Crisis over, nearly, please?

Hong Kong’s new detected virus cases are now in the low single digits per day, and those mostly from overseas. While it would be crazy to reopen the borders to visitors from Planet Plague, it should be OK to start relaxing some local social-distancing measures in the next week or so – to get some aspects of daily life and the domestic economy moving again. Shouldn’t it? At least let kids use playgrounds and restaurants serve some more customers. We could reimpose restrictions if infection cases rise again.

More likely, the officials who moved late and reluctantly at the beginning will now drag their feet over lifting the measures. What’s the betting we still have a minimum six more weeks of taped-up coffee-shop tables, personal trainers holding classes in the park, and people slowly going more and more nuts?

And of civil servants ‘working from home’. Despite having a whole Innovation and Technology Bureau (and being able to blow HK$100 billion on a bridge to nowhere), the Hong Kong government hasn’t equipped its staff to do their paper-shuffling from the couch.

I declare the weekend semi-open with a round-up of the usual bits and pieces…

Will the Great Pandemic of 2020 change the world forever? The boring-but-safe prediction is that we’ll all bounce back quite quickly and return to our old working-in-offices, buying-stuff-from-shops, letting-cars-monopolize-streets, sneezing-on-each-other way of life. But HK Free Press’s futurist has other ideas.

Louisa Lim and Graeme Smith did a chapter in the China Story Yearbook entitled ‘Hong Kong and the Tiananmen Playbook’, which you can, and should, read here:

As events in Hong Kong unfolded in 2019, it became increasingly clear just how much China’s rulers are still informed by the Tiananmen playbook thirty years on, despite Hong Kong’s own particular political proposition. 

…the idea that this type of post-Tiananmen solution could also be applied in Hong Kong is likely to be a pipedream; Hong Kong had both economic growth and stability before the return to mainland sovereignty and, so long as its people are free to remember and write their own history, they are unlikely to buy into such a ‘bargain’.

From Initium, and translated by Guardians of Hong Kong – all you ever wanted to know about the Fujianese thugs of North Point.

HKFP presents the work of artist Giraffe Leung, who frames the scrubbed-over remnants and palimpsests of the 2019 Uprising.

Check out the seriously cool 70s retro counterculture alternative mag graphics of digital HK Protests underground zine Fragrant Harbour (here’s some background).

And in the Apples and Oranges Dept: California Governor Gavin Newsom compared with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

An open letter from international academics calling the CCP a threat to China and the world provokes an entertainingly over-lengthy, over-detailed and over-whiny response from Global Times.

Beijing’s CGTV propaganda outlet’s Arabic-language fake news report (with subtitles) on how the US Army brought the Wuhan Virus to Wuhan.

And the CCP enlists the University of Queensland in its worldwide ‘soft power’ PR campaign disaster with a move to expel activist Drew Pavlou.

The Guardian explores why the WHO wasn’t up to the job. And Axios reports that China already has a new WHO – the Health Silk Road.

As the Chinese government dithers over whether to be racist or not – a Mainland video about how black people have less buoyancy in water.

Next to which, John Bolton comes across as pretty sane on dual recognition of the PRC and Taiwan.

In the history and culture departments: ‘the Red armies have now encircled the city’ – a Pathe newsreel of Brits fleeing Shanghai in 1949; a look at Muslims in Taiwan; and Mongolia plans to ditch Cyrillic and go back to its traditional vertical thing (which apparently dates back to Syriac).

And, badly needed, something soothing from It’s Your Fault – Taiwan jazz-pop (or something)…

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17 Responses to Crisis over, nearly, please?

  1. Stanley Lieber says:

    Nice music video to start off the weekend. Thanks for the link.

  2. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    Some great resources for weekend reading!

    May I respectfully suggest including:

    Benedict Rogers on China’s “war against the soul”:

    The final judgement of the China Tribunal on the medieval practice of forced organ-harvesting on the mainland, which constitutes crimes against humanity:


  3. Chinese Netizen says:

    Excellent links. Thanks!

  4. dimuendo says:

    Dear Mr Hemlock

    Some of the links may be okay (but please cut down on twitter) but to seek to imply that the John Bolton article is current, when actually written at the term of the millennium, 20 years ago, is naughty. Please do not damage your reputation as an informed but honest contrarian.

  5. Guest says:

    Is Planet Plague the US? UK? Spain? Italy?

  6. asiaseen says:

    From the BBC: “Wuhan, where the virus emerged, revises its death toll up by 1,290 to 3,869 – an increase of 50%”

    Is Beijing realising that it is losing face over its outlier WuFlu figures compared to the rest of the world?

