Reasons for the warrants

The (paywalled) Economist considers Hong Kong’s ‘overseas Wanted eight’ announcement…

The bounties … may be seen as a peacockish riposte to the West. They also serve to highlight the nature of Hong Kong’s “dual state”, says [Alvin Cheung of Queen’s University Faculty of Law in Canada]. On one level the bureaucracy and judiciary abide by a legal system that is well codified and equitably administered. But, he says, there is now a second, overarching “prerogative state” that operates with few legal restraints. That is handy for keeping troublemakers in check. For international types who once favoured Hong Kong for its stability and rule of law, it is a worry. 

Hong Kong’s Security Secretary confronts those expressing outrage, bewilderment or – perhaps worst of all – mockery (as in seeing it as a ‘peacockish’ overblown strutting display)…

Hongkongers should see the “true colours” of the eight wanted democrats, security chief Chris Tang has said, adding that one of them – activist Nathan Law – was a “modern-day Chinese traitor” and a cowardly “turtle hiding inside its shell.”

…The security chief also said that the force would try to find out the suspects’ “contacts, allies and [people] funding them behind the scenes.”

In case you don’t think the world is supposed to take it seriously, Lau Siu-kai in China Daily, provides a lengthy rationale for the issuing of the warrants…

Many “anti-China and sedition elements” who have fled overseas … have established many organizations abroad hostile to Hong Kong and instigated many malicious actions. They include the advocacy of “Hong Kong independence” and other secessionist claims, organizing “struggle” activities against the country and Hong Kong … lobbying Western countries to sanction and harm Hong Kong, and asking Western governments to sanction Hong Kong officials, judges, prosecutors, and politicians, slandering Hong Kong by serving as “witnesses” at the “hearings” of Western countries’ parliaments and assemblies, acting as“pawns” or “frontmen” of Western anti-China forces, driving a wedge between Hong Kong residents and the central government, the country, and Hong Kong through online propaganda, and so on.

And bad news for loved ones…

To a certain extent, this action by the SAR government should have the desired effect of “killing chickens to scare monkeys”. Many “anti-China and sedition elements” who have fled overseas have family members, friends, accomplices, and partners in Hong Kong. They should know that if they seek support or assistance from people closely related to them to undermine the security of the country and Hong Kong, it will bring disaster to their loved ones. Alternatively, their loved ones will be deterred from becoming their accomplices. In this case, the space for activities and the mobilization capabilities of overseas “anti-China and sedition elements” within Hong Kong will be significantly narrowed.

…The words and actions of Western forces will inevitably deepen Hong Kong residents’ understanding of the role of Western countries in the 2019-2020 Hong Kong riots, the Western attempt to contain China’s rise, Western hostility and malice towards Hong Kong, and Western hypocrisy, unscrupulousness, and double standards. Hong Kong residents’ “fantasy” and admiration for the West will further dwindle, leading to more disillusionment and weakening of the influence of Western forces and cultures in Hong Kong, indirectly boosting national education and national security education in the city.

A Bloomberg op-ed notes the harm to Hong Kong’s reputation…

All this for a law-enforcement push that has next to zero chance of success. The dissidents live in liberal democracies that value the civic rights and freedoms curtailed by Hong Kong’s security law. None of the countries will give credence to the idea that activists are “criminals” for peacefully defending liberties that China promised to preserve when it took back the city from Britain in 1997. 

What the announcement has done is irritate foreign governments with its attempt to threaten and browbeat, just as the city was showing signs of gaining traction in its attempts to re-engage with the world. 

…Overall … this looks like a strategic own goal for Hong Kong. After the traumas of the past four years, authorities have invested much time and energy in trying to convince the world that it is back to normal and ready to resume its role as an international financial center and tourism magnet. That’s a tough sell when your government policy is made in the editorial department of a state newspaper that appears stuck in a Cultural Revolution time warp.

Perhaps there is no time warp. Back to CD and Lau Siu-kai, who for good measure also offers a broad definition of ‘soft resistance’…

…various “soft confrontation” behaviors, including clandestinely obstructing the implementation of SAR government policies, spreading false news and misinformation unfavorable to the central and SAR governments, trying to engage in underground activities that endanger national security, smearing Hong Kong’s current conditions, and spreading pessimistic sentiments about Hong Kong’s future, have not stopped.

Does ‘clandestine obstruction of policy’ include (say) public criticism of official housing measures as inadequate? Does ‘smearing current conditions and spreading pessimism about the future’ include comment and analysis of the city’s economic problems? Lau is foreshadowing the local (Article 23) NatSec Law. Perhaps the vaguer that legislation is, the clearer Hong Kong’s direction will be.

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14 Responses to Reasons for the warrants

  1. Chinese Netizen says:

    Interestingly, if we’re talking about “true colors” being exposed, it might be the thin skin of the ever easily prodded HKCCPSAR security apparatus.

