Glimpses into the future

We know Beijing won’t allow representative government in Hong Kong, and it will continue to tighten its control of schools, the media, courts and civil society in order to eradicate opposition and criticism. But what then? 

An HKFP op-ed on how the CCP will select and manage the large number of new shoe-shiners and loyalists coming into the establishment. While many of these people will occupy ceremonial rubber-stamp posts, some will gradually replace senior civil servants and others in decision-making positions. And behind the scenes of course…

…real power in Hong Kong resides less with the chief convener or the chief executive, than with our party secretary, Luo Huining, and party central in Beijing.

‘Chief convener’ is a mystery job that I would call ‘chief conveyor’, as it will obviously be a channel for CCP edicts.

(Author Prof Burns has studied this for ages – see a 1987 article on China’s nomenklatura.) 

And what will the new style of administration do in terms of policy? A (Chinese) article in Stand News describes an internal discussion paper by the newish pro-Beijing/Beijing-backed Bauhinia Party on Hong Kong housing. It might have been drafted and leaked deliberately, maybe in order to soften up vested interests. It certainly has something to upset different segments of the city’s traditional establishment. 

It refers to the housing situation in terms of a threat to ‘One Country’ (implying that it encourages secessionist sentiment). The paper suggests an expansion of affordable housing that could only be achieved by using land held by private interests, notably developers – and while it doesn’t mention expropriation, it does maintain that the central government has a right to play a role in deciding land use in Hong Kong. (This would be in flagrant violation of Basic Law protection of private property, so all-too believable,) The paper also – intriguingly – blames bureaucrats for putting high land-prices first in order to protect their lavish pay and pensions. Almost starting to like these guys.

Still, it’s hardly worth sticking around for. The UK is not famed for encouraging immigration, but is now funding assistance for Hongkongers settling in the country, and almost bending over backwards to get them to come. This is probably cynical, though you could see a noble gesture by the kids of East African Asian refugees who make up much of the Conservative government cabinet. (OK, it’s cynical.) Worth every penny just for the inevitable outraged ranting from Beijing officials.

Mouth-frothing about Britain laying out the welcome mat is also forthcoming from retired HK Police, like the one who wrote a nasty email to the Hongkongers in Britain organization. He (an expat, it seems) accused the exiles of not working and/or taking other people’s jobs, and particularly mentioned – slandered – Simon Cheng, the UK consulate staffer arrested by Mainland security. We are assuming this former Superintendent is real: the ‘‘Flying Kukris Rugby Football Club Girls Section committee member’ sounds like a parody.

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In fairness, ‘riding a horse to battle’ sounds more credible than ‘terrorism’

Hong Kong’s first NatSec trial, for ‘terrorism’ and ‘secession’, starts, with the defendant to find out whether he can have a jury. Let’s stick our necks out and predict ‘no’. The prosecution get a Lingnan U history professor as a better-red-than-expert witness to say that Tong Ying-kit – who allegedly drove a motorbike with a ‘Liberate HK’ flag into or among a group of cops – was ‘akin to an ancient warrior bearing a war flag, riding a horse to a battle’. The NatSec judges were not especially impressed with Prof Lau’s condescending evidence. More on the historian here.

In ASPI Strategist Keith Richburg goes over the CCP’s suppression of arts and culture in Hong Kong. It’s quite a little list – and they’re just getting started.

On the subject of lists, Hong Kong Watch has updated its record of imprisoned protesters. (How many of these people have you ever met in person? I count at least half a dozen – and I’m not a great socializer.)

What would Lingnan’s historians make of this? The weekend’s Big Read: from China Journal, basically a small-book-size history of Hong Kong from early colonial times, by Aris Teon. It proposes that the CCP takeover has abandoned the popular consensus and liberal values achieved (eventually) by the British. (The piece is 20,000 words, but seems angled towards a global audience and draws on familiar sources – so if you know your Opium Wars to MacLehose, you might want to skip to Chapter 5, or just go straight to the conclusion. Illustrated!)

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Sliding into stupidocracy

Hong Kong is headed for a state of unprecedented establishment stupidity. The day is soon coming when Holden Chow gets put onto committees because he brings some brains to the proceedings. 

An observer at the recent judgement in which Martin Lee et al were found guilty mentioned something along the lines of ‘a class/status divide in the courtroom … the accused were some of Hong Kong’s top legal minds, while the judge looked out of her depth – though enjoying the chance to stick it to the smart-asses. Our best and brightest thinkers are being persecuted by resentful second-raters who can now exact revenge’.

