“What has Tony Chung actually done?”

Few 19-year-olds can be as accomplished as Tony Chung, if the allegations against him are at all true. The former leader of pro-independence group Studentlocalism is charged with secession (under the NatSec Law), money laundering (under easy-to-abuse laws) and ‘conspiracy to publish seditious material’ (under an archaic colonial law put to extra-Kafkaesque use) – and denied bail. And officials rant about foreign countries scrapping extradition agreements with Hong Kong.

The BBC’s Stephen McDonell:

It’s only when you sit back and ask yourself, “What has Tony Chung actually done?” that you realise just how draconian Hong Kong’s state security law is.

…now people are seeing the reality: state security agents grabbing teenage activists from cafes and taking them away perhaps for the rest of their lives. On the ground in Hong Kong, the shocking reality of the new legal regime is becoming clear.

What are the chances of Stephen McDonell getting his visa renewed? ‘Sedition’ and visas are both mentioned in this interview with the NY Times international president on why the paper’s online HQ is leaving Hong Kong for Seoul. 

The Diplomat lists four signs that Hong Kong is headed towards totalitarianism. They are: increasing economic costs to pro-democrats (eg disqualification of professionals); weaponizing the courts; making democrats social outcasts (eg blackballing them from civil, cultural and other bodies); and restricting travel abroad. All are already detectable to some extent. 

A game – if you get bored of devising creative uses for the NatSec Stasi Hotline – is to consider other signs. For example, how long before lawyers don’t dare represent the likes of Tony Chung?

While we’re at it – John Burns in HKFP on what the appointment of new HKU vice-presidents tells us about how the CCP is running Hong Kong.

We end the week on a lighter note by celebrating the effects of falling rents, which have sadly reduced landlords in my neighbourhood to such penury that they must let premises out to shops that residents might find useful. Three have sprung up in recent weeks.

The Filipino place should be open now. Last I saw, they were stacking shelves with tons of garishly packaged chips and other snacks. We can probably also expect tamarind candy, fresh calamansi, and perhaps those not-exactly-compelling duck-embryo eggs.

The ‘Wing Gai’ store (next door) carries an opportunistic selection of goods, including flour, exotic cheap beer, some frozen stuff and of course more junk snacks.

Best of all (at the eastern end of the road) is Shop Easy, which is in fact an Indian store. It has ghee, paneer, poha, fresh produce (like green chilis), incense, dubious brands of whisky, and – downstairs – all the spices and dry goods you need.

If this is happening in Caine Road, it must be at least as good in other districts. All made possible by what officials bemoan as an economic crisis.

A selection of reading material for the gentry…

A quick thread on the history of the Milk Tea Alliance – from silly meme to international alliance. (And from The Nation, a lengthy but pretty good explainer on the background to Thailand’s uprising, including comparisons with the protests in Hong Kong.)

Tanner Green in PalladiumBelt and Road as a label for projects SOEs would have wanted to do anyway…

Poor investments that would have once drawn criticism, or at least extra scrutiny, by observers in China were now given a free pass, as few Chinese would risk tarring an initiative [Xi Jinping] had invested so much of his personal prestige into. Outside China, in contrast, critics would now credit sloppiness or malfeasance not to the failings of individual SOES or financial consortiums, but to the malevolence of the Chinese government.

One observer responds that it is now starting to be run more tightly

On the subject of back-firing, the Diplomat on how Beijing’s obnoxiousness is increasing regional public sympathy for Taiwan

…especially in Southeast Asia and India, because most have now experienced some form of coercion from China. 

…China’s sensitivity about Taiwan provides a ready handle for others to retaliate for unfriendly Chinese behavior. 

The Hill on how elite capture and United Front work have done such an effective job of disguising China’s threat to the West.

From Standpoint, Xi’s impatient war on religion.

And Bloomberg notes Taiwan’s impressive fight against Covid

So far, about 340,000 people have been under home quarantine, with fewer than 1,000 fined for breaking it. That means 99.7% have complied, according to Chen. “We sacrificed 14 days of 340,000 people in exchange for normal lives for 23 million people,”

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20 Responses to “What has Tony Chung actually done?”

  1. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    Some good links today! Thank you.

    If I may, I’ll add this summary of polls conducted by ‘Central Asia Barometer’, all related to the so-called ‘Belt and Road’:

    https://eurasianet.org/poll-shows-uzbeks-like-neighbors-growing-leery-of-chinese-investments

    It may be enough to read only the first line: “The longer Central Asians host Chinese investors, the less they seem to like them.”

  2. Casira says:

    “If this is happening in Caine Road, it must be at least as good in other districts.”

