A selection of weekend reading…

The Diplomat on Beijing’s ‘improvement’ of Hong Kong’s election system. It’s not a reform or even regression – it’s an old CCP practice of… 

…sociopolitical surgeries, which swap out the essence of established concepts or institutions but keep their names…

Louisa Lim, author of People’s Republic of Amnesia (and not happy after learning of this), about Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong and the attempt to make 6-4 disappear from the city’s consciousness.

From ASPI Strategist – why Beijing thinks it can get away with being heavy-handed on the world stage…

The answer seems to be Beijing’s ‘Tiananmen calculation’—a brutally cynical assessment that the Chinese Communist Party can use its growing military, technological and economic power as it wishes because the consequences are low and the benefits high.

On the other hand, Bloomberg argues that the wolf-warrior diplomacy thing is backfiring

…they have picked fights everywhere from Brazil to Papua New Guinea. In March of last year, Zhao Lijian, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, prompted outrage in the U.S. when he repeatedly promoted an unsubstantiated—and absurd— theory about the origin of Covid-19, claiming it had been brought to Wuhan by visiting American athletes.

Before Xi Jinping took power, China had a lot of friends in foreign think-tanks, universities, governments and other quarters where being well-disposed towards China was considered modern/sophisticated/enlightened. Now, the ‘Panda-hugger’ mindset is in retreat (except, as the ASPI story says, among Western businesses besotted with ‘opportunities’). It doesn’t help that Xi-style rule discourages moderation in the hierarchy. In a top-down dictatorial environment, a policy advisor or administrator who urges or exercises caution is liable to be criticized by rivals (‘being soft on hostile foreign/splittist forces’) and penalized. No Beijing official ever got denounced for being too obnoxious to foreigners or (say) too psychopathic towards Hong Kong.

For armchair generals, National Interest discusses possible responses to Chinese plans (if any) to invade Taiwan.

Forbes on Beijing’s ‘rectification’ of Jack Ma, including the transfer of business to Huarong…

It’s as though the U.S. government had said to Facebook, “Mr. Zuckerberg, say Hello to your new partner, Bernie Madoff.”

Quartz mentions another example of a tech company blotting its copybook – a shopping app innocently wishing everyone a nice Friday, June 4.

If you’re trying to get My Little Airport tickets – they sold out almost instantly. Of course, you can still get them.

Alternatively, you can watch a documentary about peroxide-blond David Bowie’s tour of Asia in 1984, including a junk trip next to the Jumbo floating restaurant (12 mins 30) where he shares his thoughts on Hong Kong’s fate in 1997 – ‘the media say it’s going to be a catastrophe’. (Sound quality not great, but the Spanish subtitles might help.)

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