A lot of NatSec news in HK Free Press. Notably, Chow Hang-tung fights ‘foreign agent’ charges – the prosecution’s evidence consisting of a small donation from an overseas group. (Are all NGOs in danger of prosecution if they accept funding from overseas? Could someone maliciously entrap an NGO they dislike by sending a donation from offshore?)
In the same case, Lee Cheuk-yan is denied bail.
On the subject of fund-raising, HKFP could always use some help.
The Diplomat on the apparent failure of China’s censorship mechanisms to prevent widespread online criticism and protest on Covid measures…
… [while] netizen’s cleverness and the sheer volume of ongoing responses might have circumvented China’s cutting edge, AI-powered internet censorship, officials and internet companies could also be “letting the steam vent before the pressure inside gets too high.”
Still, would China now be relaxing Covid measures (sort of discreetly/tastefully) without the protests? And can loyal local authorities in Hong Kong now feel comfortable dropping the rest of our own masks/tests/apps regime?
Fifth/bivalent vaccinations are coming – bookings start tomorrow.
Something that popped up – a 2016 book extract in the Guardian on what Anne Stevenson-Yang calls ‘China’s historical self-loathing’ – manipulation of the past…
The project to catalogue and study the [ancient texts on bamboo] slips is led by China’s most famous historian, Li Xueqin. Li has headed numerous big projects, including an effort in the 1990s to date semi-mythical dynasties from roughly 5,000 years ago, such as the Xia and Shang, which are seen as the earliest dynasties in Chinese civilisation. For millennia, their existence was taken for granted, even though no texts or archaeological material relating to some were traceable (the historicity of the Xia in particular remains in doubt). In the early 20th century, historians in China started a “doubt antiquity” movement that challenged the existence of these dynasties, positing that they were merely myths … it challenged the deeply cherished certainty among Chinese that theirs is one of the oldest civilisations on the planet, going back as far as ancient Egypt. Li’s efforts essentially pushed back against this scepticism, marshalling evidence that these dynasties did indeed exist.
A fascinating subject. Some extreme Chinese quasi-historians insist that China introduced civilization to Ancient Egypt. Others prefer the theory that China received civilization directly from the Middle-East – see Sino-Babylonianism. Other Chinese academics find all this embarrassing.
So there’s a tension between wackiness that makes Han nationalists feel good, and the sort of evidence-based history and archaeology that has international integrity. A bit like zero-Covid versus ‘living with it’.