Wouldn’t jailing people for saying Hong Kong has become like 1984 rather prove their point?
The Stand News trial enters a sort of meta hyperreality, with the prosecutor unwittingly making the defendants’ case by zeroing in on the dystopian novel, while the judge says he’s never read it.
George Orwell’s estate must love NatSec-era Hong Kong.
More NatSec from the last few days… Hong Kong’s national security police arrest Elizabeth Tang’s younger sister and Albert Ho’s brother – Tang’s lawyer – on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice ‘allegedly removing items related to Tang’s national security case’. They’ve also detained two women over alleged ‘incitement to secession’. And Chow Hang-tung and two others get four-month sentences for not handing data over to the police…
[Defender Philip] Dykes said that the defendants found themselves “in a unique position,” as while they were being convicted for being a foreign agent, the identity of the foreign organisation was not known to them.
…In her mitigation submission, Chow said that the Alliance was not a foreign agent, and that “nothing has emerged in this year long ordeal that proves otherwise.”
“To sentence us in such circumstances is about punishing people for defending the truth,” Chow said.
[Judge] Law interrupted Chow’s submission on several occasions, saying that what the barrister said was “irrelevant to mitigation,” and that the court must not be “a back door” for expressing political views.
Report from courtroom here.
The government’s sensitivity to criticism on rule of law in Hong Kong reaches a new level of ultra-touchiness as it hits back at an EU official’s ‘scandalizing’ of the city’s criminal justice process…
A spokesman for the HKSAR Government said, “As guaranteed by the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, all defendants charged with a criminal offence have the right to and will undergo a fair trial by the judiciary. The courts decide cases strictly in accordance with the evidence and all applicable laws. Cases will never be handled any differently owing to the profession, political beliefs or background of the persons involved.”
…Any person’s attempt to undermine the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong by slandering the rule of law in Hong Kong will only expose his own weakness and faulty arguments and be doomed to fail. The HKSAR Government strongly urges the relevant EU official to immediately stop acting against the international law and basic norms of international relations, and interfering in the Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs at large.”
The HK Sports Federation/Olympic Committee and the government come down hard on the HK Ice Hockey Association over the latest anthem shock horror outrage. The sports body complains that the IHA…
…has been evasive … and it is therefore strongly believed that [the association] did not perform the duty in accordance with the guidelines,” it said in a statement.
The federation also said the association breached rules by sending a WhatsApp message to athletes about what to do if the anthem isn’t played correctly, when the rules say a proper briefing should be held.
More links from the weekend…
Good CNN report on that weird Hong Kong problem where there’s loads of underused land but the government says – in effect – there isn’t any, at least for housing…
Public housing plans are usually subject to years of red tape, but in the case of the quarantine camps the government managed to suddenly “find” around 80 hectares of land and build 40,000 pre-fabricated metal units in a matter of months.
…Francis Law, who was sent to Penny’s Bay in late 2022, said that while simple, the facilities were adequate to meet a person’s basic needs and would offer an attractive temporary option to those on public housing lists.
“If the government rents the units out for around HK$2,000 to HK$3,000 per month [$254 to $382] and arranges a bus route to the nearest train station, I think it would attract a lot of applicants, even if it’s far flung from the main central business district,” he told CNN.
Wait for the excuses about why these units can’t be used for housing.
Video of Xi Jinping being applauded in the NPC while casting his vote in the ‘election’ that unanimously confirmed his third term as President. (Turn volume down – they clap loudly.)
The Guardian on Li Keqiang’s decline and exit…
Wang [Juntao, former friend] said it pained him to watch the once quick-witted, outspoken and independent-thinking intellectual deliver his last government work report to the rubber-stamp parliament on Monday. In the report, Li talked flatly on the government’s performance in an hour-long speech that lauded Xi Jinping as “the core of the party leadership” seven times.
…[Academic Steve] Tsang said Li’s departure would “mark the end of collective leadership”. Dominated by Xi’s loyal allies, elite politics from now on “will be guided by how to please the boss most”.
The slogans have always meant something: long essay by Tanner Greer on Xi Jinping’s retreat from Deng Xiaoping’s opening and reform philosophy, as encapsulated by a shift in focus of slogans away from economic growth towards national security…
But it is still significant that he—or his agents—are trying at all. The Party is ready to declare that development must be balanced with security; it is prepared to state that the international environment no longer presents a period of opportunity for growth and development. The Party is not yet ready to walk back the central tenet of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms. Yet the fact that a formula once enshrined as the guiding principle for the next century of party life is now being debated suggests that we are moving quickly into a fundamentally new era. Powerful interests are attempting to reorient the Party away from wealth and the marketplace. Chinese leaders no longer have confidence that economic integration and economic development have the same historical power that they once did. In Xi’s new era, the Party must rely on different tools to build the world of their desires.
A short but interesting dictionary on Beijing’s international discourse terminology – Decoding China.
A month or so later than usual, Dan Wang’s annual monumental letter – China in 2022 and the future…
It’s time to level set. China’s growth prospects are off track, but the country retains huge strengths. How do we balance everything? I think that a fair assessment should acknowledge these five propositions. First, business can still be exciting as China continues broad catch-up growth that creates flourishing in particular sectors, even if economic headwinds are stronger too. Second, China’s cities continue to be nicer places to live in (especially Shanghai—Beijingers can ignore this part), offering better provision of parks, healthcare, and retail. Third, doomers have wrongly predicted the collapse of China for 30 years. Fourth, Xi has centralized considerable power, and over the past decade has tightened limits not just on freedom of speech, but increasingly on freedom of thought. And fifth, though cities are more pleasant, a small risk of catastrophe threatens to overturn one’s life.
…Aging autocrats turn easily cranky. It’s especially bad since factional struggle is built into the Leninist system: Xi will likely never stop feeling paranoid even if he has surrounded himself with sycophants. So I think the party-state will continue to make unforced errors. It has, after all, upset many countries with gratuitous insults. And it has managed to pull off the impossible: blowing away China’s enormous stock of human capital. China has superb entrepreneurs and artists who could bring the national glory that Xi craves only if they were allowed to do their creative work. And even any high schooler could be a more persuasive propagandist than the Ministry of Foreign Affairs if they were allowed a platform to speak. But there is so much ruination among Marxist-Leninists, who cannot suffer that there are areas outside of the party’s control. The party in recent years have sequentially alienated people inclined to be more friendly: foreign businesses, European governments, domestic artists and entrepreneurs. I bet these unforced errors will continue.