A last-minute addition to the weekend links…

As with the WHO, the Olympics mafia are struggling after succumbing to Beijing’s ‘elite capture’ and discourse management tactics. For anyone following #MeToo or Peng Shuai – or who has worked for an emperor-tycoon – try YouTube vid I was a bodyguard for a Chinese serial rapist.

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A slightly quiet day

Another poll the government won’t like – schools report a doubling in the numbers of students and teachers leaving.

Some reading for the weekend…

9-Dash Line on the rewriting of history in Hong Kong…

The notion of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ has already been hollowed out politically and legally, and by further policing history within Hong Kong, the hope is to culturally integrate the city with the mainland.

Science.org on the departure of senior management and gradual Mainlandization of Hong Kong universities.

Reporters Without Borders mark the first year of Jimmy Lai’s detention.

Propublica on Beijing’s pressure and intimidation against Mainland students on US campuses…

“This is an overall extension of the police state,” said Anna Puglisi, a senior fellow at Georgetown University who served until last year as the U.S. intelligence community’s national counterintelligence officer for East Asia. “It is brazen. But when you talk about it, people act as if you’re nuts. There has been no cost to China for this.”

Atlantic adds to the commentary on Peng Shuai

She’s not advocating for democracy, or calling for reform, or even directly standing up for women’s rights. Yet she is being treated as if she is. For a political party that presents itself as infallible, anything that suggests otherwise is perceived as dangerous. The corollary to this rule is that the party’s most senior leaders, especially those with the right connections and relationships, can act as they wish, without fear of public scrutiny or reproach.

Another thread (in fact, a review) on the leaked Xinjiang documents (background here).

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PORI breaks Public Opinion Survey (Incorrect Results (Gathering)) Ordinance

More policymaking-by-state-media: Ta Kung Pao accuses Hong Kong’s PORI pollsters of breaking the law by surveying the public’s voting intentions – and the (apparently, vaguely) relevant official at the ICAC suddenly ‘can’t rule out the possibility’ that asking such questions breaks the law. The problem, of course, was not the pollsters’ question, but the respondents’ answers suggesting a low voter turnout. 

Another survey shows that young people are not interested in careers in the Greater Bay Opportunities!!! Area. Was that question also illegal, for not prompting the correct replies?

The ICAC boss’s need to awkwardly echo a CCP newspaper’s baseless claim reminds us who’s really in charge. It also confirms how frustrated Beijing’s officials are at the prospect of a low turnout in the forthcoming election. And we can conclude that PORI is toast now. 

In other NatSec horrors, the government prevents a lawyer with human-rights expertise from taking a political case. And primary schools must make kids love the motherland…

The framework also lists over 20 examples for teachers to follow, including one suggesting teachers play the song The East Is Red when teaching primary students about the achievements of Chinese aeronautical science. 

If you’re scratching your head over that, the SCMP mercifully explains…

The revolutionary ballad, which was popular during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and praises Mao Zedong as “people’s great saviour”, was the first song that China’s earliest satellite beamed back to earth after it was launched in 1970.

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Government sticks ‘Kick Me’ sign on own back

At the behest of the authorities, a Hong Kong court issues arrest warrants for former legislator Ted Hui and former district councillor Yau Man-chun – both now overseas. Their alleged crime: calling for a boycott or the casting of invalid votes in the forthcoming quasi-election. While now illegal under recent hasty revisions to the elections laws, urging people not to vote is perfectly acceptable in any free or democratic country, so the warrants are an absurd and embarrassing gesture. HKFP story here. Official announcement from the ICAC (pursuing those who encourage non-voting is apparently a job for the anti-graft agency) here.

Ming Pao quotes (in Chinese) a pro-Beijing businessman as saying that a low turnout in the quasi-election will be the result of foreign forces attempting to put citizens off voting. (The same foreign forces that got two million people on the Hong Kong streets in 2019, presumably.)

A China Daily op-ed accuses pollsters PORI of breaking the law and inciting people not to vote – by asking whether they plan to boycott the election…

The common objective of public opinion surveys on elections all over the world is to rate the popularity of the election candidates. But for the HKPORI, as explained in their press conference, it’s clearly more interested in registering the number of respondents who would cast blank votes. As this is clearly irrelevant to the primary objective of election surveys, there is undoubtedly an ulterior motive behind this exercise…

…by conducting the survey to ascertain the number of respondents prepared to cast blank votes and disseminating the results of the survey, it likely constitutes a prima facie case of incitement…

…The HKPORI would be wise to stop their public opinion survey on the election or it may face the same consequences as those of their associates now languishing in jail.

As the above three stories suggest, the government is frantically trying to draw attention to the fact that It’s Really Worried About A Low Turnout On December 19. You’d almost think it’s a very clever subliminal campaign to convince the public to boycott the exercise. Essentially every official and every CCP shoe-shiner is now running around shrieking: 

You really really must go and vote in this election even though the results have been decided ahead of time! The unelected regime will look bad if you don’t turn up at the polling station on December 19! If there is a low turnout it will make the CCP unhappy and sad! If you admire and wish to endorse this regime and this system, please please please turn up and vote!!!!

