Taiwan overtakes Hong Kong as Asia’s beacon of free speech, says a New York Times article. (Renegade Province’s press pick it up, while Carrie Lam’s Greater Bay Area Southern Sector’s government considers issuing a whiny defensive foot-stamping press release in protest.)
Back in the 1990s, the gap was closing because Taiwan was transforming from a police state to a pluralistic democracy. But now, it is not so much that Taiwan is zipping further ahead as Hong Kong is going into reverse. This has become obvious in the last few years, with bookseller abductions, loyalty tests to bar elected lawmakers from office, self-censorship of media, distributors boycotting movies, etc, etc.
The orchestrated mass-mouth-froth over Benny Tai is a significant step. Unlike covert kidnappings, low-level electoral administrative procedures or private-sector business decisions, this is being openly directed by Beijing with full involvement of the local Chief Executive.
Two years ago, China launched National Security Education Day, which includes fun activities such as reporting dastardly foreign spies. This year, Hong Kong joined in with a National Security Education Day Symposium at which Liaison Office Director Wang Zhimin pretty much demanded action to ban any discussion that supposedly challenges the nation’s sovereignty.
It is bordering on pedantic to point out that Benny Tai did not voice support for independence at his Taiwan conference, and was discussing hypothetical situations. Wang says that Benny’s comments went ‘way beyond freedom of speech or academic freedom’ – so there. The Chinese Communist Party decides what is an unacceptable, subversive or sovereignty-threatening idea. You will know because you will be told you crossed a ‘red line’, which (like a ‘core interest’ in China’s international relations) can appear without warning.
Whether it is through Article 23 or a direct imperial edict/Basic Law ‘interpretation’ from Beijing is largely irrelevant (the lawmakers’ disqualifications and high-speed rail checkpoint deal set precedents for overruling the local legal system). ‘National Security’ laws are coming, and they will primarily be aimed at banning discussion of ideas the Communist Party considers unacceptable (starting with independence and, probably, an end to one-party rule). That will be impossible to achieve without some form of official censorship (no doubt surgical at first) of all media, including online. (Loyalty tests for academics, lawyers or kindergarten teachers can’t be ruled out, either.)
As with all aspects of creeping Mainlandization, there is nothing constitutional anyone can do. But Beijing – so obviously insecure and paranoid – will be inviting prankster-provocateurs to indulge in all manner of guerilla theatre and online disobedience. I feel a fantasy novella about the fall of the CCP and the peaceful breakup of the world’s last empire coming on.
Meanwhile, Taiwan will be leaping forward just by standing still.
Now I am don’t have movie star looks myself, but why is it that all those CCP’ers and their local helpers are always so incredible ugly? The dandruff, bad teeth and breath jumps from the pictures.
I know Carry is considered rather a stunner in certain circles, her mousy appearance has something indeed.
Not so sure about the free nation of Taiwan becoming a “beacon”, though they are definitely light years ahead of HK now.
Their “tycoons” are just as susceptible to self censoring bullying of their island publications/TV stations if they want “smooth dealings” in the mainland where so many have bet on their future…
More claptrap from the prevailing orthodoxy…you!
Liberals believe in free speech but as soon as unorthodoxy arises they get all Tory.
Look at the Guardian calling for bombing of Syria.
Liberals are just Tories who haven’t inherited Daddy’s money yet.
Socialists don’t believe in unlimited free speech.
We aren’t liberals.
There’s lots of free speech in Britain but they go ahead and drop bombs on Syria even though 78% of the population was against it.
Shudup yer face. We got ordinance.
Online disobedience? The police will then find creative ways to charge them for Dishonest Use of a Computer. After the first few charges are laid and people are Made An Example Of, most of the rest will skulk away.
It won’t be long before internet service providers will be roped into putting clauses against dissemination of seditious content into their user agreements; anyone found in violation will have their account revoked and blacklisted from resubscribing.
Remember those old movie scenes where the helpless victim is tied down to a conveyor belt being drawn ever closer to a spinning circular saw blade, while the villain gloats? Hong Kong feels more like that every day – with no action hero to spring out and rescue us at the last minute.
Agree, HillnotPeak…I’ve often been amazed at how the local “elite” of HK manage to meld toadyism into actually resembling toads. Especially that magic demographic of moneyed or civil servant male between 40-65
It would appear that the self-regarding, pseudo-intellectual “socialist”, George “Geordie” Adams, is unaware of the difference between ‘ordinance’ and ‘ordnance’.
Then again, he might just have been demonstrating his universally unacclaimed skills as a satirist.
A pox on the oaf.