Quick interlude on the subject of ‘best and brightest’: Nathan Law gets asylum in the UK.

Meanwhile, back in out-of-their-depth-land… 

In a Bloomberg TV interview, Hong Kong Police deputy commissioner Oscar Kwok talked of national security risks arising from the ‘aggressive DNA’ of countries like the US who want to ‘suppress the development of China’. Kwok would have acquired his profound international relations expertise at a week-long course in Beijing, possibly at the Chinese Academy of Governance, which gives Hong Kong public servants, academics, journalists and other attendees a fetching little pin. These days, only those dumb enough to take this sort of thing seriously will make it up the ranks.

What with screening, vetting, loyalty oaths, firings and good-old-fashioned jailings, the range of people permitted in public office and formal political positions is dwindling. At the same time, the demand for ideologically qualified ‘talent’ is rising – the new ‘improved’ Legislative Council will have 40 seats reserved for certified patriots who will need to be dredged up from somewhere. And now the NatSec regime is going to trawl people’s pasts for evidence of incorrect thinking from decades ago. Obviously, the thought-police will sniff out youthful indiscretions of those the CCP wants to persecute while overlooking those of born-again loyalists or potentially useful idiots. But still, it makes you wonder who – or what – will be left in the pool of acceptable patriots.

Some ceremonial (and needless to say genuine) posts will no doubt be filled by CCP-connected Mainlanders, who will bring their own creepy skills and agendas into the Hong Kong establishment. But the local people in exalted or executive positions in future will be the out-of-their-depth second-raters. (And yes – that’s by the standards of today’s not-exactly-cerebral pro-Beijing camp and Gold Bauhinia Medal awardees.)

There will be no checks, criticism or questioning from an all-shoeshiner/loyalist vetted legislature stacked with dimwits Starry, Holden, Elizabeth Q et al. Nor will any skeptical or investigative journalism come out of a muzzled press. A witless ‘elite’ and declining official transparency are a recipe for incompetence and corruption. For a taste, consider the Sinovac-pushing/BioNTech-smearing mess. 

It won’t stop at cops and judges. ‘Better Red than Expert’ will apply to appointments and promotions not only in RTHK and the universities, but throughout the civil service, probably in hospital brain-surgery departments and the bureaucracies that keep the sewage pipes clear and the electricity and gas running. We will mourn the glorious days when the big problem was bad English on official signage.

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Go hiking on election day!

The government is reportedly looking into making protest votes illegal and/or making it an offense to call for protest votes or an election boycott. Minds are struggling to work out how such laws could be enforced.

My prediction… The government decrees that the ‘unused’ votes on blank/spoiled ballots will automatically be divided up among candidates in proportion to the total non-spoiled vote so there are no uncounted ballots. As for banning calls to boycott, it is likely the government will deem such expressions seditious, and dissidents will have to urge fellow citizens to (say) go hiking on election day – with a pronounced wink of the eye.

Whatever action the government takes, the responses to such trivial potential civil disobedience will be clunky. Beijing’s officials – who are obviously behind this sort of idiocy – didn’t think things through before reducing the electoral system to a doubly-rigged joke. And they will continue not to think things through: Won’t discussion of such prohibitions simply draw attention to the whole idea of protest votes/a boycott among people who hadn’t considered them before? (Clue: yes it will.)

Some links to ease us into what promises to be a short week…

Regina ‘Zero’ Ip faces a BBC interviewer reminding her that her ‘party’ won no seats in the district council elections. Her willingness to be publicly kicked in the teeth is almost as compelling as Carrie Lam’s kamikaze-psychopath-zombie routine.

A HKFP interview with ‘moderate’ Michael Tien (a one-time ally of Reg’s group) trying to sound supportive of the election ‘improvements’ that sideline his own local business milieu, and trying to convince us – or at least himself – that the worst of NatSec horrors are over. Like his brother James, he never quite mastered the art of shoe-shining the CCP in the self-debasing way that comes naturally to many other tycoons.

The government is claiming that NatSec Police have the right to seize and read journalistic materials, which would include details of reporters’ sources. Does anyone expect otherwise?

Elsewhere in Apple Daily, the Easter rush of emigrants from Hong Kong to the UK, and an interview with the boss from jail.

