Everyone self-censors

Atlantic on the Foreign Correspondents Club’s dropping of the Human Rights Press Awards…

The FCC’s moves are emblematic of the broader tension that now exists across Hong Kong, where Beijing has imposed a new political order. Red lines are deliberately left blurry, including the definition of foreign collusion and what, exactly, constitutes subversion. So institutions across the city have had to play guessing games, stabbing around in relative darkness, figuring out for themselves what their risk appetite is, ultimately exposing how willing some of them are to collaborate in actions that undermine democracy.

You could substitute the phrase ‘to collaborate in actions that undermine democracy’ with ‘to avoid being sent to jail on absurd trumped-up charges’. The FCC’s statement on suspending the awards was pathetic, omitting any real mention of either Stand News or the threat of sedition/collusion-with-foreign-powers charges. But no-one today would seriously consider martyring themselves, including over awards that – however deserved – get little attention outside the world of journalism. The FCC self-censors (think of all the speakers not invited over the last couple of years) for the same depressing reason everyone self-censors. You’re up against a massive Leninist dictatorship here. Chances are, the FCC will not even exist this time next year.

For anyone tempted to push against the CCP’s blurry red lines (or if you thought you had it bad because ParkNShop ran out of pork chops), read Samuel Bickett on his time behind bars in Hong Kong during prisons’ Covid lockdown…

Far more harm was done to prisoners’ health and welfare by stripping away our already-limited rights and privileges than any harm caused by the virus. But that was irrelevant: all that mattered to CSD, and to the Hong Kong Government, was pandemic prevention. The Central Government had ordered “Zero-Covid” to be Hong Kong’s priority, and prisoner welfare wasn’t going to get in the way of that.

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15 Responses to Everyone self-censors

  1. donkey says:


  2. Fenton says:

    Unfortunately I fear that we will look back at Carrie Lam’s time in office as the good old days.

  3. Chinese Netizen says:

    Why does the FCC even pretend anymore?
    Close shop, take what isn’t nailed down, have a good piss up to the days before Shit Jumping and his NSL and then find a job copy editing for some trade magazines or website.
    New watering holes are always easy to find. Your self respect is not once you’ve kow towed to the grease heads.

  4. Mark Bradley says:

    “ Unfortunately I fear that we will look back at Carrie Lam’s time in office as the good old days.”

    I already do that now with CY and especially Donald Tsang who looks like a saint in comparison to Carrie and CY

  5. Low Profile says:

    Whether intentionally or not, the global media coverage of the FCC’s decision has probably done more to draw attention to the decline of press freedom in Hong Kong than giving out its Human Rights Press Awards would have done.

  6. Paul Lewis says:

    It would be interesting to see if any overseas bookmakers are taking bets on John Lee becoming CE.
    I wonder what odds they are offering?

  7. samizdata says:

    Low Profile gets it.

  8. Mary Melville says:

    Re Trumped Up Charges
    “The founder of the now-defunct Next Digital, Jimmy Lai, on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to two charges of fraud, over the alleged use of the headquarters of his media company for purposes not specified in the lease.
    The prosecution alleges that Lai, together with other people, concealed from the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation that – between April 1, 1998 and December 31, 2015 – Next Digital’s headquarters in Tseung Kwan O had been used for purposes other than those specified in two documents and a lease signed between the corporation and Apple Daily Printing Limited in 1999.”
    Scheduled for a 23 DAY trial!!!
    Anyone who has ever set foot in Science Park and Cyberport has seen that the majority of the tenants have little or nothing to do with SCIENCE, apart from storing their out of date equipment there.
    Last year there was an application at Town Planning Board to convert the lower floors of its Innocentre in Kowloon Tong into open to the public restaurants!!!!
    And note the dates, they pocketed the revenues without making any check on the tenants for 20 years????
    The charges are a blatant example reverse engineering of facts in order to prosecute for something, anything.
    In the normal course of commercial life here, even if the defendant did stray outside the conditions of the lease, it would resulted in nothing more than a slap on the wrist and a fine.
    And this is why people are scared, in a free wheeling society like ours once was we have all engaged at some time or another in actions that can now be reinterpreted and embellished by some judge straying far beyond the normal purview of his/her role.

  9. Load Toad says:

    The whole intention of NSL was for it to be so vague it could mean what they want when they want and how they want. It is stacked so anyone accused is most likely guilty & will spend a long time in jail.

    This is the point of NSL; that Hong Kong suffocates itself.

    It’s worked.

  10. Stanley Lieber says:

    I despair of the commentators on this blog!

    Why so blue?

    Despite lacking any civil society, China is a free, prosperous & law-abiding superpower (except for the free, prosperous, law-abiding & superpower bits).

    Go China!

  11. justsayin says:

    Stanley for the win-win patriotic post with mutual benefit to all in the harmonious society led by the Grand Poobah

  12. donkey says:

    I honestly think a lot of you are reading intentional and willful destruction of Hong Kong when it’s not really the case.

    The simpler, and maybe more accurate answer is that the government is literally terrified of colour revolutions, obsessed with beating the West and eager to put paid to ideas that social illiberalism is THE wave of the future. That of course means that ALL damaging auxiliaries of society must be eliminated. They truly believe this. And they think it’s good! To them it’s not about damaging Hong Kong. It’s about flushing out all the hidden bogeymen who have been burrowing under the city’s skin for YONKS! Now that they have “control,” they will see it to its end. but that’s how autocracy works. There are no alternatives. It’s natural law. Anything else you dream up is just antithetical to the cause. Keep YOUR EYES ON THE GOAL SONNY!

  13. steve says:

    Mary Melville: Yes! Thanks…

    Mark Bradley: Is there any doubt that Bowtie would have done exactly what Lam has done, if he had been ordered to do so? Under the circumstances, he in particular would have taken the opportunity to grab a bit more of the skim.

    Every single one of HK’s 1C2S “leaders” has been scum on toast.

  14. Chinese Netizen says:

    Mary Melville: The lease usage conditions and “law” are whatever the CCP/HKCCPSAR Gov’t says they are. End of story. (but you knew that already)

    Now start dismantling your employee break rooms or live in fear of a 300 strong popo raptor sweep one morning for using your office as a coffee shop.

  15. Mark Bradley says:

    “Mark Bradley: Is there any doubt that Bowtie would have done exactly what Lam has done, if he had been ordered to do so? Under the circumstances, he in particular would have taken the opportunity to grab a bit more of the skim.”

    I think Bowtie would have shelved the extradition bill if 2 million people protested so it wouldn’t have gotten this bad in the first place. Unlike Carrie he actually did try balancing accountability to Hong Kong (read: property developers mostly) and to Beijing. He even complained about it in a leaked diplomatic cable.

    Donald is also very good at nodding and smiling and then not following Beijing’s directives. He was originally assigned the National Education mission and all he did was kick the can down the road to CY and put together a web page about it.

    I had the opportunity to meet Donald while a friend of mine met Pringles man John Tsang and Carrie. Donald was very friendly and warm, friend of mine said the same about John Tsang.

    Carrie though? Massive cunt on a personal level. Distant. Aloof. And did not want to be there.

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