China’s latest soft-power victory

Like some insecure egotistical bullying narcissist-pedant-bore, the Chinese government cannot do the decent and advisable thing, and quietly tiptoe away after being caught abducting and forcing confessions from the Hong Kong booksellers. It must have the last Lam-WK-vidword and attempt to prove itself correct. The clumsy ‘documentary’ style video on Lam Wing-kee tries to establish that his incarceration and treatment were legal, humane and even at times quite jolly, and the dastardly double-crossing fiend is now reneging on his bail conditions, and presumably hurting the feelings of the Ningbo Public Security Bureau.

Individuals who have this obsessive ‘last word’ personality defect are not interested in whether others see them as right or wrong; they simply must convince themselves in their own mind that they have triumphed. But it’s different for Chinese officials. The Communist Party cannot be wrong, so it must concoct a face-saving ‘truth’ – Lam and colleagues are guilty and due process prevailed. They will stubbornly stick to this story with a straight face. There is also a subliminal warning here: we can control not just your body through kidnapping and your words through forced confessions, but what everyone else perceives and remembers about it afterwards.

No, it doesn’t work in Hong Kong – but the Communist Party isn’t to know that.

Beijing’s supporters and sycophants here are in an above-averagely awkward position. They cannot openly admit that Xi Jinping’s henchmen broke all the supposedly sacrosanct Basic Law/One Country Two Systems rules to keep the chubby despot’s sex life secret. But to echo the Chinese government’s blatant lies is to look ridiculous; only the most extreme and obtuse loyalists can handle that degree of humiliation. All the average local official or establishment figure can do is change the subject, use the word ‘concern’ a lot, or nervously imply that we don’t know exactly what happened but everyone must obey the law when they are in the Mainland – and live with the fact that all right-minded people in the city will mock him as another pitiful piece of slime who sold his soul for a Gold Bauhinia Medal or cross-border business deal.

Meanwhile, let’s all focus on pretending not to notice how strange, embarrassing or illuminating it is that Hong Kong has extradition agreements with loads of important, cool and even humdrum foreign countries, but not with the rest of its own sovereign nation and we-love-integration glorious motherland.



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19 Responses to China’s latest soft-power victory

  1. Joe Blow says:

    Doesn’t Rimsky Yuen have a face that sez: “Slap me” ?

  2. Cassowary says:

    This “improving the notification system” stuff looks like an attempt to make Hong Kong’s government complicit in extrajudicial kidnappings. Public security bureau agents can grab people, notify the Hong Kong government, and then the Hong Kong government can say “Oh alright then”, without anybody looking too closely into where and how they were grabbed.

    And what are the chances that the HK government is not currently under enormous pressure to sign an extradition agreement with the Mainland?

    Several years down the line there will be further legal acrobatics to assert that anybody who posts rude things about Xi Jinping on Weibo is violating Mainland laws and that putting such content in Mainland cyberspace counts sufficiently as “on Mainland Chinese soil” so that the Hong Kong government can arguably be called upon to arrest and extradite keyboard warriors in Shatin.

  3. reductio says:

    The SCMP is bringing out the intellectual heavyweights today:

    What on earth is this about? And BTW does anyone know how I can get to be a “cultural critic” like Herr Pattberg (Phd) here? Seems like a good gig.

  4. reductio says:

    Apologies to Thorsten Pattberg. He’s a DLitt.

    “He has written and published extensively about Global language, the Competition for terminologies, and the End of translation. He discovered the Shengren as a unique, untranslatable, non-European archetype of wisdom; is the founder of Language Imperialism; and is actively promoting Eastern thought, in particular Chinese terminologies, on a global scale.”

    Oh, like, wow man, these Chinese terminologies, they’re like, wow, global. And [drags on his bong] so, like, archetypal. And wise. The Chinese are wise. Like in a non-democratic way wise. It’s all in my book. I think.

  5. Paul says:

    I stopped reading when he called the EU an authoritarian regime.

  6. Chinese Netizen says:

    This guy is a work. Seems his only goal in life is to somehow lamprey himself onto a Chinese official a la Neil Heywood, late of Chungking, to become the go-to star foreigner that agrees with everything the CCP spews. Too bad he doesn’t have Da Shan’s charisma.

    Interesting that he’s found refuge in Japan, a place that also pats gaijins on the head and uses them as barking lapdogs as it suits.