The brilliant Anne Stevenson-Yang on how and why billionaires (Zuck, Musk, etc) side with fascist/CCP dictators.

Mad dogs (and occasional running ones) – China Media Project presents a history of CCP-backed mouth-frothing and ranting up to the days of the wolf-warrior diplomats

For the Chinese Communist Party, online rage is the conflagration needed to suck the oxygen out of any debate over substance, and distract attention away from criticism. 

Denmark faces CCP lawfare.

And an interesting commentary on the Essex Chambers sanctions

“Please, please Mr Genocidal Dictator, it’s their fault not ours, don’t blame us. We’re still happy to work for you.”

Chambers has demeaned itself by grovelling in the face of such intimidation.

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Some links for a time of grave-sweeping

From NPC Observer, in case you need it, an exhaustive run-down of Beijing’s ‘improvements’ to Hong Kong’s electoral system. Some worthwhile analysis and commentary on the past and future of the NatSec era…

Matthew Brooker at Bloomberg on the origins of Beijing’s move to snuff out democracy in Hong Kong, and the extent to which – with a Leninist regime holding all the cards – it was inevitable.

Minxin Pei in Nikkei Asia on Beijing’s plan to take power away from Hong Kong’s tycoons-bureaucrat cabal, and make their (and everyone’s) lives nastier – for example, reducing government competency by directly choosing loyalists as officials.

China has several critical tasks to complete, such as changing the rules of appointing senior government officials, instituting patriotic indoctrination in schools and government agencies, strengthening law enforcement – which can only mean introducing pervasive surveillance – and integrating the Hong Kong economy into that of the Pearl River Delta.

In all likelihood, China will also marginalize Hong Kong’s elites when it drafts and acts on these plans. However, unlike the national security law and the electoral law, which primarily target pro-democracy activists, Beijing’s future actions will unavoidably trample on the interests of the city’s elites…

We will hear more on the NatSec Regime’s impact on retention of talent and quality of governance before long. Meanwhile, a brief taste from Atlantic’s Timothy McClaughlin on how it is hindering the struggle to win public trust in Covid vaccinations…

Hong Kong has few options for trusted vaccine ambassadors: Many of its most popular lawmakers, as well as activists, are in jail or have gone into exile. Pro-Beijing lawmakers and celebrities have been focused recently on other topics, such as defending China’s labor practices in Xinjiang.

Suzanne Pepper in HKFP on the ‘improvements’ in the legislature, and on the expansion of Hong Kong’s ‘patriotic’ community from a small group of devout Leftist outcasts in the 1950s-70s to anyone who doesn’t want to be an outcast today.

And the SCMP carries an op-ed by the US Consul-General pleading fairly diplomatically for Beijing to go back to the original 1C2S deal…

The government’s inability or unwillingness to resolve public concerns was the cause of the 2019 protests. Now, it says the solution is curtailing pluralism and suppressing dissent. Hong Kong – once a bastion of disparate voices, lively debate and the rule of law – is now a city where people are arrested and languish in detention for months before trial for taking part in peaceful demonstrations or primary elections and face years of imprisonment under a national security law developed, imposed and enforced by organs accountable only to Beijing.

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Long-weekend links, for anyone with the energy

A bunch of banana-republic/show-trial stories… 

An optimistic defendant appeals against not having a jury in Hong Kong’s first NatSec trial.

Andy Li (maybe – no-one knows – being held incommunicado in a mental hospital) gets a government-appointed lawyer his family has never heard of. Apparently the counsel’s a company/land law specialist.

The government removes accused persons’ details from court charge sheets – so it will be harder for the press to find out whose cases are coming up.

And HKFP points out a (hardly surprising) contradiction arising from Hong Kong court decisions: clicking ‘like’ online is evidence of support where it will hurt pan-dems, but not evidence of support where it would benefit pan-dems.

RTHK’s new CCP-approved boss obviously relishes scrutinizing and micromanaging the broadcaster’s every minute of programming. Serious question: how does he find time to watch/listen to/read all the content? HKFP are valiantly trying to keep count of how many shows the guy has pulled. He now tells staff to withdraw entries to a human rights journalism awards event, presumably for fears the station’s work might be internationally recognized for high quality – heaven forbid. The organizers say ‘too late, you’re in’. Expect an angry ‘interfering in our affairs’ tantrum if RTHK wins an award.

