Candidates for the new-style all-patriot Election Committee must disclose extensive details of past employment, foreign passports/residency (including spouse’s), ‘political’ plus (apparently) media/academic connections – and their friends and family will also be vetted. What’s weird about this is that the EC is in practice a ceremonial body with no real powers. But this is classic CCP-enforced righteousness. Shoe-shiners wanting the social cachet of being an EC member will now have to sweat for it.
On the subject of integrity, top Hong Kong officials are punished for breaking social-distancing laws over hotpot with just a small fine, while ordinary folks get arrested for shopping or picnicking – and Carrie gets flustered at the criticism. And a judge warns Yuen Long thugs of stiff sentences. Savour such tales of bureaucratic transparency and judicial independence while you can.
Beijing’s officials are really scrubbing the SARs clean. Pan-dems in Macau – a small but hardy bunch – are banned from the gambling enclave’s pseudo-elections. Again, the legislative body there is powerless anyway, and Macau has a small, docile, Mainlander-heavy population and is already under tight Beijing control. Xi must have ideological uniformity.
RFA reports on the extension of NatSec surveillance into universities, through official encouragement of student-teacher snitching. Not creepy at all.
Small wonder that people are leaving. As this Bloomberg op-ed points out, it’s difficult to measure the number of people emigrating. The net departures in the Immigration Dept figures include expat workers leaving because of Covid and not being replaced, from laid-off pilots to domestic helpers. There will be some Hong Kong-resident Mainlanders moving back over the border for the same reason. The rest must mainly be the middle-class refugees fleeing to the UK or Canada. And unlike the emigration of the 1980s-90s, these people are not getting an insurance policy – they’re cashing one in.
Local officials’ bravado over emigration suggests they find this a touchy subject, though Beijing’s overseers surely find satisfaction in seeing unpatriotic ingrates depart, and in tormenting them by withholding their MPF retirement funds.
All we can say is that lots of people – especially those with kids – are talking about it, and most of us know someone making serious preparations to go. One possible indication of how many: dozens of YouTube channels offering tips on housing, jobs and life generally in Manchester, Watford, Cardiff, Nottingham, Edinburgh, more Manchester, and almost any other city (did you know the small and obscure city of Hull has a social centre for Chinese elderly?). Some videos are by property agents, but many are emigres sharing experience – a new YouTube binge-category ‘Hongkongers in British suburbs’ is born. Their delight at the size and price of their new houses suggests they’re not coming back to Hong Kong soon.