The Court of Final Appeal rules that Jimmy Lai cannot get bail while awaiting his NatSec trial (‘collusion with foreign forces’ – also known as meeting Americans and Tweeting). The court basically says its hands are tied by Beijing’s NatSec Law, which inverts the usual presumption in favour of bail, and perhaps makes it virtually impossible.
The implication is that you are now in the NatSec Parallel Universe, where the protections you thought you had under the Basic Law or ICCPR (or juries) do not exist. This could mean that if you are charged with a NatSec thought-crime like inciting secession, you are wasting your breath claiming ‘freedom of speech/expression/the press’. NatSec overrides all those fancy freedoms and rights. The Court of Final Appeal essentially has no jurisdiction; the CCP is the law. (See comments here and here, and from HK Watch.). You are screwed.
But what did you expect? If the CFA had come up with a different decision, Beijing would simply sweep the judgement aside in some way. Maybe that was the topic at the mystery meeting between the Chief Executive and the Chief Justice: we are all screwed.
On a relatively light note, the HK Police have gone back to discovering dastardly scary bomb-outrage terrorism plots again. Will anything come of this one? There were several others last year – police making a big show after finding stockpiles of beer bottles, fertilizer, toenail-clippers, etc – and the cases mysteriously vanished without a trace, as if they were fabricated stunts designed to make widely reviled cops feel they were heroes.
In case you are a Hongkonger of Chinese descent and are arrested for such a terrorist plot (say, possession of suspicious quantities of chewing gum) and you’d like your friendly Canadian or whatever Consul to come and see you, bear in mind that the Hong Kong government has suddenly decided to stop recognizing dual nationality. This conforms with international practice, but it raises the obvious question of why it was not observed for 23 years since the handover. Answer: to finesse the contradiction that hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers hold foreign passports while simultaneously living here as Hong Kong PRC citizens – at a time when Beijing was in the mood to be flexible despite its phobia about dual nationality. In short, the CCP has closed a loophole in order to assert full ownership of the emperor’s subjects.
And the government wants to introduce a law against disseminating ‘fake news’, because what self-respecting authoritarian regime doesn’t do that? This is on top of the disinterment of
colonial Elizabethan sedition laws. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that, before long, one brief outburst of satire could land you in prison for NatSec, for ‘fake news’ and for incitement-of-disaffection offenses.
We’re not finished. Because brainwashing primary-school students isn’t enough, the government will be educating its own civil servants in the new correct understanding of the NatSec-era order. All that stuff we said in the past about the Basic Law and a high degree of autonomy was wrong. This is the new truth.
If it’s any consolation for the endless horrors, the CCP is increasingly treating the local pro-Beijing loyalists like little kids. And recent reports about companies leaving Hong Kong out of legal contracts has obviously hit a raw nerve among officials (note hasty Chinglish in copy).
So Happy Cow Year! Some holiday links…
Alvin Cheung in Critical Asian Studies journal has a (concise) go at those China-watchers, ‘experts’, panda-huggers and tankies who still find it hard to admit the CCP is crushing Hong Kong.
Also on an academic note, Kevin Carrico on Hong Kong’s universities under the NatSec Regime.
What is left of Hong Kong’s universities today, then, is thousands of scholars and students who came of age in a free learning environment and are now facing an unfree environment that is only likely to become ever more repressive.
The HK Monetary Authority’s boss issues a Q&A painting a rosy picture of capital flows and talent retention – following reports by the usual bad elements (FT, Bloomberg, etc) about funds and bankers fleeing to Singapore or elsewhere, out of the reach of the CCP. Influxes of Mainland capital and financial professionals keep the numbers looking good.
A 30-minute ABC Australia video on the ‘crushing of a rebellion’ and what Hong Kong protesters are now doing.
Jerome Cohen on an Irish businessman held hostage in China for two years…
Why any multinational corporation would allow its employees to travel to China to settle a dispute is beyond me.
That was quick. Human Rights Watch bids farewell to Clubhouse on the Mainland.
PIIE on why Trump’s China trade deal was a flop (more about the US than the Chinese economy, but interesting).
On more worldly matters…
For hardcore market followers only, John Hussman on why this is a bubble…
…Fed easing “supports” the stock market only by affecting investor psychology. The Fed buys interest-bearing securities and replaces them with zero-interest base money…
You can try to get “out of” cash by buying stocks, but only by bidding up stock prices enough for a seller to accept the cash in return … the psychological impulse to own something other than cash, regardless of price, has created a situation where stock market valuations have been bid up to levels that imply negative S&P 500 total returns for well over 12 years.
And a really cool time-waster: radio garden – links to zillions of radio stations via Google Earth.