For aficionados of Election Committee sub-sectors, an Apple Daily wrap-up of how Beijing will replace existing voters with state-linked and pro-Beijing groups. Since everything is already rigged and Beijing decides the result in advance, these changes are simply the CCP’s charming little way of saying to lawyers, accountants, tycoons and others: ‘We really really hate you’.

The number-one question as a LegCo ‘election’ looms – to boycott or not to boycott? (Incredibly, there are Democratic Party masochists who still can’t seem to make up their minds. The answer is ‘boycott’. I understand why the intemperate might prefer to mutilate their ballot, but a low turnout/shortage of candidates sends a bigger message.)

A Quartz bio of reporter, activist and heroine of 2019 Gwyneth Ho, now (guess this goes without saying) in jail. Speaking of 2019, I just happened across this reminder of June 16.

Neville Sarony in Asia Times on Hong Kong disciplined services’ transition to the funny/creepy/Prussian goose-step style of marching.

…George Orwell observed that the goose step was only used in countries where the population was too frightened to laugh at the military. 

A former top UK jurist on Beijing’s sanctions against Essex Court Chambers. 

The BBC’s Beijing correspondent has moved to Taiwan. Globular Times bids him a snotty farewell. Maybe the trend for foreign reporters to flee China for Renegade Province will lead to more and better coverage of Asia’s freest country.

From 60 Minutes, a look at how the WHO let China off the hook in investigating the origins of Covid-19.

ABC News in Oz on China’s new approaches – like ‘adding snark’ – to messaging against the West.

George Magnus on China’s ‘go-it-alone’ five-year plan.

A British lawmaker’s reaction to being put on Beijing’s Naughty List.

And for anyone with an interest in Serbia: China’s military boss thinks this is a cool time to visit the place, and how the country’s media is going pro-Beijing.

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HK election ‘improvements’ – the devil is not in the detail

In 2014, Hong Kong rejected a proposed ‘universal suffrage’ system because the CCP would have chosen who goes on the ballot for Chief Executive. In 2021, Beijing officially passes its ‘improvements’ to Hong Kong’s election system and assumes control of who goes on all ballots.

The attention-grabbing features are: a) all candidates will have to be pre-approved by a committee; and b) the proportion of Legislative Council seats elected by the public will be drastically reduced, while a new, much larger bloc of lawmakers, will (in effect) be appointed by Beijing.

The SCMP mentions that the Candidate Eligibility Review Committee will have an odd number of members in order to avoid any tied votes. What the story doesn’t say is that this idiotic detail is aimed at diverting your attention from what is actually happening: the committee – like the bodies whose candidates it vets – will be a rubber-stamp, taking orders from Beijing’s officials, via the NatSec shadow-government and the HK Police NatSec and Art Censorship Dept. (The committee will comprise senior government officials ‘trusted’ by Beijing. If the idea of a government and the cops vetting election candidates sounds weird, don’t worry – it’s all for show.)

The measure comes in the form of two annexes to the Basic Law, on Chief Executive and LegCo elections. A pithy sample from the latter…

The Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR shall, on the basis of the review by the department for safeguarding national security of the Police Force of the HKSAR, make findings as to whether a candidate for member of the Legislative Council meets the legal requirements and conditions of upholding the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and swearing allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, and issue an opinion to the Candidate Eligibility Review Committee of the HKSAR in respect of a candidate who fails to meet such legal requirements and conditions.

In short, no pan-dems (give or take a stooge or two) will be allowed to run. However, the absurd overkill in the new framework – both vetting of candidates and addition of a large number of appointed LegCo seats – indicates that the idea is also to threaten pro-Beijing figures with vetting, and in any case to dilute their numbers in the legislature. This is essentially Beijing shoving everyone aside and taking full control over the legislature, thus rendering it a pure rubber stamp (as it has with the Executive branch).

Not content with the headline ‘improvements’, Beijing is also reducing the role of human voters in some functional constituencies by boosting the presence of corporate votes (though FC candidates will also be vetted), and replacing district council members on the CE Election Committee with appointees (in the guise of district fight-crime and other boards). Geeks will be fascinated to hear that the LegCo elections will use the ‘binomial’ voting system, but the rest of us can ignore it. (OK – if you must.)

The details of all this are tedious – but to repeat: that is deliberate. The idea is to make it look like there is a real process at work when in fact, behind the scenes, all outcomes are decided in advance by Beijing’s officials. Elections in Hong Kong are now, finally, so painstakingly rigged that they might as well not happen.