    I disagree with that, the situation is dismal in Link malls for instance where the businesses suffering the most are the smallest ones.
    I also doubt what Hong Kong retail needs is more snacks shops, it’s really the local version of the Korean fried chicken store, but then again retail is dying pretty much everywhere.

  3. where's my jet plane says:

    @ Casira
    Perhaps the phenomenon can be explained thus; cheap stores in the lower-end of the market (eg Link malls) are closing down because their customers are feeling the pinch. However, they are now moving into more up-market areas to fill the need of residents there for cheaper outlets for the same reason. When Quezon Pinoy and Shop Easy open up on The Peak we’ll know HK is totally fucked.

  4. YTSL says:

    I was pleasantly surprised by that BBC piece. Stephen Mcdonell has come across in the past for me as someone too obviously helicoptered in from Mainland China and consequently lacking understanding of Hong Kong. Also, the BBC has done stuff like this in the past:-
    https://twitter.com/ataraxisfinch/status/1313783797800894465

    But, then, I guess it goes to show how absolutely terrible the national security law is that even outlets and people like that are recognizing it.

  5. Joe Blow says:

    CWB is transforming itself into one big, happy pop-up store. Opposite Times Square, the area that was once the priciest in the whole effing world, there now stands a ‘yellow’ pop-up store, selling ‘yellow’ merchandise. Yellow in the sense of ‘subversive’ and ‘democratic’, not in the sense of smut, in case you were hoping for that. (for directions: it’s at street level, almost next door to UniQlo).

  6. regret says:

    As to lawyers not representing, already happening. I know someone who is leading criminal lawyer. One of the partners said would resign if any national security law cases were taken. Rather than see the end of the firm, decision taken firm was not to act in security law cases.

  7. Cassowary says:

    The Sichuan Spicy Noodle Bubble in my ‘hood has finally popped. During the peak tourist years, every new restaurant that opened was a “Sichuan” spicy noodle joint – cheap ingredients, easily assembled, drowned in chili oil. Fast food for Mainland day trippers who found Cantonese fare too bland, I imagine. There have been some empty storefronts but we’re finally seeing other kinds of restaurants.

  8. where's my jet plane says:

    In other matters – what severe epidemic?
    In view of the severe epidemic situation, the CHP called on members of the public to avoid going out, having social contact and dining out.

    The ISD today reports that at 9am there were 97 patients in public hospitals suffering from Covid19 (down from 123 a weeks ago).

    There have been 5320 wuflu cases reported in HK this year. 5082 sufferers have been discharged from public hospitals.and taking into account the ones currently being treated, there is a discrepancy of 141 – presumably cases in private hospitals and discharged from private hospitals and cases not requiring hospitalisiation.

    So why are we being inundated with scare stories from supposed “experts” (follow the money) and illogical restictions on what can and cannot be done. For instance, 6 people can gather inside a restaurant but only 4 outside – what about a restaurant with outside seating (rare but that’s another story)? What is the difference between a bar and a restaurant that 4 can gather in one but 6 in another?

    For a weekend giggle the ISD pics of TICE and Sophia Chan getting flu jabs:
    https://www.news.gov.hk/web/common/pictureStory/eng/2020/10/20201028/pstory_20201028_125706_629/20201028132352470.jpg
    https://www.news.gov.hk/web/common/pictureStory/eng/2020/10/20201023/pstory_20201023_184333_995/20201023200500066.jpg

    Associated; evidence strongly suggests wearing masks does not protect the wearer from infection but does protect other people. Now, masks are not one-way valves, so, what comes in also must go out. If possible, please explain the logic of how wearing a mask protects other people.

  9. YTSL says:

    @ where’s my jet plan — Re masks: “To be clear, the science supports using masks, with recent studies suggesting that they could save lives in different ways: research shows that they cut down the chances of both transmitting and catching the coronavirus, and some studies hint that masks might reduce the severity of infection if people do contract the disease.”

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02801-8

  10. Ricote says:

    @YTSL if we are selectively quoting I’ll have a go…”lack of scientific rigour” that has so far been brought to the topic. “We criticize people all the time in the science world for making statements without any data,” he says. “We’re doing a lot of the same thing here.”

    HKers ignore basic social distancing and engage in any number of micro-level contacts that are avoided elsewhere (the use of cash!!) because they wear masks. At some point, research will show whether this moral hazard outweighs any benefits.

  11. Mark Bradley says:

    If masks don’t work then I wonder why cases are so low in HK without any hard lockdowns and without any real social distancing where it comes (ie: public transport). Same goes for Taiwan and other jurisdictions with very strong mask discipline.