Obviously, the key players here are more interested in appearing (to distant superiors) to be anti-boycott than in actually persuading the public to take part. For example, does the former ICAC guy writing in China Daily really believe what he says?

While you are duly noting and considering this heart-rending appeal, I will do my best to help. Do not follow reports of the courts ordering pan-dem politicians accused of a ‘vicious plot’ to subvert the government – holding primary elections – to be kept in jail without bail for 12 months by the time their trial begins. Here’s another. And on no account read Bitter Winter’s All Elections in Hong Kong Are Now Meaningless.

Some mid-week links…

A thread on the CCP-supporting leadership at the WHO.

Another on an (alleged) first-ever leak of ‘Top Secret’ comments by a Chinese supreme leader on Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang.

The Spectator’s contribution to the Peng Shuai saga, focusing on the concubinage angle. Perhaps the funniest item so far on the poor PR skills displayed by CCP media in the Peng affair is this – in Russian state media by a Beijing-worshiping Westerner. CGTN has banned him for his candid analysis.

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HK Bird-Watching Society still free

HKFP describes the dismantlement – so far – of Hong Kong’s civil society through a list of 50 groups and NGOs that have disbanded under the NatSec regime replaced the city’s autonomy in mid-2020. They include professional organizations dating back to the 1970s-80s with long records of cooperation with the colonial and post-1997 administrations. Of all the ways Beijing is erasing pluralism in Hong Kong, this – along with the ‘patriots’-only rigged elections – is perhaps the most vivid reminder of Leninists’ phobia about forces they do not control.

By contrast, young Taiwan activists are joining the country’s democratic system and considering how in Hong Kong they would be in jail. 

Also in Taiwan, films banned in Hong Kong and the Mainland feature in the Golden Horse Awards. Revolution of Our Times wins best documentary.

A thread on how a pro-China Taiwanese became anti-CCP

Newbloom on the prospects for Taiwan’s Apple Daily.

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Some weekend reading, before loopholes are plugged

More censorship on the way. Enjoy what’s left while it lasts.

More good commentary on the Peng Shuai affair, from World Politics Review.

And Asia Sentinel offers a conspiracy theory – that Peng’s accusations were part of a pre-emptive Xi-ist attack on the Shanghai Gang (in the form of Zhang Gaoli) days before the Sixth Plenum and its ‘historic resolution’, at which the Jiang Zemin faction threatened to depose (or something) the Emperor-for-Life. The explosion of the issue on the international media stage was thus an unintended hiccup (‘obfuscates the original allegation’ as the Guardian puts it). Interesting idea, with parts that add up, but unlikely to impress fans of Occam’s razor.

Reading for the weekend…

From Al Jazeera: how Hong Kong’s NatSec Regime leaves low-paid workers worse off; Hong Kong’s decline as a media hub; and ‘Why I left Hong Kong’ by a journalist.

HKFP op-ed on the vagueness of the NatSec Law. And a link to a Stand News story on the government starting to assign Beijing-friendly lawyers to defend people accused of political crimes. Insert ‘Mainland-style’ as required. In case you didn’t read it the first time – another plug for Jerome Cohen’s piece on the Hong Kong criminal justice system’s transformation to a tool of oppression. This piece contains the lot.

After Foodpanda, a nice story – Black Sheep restaurant chain pays US$650,000 to send staff to see families worldwide and do quarantine on return.

A review of Anita – the Anita Mui biopic.

Academics Steve Tsang and Olivia Cheung in a (very) long essay asking whether Xi Jinping has made China’s political system more sustainable.

Leftist but fairly economically literate (and non-tankie) Jacobin on property and the future of China’s ‘state capitalist’ economy. 

Former lawmaker Charles Mok on Beijing’s plan to establish its own definition of human rights. The Hong Kong and Macau quasi-elections, he says, are trials for fake universal suffrage in the Mainland.

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Shock survey result: one in three takes ‘election’ seriously

Beijing-backed Ta Kung Pao accuses opinion pollsters PORI of inciting misleading incitement or something, for reporting that only 34% of citizens definitely plan to vote at next month’s quasi-election, and 52% think they probably sort of might (as the slide shows, normally some 80-85% say that, though of course fewer actually go). Indeed, many don’t even know who’s running. Frankly, the CCP should give PORI a medal for suggesting that as many as a third of the population care deeply about the pointless exercise.

Beijing seems sensitive about the fact that it’s new ‘improved’ patriots-only elections are widely perceived to lack legitimacy. Officials will set up polling stations at border checkpoints in the hope that Hongkongers living in Shenzhen or even beyond might go and cast ballots. And a Mainland think-tank type has proposed that the local authorities issue a turnout figure that averages out the voting rate among all 90 races – including the 70 for Functional and Election Committee seats with tiny electorates of just a few hundred or thousand loyalists.

The obvious comparison is going to be with the District Council elections two years ago: 2.94 million voters participated – a 71.2% turnout. Pro-democrats were allowed to run, and won a landslide.