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HK develops its creative and culture hub plans

Hong Kong’s NatSec Regime takes a break from putting dissidents in jails and mental hospitals to exercise its censorship muscles.

With the Broadcasting Authority bending over backwards to entertain ‘complaints’ about the station committing such heinous acts as suggesting Taiwan might be a country, RTHK is scrapping so many shows you have to wonder what they’ll fill the empty space with. The head of the board of advisors Lam Tai-fai is heaping praise on Patrick Li, the civil servant recently put in charge of the station.

Meanwhile, Henry Tang, the tycoon-scion figurehead for the West Kowloon Cultural Hub-Zone, confirms that Ai Weiwei’s finger-photo will not appear at the new M+ museum, and says the the NatSec Police art-criticism unit will decide whether works break the NatSec Law

(Trivia question: what is the connection between Lam Tai-fai and Henry Tang?)

For the first time since 1969, no Hong Kong broadcasters will carry the Oscars. Not because it is one of the most tedious and ignorable televised events imaginable, but because Mainland media are criticizing and boycotting it because a nominated documentary Do Not Split is about the 2019 uprising. (Interest in the film suddenly grows 10-fold.) As Jerome Cohen points out, this will send a NatSec Regime message to the masses that Ai’s photo won’t. 

This year’s Hong Kong International Film Festival’s opening feature – the world premiere of Where the Wind Blowsis cancelled by its owner, presumably to conform with the Mainland’s banning of the cops-and-triads picture.

So far, things are being banned because of the messages they contain. It won’t be long before they are banned for the messages – the patriotic sort – that they don’t have.

The World Press Photo Exhibition is finally going ahead at a space in Admiralty, after HK Baptist U chickened out of hosting the award-winning photos from around the world (including some from Hong Kong).

Not censorship exactly, but a move obviously aimed at curbing the press: details of corporate officers’ residential addresses and full ID numbers in the Companies Registry are to be, in practice, off-limits to the public, including the media. Officially, this is to ‘address concerns over misuse of information’. In reality, it will hinder due-diligence checks, and no doubt make ownership of all sorts of assets – and CCP elites’ families’ money-laundering – harder to investigate.

(The answer to today’s trivia question is here.)

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HK reaches ‘dissidents in mental hospitals’ stage (allegedly)

Among the weekend’s horrors…

Not to be outdone by Regina Ip looking forlornly at her Burberry scarves, the usual bunch of sad-looking losers assemble outside H&M in Tsimshatsui to demand an apology for blah blah. 

(In an interesting side-effect of the patriotic ‘struggle session’ against these brands, some Chinese citizens start wondering why Western companies distanced themselves from Xinjiang in the first place.)

Less amusingly, RTHK might start fining staff who produce ideologically incorrect programming that the new CCP-authorized management has to censor, to compensate the station for the ‘waste’ of resources. Hey – it’s better than being dragged out in public and made to kneel on broken glass and confess to being a capitalist roader.

And it gets grimmer. Although Andy Li is still missing, you might think the most sinister dictatorship-persecuting-dissident scenarios are too grotesque to imagine – they wouldn’t chuck him out of a helicopter or put him in a mental hospital, surely. Except Apple Daily says authorities have indeed put him in a secure unit at Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre ‘to prevent him from “speaking out of turn” and revealing details about his treatment in mainland China’.

When it’s not carrying out this Stalin/1984 re-enactment nightmare, the NatSec regime is managing to screw up fairly basic public-health policy. The government is in a dilemma. On the one hand, it wants to get the population vaccinated asap, so commercial landlords can jack their rents back up and ‘Mainland integration’ can resume. On the other hand, it is (some believe) using clumsy tactics, like hinting at safety scares, to make the better (foreign) vaccine on offer less popular in order to encourage use of the patriotic Chinese-made one. To make things more awkward, the administration has no credibility – legitimacy, even – and much of the public will assume it is lying even if it tells the truth.

Here’s an interesting thread explaining how the Hong Kong authorities have changed the presentation of statistics in such a way as to minimize the impression that the public are trying to avoid Sinovac. Who is going to trust these slimeballs?

