You’re stuck here either way

The government’s immigration amendments are officially designed to stop asylum-seekers getting on planes at their embarkation port. But the wording (or lack of it) could also enable the authorities to bar specific residents from leaving Hong Kong. A quick Google search shows Reuters, Bloomberg, FT, SBS, Al Jaz, Japan Times, Taipei Times, UPI and more all reporting about possible ‘exit bans’. No doubt we can believe official assurances that there is nothing to worry about – assuming the CCP can be trusted not to use a new ‘rule by law’ power to intimidate, torment or trap critics and dissidents.

Finding it very hard to get enthused about a ‘travel bubble’ between Hong Kong and Singapore. I was last in Singapore in (flicks through mental passport)… 1996. Main memory: SU-27 thrust vectoring at air show. Since then, I’ve been to the US and UK probably a dozen times; the Mainland at least as often; Taiwan maybe eight to 10 times; Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia multiple times; Thailand, Philippines, France, blah blah blah, even Cambodia, at least once. But not Singapore. Nothing personal, just no compelling reason to go there.

Even a bubble with Macau is apparently too difficult to arrange.

How about fixing the whole mess? As David Webb says, the Singapore ‘bubble’ is not a real free-travel zone. He also points out that Hong Kong’s three-week hotel-quarantine requirement actually increases the spread of Covid-19. (Has anyone told the government this? I mean anyone they haven’t put in jail yet?)

Even going out in Hong Kong seems more trouble than it’s worth. The new ‘domestic bubbles’ regime creates four four categories of restaurant – bewildering permutations of customers per table/operating hours/tables occupied, depending on whether staff and customers are vaccinated/whether location uses the widely-shunned official tracking app/whether the TV is tuned to the All Carrie Lam, All Day Show with special guest star Bunny Chan. (Table here.)

If I’m reading it right, the unvaccinated have to go to bed early, while the vaccinated are allowed to stay up late as a special treat.

It’s hard to tell whether the government is coming up with ineffective solutions on purpose or just through ineptitude. I would guess officials are partly torn by the CCP’s demand to find excuses to ban protests, but otherwise it’s mainly just bureaucratic idiocy. Hong Kong civil servants have a long history of focussing on elaborately detailed process rather than plain outcomes. It helps pass the time before collecting the huge pension.

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14 Responses to You’re stuck here either way

  1. Ho Ma Fan says:

    What I thought you were going to say, based on the title, was that even if the ability to prevent “exiteers” from departing from Hong Kong, those who emigrate with a BNO will be prevented from returning in the future. When faced with this possibility, I suspect that many would be emigres decide to stay put. After all, blood is thicker than water.

  2. Sam Clemens says:

    This kerfuffle about “exit bans” is much ado about nothing.

    The NSL killed the rule of law in Hong Kong on 1 July 2020.

    We’re just recording the measurements of the corpse now.

    The NSL guys were always going to detain whomever they wanted.

    This latest move is just spelling it out for the dummies.

    Can there possibly be any rose-coloured glasses left to fall?

  3. YTSL says:

    “If I’m reading it right, the unvaccinated have to go to bed early, while the vaccinated are allowed to stay up late as a special treat.”

    Because they are so obsessed with getting people to use the LeaveHomeSafe app, even if you’ve been (doubly) vaccinated, it doesn’t do you much good as far as staying out late is concerned if you won’t use that piece of — what IT friends have told/warned me is — spyware. More re that app: it doesn’t seem to do what they say it’s supposed to do as I’ve heard of instances where people were not alerted, as they’re supposed to be, to having been in a place at a time when someone subsequently discovered to be infected were!

  4. where's my jet plane says:

    I suspect that it may not just be preventing those who emigrated with a BNO passport from returning but includes any resident, even with an SAR passport, who is regarded as an undesirable as returning either from a business or holiday trip.

  5. Mark Bradley says:

    “This kerfuffle about “exit bans” is much ado about nothing.

    The NSL killed the rule of law in Hong Kong on 1 July 2020.”

    This is my view as well. Who cares anymore. Rule of law is dead and Bar Association is being treated like some kind of radical HK nationalist party. The unsophisticated thugs in the LO have no idea what “rule of law” means and they have more in common with John Gotti than they do with statesmen and politicians.

