Farewell to July 2020

Make a quick list of all the horrors from the first 31 days of Hong Kong’s National Security Regime. Chances are you’ll miss at least a few. HKFP count 11 – one every 2.8 days. ‘Like obituaries one after the other’, quotes Louisa Lim in the Guardian describing the new normal in the city…

Every day, the rules of political life are being drastically rewritten and the contours that are emerging are of a system that brooks no dissent. 

SCMP has a what-a-month-that-was wrap-up. The Spectator also joins in marking the one-month anniversary of authoritarian Hong Kong.

July ended with Hong Kong Police issuing arrest warrants for people living overseas (here and here), Including US citizen Sam Chu. This could provoke more of a reaction overseas than any other feature of the new NatSec system – and that’s assuming the CCP aren’t dumb enough to try harrassing exiles like Nathan Law, or their families still here. But why wouldn’t they? Carl Minzner on Beijing coming for the HK diaspora.

One last excitement as the month ended: Director of Public Prosecutions David Leung handed in his notice, ‘not seeing eye to eye’ with the Justice Secretary. You may think ‘at last, how refreshing to see a civil servant with a sense of justice and decency’. Or you might consider that his department has spent the last few years charging activists and whoever the police just rounded up at protests with trumped-up riot, obstruction, offensive-weapon, incitement and other charges, a la CCP lawfare.

Judging from his email to colleagues, his main complaint is over bureaucratic turf – he is being sidelined where NatSec prosecutions are concerned. What would anyone expect? The NatSec structure (NatSec HK government committee, NatSec police, NatSec prosecutions, NatSec courts) is a parallel government, all reporting to Beijing’s NatSec Hotel Lubyanka-Metropark in Causeway Bay.

All this keeps international attention on Hong Kong – and thus on local English-language news media. Atlantic examines the SCMP’s struggle to maintain credibility during and since Hong Kong’s 2019 uprising. 

A peculiar situation. At the top, senior management serve beholden-to-CCP Jack Ma, and at the bottom, dedicated reporters try to get their stories published untwisted. Between the two, a small and apparently not-very-pleasant group of senior editors are noticeably eager to ensure a pro-police/government slant. (Atlantic names names, but spares us sordid explanations. My wild guess would be that the latter group were won over by over-generous pay plus the chance to indulge in a little control-freakery.)

An early draft of an initial story about the [8-31] incident … had an opening that detailed “chaotic and shocking scenes” as officers went after “cowering commuters.” That was not the account that was eventually published, though. The SCMP’s edited story (which was subsequently updated) instead recounted how “elite Hong Kong police” had chased “radical protesters” wearing “masks” into the subway station.

The author’s own dealings with the top management revealed Mainland-tinged hyper-sensitivity. More insider-ish comment on the story here. Wonder how much a subscription will cost when they put up their paywall?

We declare Month Two open with a solid guarantee that Mainland medical staff collecting virus test samples here will Absolutely Never Not collect your DNA. To convince you of its sincerity, the government is looking into arresting anyone who suggests otherwise. 

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10 Responses to Farewell to July 2020

  1. where's my jet plane says:

    On the resignation of the DPP I was amused by Theresa’s reaction – not worth commenting, more important things to worry about.

  2. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    From the RTHK piece: “The government also condemned those who spread rumours that people’s DNA would be sent across the border, saying law enforcement would collect evidence to determine if that would be a crime.”

    Holy Pickles! We can barely keep up with the comedy! Collecting evidence to see if certain topics of discussion are illegal?

    I was about to discuss the quality of Chinese-made furniture with a neighbour. Perhaps we should send a query to the Insecurity Division before we begin our chat?

    We’d better be serious about using code words in order to avoid persecution. For ‘DNA’ I suggest using ‘a molecule composed of two polynucleotide chains that coil around each other to form a double helix carrying genetic instructions’! That’ll stump the investigation!

  3. YTSL says:

    Could August be possibly worse than July for Hong Kong? I’m not betting against this possibility since there’s still much yet that the powers that be can do to make our lives worse and less free.

    “Wonder how much a subscription will cost when they put up their paywall?” I’ve heard that it’s HK$80 a month. At the same time (surprise, surprise — not!), I’ve been hearing declarations from lots of individuals that they won’t pay the SCMP a single cent and not a single one person saying they’ll spring for a subscription.

    Too bad re the lack of support for the many good reporters still working there. But, then, it’s not like they’ve been rewarded for their good work. Cf their not getting any bonuses this year *and* being asked to take three weeks no pay leave.

  4. HKJC Regular says:

    Delightful to see Rectum #4’s favourite hack Yonder Latrine get a pasting in The Atlantic piece. I’m looking for reasons NOT to pay a digital subscription to the SCMP and Chow, Latrine and the gang are doing a great job for me. Bless ’em

  5. Stanley Lieber says:

    From the SCMP, “Lau Siu-kai told the Post…the central government has kicked off consultation with various sectors on the postponement of the elections.”

    That’s some powerful hoodoo those “various sectors” have got working for them!

  6. Chris Maden says:

    For a very good look at the last year, read Aftershock, a collection of essays from journalists covering the last year. It’s available online here: https://spicyfish.myshopify.com/collections/bookfair/products/aftershock. And, no, I am not a contributor!

  7. Reactor #4 says:

    If only the city’s Democracy Fundamentalists had listened to myself and Ronnie. Our futures would have been so much brighter. As is, by pushing your ideals you have condemned the city to tight personal control and long-term economic decay. Within a decade or so, Hong Kong will be nothing more than pimple on the 4rse-end of China – akin to the Venice-like cyst that sits in the armpit of Italy. Well done you idiots, you must be bloody proud.

  8. Goodog says:

    Reactor #4 – what a lion you are! so brave! like a brave cockroach you scurry away from the light and hide under skirting boards! You bravely let others do the fighting for you!

  9. Pope Innocent says:

    One gets the feeling that further discussion of the situation is moot. Everyone of one’s acquaintance is more profitably using their time in accelerating their escape plans, some of which have been in place since 1989. Everyone with any sense, that is. One can always reconsider after the next regime change over there.

  10. Reader says:

    A good personal account of SCMP editorial unprofessionlism, from a tweeted response to ‘Insider-ish’ Oliver Farry:

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