HKFP finds that many candidates do not reveal contact details on their nomination materials. But this is a CCP-style election in which the winners have essentially already been decided. If you were the designated loser in a fake race, would you want to give everyone your email address or phone number? It’s bad enough that they’re allowed to know your name.

To get into the election mood, watch Carrie Lam waffle in response to a question on whether it is legal to cast a blank vote. And maybe read the HK Democracy Council statement on the sentencing of Tony Chung (background here).

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Out of the Loup

A letter in the FT several days ago, and one of the replies…

On Peng Shuai: Beijing demands that foreign forces stop ‘deliberately and maliciously hyping up’ the affair. China Media Project didn’t get the memo. Nor did ‘mixes creepiness and cutesy’ Quartz. Human Rights Watch joins in with criticism of the Olympics mob. RTHK, on the other hand, deletes its coverage.

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Anti-Pedestrian Dept delivers another horror

From Transit Jam – Hong Kong’s psychopath transport planners strike again. Although only 10% of households have them, private cars account for 47% of visits to the West Kowloon Cultural Hub-Zone District, and taxis another 31%. There is no legal way to access the site by bicycle.

Is this because the main attractions – notably a park with grass you can sit on, plus the new M+ Museum – appeal mainly to the wealthy? Or is it that MTR/bus/pedestrian links are so bad that non-car owners find it too much hassle to bother going? 

The article says project managers estimated that only 8% of visitors would use private cars, and provided 2,000 car-parking spaces. Now surrounding roads are clogged with illegal parking.

Why didn’t they design the complex, which is in a core urban area adjacent to major bus routes and MTR lines, as car-free? Because the bureaucrats who decide transport priorities all use private cars and arrange everything to suit themselves and their families – and screw the 90% who take buses or the MTR, or walk. 

(For another example of the Alphard-first idiocy, look at the reclamation between IFC and the Central ferry piers, where planners somehow managed to cram half a dozen separate parallel two-or three-lane roads into an area a few hundred yards across. Probably a third of the roads’ surfaces are de-facto, though illegal, car parking space, while pedestrians are crammed onto narrow overhead walkways. The people who designed this are retiring on massive pensions.)

More on the Peng Shuai saga: a sports/politics expert in HKFP explains why the Women’s Tennis Association stands up to Beijing (read this – it’s great); and a summary of the propaganda mess from ASPI.

In case I’m too busy complaining about the cold over the next day or two, a few fun things from Twitter…

Micheal Pettis points out – diplomatically – that China’s GDP is overstated and one day they need to fill in a big hole. (Devaluation of the RMB would be one way.)

Magnificently Bitchy Quote of the Week, from Geremie Barme (via here): ‘The Xi personality cult is a cult without personality’.

A 1963 description of Taiwan nationalism. If you see parallels with Hong Kong post-97, keep them you yourself.

And the Almighty replies to a vaccine skeptic.

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Who needs the public’s trust when you can jail them?

An HKFP op-ed asks how the Hong Kong government can regain public trust if it doesn’t admit its own role in provoking and escalating the 2019 protests (let alone 20 years of incompetence beforehand). The key issue is accountability… 

…for authorities to beat the people with our legal system while giving themselves a free pass for their role in the 2019 chaos is utterly outrageous. Every prosecution, every conviction and every jailing of protesters reminds us that the government itself has not been brought to account.

The Basic Law by design is vague about how the people may hold the Hong Kong government to account. It allows the authorities to decide if and when they will be held to account and with what consequences. This is not a system that encourages responsible government…

Neither more affordable housing nor social welfare will fix this problem. The government cannot buy respect or legitimacy. Either the central government must begin holding our local government to account, or the central government must give us the tools to do it ourselves.

Representative government is obviously not going to happen. Beijing could conceivably force Carrie or others to make self-criticisms one day – weirder things have happened when the CCP tosses its sycophants aside. But otherwise, the regime will forget about winning public trust and simply rely on force and fear in order to rule.

Jerome Cohen spells this out in a (lengthy) piece for Academia Sinica on how Hong Kong’s criminal justice system has become an ‘instrument of fear’.

And Chow Hang-tung (recently denied bail) writes on being conditioned by the system – prison in her case, the NatSec regime for those of us outside.

The Germans have a word for it: ‘Gleichschaltung’, referring to the ‘harmonization’ of society through creeping Nazification in the 1930s – not unlike United Front work in a Leninist takeover. English Wikipedia has a worthy entry here, but for a more vivid picture try the German site’s version using Google translate if necessary. (And, if you never have, read Victor Klemperer).

And right on cue…

HKFP on the disappearance of books on the Beijing massacre from Hong Kong public libraries. Social workers will have to take oaths. And, from Australia’s Saturday Paper, Hong Kong film censorship sets in…

It’s a quiet erosion of rights, of expectations. Things are being lost very quickly. The right to protest. The right to run for office if you aren’t pro-Beijing. The freedom to speak or display words calling for democracy. The opportunity to make – or see – films that don’t toe the party line.

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