As if by a miracle, after weeks and weeks of apparent dithering, Hong Kong’s long-awaited roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations suddenly falls into place: the experts give Sinovac their (kind of fudged, under no pressure) approval, and the government promptly announces that a million doses are on the way, and jabs start any day. Starting with vulnerable groups.
The trick now will be to convince the public that the Mainland vaccine is OK. (Top officials are receiving Sinovac to prove that the stuff doesn’t have nasty side-effects such as cognitive impairment – like we’ll be able to tell the difference.)
It’s important! It’s not just about keeping the rabble from falling sick and dying – it’s about giving face to the almighty Party-State in Beijing.
How different things might be if people had some faith in the government. Instead, most of us feel that the best way to ‘leave home safe’ is not to download the official tracking app of that name. There was a time when most non-paranoids would feel fine about the system. Now, even the most forgiving and guileless of us assume the CCP will harvest everyone’s personal data if it gets the chance.
Which brings us rather neatly to today’s round-up (not to be confused with yesterday’s) of reasons not to trust this regime…
Of course the High Court falls into line with the Court of Final Appeal and denies Jimmy Lai bail. Beijing has hinted via its state media that the case could be transferred to the Mainland if our judges play their old presumption-of-innocence tricks. Even extreme bail conditions are not vindictive enough for his National Security crimes of – essentially – meeting foreigners and Tweeting.
DW notes the barely perceptible slice-by-slice advance of Internet censorship in Hong Kong. So far, it’s just a few sites. Then another. At some point, it will be Wikipedia, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, NYT, BBC, etc. At what point will each of us first find a site we want is blocked?
And a prosecutor joins the Liaison Office – presumably to help ‘liaise’ the Department of Justice in the right direction.
A selection of interesting links for the weekend…
Looks like someone at RTHK didn’t get the memo about ‘positive energy’. The little report on the priciest apartment (in price per sq ft terms) to be sold in Hong Kong intriguingly strays toward issues like social inequality and discontent. Or should we say ‘contextualizes’? A para on money-laundering would have made the item complete. The Tatler waxes orgasmic about the HK$459 million property – but maybe we should be skeptical. Who would spend US$59 million on any apartment, anywhere? Why? (‘Three parking spaces and a pool’ doesn’t quite cut it.)
Hong Kong’s stats show a decline in population. Interpret with caution. Quite a few people have decamped to the other side of the border because of the pandemic. The fall in births – to below the number of deaths – is perhaps more a sign of socio-political uncertainty
Foreign Policy looks Chinese taking to the Clubhouse app to make obscenely libellous fun of Global Times editor Hu ‘Frisbee’ Xijin. And Howard French looks back at the few days when Mainlanders shared online space with the rest of the world.
A mag called Protocol explains how, with a relatively unsophisticated traditional retail banking sector, Chinese microlending is getting weird and dangerous…
“…now even the photo editing app tells me it can lend me money…”
News.com.au reports that Beijing is making Chinese people freeze in order to send the message that small countries must obey it.
From Fast Company, Chinese conspiracy theories about Covid-19. Sort of like American ones, but the other way round.
Foreign Affairs looks at the colonial origins of China’s Xinjiang policy…
In pleading with Beijing to change its policies in the region, outsiders are in effect asking China to be a very different nation-state than the one it has chosen to be.
Trying too hard to be edgy and clever, the Economist recently ran an editorial arguing that what is happening in Xinjiang isn’t genocide. (‘Genocide’ means ‘killing a people’, and there are still lots of Uighurs alive – get it?) The newspaper was inundated with complaints, of which this is one.
CMP dissects the contradictions in CGTN/CCTV’s whining after the UK regulator withdrew its broadcasting licence – essentially for being under CCP control, as the channel proudly proclaims itself to be domestically. Maybe the UK will now examine how British universities have become hooked on Chinese money.
And lastly, for your musical pleasure, another radio-type website – radioooo.com. This is actually not linking to real stations, but to streams of music that would have been broadcast at a particular time and place. Egypt in the 1950s is rather good. A serious time-waster.