Starting today: another HK story to tell well

Starting today: the NatSec ‘subversion’ trial of pan-democrats for trying to win Legislative Council elections (that never even took place). Background here

The defendants say they have been targeted for normal opposition politics…

Al Jazeera’s report. More from Reuters…

Prosecutors have described the primary election – held to select the strongest candidates to contest an upcoming legislative election – as a “vicious plot” to subvert the government and to wreak “mutual destruction” on the city by taking control of the city’s parliament.

Eric Lai comments in The Diplomat… 

Some may argue that Hong Kong is still different from the autocratic regimes named above, because it does not have a kangaroo court. Yet, the old narrative of Hong Kong’s judicial independence and the rule of law is no longer persuasive in light of this political trial. 

The people lining up to fill limited seats in the public gallery seem to have little idea what’s going on.

Whether you call the courts ‘kangaroo’ or not, with unseemly legal actions in progress (Jimmy Lai in due course), it’s not a great time to launch a tourism campaign. The SCMP on PR gurus’ reactions to the ‘cheap and tacky’ ‘Hello Hong Kong’ exercise…

Another veteran brand strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described the campaign as “terrible, vapid and empty” compared with the efforts of other cities.

…He said in a worse scenario the concept could get twisted, as it could simply be put next to “a bad story” and create terrible imagery.

And on cue…

Some links to start the week…

Very watchable Singaporean 2022 film Ren Yin on a diverse selection of people who have – so far – chosen to stay in Hong Kong.

The Guardian on public anger following the wave of Covid deaths in China…

Across China, hundreds of thousands of families are in mourning. Many are now questioning their faith in the government. The episode has seemingly not affected Xi’s power but it has dented his reputation. A 32-year-old man in Guangzhou says he was once a patriot but is now disillusioned. “Maybe I should thank Covid for making me clearly see through the whole political and economic system.”

Optimized is the new harmonized: Beijing’s image-creators rewrite the sudden end of zero-Covid…

How does an image-obsessed political system deal with the fallout after so many months of insisting that the costs of strict lockdown must be borne by all with a sense of sacrifice? Deny and reframe.

…State media have actively pushed the narrative that the sudden dismantling of rigid Covid control measures was simply a skillful re-tooling of existing policies. And one of the most important tools in this reframing process has been the phrase “optimize and adjust epidemic prevention and control measures”.

…The CCP invests so much of its credibility and legitimacy in the idea that it governs effectively and “scientifically,” always for the benefit of the people, that the story of success is always written before the outcome.

Slate asks everyone to stop calling Xi Jinping ‘President’…

Why is this mistranslation pernicious and problematic? Because it allows Beijing to tell two radically different stories. In China, General Secretary Xi Jinping rules over a tightly controlled, illiberal system. But internationally, President Xi Jinping can advocate globalization, openness, and free trade.

Strictly for military/maritime/Southeast Asia geeks, a long US Naval War Studies paper on Malaysian and Indonesian responses to China’s growing presence in the SCS…

What might at first seem to be among China’s greatest strengths—its employment of an immense, integrated maritime capability to coerce Southeast Asian claimants into acquiescing to its expansive claims—rapidly is becoming its greatest weakness. China’s efforts to expand its control into the southern South China Sea has become a significant strategic vulnerability in terms of its relations with Indonesia and Malaysia.

SOAS paper on trying to analyze China’s Ukraine policy.

For fellow steampunk fans – this thing is real.

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4 Responses to Starting today: another HK story to tell well

  1. Sid Gozzer Chan Cab 8888 says:

    Lock ‘em all up. It’s the only language these people understand. I had that Martin Lee in the back of the cab once.

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    So the popo/triads/united front “patriots” are ensuring that no one with any legitimate or public good interest in observing the NSL “subversion” trial will have a chance of getting into the gallery.
    UNLESS…they can dangle some more enticing bribes than a box lunch and a few gallons of cooking oil to get the grannies and uncles out of there.

  3. Reader says:

    The Ren Yin film is oddly compelling, given that it’s mostly ordinary people (+Ronson Chan) talking about their post-2019 lives and feelings. Best watched at a quiet time with a glass of wine in hand.

  4. Northern Menace says:

    Isn’t the government’s prosecution of the pan-democrats for holding a primary election an admission by the government that the pan-democrat candidates would have trounced the pro-establishment, and that the pro-Beijing side could never win a fair election?

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