Before last Friday was over, a clutch of minor-to-middling Mainlandizations happened.
We learnt that on the same day Jimmy Lai was arrested, Nikkei HK had a visit from the police, with a warrant, supposedly in connection with carrying a crowdfunded ad in 2019.
VanGO, a small chain of convenience stores owned by state-controlled China Resources, stops selling Apple Daily. Childish, except all vendors will now be under pressure to do the same. If 7-Elevens (owned by Jardines) stop carrying the paper, it will be clear that not following VanGO’s example equals not being patriotic. Meanwhile, we must all make sacrifices – this means boycotting VanGO’s pick-n-mix gummies.
A hitherto unheard-of joint universities body called the Hong Kong America Centre closes after criticism from Beijing’s local newspapers and the subsequent slinking away of local uni heads from the board.
And a magistrate sentences someone to five and a half months in jail for possession of cable-ties. (Also on unequal sentencing: Steven Vines on the penalties for negligence for construction giants whose workers were killed building the Zhuhai Bridge. The courts gave higher fines to the people who ransacked Junius Ho’s office.)
The Hong Kong government spent much of the weekend frantically freaking out again and again over critics/skeptics’ advice to the public to boycott the universal virus-screening exercise. Beijing’s officials join in using such harsh language that it’s obvious the screening plan is of great importance to them for some reason. The paranoid but-they-would-wouldn’t-they? theory is that the whole thing is a cover for scooping up everyone’s DNA for the CCP’s surveillance-state database. The more benign explanation is that, involving Mainland ‘help’, it’s a contrived patriotic PR stunt. For all practical purposes, Carrie Lam now has a tattoo on her forehead saying “If you don’t join in the screening, I will be very angry” – for our guidance. (A layman’s explanation on the politics vs science angle.)
A flash of sanity amid the madness – Gary Kasparov advises Hong Kong democrats: get out of town and stay safe.