‘One Country Two Systems’ over – in case you hadn’t noticed

There is at least a morbid fascination in watching – in real time – a dictatorship destroy a free society. In just seven days since ‘Freak-Out Friday’, we’ve seen the LegCo coup, a ban on the June 4 vigil and choreographed attacks on the once-independent RTHK and exams authority.

Now Beijing has decided to impose a de facto Article 23 national security law on Hong Kong by directly inserting it into Annex III of the Basic Law. Don’t quibble about whether this is legal: if the CCP does it, it is.

All we know is that the new law will ban sedition, subversion, foreign intervention and ‘terrorism’. There are no details as yet, and the final wording will no doubt be intentionally vague. The aim is to hugely expand the pretexts for silencing and punishing dissent.

Whatever the wording, the outcome is likely to include criminalization of opinions, such as mere advocacy of  Hong Kong independence or the downfall of the Communist Party. This points to Internet or print censorship. The new law will probably enable suppression of a wide range of opposition activities – for example the banning of websites used to organize protests, or even possession of anti-government banners. It could include the intimidation of lawyers who defend opponents of the regime or people who help fund activist causes (‘subversion of state power’ in the Mainland).

The ban on foreign interference will obviously target ties between the pan-dem camp and overseas politicians or other ‘foreign forces’, and probably enable the freezing of any (allegedly) foreign-sourced funds going to pan-dems. It could also be used to bar more people from Hong Kong – and even to kick out non-locals like teachers or journalists who are deemed to be infiltrators helping the opposition.

Many Hongkongers hope to see a fierce backlash from the US and other countries. Beijing forewarned foreign diplomats of the national security law announcement, claiming an urgent need to address threats posed by a small minority of extremists. The regime probably hopes that by keeping the new law vague, and applying it gradually at first, it can string overseas powers along. Chances are it is right – Hong Kong alone is not enough to bring about the inevitable major bust-up with the West.

Is it the end of ‘One Country Two Systems’ and rule of law? Of course. But those ideas have been redefined into meaninglessness already. More companies will think of relocating. More families will start packing their bags. Even the stock market drops 3.4%. The CCP couldn’t care less. Remember – ‘national security’ = ‘CCP insecurity’. In responding, Hongkongers need to bear in mind that the CCP is petrified and dangerous.

I declare the weekend open with a painstakingly curated selection of items to pass a few rainy days…

Has BrandHK given up trying? For some reason, it makes space on its website for a police-financed glossy (not to say gory) brochure on every evil thing done by protesters, plus much more.

Some inconvenient and worrying stats from the back of the IPCC Report on the HK Police.

Michael Chugani in EJ rails at Hong Kong’s creeping authoritarianism (as of Wednesday or so).

Bloomberg on the protest-supporting ‘yellow economic circle’, which now (this being Hong Kong) boasts its own chamber of commerce. One nice detail: while pro-movement folk boycott ‘blue’ businesses, blue-ribbon supporters tend to be so indifferent (or dim?) that they carry on using ‘yellow’ ones.

The Diplomat is also picking up on the ‘yellow economy’. How long before we see an orchestrated campaign of lawfare/intimidation (as former CE CY Leung has darkly hinted at) against pro-protest shops and restaurants and their owners?

Speaking of whom… Like many, I have memories of going down the big slides at Water World back in the old days, but haven’t been to the attraction since that part closed. And like many, my feeling is: if it keeps Mainland tourists away, shut it down. Anyway – how CY Leung wrecked Ocean Park, by Lo Kin-hei of Southern District Council.

News you can use from HK Free Press: a guide to HK Police rifles. Essentially (as you might have guessed), the ones with orange stocks/magazines fire sub-lethal munitions. The plain ones are loaded with actual 5.56mm rounds. Assuming commanders are issuing these guys with live ammo. If so, what on earth are they thinking?

A link here to Clement Shield, the company set up by an ex-Hong Kong cop that (perhaps, allegedly) trained the LegCo security guards. Design fans will notice the website has that very recognizable, superficially flashy we’re-hucksters-who-charge-suckers-high-fees aesthetic – also used by financial advisors, private-school consultants, etc.

Hong Kong seems to be a popular subject for overseas college media – the Yale Daily News on the Revolution of Our Time.

A Polish supporter of Hong Kong suggests non-violence resistance methods, including mockery.

