Last Friday, I doubted that the week to come could possibly be any worse – and so it came to pass. The Hong Kong authorities have now in effect ditched zero-Covid, and the 5th wave seems to be plateauing.
However, fans of awfulness needn’t worry – there’s still lots of idiocy in store. Pointless quarantines for arrivals, frantic construction of vast and probably superfluous isolation facilities, and an official need to present any and all improvements in the pandemic situation as miraculous gifts from Beijing.
The SCMP helps out with the face-saving redefinition…
Pursuing a “dynamic zero” strategy in Hong Kong’s coronavirus battle is not about aiming for zero infections, but saving lives first…
To celebrate, some painstakingly curated reading and viewing for the weekend…
World Politics Review not mincing words in its article on Hong Kong’s Covid mess as a ‘cost of pleasing Beijing’.
On the subject of doing harm to satisfy the emperor, the SCMP reports that China’s GDP can grow at 5.5% this year, but…
“The target can certainly be achieved if Beijing insists, but it will come at a cost,” warned Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie Capital.
“It may force the rise of [China’s] macro leverage ratio,” he said, referring to the measurement of an economy’s overall indebtedness.
In other words, they must damage the economy in the longer run (increasing debt, misallocating capital) in order to meet an arbitrary goal. Because not having a target – just living with whatever organic GDP growth comes along – is unacceptable to control-freaks obsessed with proving the superiority of their authoritarian system.
Which brings us to a YouTube video of HKU’s Frank Dikotter on how to be a dictator. “The moment you seize power you become afraid.”
And a CNN op-ed on how Xi Jinping’s unworldly zero-sum outlook keeps China from playing a big-boy role in the Russian war on Ukraine.
A fairly weighty essay in Made in China Journal on Hong Kong as an example of political restructuring in the context of ‘contemporary autocratisation’.
How the film Revolution of Our Times is playing in Vancouver…
All 3,000 tickets for 14 Vancouver screenings in two cinemas, running from February 11 until March 13, were sold out almost immediately, organisers say.
Attendees said emotional scenes on screen were reflected among audiences; some wept throughout, others chanted the protest slogan “Hong Kong, add oil”, and at the end many stood and sang the unofficial protest anthem Glory to Hong Kong.
…Jenny Kwan, a Hong Kong-born member of Canada’s parliament, said that the screening she attended was an “emotional, heartbreaking” experience.
“You could hear people in the audience quietly sobbing. There was an intensity in the cinema, all around me,” said Kwan, the member for Vancouver East.
… and in Taiwan…
The aftermath of Hong Kong’s protests have been warily watched from across the Taiwan strait, where some Taiwanese saw a warning for their own future. China’s president, Xi Jinping, has vowed to “unify” Taiwan with China, by force if necessary.
“I think with these screenings, the most important thing isn’t to get people to focus on Hong Kong, the most important is that they are focused on Taiwan, their home,” Chow said.
An interesting thread on how commercial and political pressures make China’s social media a haven for ultra-nationalism.
And for econ/history buffs, Andrew Batson on the reversal of roles in the China-Russia economic relationship from the 1950s to the 2020s.