    When compared to US and EU it really says something. The only time we had cases spike was due to the HK government’s own incompetence, such as loopholes that let sailors be exempt from testing.

    However I do agree that sitting 6 people in a restaurant vs 4 people in public is complete nonsense. All of the social distancing regulations are nonsense and just a means for the government to 1. Appear like it is “doing something” 2. Suppress protests.

    But when it comes to masks, that’s a real thing that helps and it was a people initiated bottom up movement in HK that had nothing to do with the HK government which was up their own ass regarding masks back in January

  12. Hamantha says:

    @where’s my jet plane

    “What severe epidemic?”

    (1) The worldwide pandemic, from which Hong Kong is still vulnerable. Hong Kong’s borders are still operational, even if they’ve implemented something of a bio-security theatre to make people feel that this travel is safe. Hell, our far-sighted leaders want this travel mobility to be expanded.

    (2) The continued, invisible epidemic via community spread that population-wide mask usage, and other social distancing measures, is preventing. As the virus continues to circulate amongst the community in milder, undiagnosed cases, it is therefore only a matter of time before more clusters appear. If social distancing measures are sufficiently loosened when that happens, Hong Kong risks becoming another Wuhan, France, UK, Belgium, what-have-you.

    “Associated; evidence strongly suggests wearing masks does not protect the wearer from infection but does protect other people. Now, masks are not one-way valves, so, what comes in also must go out. If possible, please explain the logic of how wearing a mask protects other people.”

    How are you still so ignorant on this issue? Educate yourself, for fuck’s sake. Google is your friend. People knew about this shit even in the 1917-1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.

  13. Conference says:

    Mark Bradley:

    The Hong Kong governments’ incompetence extends to well beyond sailors. Sailors and other operators of conveyances traveling internationally does have some intelligent rationale behind it because they frequently cross borders (pilots daily, and some even 3 and 4 times in 24 hours). It’s the other nonsense exceptions which should be limited. See this link:

    https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/599C-quarantine_exemption.html exemptions

    Notable exceptions: see in the list at the link, items 4, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 25, 26, 28, 30. Many of these categories could reasonably work from a quarantine location in Hong Kong, or simply communicate by videoconference.

  14. Low Profile says:

    @jet plane – I’m no scientist, but if an infected person coughs or sneezes while wearing a mask, the droplets containing the virus are likely to be slowed/impeded by the mask, and therefore to spread less widely and forcefully among others nearby, with many being retained on the inner surface of the mask. Pretty simple really.

  15. YTSL says:

    @Ricote

    Not selectively quoting but, instead, seeking to highlight a pertinent section. But here, just read the whole Tweet linked below by the Chief of Infectious Diseases at University of Maryland UCH:-
    https://twitter.com/FaheemYounus/status/1320198894790320129

    @Mark Bradley and Hamantha

    Hear, hear!

  16. where's my jet plane says:

    @ Hamanatha
    Google is your friend

    Ah, you mean that fount of all knowledge that censors anything that doesn’t fit its corporate story? It is you that needs to educate yourself by venturing outside your google comfort zone.

  17. Penny says:

    Hamantha – Google is no-one’s friend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Google
    Forget google, try duckduckgo.com – “We don’t store your personal info. We don’t follow you around with ads. We don’t track you. Ever.”

  18. Mary Melville says:

    So another sensible and rational judge will no doubt be banished to the post room to lick stamps. Far too many folk who did not engage in any violence have been arrested. As the judge pointed out, wearing black and carrying protective gear cannot be sufficient evidence that one has been engaged in criminal activities.
    I wear black and on Xmas Eve had to run down into the street with my face covered when tear gas seeped into my home. Luckily I had some spare masks and solution as I found the lady who runs the newspaper kiosk nearby had been blasted and was gasping for breath.
    Under the current draconian rule by law we could both have been carted off to the police station to be charged with ………. whatever. We were not apprehended but other locals were not as lucky.

  19. Mark Bradley says:

    @where’s my jet plane

    “Ah, you mean that fount of all knowledge that censors anything that doesn’t fit its corporate story? It is you that needs to educate yourself by venturing outside your google comfort zone.”

    You’re just distracting attention away wumao style from @Hamantha and my arguments suggesting that there is in fact plenty of evidence that masks work, but sure go ahead and continue to go Full Trump.

    And while there are valid criticisms of Google, (alternatives exist: duckduckgo) Google isn’t suppressing the truth with regards to masks.

  20. Toph says:

    Re masks: if someone pees on your leg, your trousers won’t protect you from getting wet. But you will have a hard time trying to pee on someone else with your trousers still up.

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