UK leaves judges’ pullout for another day

The UK Supreme Court decides that two of its top justices will, for the time being, remain as non-permanent judges on Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal. 

Many find this an inexplicable and shameful endorsement of a system that no longer protects citizens’ rights but sides with a politicized prosecutions function – ‘the best piece of free PR that Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has had in years’.

A less critical view notes that, while the government will welcome this as a vote of confidence, the UK judges’ announcement was cautiously worded, and much of the legal profession in Hong Kong also wants overseas judges to stay on the CFA. (Conversely, the CCP-loyalist crowd dislike foreign judges and would welcome their departure.)

This thread argues that UKSC made the ‘right call’. Essentially: the Hong Kong judiciary is still technically independent, even if Beijing’s NatSec law and other edicts have reduced its power; and the CFA is still in theory able to use its powers to protect rule of law. In other words, it’s better that the UK judges stay on the CFA for now while there’s a possibility they can do some good. 

This implies that it’s a matter of timing: at some point in the future, the withdrawal of serving British judges (and probably several retired ones) from the CFA will have a greater impact than it would now. (The same goes for imposing Magnitsky-style sanctions on NatSec regime officials, which the UK is also yet to do.)

While the UK hesitates on pulling its judges, Hong Kong activists set up digital archives of the city’s pro-democracy past.

The last memo from Bleak House Books. HKFP story here.

And Variety on film-makers’ responses to the NatSec regime’s extension of film censorship.

Some worthwhile reading on Beijing’s media influencing and shifting approach to the private sector… 

How disinformation on Hong Kong spread in Malaysia.

A look at the Beijing-centric content (typically older) Sinophone Singaporeans get in their local Chinese-language media.

Kevin Carrico on Chinese state-media propagandists who pose as independent journalists.

Nothing very new, but a War on the Rocks explainer in case you haven’t been following Beijing’s clampdown on China’s tech tycoons…

Xi Jinping will likely be confirmed as leader for at least another term — if not for life. China’s billionaires, seen as occupying rival centers of power and influence in the country, are being put in their place.

…leading to ‘a sudden outburst of philanthropic activity’.

Willy Lo Lap-lam on Xi’s ‘Common Prosperity’ thing

In Scholar’s Stage, a review of a book on the USSR as a ‘failed empire’ includes a discussion (towards the end) on whether Xi Jinping’s enthusiasm for a return to earlier Marxist-Maoist values is a sort of Chinese boomer-nostalgia thing.

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6 Responses to UK leaves judges’ pullout for another day

  1. Pope Innocent says:

    Everyone is keen to uphold the illusion of the rule of law in Hong Kong because no-one wants to get off the gravy train if they can avoid it. It is not only Stinky Ping and his party who benefit, everyone around the world wants to keep extracting money from China while the good times last, even if they can see the sun is setting, little by little.

    Speaking of which, it is fascinating, if a little depressing, that a few commentators including this once-illustrious blog continue to pick apart the minutae of what is essentially the eradication of everything that was Hong Kong and its replacement by a clockwork orange. Reading this blog reminds me (well, I cannot tell a lie because that would get me in big trouble – He Upstairs reminded me) of a line which went something like: “You’re floating in a tiny little boat on a river of shit, yet you reach in and fish out a turd to say, ‘Now, this turd really pisses me off!'” No-one, except perhaps that earnest young Mark Bradley, pretends that anything they loved about Hong Kong still has a hope of revival. Those who have not left yet, or feel they cannot, survive by keeping their head down and not thinking about the hell they live in. Every day the ranks of those who want to stay just a little bit longer to make just a little more money shrink, as the balance shifts in favour of getting out now. Hong Kong is a historical footnote, Xiāng gǎng is just around the corner. Time to move on, gentlemen.

  2. Law student in London says:

    I am reminded of something Philip Dykes’ said last year, which unusually for things of this sort has aged quite gracefully: ‘You cannot be slightly independent any more than you can be slightly pregnant.’

    The argument for UKSC judges to remain as (fossilised) canaries in the coal mine would make sense if there was a realistic possibility that Hong Kong’s legal system was salvageable. It is not. There is no ‘doing good’ or any good to be done from the perspective of foreign judges except to grant this convulsing carcass swift mercy.

    Recall also that not three months ago Baroness Hale opted out of being reappointed as a non-permanent judge of the region, saying, among other things that ‘Principally, I cannot foresee a time when I would actually want to get on a plane to go to Hong Kong.’

    The real reason aside from judicial naivete which is best left unsaid is that there is still much money to be made in Hong Kong and by staying the UKSC judges throw a gilded fig leaf to the Hong Kong judicial system that is now being assimilated into Chinese Natsec machinery.

  3. Chinese Netizen says:

    @Law student… VERY well said.

  4. Mark Bradley says:

    “No-one, except perhaps that earnest young Mark Bradley, pretends that anything they loved about Hong Kong still has a hope of revival.”

    I only think there’s a chance of revival if the CCP collapses, but there’s a good chance that CCP will outlive us all.

  5. Siu Jiu says:

    @Law student in London: 100%. There is no realistic chance of “doing good” within the HK judicial system. Any ruling that actually is independent of the CCP’s wishes will simply be appealed and overturned with a different set of bought-and-paid-for judges. The UKSC are either blind and incompetent or vicious and avaricious.

  6. Kung Fu Fat Man says:

    Surely the foreign judges appointed to the CFA have fat chance of being selected for any case of significance? They are supremely naive if they think otherwise.

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