Some links to end the week

Jimmy Lai is cleared. More a relief than a surprise. The Oriental Daily reporter’s contrived accusation of criminal intimidation was a pro-Beijing newspaper doing some freelance vigilante lawfare as an elaborate form of shoe-shining. Lai and other high-profile figures still face unauthorized assembly and other charges that are more obviously direct political persecution by the regime. The way things are going, it will be a bigger shock if the judges resist the CCP-directed prosecution cases to come. 

China Leadership Monitor presents Minxin Pei’s in-depth look at why Beijing killed ‘1 Country 2 Systems’ and imposed the NatSec Law in Hong Kong when it did. 

Xi first referred to a ‘bottom line’ that Hong Kong must not cross in 2017. Beijing declared the bottom line breached in late July 2019, which Pei traces to a specific incident. They really don’t like it when you splatter paint all over their logo. Formal Politburo approval followed a month later, and an overall framework for tighter control over Hong Kong was decided by end-October. The personnel and bureaucracy changes took place in January-February – suggesting that Covid had nothing to do with the timing. It looks as if even Hong Kong’s own leaders weren’t fully filled in on what was happening until April-May. 

Pei mentions ‘path-dependency’ of Chinese policy against dissent – being unable to back down to avoid appearing weak. US News on how Xi Jinping is also painting China into a corner over the Indian border.

Mark O’Neill in EJ Insight on the reversal in fortunes of Hong Kong and Taiwan in terms of closeness to the West. (Also: they used to have censorship while Hong Kong didn’t; they used to have political refugees in exile while Hong Kong didn’t. Etc.)

Geremie Barmé of China Heritage combines his usual erudition with a brutal kicking for New Yorker contributor Peter Hessler. Hessler’s dispatches as a university teacher in Chengdu gloss over subjects like the CCP’s role in mishandling the coronavirus rather too much for Barmé to stomach while Beijing mercilessly persecutes Chinese academics who tell the truth. The venerable sinologist accuses his target of enjoying ‘Caucasian privilege’ and of being what some might call (he uses more delicate language) a Panda-hugging CCP stooge. This letter to the New Yorker editor has upset some people. It could also be seen as a message to any of the ‘liberal East Coast intellectual’ stereotype-milieu who still don’t get it about China.

Another slapping – Vanity Fair reviews Disney’s Mulan and finds it a ‘plodding bore’

Prospect on how the surveillance state came to Xinjiang

On the advice of a police contact, Sholpan and her husband started going to dance parties and drinking alcohol in order to show they were not religious. 

ASPI – China’s least-favourite Australian think tank – does a big survey on how Beijing intimidates other countries.

Forbes reports a Lancet piece predicting that China’s population will drop by nearly half by 2100. (As a reminder to take such forecasts with a pinch of salt, it sees Nigeria’s population growing nearly 300% to almost 800 million.) 

A bit of nostalgia for the old folks: a recruitment ad for the HK Regiment, and SCMP cartoons by Basher (sample above – I’d forgotten how sparingly he drew).

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16 Responses to Some links to end the week

  1. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    Very interesting article by Minxin Pei. As many have speculated for some time, blowback from what is referred to as “one of the most important developments of the post-Mao China”, among other mistakes on the global stage, has created strong anti-Xi sentiment within the ruling classes across the ‘border’.

    Nikkei Asia Review sees another Pooh Purge approaching:

    Not to be undone, the local puppet show declares that Cardinal Zen’s Mid-Autumn Festival gifts to prisoners is a political act:

  2. Ho Ma Fan says:

    Not sure whether any luvvie darling actor types visit this blog, but I happened to notice this week that the TruWest Talent Agency were advertising for:
    HK Government video

    -Action scenes, some ad lib dialogue.
    -Shoot dates: 15th Sept to 17th Sept.
    -Night shoots (1 or 2 nights)
    -Rate includes fitting prior to shooting.

    -Actors to play terrorist
    Need to be able to handle firearms
    -Talent expected to do reactions to gun fire, squibs and basic falls to the ground.
    -Tall build with good physique and imposing.
    -Talent will be wearing a face mask or balaclava

    Rate is 3000HKD/9hrs (per night)
    Must have valid HKID

    So I look forward to reading the news on 18th September that a US led coup attempt was thwarted as a result of intelligence gathered since NSL introduced…

  3. Stanley Lieber says:

    Nice to see Basher cartoons still being circulated, especially as the Hong Kong Club, in a spasm of ridiculous self-censorship following the imposition of the NSL, swiftly removed from its walls all jocular depictions by Templar from the 1990s (you know, that long-ago, benighted era under the brutalist British colonial regime when HK residents enjoyed freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, etc.) that might possibly be considered offensive to the new thin-skinned security overlords.

    Next thing you know, they’ll make CY Leung their chairman.

  4. Reactor #4 says:

    @ Ho Man Fan
    Oh you Silly Billy. It’s for this year’s Xmas Milk Tray advert.

    They often use up several people, so some spares are required.

  5. Reactor #4 says:

    Re the logo splattering – YES. Anyone with half a brain cell can work out that the protesters have brought on all of this unwanted “interest” from the landlord. If we’d been good tenants we would have been left alone. Fact is, there are many more pressing problems the important folks up north need to be dealing with, not spoiled-little-brat HK (the porridge is too hot/cold; the bed is too hard/soft). Sadly, a miniscule number of idiots have messed it up for the bulk of us.