No fewer than three items in the ‘World is Rethinking China’ category.

1. A former Republican US Senator writes in Newsweek: ‘We gave China a chance. They blew it’.

2. Francis Fukuyama in American Interest explores what Xi Jinping’s regime owes to ancient and more recent Chinese governance…

One of the great dangers today is that the world looks to Xi’s totalitarian model, rather than a broader East Asian model that combines strong state capacity with technocratic competence, as the winning formula in facing future crises.

3. Perhaps best of the lot, The Tablet asks where the CCP is coming from and what it’s trying to do

As Beijing sees it, China’s success depends on discrediting the tenets of liberal capitalism so that notions like individual freedom and constitutional democracy come to be seen as the relics of an obsolete system.

(The Tablet is my kind of ‘new read on Jewish life’, including thoughts inspired by Who guitarist/songwriter Pete Townsend’s – allegedly Semitic-looking – nose.)

As well as reassessing China, the world is suddenly starting to take a fresh look at Taiwan. The New Statesman offers a piece on identity and independence in Taiwan (with reference to Hong Kong). And Oxford Academic asks why plucky little Paraguay still has relations with the Republic of China (summary: partly because it’s nicer to be a big friend of a small country than a small friend of a big country, plus a shared experience of overweening neighbouring states).

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28 Responses to ‘One Country Two Systems’ over – in case you hadn’t noticed

  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    I can never quite understand the HK June 4 vigil. One would presume that by holding up candle’s they are paying respects to their fellow Chinese compatriots

    These would be the same Chinese compatriots that the HK people despise some much, and take pride in belittling and attacking at every opportunity. Oh but wait, those who perished on June 4 were anti CCP and pro democracy advocates, and of course nowadays all the visiting mainlanders must be card carrying CCP lovers

  2. asiaseen says:

    The outcome is likely to include criminalization of opinions, such as…criticism of the CCP, party officials and the members of the administration of HK.

  3. Chinese Netizen says:

    So “Asia’s World City” is languishing in the bin now??

  4. Reactor #4 says:

    For years, Hong Kong has been acting like an overindulged brat. Now it’s just been given one of those stinging-ringing smacks to the top of its legs like parents and teachers used to be able to administer to kids in the pre-1980s. It only has itself to blame. What’s that saying? Ah, yes, “spare the rod and spoil the child”. Let the sulking, hissy-fitting and toy-hurling and commence.

  5. Mark Bradley says:

    When do you guys think the protests will restart?

  6. Paul Lewis says:

    Every overseas charitable organization in Hong Kong will now have to be banned.
    I think they will meet the criteria for foreign intervention.
    I’m thinking of starting up a new t-shirt line.
    It will read in big letters.

    Independence ?

    It’s the question mark that is the talking point.
    It’s not a political statement. It’s a political question.

  7. Stephen says:

    @Joe Bloggs

    The point is to pay respects to the 10,000 souls that perished when the CCP unleashed the people’s army on the people. An abhorrent act and certainly worth lighting a candle and spending time in remembrance.

  8. Hamantha says:

    @Joe Bloggs

    With comments like that, you certainly are vying for Rectum #4’s time-honoured crown of “Idiot Supreme”.

  9. asiaseen says:

    Given that the International Police Association (“we are an non-government organisation”) is a not a domestic body, is not Brand-HK (as a government organisation) encouraging foreign interference by publishing that document?
    Yes – I realise it was compiled by own beloved guys-in-riot-gear, but…

  10. Chris Maden says:

    @Reactor #4. Your insight, originality and wit is noted.

    I am more interested in the system of criminal adjudication to be used by the changes to Annex 3. As the entire law is effectively mainland law, it is logical to expect that the mainland apparatus of “security” and “justice” will be used to arrest, try and sentence those accused under it. Will that apparatus be extended to HK, or will those accused by transported to China?

  11. YTSL says:

    I second what Stephen says re Hong Kong’s June 4th vigil. And on June 4th, I also honor the Tiananmen mothers who have never stopped seeking justice for their children and others in similar situations.

    Just because something that’s the right thing to do seems impossible doesn’t mean that you should give up on it. Which is why there still are people who are loath to give up entirely on fighting for Hong Kong.

  12. bagesty says:

    @Mark Bradley – Causeway Bay at 3pm today apparently

  13. smiley says:

    Li Ka Shing must have a sly grin on his face today.

