The prosecution aren’t exactly holding back in likening sedition to treason in the speech therapists’ cartoon sheep book trial…
The defendants … were said to have “indoctrinated” readers with separatism, incited “anti-Chinese sentiment,” “degraded” lawful arrests and prosecution and “intensified” Hong Kong-China conflicts.
It would be interesting to see some evidence. Did the books’ authors ‘incite’ anti-Chinese sentiment or merely reflect it? Did they actually ‘intensify’ Hong Kong-China conflict? How is ‘degrading’ arrests a crime? And so on. (And this, and this.)
Also not pulling any punches, Ben Cowling says quarantine for inbound travellers – whether in a hotel or at home – is pointless and should just be scrapped…
Noting that the justifications for home quarantine are the same as those given for hotel quarantine – namely to reduce the burden on Hong Kong’s healthcare system and stop new sub-variants from arriving in the city – Professor Cowling said merely changing the type of quarantine would be “illogical”.
“The sub-variants are already here,” he said. “Switching to home quarantine makes no sense to me. If the reason for home quarantine were the same as hotel quarantine, it would be illogical.”
(Compare such forthrightness with the inane and insipid blather of the SCMP’s editorial on the subject.)
Seditious sheep and compulsory quarantine are both examples of Beijing’s political dogma overriding reason. Rational people assume that, at some point, this must stop. They look for signs that common sense will return.
Some commentator somewhere recently floated the idea that China might allow BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine into the country ‘after Xi Jinping gets appointed to his third term as core leader at the CCP Congress’. Why is there this widespread assumption that Beijing will relax its zero-Covid policy after the gathering around October-November?
The accepted wisdom is that after the Congress, Xi will be emboldened and strengthened, and thus able to do something – adopt a science-based public-health strategy – that he currently cannot. But so far as we can see, Xi is more powerful than any Chinese leader since Mao at his height. He rules over a system that airbrushes away disasters, scandals and inconvenient history and replaces them with new narratives. With his ability to create a reality of his choosing through official media and propaganda, suppressing evidence of a personally humiliating U-turn would be far easier than suppressing a virus.
He can change policy while blankly maintaining publicly that it is not changing – who would dare contradict him? He can place blame on other leaders for devising and sticking with the original approach. He can claim credit for a miraculous breakthrough that enables a new direction.
Abandoning zero-Covid could consolidate Xi’s image and position, and give the Chinese economy a badly needed boost. If he wanted to do it, he would have. It will be no easier after the Congress.
We can only guess why Xi clings to zero-Covid. But the idea that a party Congress will make a massive difference sounds like wishful thinking.