Latest national-security threats: free press and a 23-year-old

Yesterday was a Hong Kong banana-republic day: NatSec arrests of Jimmy Lai and family and colleagues, plus separately of 23-year-old Agnes Chow and of Wilson Li; hundreds of cops searching Apple Daily’s offices; and (among various tightening press restrictions) a creepy HK Police policy of admitting only ‘trusted’ media into briefings.

This exciting new ‘trick’, as Commissioner Tang puts it, excludes most sources with credibility, like RTHK, Reuters and AP. If other public-sector organizations abandon normal PR practice like this, it points to greater restrictions on access to government information generally. Not a high priority, but when the CCP’s new parallel administration notices Hong Kong’s relatively high level of official transparency (non-flattering economic and social statistics, for example), it will come as a shock.

The Foreign Correspondents Club’s complaint about the raid on Apple Daily earns a prompt slap on the wrist from Beijing’s officials.

The arrests seem to be linked to alleged calls for overseas governments to put sanctions on Hong Kong officials. The irony is that they will increase pressure on more countries to follow the US’s example. It will also encourage an exodus of overseas media to other parts of Asia – which suits Beijing fine. Making Hong Kong more like the Mainland is the whole point. 

How long before the authorities start banning major media outlets online? Internet censorship, like the development of an all-propaganda local media scene, is just a matter of time.

The cops are also pressing some sort of fraud charge on Jimmy Lai – presumably to smear him as a common criminal and to drag his kids into legal trouble. This sort of thuggishness works on the Mainland. But it will just make Hong Kong more angry (and note the silence from most pro-Beijing figures right now). At some point, we will return to mega-protests on the street.

Some other things for the next couple of days…

Activists in UK are planning private prosecution of British cops in HK for torture (donations welcome). And another little ray of sunshine to warm our hearts – US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has had a nice time in Taiwan. 

Some insight into top-level CCP thinking on the whole dangerous and scary concept of a free society like Hong Kong.

Kevin Carrico in Apple Daily looks at how China extends its empire of hurt feelings (wish I’d thought of that), with reference to manipulating the right to express opinions on Australian campuses – but it could be anywhere.

On a related topic, an interesting and quite amusing round-up of Mainland academics’ theories on how to improve China’s ‘discourse power’ through media and diplomacy. They see the problems quite clearly – for example, the way freedom from political control gives Western media greater credibility (or ‘the appearance’ of it). Their proposals to improve matters reflect the fundamental problem. They can’t suggest obvious solutions like allowing freedom of expression, but view the task as a centralized top-down engineering project. 

Only if you’re desperate for something to read – senior military officers from impoverished backwaters (South Sudan, Surinam, etc) gather to eulogize Xi Jinping’s latest book. How long before Carrie Lam starts doing this?

And headline of the week

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25 Responses to Latest national-security threats: free press and a 23-year-old

  1. Casual Observer says:

    For those who are interested, here is the link for the fundraiser to bring a private prosecution against the British cops in Hong Kong. Hasn’t been up 24 hours and its already raised nearly 1 million HKD.

  2. Chris Maden says:

    Agnes Chow’s Japanese language is good enough that she was interviewed on Japanese TV. So she’s doubly fucked.

  3. Paul Lewis says:

    I wonder if the timing of yesterday’s raid had anything to do with Mark Simon not being in Hong Kong.
    Could it be suggested that they were to afraid to arrest him?
    Will some sort of international arrest warrant now be issued?
    An Interpol Red Notice perhaps, if they care to release the evidence.

  4. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    Get a copy of today’s Apple Daily if you can!

    Classic blowback on Xi’s Bootlicking Squad: huge numbers of average Hong Kongers from all walks of life are waiting in long queues to show support for Lai et al, and/or pushing share prices higher.

    One might call it a flood, but that may hit to close to home for the mainland crowd during this difficult time of heavy rain.

  5. The Feng Shui Detective says:

    Casual Observer – is there a fundraiser to cause distress and annoyance to perpetual pro-China opportunist & general irritant Nury Vittachi? I would gladly contribute a sizable sum. He was comparing Uyghurs to criminals the other week – his argument seemed to be that as there’s only 1 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang concentration camps compared to the 2.5 million in the U.S. prison system, China is getting an unfair rap from biased western media.

  6. where's my jet plane says:

    Ronny “The Mouthpiece” Tong’s joke of the day when he “hit out at international media, accusing them of jumping to conclusions that the arrest of media tycoon Jimmy Lai was politically driven.”

    Ronny, there’s a hardly-used bridge open to offers.

