The Hong Kong government’s Mainland-style lockdown/mass-testing in Jordan was – let’s be generous – no more clumsily executed than we would expect. (Full photo-journal here.) The operation was leaked (maybe one in eight residents fled) and involved chained-up buildings. Not that there’s a neat, warm and cuddly way to do it, but you could at least make an effort to disguise the contempt for poor, elderly and brown people. Maybe chuck a few hundred bucks in with the instant noodles and Ma Ling luncheon meat, for the inconvenience? It makes you wonder what happened in Wuhan. (Official statement tries to sound sensitive.)
After putting 7,000 under house arrest – many in crowded and unsanitary subdivided apartments – officials find only a dozen or so positive cases. So was it panicky, heartless incompetence? Or did the lockdown yield useful and reassuring results, marred by an unfortunate dash of giving-Muslims-pork?
Philip Bowring criticizes the whole pandemic strategy as disproportionate. The negligible impact of Covid on the city’s death rate seems to bear this out – but of course we could argue that at least some of the measures have helped keep Covid at bay. For all we know, if the government hadn’t closed the beaches, half of us would now be dead. If the authorities just pretended to know what they were doing, it would help. After all, apart from freak places like Taiwan and New Zealand, the whole world has been clueless.
As it is, citizens are left with the impression that the administration’s priorities reflect a traditionally dismal quality of governance, amplified by the malignance of the NatSec-era. It seems the number-one priority is to make sure all decisions on vaccines and travel restrictions please the CCP. Next comes the need to exploit the health crisis to suppress political protests and opposition. Third is to minimize the economic and social impact on our friends. Looking after the local community comes last.
Some good background on the origins of China’s court system in this SCMP piece by Jerome Cohen on the grim outlook for Hong Kong’s judicial independence…
Beijing and its Hong Kong agents have now made it clearer than ever that they expect Hong Kong judges to behave like their mainland counterparts. Local lawyers, especially barristers who specialise in criminal defence, should not believe they will be exempt from similar pressures.
Liberal Studies assignment is to watch an in-depth video presented by Alexei Navalny on the corruption of his poisoner Vladimir Putin, exemplified by an immensely tacky Putin’s Palace. Looking forward to the one on Xi Jinping. (Found the place on Google Maps here.)