Magic rivers of blood

The West Kowloon Culture Hub-Zone’s initial HK$20 billion government grant will soon be used up. Most great museums in the world – the Louvre, British Museum, and the amazing array of Smithsonian sites along Washington DC’s Mall – rely to some extent on state funding, and most people would say they are worth it. Hong Kong has a longstanding phobia about such an approach, preferring to see every project as a property project. So the governing authority is hinting that it needs permission to use land to raise revenues. As with Cyberport (to take just one example), we can always pay for public goods with the magic money created by building luxury apartments.

Which brings us to Regina Ip’s lucky tax break – and unfortunate shelf company name…

Top Hong Kong government advisor Regina Ip has hit out at local media reports which claimed she saved HK$7.66 million in stamp duty by purchasing a flat via company shares. The idea that buying a property through a company amounted to tax evasion was “unfair and quite ignorant,” she said.

…Ip declared [in the Executive Council disclosure] that there was one residential property with one car parking space in the Central and Western district held in the name of Magic Fiddle Limited for self-occupation.

In the Mainland, officials’ real-estate transactions are of course not public. Bloomberg on China’s vanishing statistics: unemployment, land sales, foreign reserves, bond trading, Covid deaths, academic databases (dissertations, conference proceedings, etc) and politicians’ bios…

Social media users were cynical about the government’s latest swipe at information freedom on Tuesday. One popular post suggested the authorities had simply run out of options.

“You thought you couldn’t get anything out of the toolbox except the megaphone,” the post read. “Then after some digging, you found a blindfold.”

Chinese academics propose that the rest of the planet starts calling Tibet ‘Xizang’…

“To establish China’s dominant position in the international discourse related to Tibet, there is an urgent need for an English translation of ‘Tibet’ that can accurately describe China’s position,” Wang Linping, a professor at Harbin Engineering University’s College of Marxism, was quoted as saying.

He claimed the use of the name Tibet had “seriously misled the international community” over the “geographical scope” of the region.

They still can’t get most foreigners to pronounce ‘Beijing’ properly – so good luck. But if it happens, can Xianggang be far off?

Some weekend reading…

The Guardian reports activists’ views on the reasons behind the Hong Kong arrest warrants for the overseas wanted eight…

The interrogation of family members has not prompted any of the exiles to return home…

…But the tactics of the Hong Kong authorities have achieved what several observers told the Guardian was the true aim: scaring other overseas activists and potential activists into silence.

…The UK, US and Australian governments all issued statements condemning the bounties against the activists, highlighting what some analysts said was an own goal for Hong Kong, which is trying to attract foreign businesses back to the city.

Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, remains worried that the targeting of families could escalate to arrests or even criminal charges under the very broad national security law and sedition ordinance.

Graph showing private sector’s share of market cap of China’s top 100 companies.

CMP looks at Code Pink – the ‘pro-peace’ group that has apparently become an arm of China’s propaganda efforts…

For state-run outlets like the China Daily, published by the government’s Information Office (functionally the same office as the Central Propaganda Department), this and other “China Is Not Our Enemy” protests have shown that there is growing popular resistance to anti-China policies in the US. This was also, wittingly or unwittingly, the reporting frame used by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, which cited the Select Committee hearing protest as evidence that “frustration with [the] status quo and recognition of [the] high cost of conflict extends beyond seasoned China watchers.”

This might have been wishful thinking. Or it might have been an effort to shift the narrative. In any case, there is no popular revolt over China policy in the US, and current polling shows that a large majority of Americans are concerned about China’s role in the world.

Also from CMP – ‘important’ Xi Jinping stuff. (Hong Kong officials have mentioned/studied ‘important’ speeches and messages from Xi, so pay attention – it might be, um, important.)

HRW on anti-black online racism in China…

“The Chinese government likes to tout China-Africa anti-colonial solidarity and unity, but at the same time ignores pervasive hate speech against Black people on the Chinese internet,” said Yaqiu Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch….

…A widely shared type of video, created by Africa-based Chinese social media influencers, portrays Africans as impoverished and dependent, while Chinese people – often the content creators themselves – are shown as wealthy saviors who provide them with jobs, housing, food, and money.

Another common type of racist content reviewed denigrates interracial relationships. Black people married to Chinese people are accused of “contaminating” and threatening the Chinese race. Perceived relationships between Black men and Chinese women are particularly vilified.

The China Project looks at (though avoids the probably banal reasons for) the recent absence of Xi Jinping from the CCTV evening news…

The usual CCP memes still fill the TV screen: leaders pointing at things, officials examining the rice harvest, soldiers and armed police mobilized en masse to “beat back the torrents and fight the floods,” Party members helping children and old ladies. But compared with the usual 7 p.m. news, half of which is focused on Xi, time has been freed up for smaller stories about CCP officials lower in stature and even a few ordinary folk.

…It’s edifying to see China on the screen, if only for as long as Xi stops upstaging everyone else, as a country containing multitudes, with lots of people doing good things and credit being spread around. It’s still propaganda, it’s CCTV after all, but it’s time-tested propaganda that meets the viewer halfway and gives voice to “good communists” and “model citizens” instead of crediting Xi for all accomplishments and achievements. Instead of starting every sentence with the formulaic “As Xi Jinping says…” the recipients of CCTV’s microphone can be seen expressing ideas of their own.

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9 Responses to Magic rivers of blood

  1. wmjp says:

    To be very slightly fair to The Ip, she is correct in saying that she didn’t indulge in tax evasion. What it was was tax avoidance which is legal.

    What is possibly more interesting in the story is where the money comes from to buy a $51 million flat as a second home for her daughter. The Ip is a lifelong taxpayers’ employee (yes, I know they are grossly overpaid but when Carrie said she couldn’t afford to buy a flat on a CE’s salary, one wonders). Her daughter is a “consultant” and sole director of a UK company and living in a $30 million flat in London’s Soho.

  2. willy wonka says:

    Petition for us to call China “chaohai”

  3. Mukden Tukden says:

    Shouldn’t it be South Manchukuo?

  4. Justsayin says:

    Magic Broomhead Inc. is potentially funnelling money into the UK? I will have a look at their docs on companies house….

  5. steve says:

    Speaking of Regina, she’s trying out the online racism by Chinese patriots thing herself:

  6. Guest says:

    So Ip’s daughter hasn’t absconded from Hong Kong for good?

  7. Low Profile says:

    How can you have an English translation of “Tibet”, when Tibet is already the English name for the region Tibetans call Bod? What China is apparently trying to do is obscure the fact that historic Tibet covered a much larger area than the current Tibetan “autonomous” region of China, known in Chinese as Xizang. Large areas of Tibet were annexed and incorporated into neighbouring Chinese provinces.

  8. wmjp says:

    On the topic of Rivers of Blood Money:
    The HSBC GBA Sustainability Fund, which aims to support companies in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) in lowering their carbon emissions, has been increased from an initial US$5 billion to US$9 billion.

    HSBC shareholders, say goodbye to that cash.

  9. A true Patriot says:

    I am sure, after reading my post here, Regina will follow my suggestion and donate the 7 million she made by optimising her property purchase “in accordance with the law” to charity.
    Is the CCP a charity? Just asking…

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