    Looks like the prototype slimebag hanging out in a coffee shop for hours on end mooching free Wi-Fi…

  7. reductio says:

    @Chinese Netizen

    That’s it! That’s the look in his picture that says “I’m deep. Very deep. I’m drinking my mocha and thinking deep thoughts that the plebs around me can’t think. Now I’m stroking my beard. Mmmm.” Now I remember that our very own SCMP Perry Lam is a cultural critic too. Not quite a vapid as this two-bit literary prostitute, but that’s not saying much.

  8. Sojourner says:

    That beard-tugging is so very disturbing. I anticipate a sleepless night.

  9. reductio says:


    Disturbing yes, but deeply cultural. Do not lose sleep, Sojourner. Think! What does a beard say? I am a Westerner? That I am an imperialist because “Asian” does not equal “beard” in our stereotype? Yes, but also that I am prepared to step inside the “beardless” and reveal myself. The Chinese and Japanese know this. But they allow the beard into their inner sanctum of wisdom, because they, unlike the oppressive West, are open to beautiful ideas, like the Shengren. I cannot translate that word because I have found that it is untranslatable. You will have to buy my book to let it reveal itself to you.

  10. Headache says:

    The thing with extradition is that it requires more than just the existence of an extradition agreement. The offence allegedly committed in the mainland (or whatever place is seeking extradition) must also be an offence under the laws of Hong Kong, and it must not be an offence of political character.

    The Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Cap 503) sets all this out. It also provides a list of categories of extraditable offences. Traffic offences do not qualify. The big nasties – murder and manslaughter, rape, drug trafficking, piracy and hijacking, immigration offences, fraud and embezzlement – do qualify.

    Typically twisted mainland “legal” logic might say the booksellers qualify by virtue of a smuggling offence, some half-baked IP infringement or “unlawful use of computers”. But it’s unlikely any such offences have been committed under HK law and the request could be easily characterised as political.

  11. Chinese Netizen says:

    @Headache: The mainland “logic” is, in every case, that the offender is ethnically CHINESE (bonus if Han), therefore subject to the CCP’s control…regardless of nationality, birth, etc.

  12. BUSYBODY says:

    @ headache:
    Your exposition/analysis/”whatever” about EXTRADITION (above) is “cute” at best & “gobble-de-gook” at worst. (Certainly not “law”, as taught in law schools).
    No wonder you have a headache.
    So, try the word RENDITION instead — it might be more appropriate, in present discussion.
    Might cure your headache.

  13. JD says:

    “Think! Why is The Japan Times, a pro-US propaganda racket, so generously reporting about the Okinawa rallies?” Interesting that he’s biting the hand that feeds, or fed, at least until 2013… doesn’t sound like he has a grudge there, no sir.

  14. Headache says:

    @Chinese Netizen, indeed. Together, our posts express the fundamental contradictions of “one country, systems” quite neatly.

  15. Headache says:

    @Busybody, since extradition was being discussed I provided some facts, as set down in laws, written in law books and taught in law schools. Feel free to point out any inaccuracies. I don’t disagree that rendition has taken place but that is beside the point. You can take this opportunity to learn or meaningfully contribute, or you can just be an asshole if that’s easier.

  16. Cassowary says:

    Wosshisface Thorsten Pattberg sounds just barely a step above the fake Rothschild they caught in China.

    @ Headache: HK police are already arresting people for political offenses under “dishonest use of a computer”; someone just has to be stupid enough to post words that sound enough like incitement. And then we also have to put our faith in the backbone of the future Secretary of Justice say that no crime was committed here. Do you like those odds?

  17. LRE says:

    Oh dear, Thorsten. Oh dear. He apparently once wrote a rather dodgy thesis and hasn’t been able to stop writing it ever since.
    He earned his doctorate degree from The Institute of World* Literature (Abridged by the CCP) at Peking University.” Where else would a chap nurture such a talent for free thinking and open enquiry, aside perhaps from Hong Kong’s civil service?

    *Taiwan not included

  18. Headache says:

    @Cassowary, I don’t disagree your concerns are real. I don’t love the odds with the current SJ, and the offence of accessing a computer with dishonest intent is certainly popular with the cops. But the third player is the independent judiciary. The magistracy is conviction-happy but the higher courts are not, at least not yet. Their recent record on upholding rights is pretty good, quite a bit better than I expected given the changes in personnel at the top level. Even if there was incitement by some mainland definition, it would still need to be an extraditable offence in HK before extradition could occur, and such a determination is judicially reviewable. Plus, as we saw with Joshua Wong last year, habeas corpus is still available in HK to liberate persons detained without justification or contrary to law. Yes, someone could be quietly shipped to the mainland before the public realised and the wheels went into motion, but that would be a gigantic PR disaster for the govt and could trigger a constitutional crisis. Anyway, that’s enough from me on this thread.

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