National People’s Congress and CPPCC sessions in Beijing during this time of plague.

As there are no flights from Hong Kong to the capital, they must fly out of Shenzhen. Although exempted from quarantine (in both directions), they must undergo a virus test after crossing the border. This apparently involves sitting in a slightly grungy room alone for many hours, with a menu offering three unappetizing choices to eat. They then get their flight, and go through a similar test again in Beijing, which has separate health regulations.

They are not allowed to bring flunkies. Thus Peter Lee, scion of the Henderson Land empire, has to struggle with his bags – and breaks his delicate foot. (He’s the one who acquired surrogate triplet boys to continue the family line.) Note that Victor Li, son of KS, can get away with ‘having a fever’ and staying in Hong Kong. Lesser plutocrats’ kids can only look on in envy.

Once in Beijing, the Hong Kong delegates will be confined to their hotels except when attending to snooze-voting duties in the Great Hall. For some, it might mean long evenings with only Maria Tam for company. She will no doubt regale them with stories about how she convinced Hong Kong officials to use the pattern of her bloomers (known in textiles-design circles as ‘Dongguan Tweed’) for the government’s ugly free face-masks.

The ‘two meetings’ this year will be a bit shorter than the usual two weeks. It will feel longer.

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How dare you find the police funny?

Yesterday’s step on the road to serfdom: the banning of satire on RTHK. The broadcaster’s sin was to hurt the feelings of our hypersensitive police. To get the point across, the government is forcing the station to kneel on broken glass and apologize.

Criticism of the HK Police – in case you didn’t hear about the IPCC whitewash-report – is now officially forbidden.

As Voltaire, George Orwell, Winnie the Pooh and countless other cultural giants throughout history showed, dictators can’t handle mockery. It bursts a bubble of pretence and exposes their ludicrousness. (For some vivid and brutal ludicrousness-exposing, watch these lip-synching comediennes do Donald Trump and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel. Can someone do a Carrie Lam?)

Thus Beijing insists on a law criminalizing parodies of the national anthem. Commies can’t withstand satire. You know what to do…

Who would have thought a humble trade publication could be such a source of entertainment? PRovoke dishes up more on the Hong Kong government’s attempts to hire a public relations agency to improve the city’s image. This time, an outfit called MSL have pulled out of the tender.

It seems MSL were providing the required local presence in conjunction with Washington DC sister company Qorvis, who have what the MSL HK boss calls ‘similar experience’, which may or may not refer to one of the scummiest clients imaginable – Saudi Arabia. PRovoke hints that perhaps reaction here in Hong Kong, not only online but among MSL’s own staff, convinced the firm to back off.

Interesting: PR agencies are not democracies, but employees have a veto if they consider a potential client obnoxious enough. (Which reminds me: how’s the Hong Kong government’s campaign to nurture a creative-industries hub-zone going?)

At the other end of the PR challenge-scale… Can you imagine a country so cool that the front-man for a rock band is also an elected lawmaker, and they played a concert in front of the Presidential Palace as part of the last election campaign? Well, the official video of the concert (which was last December) is released tonight to celebrate Tsai Ing-wen’s inauguration. It’s at 10.00pm here. The bad news is that Chthonic – for it is they – is a death metal band, so adjust volume according to taste.

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Yesterday’s total: two

During SARS, Hong Kong’s radio newsreaders would announce the previous day’s death toll – it might be three, or seven, or even double-digit numbers of people. During Covid-19, we have a daily count of rights, freedoms and independent institutions that have been struck down.

Yesterday, we had two (that leap out).

First, the Legislative Council (after pro-democrats had been removed) voted for pro-Beijing Starry Lee as chair of the house committee by 40-0. This clears the way to ram through the National Adoration (Compulsory Paroxysms of Patriotic Joy) Bill. It also makes the legislature redundant as a check on the executive.

A creepy and bizarre picture of LegCo security guards surrounding the chair prompts a rather elegant juxtaposition-meme, and a Badiucao pic.

Second, the government looks set to ban the annual June 4 vigil, by extending the bar on certain types of gathering of more than eight people to that date. Subtle! The community has a couple of weeks to dream up alternative ways of marking the occasion, perhaps ways that  attract more people and are far harder to police – waving gifs of candles in shopping malls, say.

Other mortal blows to the old Hong Kong are of course in train – such as the prosecutions of 15 prominent pro-democrats, who were formally charged and bailed yesterday. The CCP, which is clearly behind the arrests, is also smearing Lee and others in a CCTV documentary for Mainland consumption.

Although just a drop in the ocean of politically-driven prosecutions, the imprisonment of the high-profile and moderate veteran like Martin Lee would be a major blow to whatever remains of the Hong Kong administration’s overseas image. Lee would (I suspect) relish martyrdom after all these years, and the CCP are too consumed with their psycho-paranoiac-Leninism to resist giving it to him.

It would also complete a classic, and brutish, United Front move: forcing the local bureaucrats and tycoons to defend the jailing of the 81-year-old Lee, who was a personal friend and (in some cases) mentor to their kids.

