The Hong Kong CE says he aims to pass a local (‘Article 23’) NatSec Law this year. Despite the overrides-everything 2020 NatSec Law, there are loopholes everywhere you look – in NatSec-related laws, in tech and in new media. Foreign agents, espionage and plots also abound.
Lee says the NatSec bill…
would focus on preventing “clandestine espionage activities,” block new methods of spying that arise from technological advancements, and plug loopholes introduced by new media. He did not specify how the law would legislate these areas.
In addition, the chief executive said there had been many “foreign agents” acting under the guise of different names, institutions or forums in Hong Kong.
Executive Councilor Ronny Tong weighs in…
“The work of restricting foreign political organizations to campaign in Hong Kong has never been done, nor that of restricting local groups from building ties with foreign political groups,” Tong said.
“In other countries, crimes like treason and sedition always lead to life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Whereas under the NSL, the maximum penalty is only life imprisonment.”
(OK, Ronny – what about other countries’ penalties for sheep cartoons?)
Lee’s parallel comments on the media (HKFP story) suggest that, one way or another, the authorities will find ways to counter ‘fake news’, tighten control/monitoring of the Internet and social media, and turn up the paranoia on foreign-linked journalists – not to mention academics, NGOs, crowdfunding causes and other groups.
The large and amply funded NatSec police department will no doubt find plenty to do. (Yesterday they arrested six people for selling books.)
Maybe experts in the Leninist theory of dialectical contradiction can sort this out: one part of the Hong Kong government is trying hard to promote the city as distinct, free and international, while another part rants about how it is part of and subject to China and sees evil foreign forces’ threats everywhere.
Up north, China has officially announced that its population is declining ‘earlier than expected’, though probably several years after it started. Yi Fuzian, demonized (by Beijing) demographer, raises the alarm. (His article from last year.) While another expert says excitable commentators can calm down – the phenomenon is too slow-moving and forecastable to be a ‘crisis’.
Yi is not entirely exaggerating Beijing’s challenges.
In particular, China has reached the declining-population stage while its per-capita GDP is still at around the level of, say, Mexico. Other countries in this position – South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Spain, Italy, Germany, etc – have developed economies and can largely afford extra pension, healthcare and other costs (and can attract immigrants).
Also, China’s residential property sector combines absurd overvaluations with massive oversupply and an unavoidable decline in demand – good luck ‘growing into it’. Yet a collapse in prices really could spark big trouble.
Increased productivity is the only way to go. That means institutional reforms – like getting the state out of the allocation of capital. Can the CCP stomach that?
And no-one wants babies.
Barring anything really interesting happening, that’s probably it around here til the Year of the Water Rabbit. Gung Hei…