The 12 Hongkongers caught fleeing to Taiwan clearly broke Mainland law when they (reportedly) exited Hong Kong and/or Chinese territorial waters without going through immigration checks. Can’t blame them for trying. But unlike the abducted book-sellers and some other previous or current hostages, they are being detained legitimately.
If Beijing wanted to look reasonable, it could fine or briefly jail them accordingly and send them back to Hong Kong to face their protest-related or other charges (plus now jumping bail). Instead, it looks like the CCP sees an opportunity to make a far more serious political point – especially since the US government has expressed concerns over the case. Beijing will make an example of them, and they could even, as Eddie Chu Hoi-dick puts it, become ‘diplomatic bargaining chips’.
Predictably, they are being denied contact with families or access to legal representation of their choice. A foreign affairs spokesman has already declared the 12 guilty of separatism. The Hong Kong authorities are of course offering just the minimum ‘assistance’ required.
Will Beijing be able to resist televised confessions, show trials and harsh sentences? Anything to further alienate and embitter Hong Kong people.
If and when the 12 do get back to Hong Kong, they will join a very long line of people accused of riot and other offenses. Steven Vines asks an interesting question: where does the government put all these supposed dissidents? Maybe the plan is to bankrupt and blacklist everyone so they can’t get jobs. But if they want to incarcerate significant numbers, it could mean doubling prison capacity.
On other matters…
A thread on the ethnic/geographical inaccuracies in Mulan – notably that the ‘Xinjiang’ region was not ‘Chinese’ at the time. And one of the better of many hatchet jobs on Mulan (if you’re OK with such concepts as ‘chimeric’ and ‘self-Orientalism’) by Brian Hioe of New Bloom.
And a thread of Xi Jinping’s Greatest Hits – a list of all the edicts and laws turning China into a ‘totalitarian security state’ in the last seven years or so. Including the Seven Don’t Speaks, Document No 9, the 2015 National Security Law, the Five Never Allows and much more.