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Freak-out Friday

On Freak-out Friday the CCP orchestrated a Mainlandizing shock-and-awe assault on Hong Kong. Antony Dapiran gives a good summary.

The sentencing of a young man to four years in prison for riot was perhaps coincidental (if we charitably assume that the Liaison Office is not yet micro-managing the courts’ schedules as well as judgements). But the message is clear: anti-government protesters who plead guilty to throwing some objects around will get harsher punishment than pro-Beijing nasties who stab people.

The Legislative Council coup shunting pro-democrats aside enables the government to force through the National Anthem (Compulsory Adulation) Bill. No more of that separation-of-powers stuff requiring an elected legislature to check the executive branch. LegCo is now destined to be a rubber stamp, the way the CCP likes it.

With the contrived uproar over a question in a high-school history exam on Thursday, Beijing is launching a cultural revolution in the education sector. Teaching kids to think critically now means ‘hurting the feelings’, ‘leaving the chicken-coop [of impressionable young minds] without a roof’ – and ‘there is no room for discussion’. You don’t need to be a huge cynic to suspect that the inclusion and/or wording of the question was a set-up.

The SCMP quotes a pro-Beijing mouthpiece as saying that schools have become an opposition stronghold…

“I expect the Hong Kong government to take tough measures in the years ahead to tackle problems regarding curriculum design, the vetting of textbooks and public examinations.”

To complete the Mainlandization-overload, the Independent Police Complaints Council released a blatant whitewash of a report into police tactics against protests during part of last year. Amnesty calls it impotent and biased.

But it gets creepier. To quote Dapiran…

…most galling was the manner in which [Chief Executive Carrie] Lam presented the findings: in front of a vast backdrop of images of fiery destruction from last year’s protests, emblazoned with the slogan ‘The Truth About Hong Kong’.

Carrie also hinted at future measures to curb or censor the press, such as a licensing regime for reporters, and police action against online ‘rumours’.

Awkwardly for the government, Clifford Stott – an overseas expert who quit the IPCC inquiry – is doing a report of his own. He sees Hong Kong 2019 as an academic case study. Out in a month, his report looks likely to suggest that much of the protesting is a response to police tactics rather than vice-versa.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung says critics of the IPCC report have ‘bad intentions’ and we should not take seriously the one-sided videos, misleading information, and false accusations some people have posted online. So there.

A pause for breath…

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government is trying – for the second time – to invite PR companies to help it out. From PRovoke

This time around, it is understood that the [government] has sought to frame the brief as a purely economic effort, distancing it from chief executive Carrie Lam’s office and underlining that political consultancy is not required. In addition, the new tender is an open one, compared to last year’s invite-only affair, and features a far lower threshold for participating firms…

Edelman is reportedly among the agencies willing to take on a challenge to help out a city they love (aka ‘hungry for fat juicy accounts from desperate, deep-pocketed and naïve clients’).

Even though the government is supposedly asking agencies to focus on a narrower ‘economic’ brief, this comes as the overall ‘China’ brand is being degraded globally following the coronavirus pandemic.

To pick a few little PR problems at random: overseas universities are barring the HK Police from recruiting on campus; consultants are discreetly advising companies to think twice about Hong Kong (read the comments); and a UN Special Rapporteur joins in the criticism of the round-up of aging lawyers.

The prosecution of Martin Lee, Margaret Ng et al starts today. Although a trifling incident in the whole Mainlandization campaign, it is a clear example of how the CCP’s ‘Marxist-Confucian idea of law’ is coming to Hong Kong. Unlike the convoluted exam questions or LegCo coup, the dragging of grey-haired intellectuals before the courts will attract media coverage overseas for its classic, vivid shithole-banana-republic angle – and there’s nothing Edelman could do to spin it otherwise.

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HK govt adds ‘hurt feelings’ panty-wetting to PR toolkit

I remember when then-Chief Secretary Anson Chan referred to the Diaoyutai islands as ‘the Senkakus’. There was about 10 seconds of patriotic mouth-frothing – much of it from the anti-CCP/-Japan variety of nationalists – then it was forgotten (by most of us).

Now we have an inane Mainland-style freak-out over a history exam question asking students whether Japanese rule over China was more good than bad. The Education Bureau blasts the exam authorities for ‘seriously hurting the feelings and dignity of the Chinese people’, no less. Someone in the bureaucracy is obviously petrified that Mr Luo from the Liaison Office might march in and give them a good spanking.

(I wonder how students in Taiwan would answer the question.)

This follows Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s recent signals that Mainlandization of schools is definitely on the agenda.

The Education Bureau has a lot of catching-up to do compared with the Security branch.

There are signs that the Independent Police Complaints Council report on the cops’ behaviour in Yuen Long, Prince Edward and so on last year will be even more of a whitewash than the most-hardcore cover-up fans dared hope for. For example, the outrage over collusion with triads was due to a shortage of clarifications explaining that it didn’t happen. And you wonder why overseas advisors refused to touch this inquiry.

You would have thought someone in authority would consider the damage such a distorted account will do to official credibility and legitimacy – but presumably that doesn’t matter anymore.

