AFP does the latest report on international businesses complaining about Hong Kong’s ever-tightening and ever-more absurd Covid measures…
The new rules are the latest public health inconsistency to fuel suspicions in Hong Kong that the coronavirus is being used to keep the population down after democracy protests two years ago and a subsequent crackdown on dissent.
At present, 240 people can attend an indoor wedding banquet but more than four people eating sandwiches together in a park remains banned.
(The SCMP manages to craft a more positive spin in which business groups broadly support the government’s efforts and moan in moderation.)
An HKFP op-ed asks…
…why so much control, so much checking of where people go, rather than a stronger vaccination campaign?
If you haven’t yet got the feeling that the measures’ real aim is to curb protests and restrict movement, maybe you soon will.
Many people have downloaded the government’s LeaveHome Safe app, introduced as a voluntary contact-tracing system, in order to enter restaurants and other facilities without fuss. As of yesterday, the app became compulsory to access government buildings. This makes life difficult for poorer and homeless people who lack smartphones (click here to see ‘disoriented aged people fiddling with the app outside a public market in Tuen Mun’). It is also raising questions about why officials are so keen to promote the app.
After a solid year of NatSec regime horrors (cue the latest ‘seditious intention’ arrests), trust is running thin. Some people have downloaded fake apps (one simply opens inert but identical-looking website). The authorities are fighting back, even arresting civil servants. Others are now buying second phones – not linked to their personal info – just to put the app on.
And along comes CCP-run Wen Wei Po demanding that the government ban people from using second phones for LeaveHomeSafe. It might seem paranoid to claim that the authorities are pushing the app to pave the way for spyware – except there is no other reason why a CCP paper would want everyone to be compelled to use their main phone for it.
Now there’s talk of supermarkets and malls requiring the app. Given malls’ role as public walkways and the main supermarkets’ near monopoly in many districts, this would make commuting or buying food a challenge – unless you download the software.
People have been angry that all this is supposedly necessary to reopen the border. They’ll be even angrier if/when they find out it’s a way to impose mass-surveillance software on everyone’s phone.