Number 8 Signal, which went up over 12 hours before the bad weather hit. It is dangerous to go swimming or sailing off the coast, therefore all offices downtown must close. Can Hong Kong think of a better system than requiring innocent meteorologists to decide, on the basis of atmospheric pressure or precise proximity of a cyclone, whether kids should go to school or not?
Beijing’s Liaison Office conducts a vast opinion-gathering exercise among the Hong Kong community, and gives Carrie Lam a suitably huge list of 500 things to do. Can’t remember them coming to my neighbourhood, but no doubt they canvassed United Front ‘various sectors’. In other words, a facile public performance – the bureaucratic version of PLA soldiers living off snow for a week, or the guy who dangles a block of concrete from his genitals. The Office itself says it aims to give the impression that the central government cares deeply about local people.
The symbolism is also of course designed to humiliate the local administration. Carrie – not fully aware of the scale of the consultation – both welcomes it and implies it’s unnecessary. If Beijing’s officials calculate that they might win a few hearts and minds by slapping the puppets around, they’re probably not wrong.
Some assorted reading for the next few days…
The Hong Kong government takes a break from railing against fake news to spread fake news – on whether disqualified District Council members would be liable to repay past pay and allowances.
Despite official boasts about attracting overseas companies, a breakdown shows those from the Mainland are rising while the rest are declining.
Neville Sarony dislikes quarantine…
So how can 21 days of quarantine be justified for people who have received double vaccination, tested positive for antibodies, undergone PCR tests before being incarcerated and then every three days thereafter?
If the plan is to destroy Hong Kong as an international business centre, it is little less than brilliant. If not, it is dumb.
A Q&A from Owens Trodd medical practice is similarly unimpressed with Hong Kong’s current Covid approach.
To put 21 days in perspective, China kept its two Canadian hostages for nearly three years. For an idea of how inhumanely boring solitary confinement must be, Michael Kovrig is following me on Twitter. (He also follows lots of really interesting people.)
A great interview with Michael Pettis on the future of the Chinese economy if and when it abandons ‘fictitious’ GDP growth…
…it’s very hard to justify an economy that is two thirds the size of the US, with having property that is worth twice as much as US property is worth. It’s not as if US property is cheap. It’s probably too expensive in the US too, which means it’s incredibly expensive in China.
American Prospect on how Biden can make China trade policy more coherent – opens with a forthright description of Chinese mercantilism.
The undertow against changing course on China remains fierce. Multinationals and big banks profit handsomely from the status quo, and hold enormous influence in domestic politics. Career policymakers are invested in the old model. Most economists and their echo chamber in the media still preach free trade and condemn protectionism and the sin of government “picking winners” when it comes to the U.S., but not on the part of China. The apostles of constructive engagement are loath to admit that they got China wrong.
Quartz on Beijing’s new regulations banning private capital from news media.
Former Oz PM Tony Abbott ‘dumps on Beijing’ in a speech in Taiwan, saying ‘Australia should not be indifferent to the fate of a fellow democracy of almost 25 million people’. Beijing’s response is that Abbott’s was a ‘despicable and insane performance’.
China Media Project on the Mainland netizens who cheered the news that China has one of the highest Gini coefficients in the world – they thought the gauge of inequality sounded like a matter of national pride.