More on ‘interpretation’

The Bar Association politely hints at mild semi-discomfort over NPCSC ‘interpretation’ in the Jimmy Lai/Timothy Owens case. An SCMP article raises the possibility (apparently slim) that the NPCSC ruling might even lead to a special list of local lawyers permitted to handle NatSec cases. It also quotes Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun, former law dean at the University of Hong Kong, as saying…

…the seven-day adjournment was unfair to the defendant, as Lai would be unable to find an alternative lawyer in such a short time.

“No counsel would be able to take up such a big case within seven days, and further adjournments will be inevitable,” he said.

The official line that foreign lawyers somehow lack knowledge of NatSec doesn’t make much sense: that would be the client’s problem, not the government’s. Similarly, the claim that overseas counsel may be beholden to foreign powers is unconvincing: their priority is surely to protect the defendant’s interests. But no-one at press conferences or in op-eds seems to be asking why exactly the authorities are so desperate to keep Owen from defending Lai. Here are some interesting SCMP reader comments…

If the charges and evidence are robust, no matter who represents Lai, he should be convicted.  The only possibly motivation is a fear of losing both the case and face … if indeed the charges and the law is robust and Lai is convicted despite being represented by a foreign lawyer, it will show the world that the law is clear, fair and justly applied.  By denying him a choice of counsel, it actually weakens the credibility of NSL, the judiciary and the legislature.


Any local lawyer who takes over this case would feel way more pressured than a foreign one.

Sesame Street is brought to you today by the phrase ‘三个坚定不移’, or ‘three unswervings’. (Maybe ‘three steadfasts’ would sound less silly. Or maybe not. Or ‘firmnesses’. All from Xinhua – translate as you see fit.) On the face of it, the three things are all about not deviating from protecting the people by fighting Covid. But they seem sufficiently overblown to suggest an underlying agenda of relaxing some extreme policies while maintaining that there’s no reversal going on.

Some more reading on the situation in the Mainland…

HKFP interviews a couple of Mainland students studying in Hong Kong on their thoughts about what’s happening back home.

AFP’s round-up of the weekend’s events.

Minxin Pei in Asia Nikkei

The Chinese police can put protesters behind bars, but omicron will still be lurking. The economic and social toll of zero COVID will keep piling up and fuel future protests. The public image of Xi would take another hit, an inauspicious beginning for his unprecedented third term.

Leaders have to make tough choices. Ending zero COVID would be by far the lesser of two evils, however unattractive it may seem to Xi and the party.

Michael Schuman in Atlantic

…after four decades of “reform and opening up,” as the Chinese call it, China’s citizens have become too connected to the world and too self-confident to be herded like obedient automatons by an unfettered state.


From NPR

…the emergence of the omicron variant a year ago caught the party flat-footed, and it’s had a hard time pivoting. A never-ending string of lockdowns and travel restrictions have hurt the economy and eroded public goodwill.

But dropping the policy and letting the pandemic spread would have its own high costs…

Chinese experts estimate if Beijing was to lift lockdowns immediately, the overwhelming number of hospitalizations would collapse its medical system.

A thread on the near impossibility of protesting in China without risk of individual identification by authorities.

And Jamil Anderlini on Chinese young people’s lack of awareness of earlier protest movements.

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13 Responses to More on ‘interpretation’

  1. Chinese Netizen says:

    “Similarly, the claim that overseas counsel may be beholden to foreign powers is unconvincing: their priority is surely to protect the defendant’s interests.”

    Try explaining that to anyone in a party state system where counsel and outcomes are beholden to that party.

  2. so says:

    “Based on the legislative intent and objectives of the National Security Law, can an overseas solicitor or barrister who is not qualified to practise generally in Hong Kong participate by any means in the handling of work in cases concerning offence endangering national security?”

    This is the narrow question posed by HK’s CE to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) to issue an interpretation in accordance with Article 65 of the National Security Law.

    It’s all about legal qualifications and nothing to do with foreign influence?

  3. Sam Clemens says:

    Why is China is having such a hard time figuring out Covid. They invented it, for chrissakes.

  4. Mary Melville says:

    On another topic. Surely the issue with the MTR doors was not the trains per se but failure to maintain the tunnels and to ensure that all those fixtures – many to support the advertising revenue – along the rail lines are stable.
    Some would surmise that the pressure from Leggers and comments on the Brit trains is more to do with pushing the launch of the Made in China trains than with actual conditions. After all those sturdy Brit trains have served us well for 40 years.
    Any money on the lifeline of the tinny looking new choo choos?

  5. Low Profile says:

    One of the many, often contradictory, arguments put forward against allowing foreign lawyers into NSL cases is that they lack the requisite familiarity with the NS Law. Since most NSL cases so far have not even come to court, except to remand the accused in detention, and there is no established case law as yet, isn’t this equally true of local lawyers – except, perhaps, for those charged under it?

  6. justsayin says:

    Jiang Zemin died speaking of the mainland

  7. wmjp says:

    Hong Kong protests: security minister warns recent local demonstrations against Beijing over Xinjiang fire show early signs of ‘colour revolution’

    What Chris really means is that he hopes it will turn out that way so that his “lads” can clock-up substantial overtime again and have the chance to indulge their blood-lust playing with their various non-lethal toys, old and new.

  8. Smiley says:

    “….and there is no established case law as yet, isn’t this equally true of local lawyers – except, perhaps, for those charged under it?”

    Perhaps Jimmy could ask Chow Hang-tung or Margaret Ng to represent him instead.

  9. Low Profile says:

    @justsayin – I think you should have a comma after “died”, unless you actually know what Jiang’s last words were.

  10. anciennement pd says:

    Presumably locally qualified lawyers won’t be allowed to defend (or prosecute) NSL cases either if they’re the wrong skin-colour?

  11. HK-Cynic says:

    Hong Kong Government: We cannot allow foreign barristers to deal with these cases!

    Also HK Government: We want to hire David Perry to prosecute Jimmy Lai and others…

    Hong Kong justice department hires Queen’s Counsel David Perry to prosecute protest case against Jimmy Lai, eight others

  12. Chinese Netizen says:

    @Mary Melville: If the Chicoms are doing 1 for 1 copies of the Siemens trains running in the Guangzhou Metro (as an example), then the trains should actually be pretty solid. One of the Siemens guys told me back around Y2k on the new line 1 that they made the cars especially bigger, roomier and more robust (able to withstand wear ‘n tear with Chinese characteristics) for the Chinese crowd.

  13. Mary Melville says:

    Re Chinese Net – that should good news but copies rarely are to the same standards, check those bags being sold at Ladies Market.
    Also Poms out there should be asking why their consulate did not question if there is proof that the fault was with the Brit trains and bleating that the feelings of Brits the world over have been seriously hurt by the allegations.

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