Some end-of-week links…
No evidence was presented of the 33 having committed violent acts; they were present, shouted slogans, helped other protesters; a couple helped to block roads, etc.
Four years on, dozens of these mass “riot” trials of protesters are still going on in #HongKong. In total, so far 478 people have been given prison sentences averaging 40 months for “riot”; 55 youths have been sentenced to juvenile detention of up to 3 years each for “riot.”
in >70% of “riot” convictions, judges convict w/out evidence of the defendants having committed violent acts. Presence at scene, protest gear, black clothes, shouting slogans (“encouraging rioters”) are sufficient evidence to prove “participation in riot.” Conviction rate is 89%.
These hundreds of “riot” trials are meant to buttress regime #propaganda that the 2019 protests were “black violence.” In fact, about 4% of the >1,000 protests involved an element of protester violence. >15 million protested over 8 months, almost all entirely nonviolently.
China File multimedia article on photographer Billy HC Kwok’s work documenting Hong Kong’s changes…
He finds politics infecting or seeking refuge in everyday objects: a deck of playing cards depicts pro-democracy activists as traitors; pro-independence slogans (now the stuff of criminal charges) appear on the pads of paper shoppers use to test pens in stationery stores; real estate advertisements for “emigration sales” suddenly cover walls throughout the city.
From Bloomberg, Minxin Pei looks at how officials play a role in Chinese billionaires’ calamities…
In coming months, we should expect the Chinese government to portray Hui as a dishonest, greedy, and unscrupulous character. Missing in that narrative will be any hint that Chinese officials and the system they serve could have acted as Hui’s enablers and partners.
It’s extremely unlikely that China’s fallen tycoons could have taken out huge loans from state-owned banks, engaged in risky behavior, and signed questionable deals that eventually blew up their empires without support from local officials and lax oversight from regulators.
…More billionaires are sitting in jails in China than any other country, even Russia. This is not because Chinese entrepreneurs are more dishonest. The Chinese system, marred by weak regulatory enforcement and bribe-taking even after a decade of anti-corruption purges, effectively creates more opportunities for reckless risk-takers and rewards them generously before they are caught.
Money Control on disappearances among top Chinese officials…
…challenging Xi’s authority is akin to challenging the Party’s monopoly over truth and the legitimacy of its rule. The current flux in terms of personnel changes, therefore, should not be read as a sign of Xi’s weakness before opposing factions.
…in the short run, Xi’s willingness to sacrifice Qin and Li can be seen as a sign of confidence in his position, and the expendable nature of cadres at that level. If, however, senior CMC officials and close confidants like Zhang Youxia are sacrificed, then there’s likely a deeper crisis at hand, because it will signal that nobody’s position is secure.
In case you’ve been living in a cave over the last few months, George Magnus in New Statesman on China’s property sector woes.