‘Soft’ is the new ‘black’

Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao come for the housing/lands NGOs…

…concern groups including Platform Concerning Subdivided Flats and Alliance Concerning Subdivided Flats were slammed for leveraging such issues to “incite citizens’ negative emotions against the government.”

Between them, the Beijing-run papers accuse concern groups of trying to undermine public confidence in government measures like the Light Public Housing initiative, and charge the respected Liber Research Community with ‘smearing’ the Lantau mega-reclamation. Wen Wei Po quotes a commentator as saying that ‘black’ anti-government forces are shifting from overt to ‘soft power’ activities.

This looks like plain intolerance of any criticism from forces that believe government tells the people what to think – not vice-versa. But it could be more nuanced. Someone in the power structure must realize that Hong Kong’s Beijing-appointed officials have failed significantly in housing and land since 1997 (though of course they cannot publicly admit it). To them, Liber’s research on how best to fix the problem looks like an attempt to exploit a vulnerability. But of course anyone who thinks this way must also see the government as extremely frail.

Whether it is a bogeyman or a genuine fear, the word ‘soft’ seems to be important. The CE also uses it in comments to reporters…

“We have stressed repeatedly that even though Hong Kong is now generally stable, we must not let our guard down against any threats to national security. The black riots and the Hong Kong version of the colour revolution of 2019 should serve as a warning for us – that we always have to be vigilant in the long run against hidden threats, including soft resistance.”

On not totally unrelated matters…

An SCMP op-ed on the contradiction between Hong Kong as ‘back to normal’ and Beijing’s apparent NatSec fears…

While the outside world sees Beijing’s direct imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong as another definite sign of its further tightening grip on the city, the central government mandarins are not yet totally reassured.

…While [Mainland] officials suggested that Hong Kong’s stability might have returned, they expressed concerns about hidden national security threats and a “handful of anti-China forces” continuing to plot disruptive activities.

Interview with Louisa Lim, whose book was pulled from Hong Kong libraries.

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5 Responses to ‘Soft’ is the new ‘black’

  1. Nury Versace says:

    Poor Louisa. Censorship continues and thoughtcrime is now the real enemy.

    It appears I was quite wrong yesterday. Over a Victory gin at the Chestnut Tree cafe I was informed that the man who has a similar name to mine did in fact at one time publish a book full of calumny and hostility towards patriotic compilers of content at a newspaper called “The South China Morning Post”, which is apparently, I am told, still coming out. One unfortunate person who has apparently secured a copy of this sordid tome summarises it thus:

    “North Wind (Aberdeen, Hong Kong SAR, China: Chameleon Press, 2001) is a short, rambling tale of the period surrounding the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China. The author, whose family hails from Sri Lanka, is a local Hong Kong writer and entertainer who spent several years before the handover working as an associate editor for Hong Kong’s largest English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post. He was particularly well known for his daily column, Lai See, which featured daily in the Business Post section and made satirical jabs at the political and business elites and various goings-on in Hong Kong.

    “But as the handover approached, the writer explains, top management and editorial figures at the SCMP began pressurising writers to drop certain topics that were deemed “sensitive.” North Wind is his recollection of that pressure campaign, which led to his eventual resignation on the grounds that he was effectively being denied the free speech rights enshrined in the handover’s Basic Law and the 50-year policy freeze that was meant to ensure the maintenance of “One Country, Two Systems.”

    Imagine my horror in discovering that ten copies of this despicable slandering of one of our most loyal media organs circulate openly in the public library system, tempting unsuspecting young people and the poor in spirit to delve into a maelstrom of mendacity and besmirch themselves with its vile assertions.

    I call upon all right-minded people to join with me and demand that all copies of this revolting diatribe be removed forthwith and ritually burnt at the top of the Bank of China building, encouraging perhaps others to contribute similar decadent and untruthful works to the pyre and to kindle a beacon of Hope in these troubled times.


  2. Boris Badanov says:

    Waiting for provoking quarrels or making trouble to make it onto the criminal law books. Oops, sorry sedition’s already there. The Economist is right. HK is truly over if it continues down this track. The initial post NSL projection was it would take 5-10 years to truly throttle HK. At this pace reduce it to full Mainlandisation in close to 1-2.

  3. Mark Bradley says:


    I am surprised the great firewall isn’t up yet (the current DNS null route system doesn’t count though it definitely is a big change from pre NSL HK), but considering they are going to soon table a “cybercrime” law in the context of national security, it’s only a matter of time.

    Oh well. I have proxies, and v2ray-core ready when it happens. I already need it to be able to access high end LLMs like GPT4 since HK is completely discredited now. Certainly doesn’t help that the cretins at CCP were trumpeting that China is the leader of AI. With ChatGPT released, we can all see how full of shit the CCP was and who the real AI leader is.

  4. Low Profile says:

    If differing from the official view on any government policy – no matter how irrelevant to the nebulous concept of “national security”- is now to be categorised as “smearing”, then civil society is truly dead. And so is Hong Kong.

  5. Cassowary says:

    @Low Profile: You can’t challenge the official position on any social issue in mainland China, not at scale and not for long. Hong Kong is clearly headed in the same direction. Sooner or later, all that will be left are Jockey Club funded charities performing wholly innocuous (and more importantly, photogenic)
    acts of community service like picking up litter.

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