  6. Chinese Netizen says:

    “…they have more in common with John Gotti than they do with statesmen and politicians.”

    I’d say they have more in common with the top ten commies in Zhongnanhai. Birds of a feather. At least Gotti was a true blue Mafioso who really didn’t pretend to be otherwise.

  7. donkey says:

    They may have fixed it with today’s app update, but the LeaveHomeInAStateOfSiege app had an annoying habit of actually counting down the time till exiting the restaurant in “minutes” rather than hours.

    Put another way, when you signed into the app and notified your presence at a restaurant, you are able to chose when the app automatically signs you out of the restaurant — one hour, two hour, three hours after you arrive (I guess to make it easier for you to have your dinner and pay the bill and not have to worry about another step of signing out of the restaurant). But I tried it. I noticed that instead of two hours it was one minute and 59 seconds. I took this to mean that many people were signing in and assuming their presence would be recorded for two hours, when in fact it was recorded for one minute, two minutes, or three minutes.

    In this case, I wonder if there have been thousands of people who are untraceable and unable to be called in for testing simply because the app does not register them as having been at the establishment long enough to be a suspected case?

    I don’t trust anything that the government puts together and I hope to leave Hong Kong by the end of the year.

  8. Mark Bradley says:

    “if you won’t use that piece of — what IT friends have told/warned me is — spyware.”

    IT person here. It’s not spyware. I’ve used the wireshark packet sniffer on it and it makes no outbound connections when you scan a QR code. It stores data locally on your phone (where it’s also easy to manipulate).

    Yes normally I would be wary of running a PRC-adjacent app on my iphone, but you know how the government in HK works. They hire the lowest most incompetent bidder in order to “save” money rather than doing a proper software implementation. Didn’t anyone notice how crap all of the government apps are? They couldn’t make this spyware even if they wanted to. It’s definitely a piece of shit though.

    This app is a glorified electronic journal. I don’t blame HKers for shunning it though.

  9. Mark Bradley says:

    “I suspect that it may not just be preventing those who emigrated with a BNO passport from returning but includes any resident”

    How would the SAR government know if someone emigrated with a BNO when they can leave HK with their SAR passport? And UK government isn’t going to disclose how said HKers received their residency and citizenship. It could be through employment or other means. I supposed the government could assume that it’s via BNO, but I don’t think they’ll do anything unless that person is violating the NSL. However if they are violating NSL, they’ll want them to come back to HK so they can be arrested and prosecuted.

    Besides isn’t CCP’s policy on HK supposed to be like the East German poem “The Solution”? “To dissolve the people And elect another?” Why would CCP care if they leave? There’s plenty of mainland people willing to become “New Hong Kongers”.

  10. Low Profile says:

    Apparently over-65s will be exempt from using the LeaveHomeandBeSpiedOnAfter6pm app – which makes no sense at all in terms of what it is supposed to achieve.

  11. A Poor Man says:

    Mark Bradley – The government will know if the MPF authority reports that you have tried to withdraw your money on the basis of emmigration.

  12. Mark Bradley says:

    “Mark Bradley – The government will know if the MPF authority reports that you have tried to withdraw your money on the basis of emmigration.”

    Again this doesn’t prove they are emigrating with BNO. Can be another residency scheme.

  13. Sam Clemens says:

    The NSL made crystal clear that from now on the CCP authorities alone will decide whether one remains free or one is jailed, whether one is allowed to stay in Hong Kong or whether one is allowed to leave, whether one is able to access one’s MPF money or whether one is prevented from doing so, and anything else they feel like adding to the list.

    “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. We don’t have to show you any stinking badges!”

    How does one say that in Mandarin?

  14. Stephen says:

    As someone whose left, but still attached, I can assure you the Government knows your leaving, if you would like to take your MPF monies with you. A trip to the Home Affairs Department is required to recite a few lines and your details recorded.

    I imagine the new law will firstly target any “Ted’s” or “Nathan’s” out there who have not gone through the CCP’s “judicial process” and have the audacity to interfere with China’s internal affairs from the evil west !

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