Reading between the lines with somewhat cynical eyes, the latest government statement seems to indicate that officials realize many people will avoid any jabs unless they can have the foreign one – so there is no glory for the CCP or relief for landlords to be had by trying to drive people into the arms of Sinovac (or Sinovac into the arms of people, whatever). (Reuters report here.) Therefore, the ‘packaging defect’ alarm might be over soon, in a face-saving way, so we can boost the so-far dismal vaccination rate. But maybe not. Who knows? ‘Somewhat cynical’ isn’t good enough these days.

Bearing all the above in mind, is it a huge surprise that capital outflows to Canada are at a record high?

Ans a couple of things from HKFP: How you can help Hong Kong’s political prisoners through Patreon, and an interview with Steven Vines, author of Defying the Dragon: Hong Kong and the World’s Largest Dictatorship.

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Week ends on banana-republic and shoe-burning notes

A quick wrap-up of the last 24 hours’ horrors…

Andy Li has gone missing while in custody, true banana-republic-style. Apparently, he is exercising his right not to let family know his whereabouts. Several of the HK 12 have also supposedly waived their right to a lawyer. They were in detention and virtually incommunicado in Shenzhen for over seven months. Why do I feel forced confessions coming on?

A Hong Kong court hands down a judgement on joint enterprise saying even someone clicking ‘like’ can be liable for riots and disorder (details here), while the police reportedly consider treating all participants in the siege of Poly U as terrorists. Another court declares a pan-dem district council member not duly elected owing to a microscopic technicality.

Hong Kong universities struggle to work out how to do NatSec – such as forcing students who were on the 2019 barricades to attend indoctrination classes.

‘Bordering on belligerent’, the Hong Kong government requests foreign consulates not to recognize BNO passports (issued by the UK) as valid for Hongkongers applying for visas. Sovereign states are, of course, entitled to recognize whatever travel documents they wish. Local authorities have presumably adopted this stance under orders from Beijing’s officials, for whom petty, hectoring, vindictive arrogance is standard operating procedure. 

On a lighter note: a hilarious video of Regina Ip storming out of a global (online) conference because a speaker from Taiwan referred to his country as – well, a country. No theatrics are too pretentious when you are desperate to be Chief Executive. (If you ever want to push Reg’s oh-so sensitive buttons, you know how to do it.) 

More details on the implications of the case against Bao Choy’s use of the public vehicle-registration database in the course of investigative journalism. 

Coming soon to a billboard near you: NatSec Education Day, in three different and unrelated design themes, to catch the attention of even the most jaded ignorer of government publicity drivel.

On international issues, Globular Times thinks the phrase ‘wolf-warrior’ is racist. Whatever label you use, Beijing’s mega-hubristic-obnoxious foreign relations tactics are looking increasingly – and bewilderingly – counterproductive. 

Clothing chain H&M distanced itself from Xinjiang as a cotton source some time ago to reassure consumers in Western countries. Now it is being boycotted on the Mainland with state approval. Ditto Nike. A quick clip of some of their ugly shoes on fire.

Forced labour doesn’t exist, but if you say you don’t use it, we’ll punish you.

Dreary overpriced no-brand bland/minimalist brand Muji go full ‘we-love-Xinjiang-cotton’. Guess they’ve thought this through. Or not. Cantopop star Eason Chan’s management obviously has, as have other Renminbi-dependant celebrities.

All this comes as activists start looking for ways to punish sponsors of the 2020 Winter Olympics. It also follows Beijing’s sanctions against European individuals and entities over Xinjiang, which have provoked and alienated even the wettest of cooperation-crazed Euro-weenie bureaucrats enough to possibly derail a China-EU trade and investment deal, or even shove Europe closer to the US.

(I’m more than happy to load up on Australian wine and Taiwanese pineapples, but I’m damned if I’ll be seen dead wearing tacky Burberry stuff.)

From wolf-warriors (nice work guys, by the way) on to some weekend reading…

Atlantic makes an excellent point: the purging of HK’s pan-dems has stripped the local political scene of idealism and expertise – leading proponents of environmentalism, gay rights activists, feminists, unionists, and others are in jail.

Shanghai parents go to crazy lengths to get their kid into the latest – and pricy – English-language tutoring fad.

The Guardian compares two island nations’ approaches to handling the pandemic – Britain and Taiwan. No prizes for guessing which one proves to be the better-run tech-savvy democracy.

And things you might not have known about Michael Kovrig’s grandfather. (It’s like there’s a genetic predisposition to being incarcerated by Communists.)

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