  7. Conference says:

    Regarding the ongoing government transparency, we can expect annual budget and CE budget speech, which are eagerly anticipated, will disappear. In particular, I don’t think the (new) masters will want ordinary folks like us to know of important changes like, for example, the recent roughly 25% increase in the police budget for more bodies and toys. Doing away with things like this, government accountability which is one element of a free society, is a no-brainer.

  8. Casira says:

    With cases down to 30 per day, it seems the govt will have to manufacture more cases before September in order to save face.

  9. Chinese Netizen says:

    Looking next for Boy Scouts and Girl Guides to be disbanded in favor of a National Socialist Youth Corps (or CY’s tai tai’s Junior PLA) with a junior fast track into the HKPF for those 16 and over with at least one mainland parent, grandparents in Guangdong and no further educational prospects. Manuals will include how to listen in on neighbors and shopkeepers to discern seditious speech, bullying classmates that don’t show enough fealty to HK and national leaders, and pocketing 15% of all funds raised on the streets during charity drives.

  10. Joe Blow says:

    Again the ham-fisted boneheads of the HKGov, popo and CCP Gestapo have not taken into account the X-factor: the people of Hong Kong. Despite the arrests, the bullying and the white terror, the People went out and bought 550,000 copies of Apple Daily (8-fold increase) and jacked the stock price up by 1000%.

    When will they ever learn?

  11. Onecistern says:

    Have now taken out an annual subscription to Apple Daily. Will switch from readership of the SCMP now it has set up a paywall.

  12. where's my jet plane says:

    It’s curious that the Security Bureau, the police et al are so prominently emphasising they had a search warrant signed by a magistrate for the Next media invasion, not that they let anybody see it until the lawyers were allowed in. As I understand the NIL, when the cops are acting as the National Snatch Squad they don’t need a warrant, they have the power to walk in anywhere without knocking.

  13. Joe Blow says:

    I have an ad blocker on my internet thing. Now each time I click on the AliBaba Yawn there pops up a window asking me to ‘whitelist’ them so they can show ads and ‘survive’ under these challenging circumstances.

    Hey Alibaba, as long as Yonden Latootoo is employed by your dying paper, I will not ‘whitelist’ you. Sounds fair eh?

  14. Mary Melville says:

    “The Standing Committee UNANIMOUSLY passed the “Proposal for Making Decisions on the Continued Operation of the Sixth Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” and that the term for all members of the current Legislative Council will be extended for one year, including the four pro-democrats who were disqualified for the election.”
    Now we all heard/read that the only HK rep, Tam Yiu-chung was strongly opposed to the four retaining their posts.
    Another display of No Balls to have the courage of his own convictions and vote NO.

  15. Stanley Lieber says:

    @Joe Blow

    The term “whitelist” is racist. You probably didn’t know. Please stop.

  16. Mark Bradley says:

    So how on earth is this standing committee “decision” legal when it doesn’t even amend or interpret article 69 of the Basic Law? I guess it’s “legal” because it’s the NPCSC?

  17. where's my jet plane says:

    @ Joe Blow
    Don’t forget the Lo chappie, hiding in the West which he is convinced has totally gone down the tubes.

  18. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    @ Mary Melville: excellent point! The poseur maverick who follows the party line!

    One can only wonder at the fact that the communist party loves to assigns labels and titles to their decrees with such precision (e.g. “Proposal for Making Decisions on the Continued Operation of the Sixth Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”, “Fifth Plenum on Graphite Content for Successful Blue Pencil Manufacturing in Southern Hainan’s Revolutionary Workers’ Factory Number 2”, etc.), yet the contents of said decrees is almost always ambiguous, allowing the party to interpret as it wishes.

    Is the opposite true in ‘Western’ cultures? Short titles with precise contents?
    Hmmm…something to study when I have some free time.

  19. Casira says:

    Interestingly yahoo Singapore still offers SCMP without paywalls

    For instance, this gem on investing in the mainland.

  20. Din Dan Che says:

    @Feng Shui Detective
    The wretched Vittachi is doing what he’s done for years – purloining the concepts of others. In this case the swathes of cultural genocide deniers and the tankie Russia Today clique. Wondrous how his sycophants on FB lick this up as if he’s the originator of such toxicity.

  21. where's my jet plane says:

    “The term “whitelist” is racist.”
    And as for bl***klist, if you even think of using it, you’d better write your will and go hide your sorry ass in the jungle.

  22. Penny says:

    Whitelist is the term used by SCMP

  23. dimuendo says:

    Stanley and Jet plane

    Can I say redlist or blue list or green list? Presumably yellowlist would be unsafe.

    As for black and white!

    Plus is reference to black in connection with the jungle not also racist?!

  24. Stanley Lieber says:

    Coffee is a minefield of racism and tea is steeped in colonialism. Stick with water.

  25. where's my jet plane says:

    Red and blue have political connotations, just like yellow. Best stick with puce for everything

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