    Q Siri: How many times can one cram “western” and/or “west” into one’s ranting diatribe column to prove one’s unassailable patriotism and usefulness?

    Waiting to see immigration pull aside each and every returning HKer that has gone WEST (do Japan and ROK count?) for a vacation to analyse the amount of brain washing that may have occurred and whether or not the individual will need a two week detox stay in a former Covid quarantine facility.

  2. Nury Vibbrachi says:

    I think most people are missing the point here. It’s all about deflection.

    The people on the US Treasury sanctions list are:

    Carrie Lam, Chris Tang, Stephen Lo, John Lee Ka-chiu, Teresa Cheng, Erick Tsang, Xia Baolong, Zhang Xiaoming, Luo Huining, Zheng Yanxiong, and Eric Chan.

    They are not only international pariahs. They are of course international criminals if they attempt to divert or disguise, render or transform their pay, salary or other emoluments, funds, assets into other funds.

    But this they must do in order to survive. Friends and government institutions, companies and corporations will have to use their credit facilities to help them out.

    Disguised and proxy money transfers will have to be used for a number of reasons. Very few people can live forever exempt from the banking system. And such transfers will then have to be paid back.

    The attempts to avoid the system amount to money laundering – by the facilitators and the beneficiaries. This is a serious crime in which Interpol is very interested.

    No wonder the junta are putting up posters and screaming blue murder. If you’re a crook, better to turn up at the scene of the crime and look shocked, offer a reward and fume and curse.

    Which is exactly what they are doing.


  3. Zorba says:

    Just a suggestion… consider posting links to paywalled articles (Bloomberg, WSJ, Economist) as links, to allow everyone to read them.

  4. Low Profile says:

    I wonder if “smearing current conditions” includes any criticism of the awful government TV ad where a fat-faced woman unexpectedly screams out of your TV screen about heat stress or some such. The government is so thin-skinned these days that even a little gentle mockery is quite likely to be seen as a threat to national security.

  5. Cassowary says:

    “Does ‘clandestine obstruction of policy’ include (say) public criticism of official housing measures as inadequate?”
    The super nerds at Liber Research and various grassroots affordable housing advocacy groups have already been threatened by state media, so I assume the question was rhetorical. Sooner or later they’re going to create a bucket offence alond the lines of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” to prosecute anyone deemed to commit “soft resistance”.

  6. sourpuss says:

    Consider using blockchain to host images of articles that one day will be censored in Hong Kong.

    yes, yes, i Know, blockhain and cryptocurrency is a failed thing, a silly carnival that just o happens to take the power of monetary policy out of the hands of autocrats or any government, for that matter, but go on and don’t do anything with the technology.

  7. Chinese Netizen says:

    Non patriots rushing to collude with hostile WESTERN rapscallions to further destabilize what was promised to be the new currency of choice between Friends-For-Life China, Russia, NorKo and Iran.

  8. Ping Che says:

    What a bunch of losers……………..

    Lawmaker Martin Liao said the new system will show the superiority of China’s whole-process democracy by combining the functions of consultation, decision-making and policy execution.

    Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Dennis Leung said it was unfair that patriots like him lost out in the district council elections in 2019 because the polls had been “politicised”.

  9. Reader says:

    @Ping Che
    An interesting backstory to Whinging Dennis Leung – he held the On Yam DC seat for three terms 2007 to 2019, opposed at every turn by Leung Wing Kuen (of Neighbourhood and Worker’s Service Centre), who had occupied it since it was created as a District Board seat in 1994. Of course it was Leung WK who kicked him out in the 2019 dem sweep. Sadly the old trooper got squeezed out in the 2021 DC purge.

  10. Venom says:

    @Ping Che. Spot on. Losers is, quite literally, what they are.

  11. Editor-at-Large says:

    Line of the Day award goes to…. “a peacockish riposte”

    Only an Englishman could have produced THAT

  12. Mark Bradley says:

    In case anyone is interested in reading more about Hong Kong’s dual state, there’s a scholarly paper about the topic published by the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2022/57:

    It’s surprisingly candid and published after China decreed the NSL and our “patriots only” political system. It’s worth a read

  13. Mary Melville says:

    And this ‘gem’. 88 turkeys voting for Xmas.
    New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip said she thinks future district councillors will have a bigger mandate than British members of parliament.
    Merging 450 constituencies into 44 much larger ones means those councillors chosen by the people will be voted in by hundreds of thousands, she explained.

    Hmmmm the Brit electorate has a choice of candidates and anyone can run for the posts. As for hundreds of thousand votes, well we shall see.

  14. Chinese Netizen says:

    “The bill has got the eligibility review committee, so that those anti-China, anti-Hong Kong members or candidates will be barred from joining district council elections,” Liao said.

    i.e. the non sycophants.

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