Festive NatSec weirdness – ‘crowdfunders add oil!’

Possibly not a coincidence: just before the winter solstice/Christmas/New Year/CNY season starts, the government ‘proposes’ a wacky new NatSec restriction. They want to (can’t believe I’m writing this) require online crowdfunding campaigns to get permits from some sort of regulatory body (reports from SCMP, RTHK). 

The idea seems to be to prevent funding of ‘colour revolutions’. A few questions spring to mind…

Surely the CIA, not local populations, finances uprisings? Also, how will this help Hong Kong become a tech/culture/innovation hub-zone, if budding entrepreneurs and creative types need a permit just to raise small sums for their startups and projects?

And how do you even enforce it? How does the government prevent anyone from registering a cause with GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Patreon or any other platform? Can the authorities determine whether such an appeal is Hong Kong-based? Do officials expect the platforms to turn away would-be fundraisers from Hong Kong who do not have a permit? Will officials complain – as with Google – when the platforms do not cooperate? What other online applications will we need a permit to use? Whatever happened to laissez faire and ‘none of the government’s business’? 

Will officials react badly when commentators tell them the idea is absurd? 

Which brings us to the worst example yet of an embarrassingly over-whiny official press release in response to Ming Pao content. As usual, the government expresses ‘regret’, which Google defines as feeling…

…sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that one has done or failed to do).

Since the government is not a person, it cannot experience emotions (though a named spokesman speaking personally could complain that an op-ed ‘hurt his feelings’). More to the point, the government did not write the Ming Pao column, so does not need to regret it. Officials could, on the other hand, regret making decisions that invite criticism in the newspapers.

Meanwhile – there goes any hope of turning Hong Kong into Asia’s leading bathroom accessories hub…

After school that day, Gary said the school had summoned all 30 members of the running team and confiscated their towels, telling them the case would be reported to the police.

This is a patriotic/petrified school administrator at work, not law enforcement. We do not know if the nifty design that sort-of reads ‘香港’ in one position but ‘加油’ in another is banned as a national security threat. Maybe the whole ‘Heung Gong ga yau’ phrase is prohibited. If it is, what are Hong Kong fans supposed to shout at international sports tournaments? Should the government set up a committee? It could urge spectators to make a ‘T’ sign with their hands if they hear the words, and devise a new officially recommended correct phrase, like ‘Go Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China!’

Next step: hounding Google for still including the phrase in search results? (The Google-angst continues, by the way.)

In other matters – an interesting article on former Global Times editor Hu Xijin attracting criticism from other, more devout nationalists for backing Beijing’s Covid U-turn…

After China’s abrupt change on Covid policies, the nationalist influencers and the “zero-Covid camp” are having a hard time pivoting themselves.

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15 Responses to Festive NatSec weirdness – ‘crowdfunders add oil!’

  1. wmjp says:

    A senior Hong Kong official has warned that the city will stop buying adverts on Google’s search engine

    WTF is Hong Kong buying Google ads for in the first place? If the city stops I’m sure it will devastate Google’s revenue stream…not. Would Google even notice?

  2. Stanley Lieber says:

    Hong Kong heavyweight opinion leader and influencer Alex Lo has weighed in on the Google national anthem dispute by urging the Silicon Valley billionaires to “place factual accuracy above political correctness”.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  3. Chinese Netizen says:

    The age of preemptively cutting off what has yet to be done (or thought) for fear of breaking NatSec laws has officially arrived in HK.

    So much for the tech incubating, nurturing, pollenating, creativizing hub-zone of Asia.

    “Let’s GO, Chinese Formerly Non Colony That’s Currently the Special Administrative Region in the Southern People’s Republic of China As Governed By The CCP!”

  4. G says:

    ….‘Go Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China!’

    In putonghua, “go” means “f*ck” (since putonghua is a recently invented language it has no vernacular swear words), so what you suggest is appropriate.

  5. Sam Clemens says:

    @wmjp

    The reference to the HKSAR “stopping” ad purchases on Google is the result of misinformed reporting (quelle surprise!).

    In reply to a suggested solution, a government official said the HKSAR would not buy Google ads to move its preferred answer to the top of the search rankings.

    That’s how this thing got started. It was never a threat to stop buying ads on Google, if they even exist.

  6. Pistol Pete says:

    HKCCPSAR Hub-Zone Government has nowhere else to shoot. Both feet are so full of holes there’s nothing left to aim for.

  7. Streisand with Chinese characteristics says:

    And so we enter another week of ancient HKSARG fossils who want HK to be an IT hub loudly proclaiming to the world that they have absolutely no idea how the internet works.

    Thanks to the government’s swift action, Google results have changed quite a bit:

    Previously, searching for “Hong Kong National Anthem” revealed the “Glory” song as number one result, and the official “Slave” song came in as number two.

    Thanks to HKSARG efforts, however, a Google search now shows the “Glory” song as number one (heftily reinforced by the surge in interest created by HKSARG), the official “Slave” song as number two, followed by a barrage of news results highlighting how the HKSARG not only doesn’t have the slightest inkling how search results or public relations work, but is also a petty, litigious, unelected, unpopular police state.

    Great job HKSARG! I’d say “HK add oil” but that’s not allowed any more. Perhaps “Glory to HK”? Oh. Yeah, that’s bad too. And it increases the results ranking…

  8. justsayin says:

    Hm… is re-labelling google results easily accomplished? I’d really like to replace ‘March of the Volunteers’ with something a bit more springy… ‘YMCA’ was the first thing that came to mind

  9. Old Mind Doctor says:

    Comment of the week so far, Ms Streisand.
    Bravo!

  10. wmjp says:

    When are the foamers going to realise that Google is not the only search engine in the world and the others also produce similar results to the Mighty G?

    The remorse, disappointment, hurt feelings, virulent tirades are an endless prospect. Apoplexy time for the SS.

  11. Chris says:

    Where can I get one of those jia you towels?

  12. Low Profile says:

    @wmjp – Bing hedges its bets, with March of the Volunteers on the right side and a BBC story about “Glory to Hong Kong” on the l;eft. Both search engines feature the ROC’s anthem when you search for “National Anthem of Taiwan” – I’m surprised the PRC hasn’t got its knickers in a twist about that as well. They won’t be happy with the search results for “Tibetan National Anthem” or “Uyghur National Anthem” either.

  13. Penny says:

    @wmjp
    Quite! There are other search engines which don’t track you or restrict your search results according to your previous searches.

    I only use google when I am searching on “Hong Kong National Anthem” or just “Hong Kong anthem”, after having been reminded to do so yet again by HKSARG. I then check out the same terms on youtube. HK people’s choice, “Glory to HK”, still holding top place on both. Democracy in action!

  14. Chinese Netizen says:

    I just did a search this morning (as will be my daily routine in the future to start the day off) and got “God Save the King” and then….”Glory to HK”.

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