  6. jackie childs says:

    Excellent Minxei Pei article. It’s interesting that emperor Xi decided to impose the insecurity law late in the afternoon of 21 July, which just happens to be a few hours before the thugs were sent in to Yuen Long. Coincidence? I think not…

    The law was also formally approved by the Politburo on 30/8 and the next day the police went nuts in Prince Edward. Pei’s timeline makes sense…

  7. Mary Melville says:

    Strange that the media is not all over the Metropark contagion. For those with short memories, this hotel was previously called the Metropole and was at the centre of the 2003 Sars outbreak. Name was changed afterwards.
    In 2009 Metropark Wanchai’s 300 guests/staff were placed under lockdown for a week because of H1N1 outbreak there.
    So is this a case of third time unlucky? Perhaps the media is self censoring and avoiding the any reference to the MKK hotel recently hosting visitors who were not subjected to the 14 day quarantine.

  8. Des Espoir says:

    Wasn’t it the Miramar with SARS…? Later changed to Hotel Mira..??

  9. A Poor Man says:

    Mary – Based on the pictures in the newspapers that I have seen, I believe that the Metropark Hotel with the outbreak is the one in Prince Edward on Lai Chi Kok Rd., not the one on Waterloo Rd. The one on Waterloo Rd. is where the mainland “experts” involved in the mass DNA collection program are staying, and there is heavy po po presence there 24/7. If I am correct, one branch had a SARS outbreak, one branch had a WuFlu outbreak, one branch had a bird flu outbreak, and the other branch in CWB was turned into the headquarters for the new National Security po po. Aren’t they all owned by China Travel Service???

  10. Chernobyl says:

    How nice to see Reactor#4 back here again after some down time.

    He must have had a new set of fuel rods anally inserted.

  11. Red Dragon says:

    A very fine letter to the New Yorker by the always impressive Mr. Barmé.

    The following paragraph struck me:

    “I must admit that, at times, Hessler’s writing brings to mind another American journalist, a man who reported from another authoritarian country nearly a century ago. A Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who served as the bureau chief of The New York Times in the Soviet Union for over a decade, Walter Duranty evinced an overall sympathy for the Soviet experiment and, over time, he acted as an apologist for the country’s harsh social engineering something, he argued, that could be best understood as the modern evolution of traditional “Asiatic” collectivism. Anyway, Duranty reasoned, the heavy hand of Stalin was actually a reflection of a “Russian mindset”, the default mode of which, as his on-the-ground informants assured him, is autocracy. For that writer, Western values were best seen as another form of colonialism and, although he readily admitted that the Soviet system could be brutal, its overall cruelty could be justified by the benefits that it would inevitably bring its subjects.”

    Peter Hessler, it would seem, represents a long line of stooges, Uncle Toms, fellow travellers and useful idiots of the type long cultivated by authoritarian regimes. In the Chinese communist context, the late Edgar Snow ploughed this particular furrow with conspicuous avidity, but Mr. Hessler is clearly no slouch.

    Of course the paradox that such people manifest is that while (for whatever personal or, perhaps, psychological reasons) they are wont to denigrate the more humane values of the societies in which they themselves were nurtured, and to reject the applicability of those values to people (usually in other countries and of other cultures) who struggle under the yoke of repression, they do so from the position of what Barmé persuasively terms “Caucasian privilege”.

    Accordingly, it will not have escaped readers of the comments section that there is amongst us an eager member of this clique of collaborators, an individual the thrust of whose every predictable utterance is perfectly summed up in the final sentence of the Barmé paragraph which I quote.

  12. Mary Melville says:

    Apologies, had not seen foto, the current contagion is at Lai Chk Kok not the hotel on Waterloo Road that most locals consider to be MKK but has been referred to as Ho Man Tin, more classy eh?, where the ‘experts’ are housed. I noted the tight security when passing on the bus. Whatever, is this all coincidence? The Sars ‘super spreader’ stayed at the then Metropole.
    Re Mira, I remember a connection to one of the outbreaks but cannot remember the details. Name change was part of a renovation that was allowed to cause considerable noise pollution to TST residents for almost a decade. Complaints were handled with the usual deference displayed towards our property developer cartel, site visits, tut tuts, but next night business as usual.

  13. where's my jet plane says:

    Yes, the Metropark chain is CTS-owned.

    On other matters: the administration is playing coy with Universal Testing numbers. “More than a million signed up”, 650,000 samples taken but no news on how many have been tested since the initial batch. And why is Alfred Sit the SIT dishing out information; WTF has it got to do with Innovation and Technology?

  14. Mary Melville says:

    Re the SIT, probably because he will be the one justifying the granting of land on the previously closed area and the pouring of squillions to fund a HK Teck/Bio-med HUB on the back of the current crisis. At the same time the purse strings will be tightened for genuine community services, proven to be already underfunded and Dickensian, in order to balance the budget.

  15. where's my jet plane says:

    From RTHK:
    Kwong Wah Hospital on Sunday said a 69-year-old woman with coronavirus died on Saturday night, bringing Hong Kong’s death toll to 95.
    The patient had chronic disease and was admitted to hospital on July 27 after contracting Covid-19.

    She later tested negative but her condition continued to deteriorate.

    If she tested negative, how does that make her a Covid-19 patient and a Covid-19 death?

  16. Chinese Netizen says:

    @jet plane: Because you now live in Orwell Land

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