Plan B

I went to my first NatSec-era ‘leaving party’ a couple of weeks back – a farewell gathering for someone who had decided to get out of Hong Kong sooner rather than later. A small sign at the door stressed that the proceedings would remain confidential, but let’s say that among topics of conversation were: Are we being paranoid? Are we being paranoid enough?

Everyone has their own red lines. For some it is obviously personal or family safety. For many (maybe the majority of emigres so far?) it is kids – their education and their long-term happiness. For a fair number of us, it might be creeping Internet censorship and surveillance, or the nagging possibility of asset-seizure or a summary exit-ban. For some, maybe a fall in rents, or lack of an attractive alternative location, might tilt the balance in favour of staying in the only place they call home. At least until things get worse.

Online news outfit Initium is moving to Singapore, which is an odd, but maybe telling, choice. It is not a rabid anti-CCP operation.

Veteran journalist Steve Vines is moving to the UK after reportedly receiving threats – probably as a result of outspoken hosting of RTHK TV current affairs shows.

And artist Kacey Wong is off to Taichung (probably the coolest city in Taiwan, though I’d be tempted by Tainan). This time last year, he was optimistic about the future. Things are changing fast.

For context – Simon Cartledge’s diary in LRB

Beijing knows it doesn’t have the support of most of the population and that the only way forward is coercion…

Trust between the government and the population is in tatters. This will take decades to play out. It’s too early to say who’s fucked.

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16 Responses to Plan B

  1. Paul says:

    Steve Vines was optimistic this time last year?
    But now, several times every week something happens in Hong Kong that just a few years ago would be a major front page story (to use an old analogy) for days and days.
    It would be something so unbelievable, so amazing, so anger inducing among the general population that everyone would be talking about it and following up on the story.
    But now, we wake up every day and check the news and just shake our heads.
    I feel sad for the young people of Hong Kong, and their future.

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    Where will HKFP (eventually) go especially with the HK part of HKFP becoming untenable? Taiwan? Dark days, indeed.

    Please keep detailed records of the complicit, enabling useful idiots for future reference.

  3. D3SH says:

    I don’t think the government really cares about HKFP, Chinese Netizen. It’s not a major Chinese-language rabble-rouser like Apple Daily. It’s not an international news organisation with heft like the FT.

    No matter how valuable its service, the percentage of the population of Hong Kong that reads HKFP is likely minute. It’s probably more hassle than it’s worth to shutter HFKP. Same with SCMP, to be honest (though they do such an admirable job of self-censorship and supporting the regime anyway).

    Not to mention, both publications allow the government to present to the West the fig leaf of a free press in a language they can read.

  4. donkey says:

    Threats to journalists are not new. Can someone refresh my memory? I believe that in the early 2000s at least three journalists were attacked, one of them mercilessly with a large machete-like knife / butcher cleaver, and he was able to heal and return to work. And then a few years ago, my memory is shady, but I think there was another one, who retired. What were the reasons for the threats against them? Was it their anti-China stances or something else?

  5. pd says:

    Here in rural France, people have hardly heard of Hong Kong. I can see no hope at all for the future of the territory (“city” since 1997). Which makes Hemlock’s uphill battle for the truth all the more praiseworthy, whatever he ultimately decides for his own future.

  6. where's my jet plane says:

    Anti-sanctions law will be wielded with care, vows Hong Kong justice minister

    HO-fucking-Ho! Who is she trying to kid?

  7. Gooddog says:

    I’m resigned to the fact that one day I will click on this link and I will get a goodbye/offline message. That will be a sad day but no need to go down with the ship Hemmers. Grab a lifeboat while you can. No need to be a martyr. You’ve fought the good fight. You have been a light in the growing darkness.

    It’s like the Elves leaving Middle Earth. We had a good run. We participated in the most liberal/most free city in all Asia. We just did not want it to end – but it has. Sometimes bad things happen. Sigh.

  8. HillnotPeak says:

    What % of the Hong Kong people can actually leave, 5%, 10%? You need money and skills, next to be able to adapt a foreign culture, to successfully live abroad.
    I think the CCP and their local fans don’t mind these citizens are leaving, in their eyes they are troublemakers, they basically don’t care.
    They fill the gaps with mainlanders.
    It is sad to see it happening but unless something major happens in China, this is the future for Hong Kong.

  9. Real Attacks Later says:

    they’re exactly the same people, donkey, only back then they were constrained by the system hemlock paid lip-service to for all these years while ‘watching the sun set’ on it. Now at the first hint of direct costs to his and his smug mate’s well-being, hemlock and the rest of these utter mercenaries are abandoning ship, leaving us, the progeny of their effete, nihilist, fatalist, fence-sitting, hand-wringing cowardliness as the collateral collected on their utter utter failure here.

  10. Guest says:

    @donkey: I believe you’re referring to radio host Albert Cheng. He was attacked by men wielding butcher knives in 1998.

    He also writes for the SCMP, but his last column for it came out in March.

  11. Chinese Netizen says:

    @D3SH: I suppose you’re right but never underestimate the childishly vindictive pettiness of the CCP. HKFP is still too much of a rebel. Not fully slammed into place like the SCCPMP with even a Party Secretary on board to discuss daily news focus direction based on guidance from Sheung Wan.

  12. Low Profile says:

    @donkey – there was also the attack on former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau in 2014, which triggered mass protests in Hong Kong, and just recently Leung Zhen, a writer for Epoch Times (Falun Gong’s paper), was attacked. Epoch Times has also seen its printing presses damaged by attackers this year. If you go back further, radio commentator Lam Bun was murdered during the 1967 riots.

  13. Stanley Lieber says:

    People who had enough assets & money in the bank on 1 July 2020 to cover foreseeable living expenses until death can stay in Hong Kong undisturbed as long as they keep their mouths shut. However, dreams of making that pile grow have gone “poof!” unless one is visibly and vocally cheering on the correct team.

    It is not too early to tell Mr. Cartledge that everyone who falls outside of the cohort described above is fucked.

  14. Toph says:

    @Stanley: Just because some people bend over willingly doesn’t mean they are not also fucked.

  15. Chinese Netizen says:

    Yes, lower tier useful idiots definitely have a limited shelf life.

  16. Stanley Lieber says:


    Indeed. Our respective observations are not mutually exclusive.

Comments are closed.