  14. asiaseen says:

    From Lam’s statement:
    “The Decision and the enactment of the national law will be able to establish and improve the legal framework and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security. They will not affect the legitimate rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents under the law, or the independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, exercised by the Judiciary in Hong Kong.”

    The woman has totally lost the plot

  15. HKJC Regular says:

    Two things one learned today in these darkening times: Townshend is publishing a novel, and The Tablet is a periodical about Jewish life. There was I thinking it was a mag for intellectual Catholics – it was for one of those reasons that I never went near it. Pity.

  16. Chris Maden says:

    There are times when I hate to be correct. The CCP have already decided to set up a parallel system of justice (presumably with a parallel system of policing): https://hongkongfp.com/2020/05/22/beijing-to-set-up-legal-and-enforcement-mechanisms-in-hong-kong-to-safeguard-national-security-says-no-2-official/

  17. Joe Blow says:

    For the record: I am not Joe Bloggs. Judging by the pissy, spiteful content of his message I am quite sure this is Simon Reactor #4.

  18. reductio says:

    #WeareJoeBlow

    Never mistook you. BTW I am thinking of getting a VPN. Am I being paranoid ? Does anyone on here use one?

  19. Penny says:

    I sort of guessed that the troll would be a child abuser.

  20. max noodle says:

    @ Joe Bloggs

    Ffs, man

  21. dimuendo says:

    Somebody please answer my question of a few days ago. What Ordinance permits “security guards” in the chamber of Legco?
    What Ordinance permits them to manhandle elected members; are they specifically exempted from the Offences Against the Person Ordinance or common assault? If so, how?

  22. Red Dragon says:

    Joe Bloggs is clearly unhinged.

    Comment on the Reactor is otiose.

  23. Mary Melville says:

    Talking about heavyweights, waiting in the wings for Rita or Maria to exit left is Maggie Chan, probably one of the most cheerless women to ever grace your screen.
    https://asiatimes.com/2020/05/hk-delegates-push-for-national-security-law/
    Maggie Chan Man-ki, a NPC member, said she would propose that the central government implement the national security law in Hong Kong by directly putting the clauses into the Annex III of the Basic Law based on the requirements of the Article 18.
    When she steps up we will remember with nostalgia that Rita and Maria had balls and could express a certain degree of equanimity while Maggie is unbridled vitriol.

  24. Reactor bloggs says:

    I am sure Joe Bloggs and Reactor #4 are one and the same overindulged brat!

  25. Reactor #4 says:

    Years ago, the following anecdote was passed to me. It’s a comedy show (UK) and a gaggle of audience members are somewhat oiled and giving the act a serious amount of grief. Inevitably, the point of “enough” is reached. Comedian ambles over to the leader of the pack, leans over and says: “Hey, mate. I am not sure if you are aware, but this is not the fuckin’ telly. If I want, I can step down off this stage and give you a leathering. Shut it.” Silence.

    For years the pan-dems and pro-indies have been niggling away at the boss-man: “We want to elect our own mayor.” “We were promised this, that and the bloody rest.” “We have a high degree of autonomy.” “We’re going to tell Chris Patten.”

    Now, though, it’s turned. They have 4cked it up for themselves.

  26. asiaseen says:

    Maggie Chan’s list of appointments/jobs in her bio on Tung’s Foundation website is impressive. I wonder if she ever gets time to sleep.
    https://www.ourhkfoundation.org.hk/en/node/1994

  27. Chinese Netizen says:

    And now the popo will truly be untouchable and unaccountable.

    Guess those Gweilo coppers can laugh all the way to the bank now and crack some skulls along the way… (though I doubt they’ll be allowed to retire anywhere else in the word but HK or maybe the P.I.)

  28. Mary Melville says:

    The bio indicates the hard slog required to groom mediocrity for positions of power kicking off with “Member of the Appeal Board (Bedspace Apartment) of Hong Kong.
    Compare that to the trajectory of the charismatic and erudite youngsters who can command international headlines and win tens of thousands of votes the first time they run for office. She ditched the DAB after using the party to tick the District Council box on the CV.
    https://hongkongfp.com/2015/12/23/anti-occupy-district-councillor-announces-departure-from-pro-beijing-dab-party/

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