No matter how much it mocks claims of rule of law, the unceasing persecution of Jimmy Lai must continue. The former Apple Daily boss is sentenced to over five years for ‘fraud’. It is basically a minor (and probably very common but usually overlooked) lease contract infringement concerning 0.16% of the company’s HQ at a state-owned industrial park – a civil dispute turned into a criminal charge by alleged ‘deliberate concealment’. He was convicted in October of two other counts (covering different time periods) in the same case.
The judge is a designated NatSec judge, though it is not a NatSec case. He has given Lai a longer sentence than those recently given to an attempted murderer and a child abuser.
A statement from Lai’s legal team.
China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman defends the trial after criticism from the US…
“…evidence is clear, the procedure is law-based, and the judgment is open and transparent. The trial by the SAR court is totally legitimate and lawful and it brooks no interference or reproach.”
This is just the warm-up. Lai is also facing far more serious NatSec charges involving ‘sedition’ and ‘collusion with foreign forces’.
While Hong Kong’s health chief insists the Leave Home Safe app must stay (or maybe not), panic-buyers strip shelves of Panadol to send to the Mainland.
In the Conversation, a look at how a retreat from zero-Covid will play out in China – possibly a scaled-up version of what happened in Hong Kong in early 2022…
Given the low level of immunity in China, a major surge would likely see large numbers of hospitalisations and might lead to a dramatic death toll. If we assume, say, 70% of the Chinese population becomes infected over the coming months, then if 0.1% of those infected die (a conservative estimate of omicron’s mortality rate in a population with hardly any prior exposure to SARS-CoV-2), a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests we’d see around one million deaths.
From Carnegie Endowment, another (brief) analysis of Beijing’s Covid quandary…
[Xi’s problem] begins with how he wants China’s pandemic story to end, a story wherein the CCP’s Marxist-Leninist political system was able to manage the virus better than any other political system, especially those of the United States and other Western democracies.
…if Xi’s goal is to show the strengths of China’s political system through Zero COVID, how will the leadership be able to relax restrictive policies while avoiding the high transmission and mortality rates that would undermine his ultimate political objectives?
One obvious solution: manipulate the data.
Another solution would be to reverse the relaxation and go back to zero-Covid. Atlantic says whatever happens, Xi owns it…
…the new rules will also allow very large numbers of people to go about their daily life unmonitored. Without perpetual testing, the authorities can’t as easily pinpoint or tally the sick. Without incessant QR scanning, they can no longer automatically track close contacts. The new rules do not mean a full reopening, but they erode the machinery that made zero COVID tick, and the authorities may be overestimating their ability to contain the virus if it begins to run rampant.
…In Beijing, obtaining a timely COVID test has become a challenge. Some businesses, desperate after years of controls, are not enforcing the remaining rules. Many people are gripped by fear and staying off the streets. And where is Xi? So far, no words of reassurance or comfort have come from the top. The effort has been left to the state media, now frantically trying to convince the public that COVID is no longer the deadly plague it has warned about for years.
Thoughts of Sean Tierney – university teacher, ‘token evil gwailo’ movie star and reluctant guest at his recent farewell party – on leaving Hong Kong. Including the shift in Mainland students’ attitudes over the years…
When I told them that phrases like “Blood ties of the Chinese race” were not accepted in the West, either because it was eugenic pseudoscience or, more simply, the vague whiff of Zyklon B, they responded as if the world’s opinion was irrelevant. These students, at least judging by those who spoke up most often, seemed utterly uninterested in the outside world or learning about it on anything but their own terms.
Even if teachers’ (or students’) problems aren’t your thing, scroll down halfway for his account of the transformation of Hong Kong governance to a ‘slovenly union of craven authoritarianism and malignant stupidity’.
The smart way out of China’s Covid dilemma would be for the Chinese government to admit that their vaccine is poor and quickly get the population revaccinated with the more efficacious western ones, thereby substantially reducing the number of likely infections and deaths when controls are relaxed. But “smart” may not be high on their list of favourite words.
Her Indoors has three older brothers and their families in That China, two of them are being treated for cancer. None of them or any of their families have been vaccinated. They either don’t trust the vaccine or think there is little risk from Covid as there have been so few cases due to the lockdowns. It seems few of their friends are vaccinated for similar reasons.
It’s going to be interesting
Sean Tierney’s blog post mirrors my own experiences of China. I have been visiting China on business since 1995 and I have family there, I’ve had a business there, I’ve done import/export, arranged visits to and from China for Chinese and various foreign business people, I’ve investigated possible joining ventures, done audits of companies and so on.
