Suzanne Sataline a couple of weeks ago looked at the reasons behind the trial of the ‘Grey-Haired Seven’ – Martin Lee, Margaret Ng, Jimmy Lai, Long Hair et al. On Friday, they received prison sentences. At the same time, Jimmy Lai had new NatSec charges brought against him (‘conspiracy’ variants of charges like ‘collusion with foreign powers’), and he appeared in court in connection with the ‘fraud’ case against him.
The whole rigmarole looks carefully pre-scripted: suspended sentences for the moderate/older (and most venerable) defendants, thus avoiding extreme outrage at callousness; imprisonment (for peaceful assembly among a crowd of a million or more) for the more radical/less aged, backed by feeble justifications from the judge; and simultaneous additional legal skewerings for Jimmy Lai – pure sadism by the CCP in revenge for his refusal to kowtow ever since calling Li Peng a ‘turtle-egg’. They will be happy if he dies in prison.
The CCP simply does not understand that you cannot bludgeon and incarcerate people into loving a totalitarian and corrupt regime.
All those who are conniving at destroying the Hong Kong loved by the world will be remembered in shame, even as, in due course, they scurry off from HK clutching their foreign passports.
With peaceful assembly by government opponents now de facto illegal, it’s going to be the media’s turn. Top officials are already talking of laws against ‘fake news’ – meaning anything that counters the CCP line. Police Commissioner Chris Tang is the latest to call for such censorship after Apple Daily carried negative comments about the HK Police NatSec Fun Day ‘kids with toy guns on MTR’ photo. (The photo was not faked; what Tang should really do is fire the idiot who came up with the ‘kids-guns-MTR’ idea.)
A Ta Kung Pao op-ed demands that Apple Daily be shut down (for ‘promoting Hong Kong independence’ – reporting some Hong Kong-related billboards in the UK). Wen Wei Po has joined in, adding Stand News and the HK Journalists Association for good measure. When these Beijing-run papers call for something these days, it happens quickly. What’s the betting that the Hong Kong Apple Daily will be shut down by year-end? How long before wholesale blocking of websites begins?
In the meantime – an activist group looking at Andy Li’s case predicts – we will start having forced confessions. Luke de Pulford thinks the CCP will specifically make Andy Li frame elders like Martin Lee and Margaret Ng to create a ‘unified pan-dem plot’ conspiracy story. Simon Shen in The Diplomat exposes the fallacy of this idea with this survey of the ‘factions’ of pan-dems. (A slightly less dark/more naive reading is that heavier sentencing for more radical ones like Long Hair indicates that Beijing sees a point in trying to divide what is left of the pan-dem camp.)
And Beijing’s NatSec Office is expanding into the Island Pacific Hotel in Sai Ying Pun (not far from the Liaison Office). Their first task, perhaps, will be compiling huge accept/reject lists of ‘election’ candidates for the vetting/nomination process. After that, they have so much more to do.
A reminder that it’s not just Hongkongers – from one democratic free island nation to another, an appreciation of Plucky Icelander of the Week, Jonas Haraldsson.