And the great soft-power triumphs keep coming. Unable to find any cute puppy dogs to kick in the teeth, Chinese officials ban an adorable and innocent Taiwanese aboriginal children’s choir from appearing on the Mainland. The kids had (obviously) hoped to raise funds from the performance to sing in Europe. In Taipei, democratically elected President Tsai Ing-wen steps in with some cash. Communist Party United Front strategists are shocked and mystified that, yet again, a no-nonsense display of who’s boss still fails to convince the Taiwanese public that submission to and subjugation by the one-party state in Beijing is a compelling and alluring proposition.
The glorious-reunion-with-the-motherland thing isn’t going any better in Hong Kong, where one of the five abducted booksellers returns after eight months in captivity, and speaks out. When Lam Wing-kee reappeared in Hong Kong three days ago, it seemed he would behave as three other returnees have done – look traumatized, ask the police to shut the case, and drop out of public view. Most people could guess what had happened: they had been abducted, held in a secret Mainland location, interrogated, forced to make false confessions, subjected to blackmail or threats against family, and eventually, stressed and terrified, dropped off in Hong Kong.
Unlike the others, Lam has gone public. (The story is everywhere, but the SCMP do a pretty good job here, here and here. The daughter of the fifth hostage – Gui Minhai, abducted from Thailand – is also speaking out.)
Lam confirms the widespread suspicions. In doing so, he forces us to face some stark facts.
China’s top leaders see the locally produced scurrilous/gossipy books about them as a serious threat – perhaps emanating from anti-Xi factions in Beijing – and thus a ‘national-security’ issue. The abductions are clear violations of the Basic Law’s guarantees of Hong Kong’s free press and separate legal/law enforcement jurisdiction. We should not be surprised: the Chinese Communist Party is not subject to the law.
The Hong Kong government is reduced to the role of helpless and impotent bystander with no clue about what is happening, issuing a lame press release as a silent plea for understanding. As an international business and financial hub, we must have rule of law, but as part of the People’s Republic of China, rule of law can be suspended at the pleasure of the Communist Party. They can snatch you off the street, televise a show trial, threaten your family – nothing we can do about it. But low taxes!
The rest of the world, including Taiwan, will draw their own conclusions.
Do the people of Hong Kong do the pragmatic thing and accept this as inevitable and not likely to happen often, or to anyone we know? Or do they become even more wary of, and hostile to, anything from Beijing and the Mainland? Former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa said a while ago that people in Hong Kong should learn more about China. Consider it done. Many will take Lam Wing-kee’s warnings to heart, and perhaps be inspired by his example. This guy has guts. The top-level Mainland security forces that abducted him are expecting him back with a hard drive full of names. Instead, he has turned the tables and exposed beyond any doubts or uncertainty the thuggishness and lawlessness of the CCP. I declare the weekend open by nominating him for one of these.
And everyone in Government gets one of these:
Will Mr. Lam be provided with some local police protection, or will that task be the responsibility of domestic helpers or perhaps Demosisto?
You’re right. Lam Wing-kee has a lot of intestinal fortitude. I know I wouldn’t be as brave as he’s being were I to find myself in his unenviable position. A true hero. Very concerned about his safety, though. You do not mess these guys around lightly.
Result of Internet search: “freedom-of=speech laws, are balanced by defamation-of -character laws”. Sounds reasonable.
Now that is a man with no shits left to give. He doesn’t care what they will do to him anymore. Mad props. I hope I am wrong but I suspect that this is the last time anyone will see him alive. I wonder how he managed to slip away from his handlers long enough to give a press conference. And I hope he has destroyed the hard drive.
If you could have just added in the Yulin dog meat festival between the cute kids and the bookseller you would have got the exact picture of what the world really thinks of Chi-Na.
I’m full of admiration for Mr. Lam. He is made of stern stuff. God bless him.
As for his personal safety, I think he’s probably safer with publicity than without it.
From the Government press release: “… the Police are now “proactively” contacting Mr Lam “himself” …” How else and whom else would they contact?
He looks the mousy, bespectacled, timid sort — sometimes the toughest when the going gets rough.
China will presumably round up his second cousins, one-night stands and primary schoolmates. WK Lam himself would be well-advised to throw himself on the mercy of any consulate that will have him.
I predict a massive turnout on July 1st. Perhaps CY should another $13m on pavement glue.
“I ain’t gonna take this no more!” Total respect for Lam sticking it the man. Maybe he could form a political party, he’d have my vote.