  7. Mark Bradley says:

    “Is Planet Plague the US? UK? Spain? Italy?”

    No it’s China. Let me know if I need to clarify anything else little pink.

  8. Guest says:

    Not a little pink at all, Mark. You won’t find a fan of the Mainland government here.

    But there are other countries that botched their initial responses to the pandemic for whatever reason.

  9. steve says:

    As a 20-year HK resident now living rather miserably in the US, I have to say that I find your attitude concerning social distancing, quarantine, and business curtailment naive, if not dangerously cavalier. Hong Kong is still not doing enough testing, and efforts at contact tracing are minimal. (Still ahead of the US, but who isn’t?) Until there is a widely available vaccine, these procedures, in addition to the self-isolation and public masking measures taken up by Hongkongers well ahead of government guidelines, are the only protections available against recurrent outbreaks and more deaths. It’s painful, but continued diligence is absolutely necessary. (Tell that to the right wing loonies in the US currently storming statehouses because of alleged infringements on their Constitutional right to die in great pain and fear, or something.)

    If the government loosens restrictions within a few weeks without a robust testing and tracing program up and running, they will have added to their lengthy resume of incompetent and criminal behavior.

    Otherwise, thanks for your consistently insightful and helpfully acerbic perspectives.

  10. Chinese Netizen says:

    Guest: your attempt at innuendo landed on its face.

    We ALL know who “Planet Plague” is, without your snarkiness, regardless of botched handling initially.

  11. Mary Melville says:

    So the round up yesterday morning is not political? Ummmm ,,,,, check the names, none of them are exactly Joe Public. The way I remember it there were hundreds of thousands out on the streets on the dates mentioned.

  12. Knownot says:

    This alludes to the link above:
    how the US Army brought the Wuhan Virus to Wuhan.

    For CGTV and ‘Miss V’ – An Appreciation

    I believe them – your convincing claims
    That CoVid started after Wuhan’s Games.
    Yes, I’ve got it. It makes perfect sense:
    A US lab released the pathogens.
    And deaths from influenza classified
    Were incorrect: from CoVid they had died.

    CoVid has five forms, and scientists find
    The oldest in the US; but the kind
    In China is a new one, so to speak
    Its grandchild. You explain that if we seek
    Where the virus came from, the zero ground,
    It must be where the oldest one is found.
    And in September, a group of Japanese
    Who toured Hawaii came home with the disease.

    And – but – of course – you very rightly state
    That scientists are not sure; we have to wait.
    We need transparency, some countries still
    Need to face their people; I hope they will.

    Persuasive points on Chinese state TV
    Explained in fluent Arabic by ‘Miss V’:
    Engaging, telegenic, sharp and slick,
    With cutie gestures like a younger chick;
    A little flirty, not pretty, yet not plain,
    She pleases every Ahmed and Hussein.

  13. donkeynuts says:

    Ironically, the CCP doesn’t believe in representative democracy or government that adapts to the will of the people, yet they are quite literally rounding up suspects based on their powers of representation and the symbolic messages they send. Has there been a more blatant fascist move by China in the past 20 years, in so public and international a city? I dare say no.

  14. Guest says:

    @CN: no snark intended. I’ve lived in two of those countries and divide my time between Hong Kong and one of them. The other two I’ve visited.

    A few family members and friends work in the medical field in those countries. They’ve seen colleagues succumb to the virus, so to them, it matters how their governments reacted to the outbreak. As far as they’re concerned, PP is right at home.

  15. asiaseen says:

    @ Mary Melville

    Joe Public comes later. It’s pre-election long game. Neutralise the prominent pro-dems first and sweep up the small fry later. First they came for…etc

  16. Space Monkeys says:

    @ Asiaseen

    This set of arrests is just the classic PRC move of “killing the rooster to frighten the monkeys” a move that is such a cliché, it has it’s own idiom.
    It works well in the PRC where, due to sweeping censorship, the vast majority of monkeys think they’re a tiny minority.
    In Hong Kong it’s just going to serve as an antagonistic incitement reminding the monkeys what it was they were upset about in the first place: the assumption that once the rule of law goes, they could get arrested and disappeared for political rather than actual reasons.

    Joe public probably won’t follow either. Were they to do that, the whole city will either be in prison or working for the prisons, and even the dimwitted paper-pushers purporting to be our government have worked that out. Hence the government’s reliance on extreme violence and other bully boy tactics to stop the protests rather than mass arrests and convictions (yes 7,000+ arrests is a lot, but given the huge turnouts over the same time period, it’s just a token gesture).
    To quote Fight Club: “Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances, we guard you while you sleep. Do not fuck with us.”

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