Two things are pertinent to the discussion.
1) Though not always perfect most foreigners going to China will ask before they go or as soon as they are there will ask how to say Hello and Thank You. They will ask if they should take a gift, and they will ask where to sit at a meal because someone told them it was important. They will ask what to do if they don’t like the food &c
I’ve never known any of the Chinese I’ve taken to Europe to ask similar. In fact I’ve had Chinese insist to be taken for Chinese food because they can’t eat foreign food. And this was in Italy for god’s sake
2) Up until about 2012 I’d have very vibrant discussions in China with the Chinese about the possibilities as China ‘opened up’; how democracy might start from the grassroots upward. How human rights might improve and freedoms increase. Since then though this has stopped – the Chinese are at best shit scared of saying the wrong thing in the wrong place to the wrong people. In 2019 at the height of the peaceful protests I was visiting an exhibition in GZ. I showed Chinese friends videos of 2 million people on the streets & moving to allow an ambulance to pass. There is no way they couldn’t be aware of what was happening in HKG yet none of them would admit to even knowing about it. Never mind asking about it or discussing it.
Well done Xi – you’ve made your country worse.
Hopefully one day Tierney’s students will be used as cannon fodder for when Xi, in a last ditch desperation move to look like a strong leader to the People of China and distract from his Covid-0 failure and tanking of the economy, finally decides to invade and OCCUPY/COLONIZE Taiwan to cement his “legacy” for the (CCP version) history books.
I am sorry to see Sean go. I quit Twitter when the little fascist took over, as did Sean “White Bison”, but until that time his comments were always the first I would read every day.
By the way, I can recommend quitting Twitter. Suddenly you have so much more time to read a book, develop new hobbies and doing something constructive, rather than mushing your brain with the verbal diarrhea of an endless supply of morons. Try it.
LKY-style authoritarians do not stop after they won, they have to crush and eradicate their opponents. Poor Jimmy Lai.
Will the Hong Kong patriotic government send a couple of million leftover Wuhan Virus care packages to the motherland? You know the ones with the two boxes Lianhua Qingwen. There must be warehouses full of them. Probably already forgotten. And lots and lots of Carrie underwear masks too!
Most important: The motherland supplier go paid.
Do try at home: Pour one capsule Lianhua Qingwen into a Carrie mask, wear it and take three deep breaths. Better than CBD Gummies!
Joe Blow’s statement to the contrary, whitebison66 is still very much on Twitter!
There are a couple of sentences being used about Jimmy Lai. I suppose almost everyone who comes to this website – and especially those whose age is similar to his – will feel the cruelty and the sadness implicit in those two sentences.
He is going to spend the rest of his life in prison.
He is going to die in prison.
I am a bit more optimistic.
There are enough smart Chinese patriots who will not put up with this one party-only, personality cult-infested Marx-Lenin-Mao-Xi BULLSHIT, which will once more turn a country into a basket case. Right time, right place.
I truly believe that Jimmy will NOT die in prison.
And the HK sycophants and bootlickers will have the same fate as the STASI gals and guys in East Germany!
Can someone remind me please? How much time did CY Leung serve for fraud in regards to his illegal structures? Henry Tang? Justice Teresa Cheng?
Surely they are still in jail given that their offenses were far worse than Jimmy Lai’s…
Jimmy was paying market rent, the landlord suffered no material loss.
Meanwhile in my hood behemoths like Fedex and UPS, that could well afford to pay even our exaggerated shop rents, have been allowed to run mobile logistic operations on busy streets, government property lah, for years without any intervention and free of charge apart from the occasional fine and backhanders to the local ‘valet parking’ services.
That the judge found it necessary to interject that the sentencing was not political merely underlines the reality.
@Kwun Tong Bypass
Can you imagine… It would be the human equivalent of China’s stance on COVID.
One day, COVID will kill you; the next, COVID for everyone. One day, Jimmy Lai is evil; the next, he’s a modern-day Jesus.
Five-and-a-half years in prison for letting a handful of people in a captive company secretarial office sit in a 650 sq. ft. office within 40,000 sq. ft. of space.
Justice and the rule of law are alive and well in Hong Kong in 2022.
I’ve met plenty of international business travellers / political junketers from around the world on the mainland and in HK who would not speak a word of whatever the local language might be FWIW, not even ‘ni hao’ and ‘xie xie’ and have no interest in Chinese food etc. etc.
Totally agree with the comment about Chinese food in Italy, it’s actually pretty good due to the need to serve the Chinese tourist trade… had a very good authentic Chinese meal in Venice once. I also had good Chinese food in Prague, Oslo Norway and London of course.