Officials spend the weekend outlining their priorities…
After being removed and put into storage in late 2021, the ‘Pillar of Shame’ is confiscated in connection with an ‘incitement to subversion’ case. A Czech group objects. To make sure as many people as possible notice, the Security Bureau is sorely vexed.
In a similar attention-grabbing vein, the Sports and Culture minister calls for an end to bickering over the last national anthem screw-up – yet also ‘punishment’ for the ice hockey association. An Olympics Committee boss also asks for all concerned to stop pointing fingers and focus on ‘plugging NatSec loopholes’. No-one in an official position can be seen to drop the whole tiresome issue. (Standard editorial.)
Around 10% of a government fund to promote the rights of sexual minorities since 2017 went on pseudo-scientific gay-conversion wackos. (Fundamentalist Christian civil servants have long been a thing. How are they faring under the new order?)
Former Housing and Transport minister Frank Chan says District Council members are like domestic helpers and can be fired for not supporting the government. (Has the Chan family fired amahs for not supporting the administration? Who is going to be more insulted by this comparison – DHs or DC members?)
More on this: SCMP op-ed on the government’s weak PR skills in unveiling the ‘new look’ District Councils…
…given the low political resistance, the government should have gone further and shut down the “district councils” altogether.
…the government’s failure to rename and rebrand the district-level consultative bodies has left them vulnerable to the criticism that they represent a “regression”. There is even talk that voters are being punished by the new system.
(The authorities are scrapping a system where the public picked people to represent them to the government, and replacing it with one where the government picks people to represent itself to the public. How do you put a positive spin on that?)
A variety of links…
Vice on Hong Kong’s car-racers – countered (or not) by weak law enforcement – on Route Twisk. Interesting despite the glamorization of selfish morons, and a slightly weird suggestion that their defiance of authority is linked to the pro-democracy protests. More discussion here.
The Diplomat on Western banks’ – notably HSBC’s – exposure to pressure from Beijing…
In normal times the denial of access to [BNO migrants’ MPF] pension savings totaling over $2.5 billion in one of the world’s global financial centers would raise alarm bells for international investors, but the willful complicity of Western-based banks in blocking these pension assets is even more concerning. That may spell darker trouble ahead if these financial institutions face similar pressure to seize assets if conflict breaks out in the Taiwan Strait.
HSBC is a powerful case-study. The problem is not that the bank will be forced to choose between its huge profit center in China and Hong Kong, where it takes around two-thirds of its profits, and its retail banking and investment arm in the West. Rather, the problem is that HSBC has already made its decision.
China Talk interview with no-nonsense academic Stephen Kotkin saying the West is already in a cold war with China, so engage on that basis…
We went from a fairytale — from an imagined China, from a China that didn’t exist in reality and an engagement policy based on a fairytale — to a better understanding of what China was doing, and where it was going in the game it was playing, and the game that we were in. That’s actually the basis for a better engagement policy, ultimately — for a better diplomacy, for a stabilized relationship.
As a commentator at Sinocism puts it…
[China’s leaders] say that their rise is unstoppable and nobody can hold them down. And in the next breath they say that the USA is trying to hold them down. But if nobody can hold you down, then how can we hold you down? It doesn’t make sense. Just another instance of CCP psychological warfare. They want to psyche us into believing we can’t win while at the same time making us feel guilty for trying. 哈哈😆
See also (possibly paywalled) FT piece ‘Washington isn’t listening to business on China any more’, which declares ‘the era of Davos man is over’.
Michael Pettis thread on how China’s state-owned asset management companies (AMCs) ‘miraculously’ solved the country’s debt problems.
From CMP – can China’s leaders stop talking in code?
Last week, as Xi Jinping finally spoke to President Zelensky, four articles materialized in the People’s Daily within half as many days, signaling Xi Jinping’s ambition to position himself as a peacemaker in Ukraine. And as China now claims to be stepping up as a responsible power, it is critical to reflect on the obscure, constrained, and sometimes monstrously insensitive discourse of the Chinese Communist Party — and its possible implications for the world.
And more on Beijing’s ‘new form of human civilization’ – Xivilization.
Thread (and link) on WSJ story revealing that Beijing has cut overseas access to economic/corporate data after US think-tanks used it to monitor ‘civil-military fusion’.
Reasonably short Jamestown Foundation article on Beijing’s blockade-rehearsals and United Front propaganda measures against Taiwan. Essentially: how China compensates for the futility of an actual attempt to invade and control the island.