Did Theresa Cheng try to defect in London? Sounds unlikely, doesn’t it? Even assuming Hong Kong’s Beijing-friendly Justice Secretary felt a need to flee, why would she ‘defect’ like some Soviet chess player in the 1970s, when – so far as we can tell – there’s nothing stopping her from just walking?
Then again, Chief Executive Carrie Lam is by many accounts kept in office against her will. Indeed, all her fellow top officials look near-suicidal on their rare public appearances, yet mysteriously never resign. And we all know the CCP uses the most devious and callous means (blackmail, threats against family) to keep people in line.
On the face of it, the fuss over Cheng’s wrist looks like a lame stunt to elicit sympathy and demonize nasty protesters. But there’s a conspiracy theorist’s delight there: the long absence after her ‘fall’ in London, trouble at her husband’s company, then she turns up, having been in Beijing for two weeks – and looks absolutely, utterly frightful.
The fact that we are even talking about this is a mark of how far we have come from normality.
I declare the chilly weekend open with a rich array of diversions to stimulate the mind…
Remember how Theresa Cheng was in London to promote Hong Kong as an arbitration hub? Reuters looks at how such work is moving to Singapore. One reason is that the lawyers have been reading things like this Time feature on Hong Kong as a tear gas hub.
China Daily produces a timeline on evil foreign interference in Hong Kong. Prepare to be disappointed: Canada issues statement, Belgian official meets Joshua Wong, etc.
On the culture side of things, a fetching protest-themed music video of a song by Charmaine Fong. And the pro-Beijing side finally does something creative that’s interesting: a grotesque series of caricatures of opposition figures, presumably by a Mainlander who knows Hong Kong. Artistically quite eye-catching, except (as the link points out) for the racism, sexism, other bad taste and unclassiness, and the fact that it copies a Japanese artist. Eddie Chu Hoi-dick should get the original of his and frame it.
On Mainland affairs, all you want to know about Aunty Xianglin – to whom a Chinese spokeswoman likened US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. As puzzled netizens point out, the fictional character who constantly prattles on about things is a victim of an oppressive feudal system.
Another example of Mainland public opinion not following the script: once-popular national treasure Huawei’s backlash from the Chinese public.
An interview with Jude Blanchette on Xi Jinping, with implications for Hong Kong and the whole planet…
…it is not surprising that Xi believes he has the power to control China’s destiny. But the limitations of this worldview are increasingly on display, and the question then becomes, how much longer and at what costs will Xi be able to push the country in the direction of his vision before he relents.
Carl Minzner goes into detail on Xi’s ideological rectification campaign in China’s academia and research fields. This trend potentially undermines innovation and productivity growth. Which brings us to…
How economic and technical challenges are limiting China’s aircraft carrier expansion plans. Which brings us in a roundabout way to…
Ancient 70s-throwback leftist John Pilger’s documentary on the Coming War with China, otherwise known as ‘Any regime that opposes the US is harmless and wonderful’. (Must confess I couldn’t handle the leaden, life-sucking narration and the self-parodying joylessness for more than five minutes. If Michael Moore had done it, maybe… If anyone manages, let me know if he mentions Hong Kong.)
For fans of ‘Belt and Road’ win-win positive energy: a video on rural Chinese men being ripped off trying to get mail-order brides in Pakistan.
Frank Dikotter does a hatchet review job on a book about the Opium War. His (not new) revisionist angle will go down like a cup of cold sick in Beijing (let alone with the volume’s author). Basically, the ‘drug trafficking’ side of it was less tawdry than we might think. Dikotter only briefly mentions the Qing regime’s mercantilism, but quotes John Quincy Adams as saying opium was “no more the cause of the war than the throwing overboard of the tea in Boston harbour was the cause of the North American revolution.”