Do not dissent from views as to Mr Lam
However , if reports correct, having crossed the border at Shenzhen he was then apprehended and taken on his train ride. Point being he was not snatched from HK
Lesson being, do not cross the border . (Several of my son’s friends, of Chinese ethnic origin, are not allowed by their parents to even go on school trips on the mainland)
Insert US, UK, French, Swedish. etc. in the blank and you’ll find the same reads true, except perhaps for the part about being silly enough to expect the man would come back. An excellent article, but despite the protestations of Steven Pinker, it seems things are on a downward spiral worldwide.
Anyone remember how our own Sir Kadoorie’s outfit at HKIA made a profit from US & UK special rendition flights, where in some cases whole families including children were sent into the clutches of the goons of Qaddafi, Mubarak and other such men? Lord Kadoorie must have rolled over in his grave on that one.
Bravo for Mr. Lam!
We -definitely- need more people like Mr. Lam!
I share PCC’s optimistic view: His ‘fame’ will give him -at least- some protection. Now waiting for more official statements from 689 & co.
‘top level Mainland security forces’ : that’s quite a mouthful, and rather vague.
How about ‘Chinese Gestapo’ ?
google search states: “freedom-of-speech” laws, are BALANCED by “defamation-of-character” laws. Hence, should LAW COURTS decide this dispute??
dimuendo: It was never believed from the get-go that Lam was abducted/”escorted” on the HK side, only Lee Bo.
JD: da dude in Thailand was deffo abducted and escorted, as was Lee Bo. No further discussion necessary. And no 50 cents for you.
Thanks for response. My point is simple. If it be an offence against mainland criminal law to supply salacious books against the great leader of the mainland then do not be too surprised if you allegedly supply such and get your collar felt on the mainland. Thus no breach of two systems. Much more challenging if Lee Bo says abducted from HK. He will not if he has family he loves on the mainland.
we know without doubt the CCP is sure to get off scot-free for whatever adventures they decide to embark, home and increasingly abroad. Also the individuals in the so called “elite group investigation” clearly enjoy full support and unlimited resources typical of any authoritarian state, and as such valuable individuals they are, significant privileges for them and their families, among those a liberal travel policy. How about getting the names of some of them, and pull a Pinochet once they put their snout out of the mainland through where they feed? A harsh detention without much concern for diplomatic etiquette would be a sobering experience both for them and for their masters in Beijing, beside demonstrating there are limits to the CCP reach once out of China’s borders.
Busybody: you might get a response if you could frame an intelligible question.
Diminuendo: if the “offence” was not committed in the mainland, mainland authorities have no jurisdiction, absent something like an extradition request from HK. Put this in the same bucket as the rendition of Taiwanese Chinese from Africa or fake island building in the South China Sea. It’s “legal” because the Chinese authoritiewill do any and all necessary mental gymnastics to so insist.
If it is an offence on the mainland to supply in the mainland books critical of the great leader, and you the supplier are arrested on the mainland, then where the lack of jurisdiction? Depends on phrasing of relevent mainland law (if it exists) but not per se a breach of two systems. Bit like the USA claims jurisdiction worldwide as to any event affecting an American.
Obviously fact it might be legal by that system does not make it “right” but that is a different matter.
Taiwanese chinese to mainalnd because all ethnic chinese are Chinese.
As for south china sea “islands” simply case of resource and power grabbing, and I can so I will unless you stop me.
Lee Bo and Mr Gui taken from Thailand are the core. But again the USA set the precedent for “rendition”
Selling or distributing “banned” books on the mainland, while being a crime that only a fascist state would maintain, is one thing. I don’t recall the precise facts but maybe the five, or some of them, did this. Selling such books in Hong Kong, whether to mainland Chinese or anyone else, is something else entirely.
Please don’t start with “the US did it first”. I don’t think you intended it that way, but that is absolutely the second most annoying and intellectually vacant line in the wumao manual (right after “if you don’t like it, leave”).
My point is simple. If it is an offence to supply books on the mainland that are critical of the great leader, and you supply books on the manland that are critical of the great leader, then do not be surprised if you are arrested on the mainland.
Is why I say the circumstances of Lee Bo and Gui (from Thailand) are different and crucial.
As for the USA, I am not trying to make the point “the usa did it first” Please re read. My point is simple:
a) the USA claims world wide authority over all incidents involving American citizens
b) the mainalnd in effect claims authority over all (ethnic) chinese (not just Chinese)
To pick up your gauntlet, the USA is full of hypocritical [bleep]. You will be judged as you do, and the USA’s actions as to rendition and consequent incaceration are not impressive.
Did you forget how morals, ethics and even some laws get promulgated?