Does it all come down to crummy vaccines?

The SCMP attempts to decode a CCP newspaper’s vague warning that Hong Kong’s failure to fight Covid could endanger national safety. Sample:

The Ta Kung Pao editorial said the government must “assess the situation carefully and brace for the worst while coming up with different proposals for good preparation”.

One theory offered by the SCMP‘s ‘pundits’ is that the pandemic detracts from grand projects like the Greater Bay Area. More likely, the aim of the piece is to emphasize that it is Hong Kong that threatens the Mainland’s health, not the other way round – and in any case, links with (or Covid approaches being used by) the rest of the planet do not enter any equation.

We’re all aware that Beijing is insisting that Hong Kong align with Mainland ‘zero-Covid’ policy, despite the resulting idiocies of putting people in quarantine hotels where they catch Covid, locking down entire housing estates, chasing hamsters, etc. But no-one is totally sure why. It depends how paranoid you feel.

Is it symbolism (Hong Kong must not appear or feel ‘different’ from the rest of the country)? Is it a calculated way to diminish Hong Kong’s international role and character (in line with Beijing’s insular tilt)? Is it also an excuse to tighten social controls by barring public assembly and introducing surveillance apps?

Probably all of the above, up to a point. But you have to wonder how much Beijing’s hands are simply tied by the fact that Mainland vaccines are far less effective than foreign ones. The CCP cannot openly admit this. So it has to leave its population effectively unvaccinated – and the nation cut off from the world – until it can find an acceptable face-saving way out.

Maybe the damage being done to Hong Kong is not the primary aim, but more inadvertent (even if, to the Leninist mind, proof that every cloud has a silver lining). To put it another way: if Beijing had had world-class vaccines available a year ago, would Hong Kong (and China as a whole) be far closer to reopening by now? Or would the CCP invent different reasons to keep us sealed off? In which case, wouldn’t it follow that the Hong Kong government/Beijing have an interest in keeping Hong Kong’s elderly semi-unvaccinated? 

Which brings us back to the more sinister explanations. Carrie Lam is reframing ‘zero-Covid’ as ‘not absolute’, and expert KY Yuen says it was supposed to buy time for vaccinations. But the Hong Kong authorities’ main priority seems to be rooting out sedition, rather than pushing the old folks to get their jabs.

Some associated reading…

Comments from Siddarth Sridhar on the problem with ‘zero-Covid’ in Hong Kong.

An accessible update on Omicron and vaccines.

Quartz’s big Hamster Hunt piece. And the Washington Post’s big splash on the Hong Kong Hamster Rebellion.

Samuel Bickett on Hong Kong’s sedition laws

Sedition under Hong Kong law is an entirely different beast. It’s not enough to simply say the statute is broader than sedition under US law, because there is so little overlap in focus that it is effectively a different crime entirely. 

HKFP on the government’s latest target: signing up the elderly for vaccinations the HKJA.

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17 Responses to Does it all come down to crummy vaccines?

  1. Joe Blow says:

    If this foolhardy, unscientific zero-Covid policy, that is bankrupting swathes of society, is going to continue much longer, there will be an explosion. I predict anarchy and social unrest in the streets that will make 2019 look like a picnic.
    Nobody will give a fuck anymore about your PTU goons with their fancy weapons, their Smurf mobiles, their tasers and their little warning flags, you hopelessly out-of-touch little Robot woman.

  2. Penny says:

    CHP Controller Edwin Tsui: We know the incubation period for Omicron is around 3 days. This is why we are doing 5 day lockdowns.
    HKU epidemiologist: This is fascinating because on-arrival quarantine is still set at 21 days, and the unnecessary 3rd week actually seems to have caused this particular community outbreak.

  3. A Poor Man says:

    In late 2019 Curry Lamb lamented that she was so unpopular that she didn’t dare go out to a hair salon. Her willingness to make a trip to Kwai Chung Estate seems to indicate that she thinks that her popularity has improved. Great to see that the residents there set her straight on the matter.

    By the way, could Lamb’s fondness for having her hair blackened explain why we can all go get haircuts, but not facials, manicures, massages or have other such services? It seems to me that getting a foot massage is a lot less risky than getting a haircut since you are not face to face with the person doing the work.

  4. Hamster Schmozzle says:

    Does/have the “HK government” produce any data on the infections based on vaccine type? I get the sense that this is a closed guarded state secret only fit for important people to know, therefore not to alarms those patriots who may have chosen unwisely…
    Asking for the Hamsters obviously!

  5. Load Toad says:

    Now they are working out that the hotels aren’t suitable to use for quarantine purposes.

    No shit Sherlock – isn’t that exactly what we learned during SARS, that the virus spread through close contact, air conditioning systems and poor sanitation?

  6. Low Profile says:

    Maybe the last self-proclaimed democrat in LegCo can ask the question there?

  7. Guest says:

    @A Poor Man: at least the residents got four cans of abalone each.;)

  8. Guest says:

    *Each household

  9. justsayin says:

    Carrie redefining zero. Hadn’t realised she specialised in maths but perhaps the bosses up north have clued her in to ‘0 with Chinese characteristics’

  10. Charlton Heston says:

    Q: In what year was the dystopian film “Soylent Green” set?

    A. 2022.

    Coincidence? I think not.

    “Soylent Green is people!”

  11. Charlton Heston says:

    Or perhaps I should say, “Soylent Green is hamsters!”

  12. where's my jet plane says:

    Smart thinking by the so-called admininstration and the popo:
    Officers said when the area gets too packed, more roads will be closed to vehicles, and people will only be able to enter the market at the intersection of Fa Yuen Street and Playing Field Road.

    That’s brilliant, concentrate the crowd even more having first made sure it will be extra-busy by cancelling the Flower Fair.

  13. where's my jet plane says:

    In other matters, I suspect the Chief Justice doesn’t quite understand the concept of “political interference” in the judicial system when he admits that The Failed Social Worker (a political appointee) is selecting judges to try cases.
    The chief justice also said that Lam could consult him before selecting judges to hear national security cases and he could also recommend candidates.

  14. Hamantha says:


    “Carrie redefining zero.”

    Not even a joke… On the CHP’s COVID dashboard, nearly every single case is listed as “epidemiologically connected to an imported case”. And if I’m not mistaken, until last week or so, EVERY single case was listed as such.

    By this definition, there is no such thing as local transmission. Rather, the disease is solely the result of the “open” border, which is the target of government blame, and which will be further closed accordingly.

  15. Luficon says:

    And now they’re just working it out that the SignOfHarm and Sigh!NoWork vaccines don’t do shit. Surprise surprise

  16. donkey says:

    ” More likely, the aim of the piece is to emphasize that it is Hong Kong that threatens the Mainland’s health, not the other way round – and in any case, links with (or Covid approaches being used by) the rest of the planet do not enter any equation.”

    Even MORE likely, Hong Kong’s absolute lack of expertise or a plan, or incentives other than social karma and fiefdom idolatry will endanger the Party’s stability. Remember, it’s never about China’s stability. That’s just code for “do not make us worried about our already insecure positions of power.”

    China’s coming loose at the seams and I think it’s funny that Hong Kong, the former colony, will inevitably be the lynch pin that comes undone first.

    It’s not going to be pretty, but we are headed to the end of the party state, you can feel it.

  17. Charlton Heston says:


    Nice one.

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