The Civil Rights Observer group has compiled (and will send to the UN) evidence of torture and other human-rights violations by the HK Police. These are incidents that don’t get caught on video.

The HK Journalists Association has issued a compilation of footage of the police treatment of reporters on Sunday.

Also on media matters, the FCC is asking some simple questions about whether press people banned from China can work in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong government is essentially too scared to answer.

I declare the weekend open with some more worthwhile reading…

UK activist Benedict Rogers joins in the outrage about the HK Police on Mothers’ Day. Interesting how the cops’ (or Liaison Office’s) new tactics for 2020 – Operation Tougher Freaking-Out Over Nothing in Malls – seems to have backfired from the start.

Rogers pleads for international action, which of course won’t happen. Still, the Human Rights Foundation makes a persuasive case – a good intro for anyone overseas who has just woken up to Hong Kong.

Kong Tsung-gan’s quick brief on Hong Kong’s biggest, and then second-biggest, trial – of dozens rounded up for ‘riot’.

Not so much a thread as a multimedia documentary: Eight Hours in the Testing/Quarantine Zone at HK Airport.

HK Free Press on why the ‘Singapore solution’ to going authoritarian without scaring business away won’t work. (Essentially, the Singapore government does not report to or take orders from the CCP. We could also add that they’re not chosen by Beijing either, so tend to have a bit more in the brain-cells department.)

Rest of World on the LIHKG website – the protest movement’s forum.

Bellingcat exposes China’s Twitter and Facebook bot networks.

Andrew Batson looks at the role of Xi Zhongxun (Jinping’s dad) in trying to curb land-reform excesses in the 1950s.

And a bit of culinary history – Asian Review of Books looks at a new work on our friend the chili pepper in China.

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A lazy Thursday

Owing to a severe attack of lethargy, Thursday this week is brought to you by a selection of read-worthy links…

An angry rant following the HK Police’s ridiculous Mothers’ Day antics from a member of HKU philosophy faculty.

A new union for PR folk blasts the Hong Kong government’s image-salvaging efforts.

Planning activists (who by now really should know better) express dismay that Hong Kong transport officials manage to totally mangle and mutilate the no-brainer concept of harbour water-taxis, somehow turning what could be a convenient service for residents into some putrid tourist thing, surprise surprise.

SCMP’s history columnist looks back at a time when patriots were authentic like the estimable Dotty Liu (who if I recall drove around in a fetching green Jaguar). (More on her here.)

HK Free Press addresses the world’s critical shortage of keyrings.

Hong Kong movies at next this year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Minxin Pei on how the virus is killing the China-US relationship

For the first time, ordinary Americans going about their lives in their own country fear for their economic and physical survival, because of political repression in a distant land.

Simon Leys in a flashback to 1990: ‘The Art of Interpreting Nonexistent Inscriptions Written in Invisible Ink on a Blank Page’.

Taiwan looks at long-overdue de-Sinification: of institutions’ nomenclature, and of the ‘unification’ clause in the national Mainland relations law.

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Restoring post-Covid harmony to HK

There is a theory that the CCP is deliberately trying to provoke major unrest in Hong Kong to justify sending in mainland security forces or ordering the local cops to mow people down with automatic weapons.

Today’s evidence is the local puppet administration’s announcement that it wants to ram through a National Anthem (Compulsory Adoration) Bill, which would punish acts like booing during a performance of the music punishable by three years in prison. Hey – let’s do something like last year’s Extradition Bill again!

(We could add the Police Commissioner’s declaration that his force wants to arrest a woman accusing his officers of gang-rape, but we’ll put that down to the cops’ own unique approach to public-relations charm.)

A reminder from HK Free Press (from a year ago) about the ‘legal malware’ problems with the looming Ordinance.

Assuming the CCP leaders are not total psychos, the other explanation is a massive failure in their analysis and policymaking: they genuinely have no idea of what public feeling might be, or even any concept that it is something they should be including in their calculations. The new knuckle-draggers running the HK & Macau Affairs and Liaison Office have zero understanding of a free and open society. All they have is a robotic Leninist mindset that dissent and resistance amount to a mortal threat and must be overridden.

Stephen Vines on Beijing’s frustration

Like a caged wild animal the Party has taken to clawing at the bars and is threatening to burst out of the cage in order to seek bloody revenge. There is a dangerous mood up in Beijing leading the leadership to believe that Hong Kong’s democracy movement can be crushed by brute force.

The government yesterday announced September 6 as the date for the Legislative Council election. Pan-dems quaintly imagine that the process will allow voters to exercise political power. Xinhua notes that polling could be postponed in the event of disturbances such as riots. More likely, Beijing will disqualify candidates, order rubber-stamp legislative procedures, and/or simply start to impose new laws by edict.

As their hyper-freak-out tactics on Mothers’ Day suggest, the Beijing-directed HK Police will take harsher action against protests this year – and after the first few fatalities, it will be as good as a PLA-lite clampdown. Does anyone want to take bets on: when Internet censorship starts; when local top officials and judges start fleeing; when an actual HK Independence movement comes into being?

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