From HKFP – former pan-dem District Council members arrested after ‘allegedly selling pension funds without a valid license’…
Dominic Lee, a member of the pro-establishment New People’s Party, said in a commentary published by state-backed Chinese-language newspaper Wen Wei Po that some former district councillors were “lurking in the community under the guise of selling insurance and dealing with MPF accounts for residents.”
Lee accused this of being “soft resistance”, a vague term used by government officials and pro-establishment figures to condemn activities deemed to be against the local government or Beijing.
“[Authorities] should closely monitor the activities of this so-called ‘community work’ by anti-China rioters in Hong Kong, ” Lee wrote. “If any illegal activities are detected, law enforcement actions should be taken immediately. “
Is it fraud, or is it ‘soft resistance’? The pan-dems’ aim was apparently to advise lower-income and less-educated people how to get the most from their compulsory retirement savings accounts.
Some recommended reading and viewing…
Asia Nikkei reports (maybe paywalled) that Hong Kong is losing out to Singapore in trying to attract family offices…
Hong Kong recently passed an amendment giving single-family offices tax exemptions on profits if they have an aggregate asset value of at least 240 million Hong Kong dollars and an operating expenditure of at least HK$2 million. The corporate tax rate is 16.5%.
The amendment was part of eight measures the government announced to help reach its goal of attracting at least 200 of the world’s top family offices to set up shop in the city by 2025. The government also set aside HK$100 million to fund Family Office HK, a small team tasked with bringing in foreign direct investment, and in March organized the Wealth for Good summit for billionaires and their advisers.
Isn’t this desperation to attract this niche asset-management activity unseemly at best, and even raising questions about why Hong Kong might be losing competitiveness as a location?
…A head of a wealth management company that works with mainland Chinese clients said he has seen several individuals register under a single-family office. But most still preferred to put their assets beyond the hands of Chinese authorities.
“That was what I have been told consistently,” he told Nikkei Asia, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic. “Even if the legislation and benefits are similar to Singapore, the underlying question will always be ‘is it safe?'”
Reuters (also paywalled) on tightened travel restrictions for Chinese public-sector workers…
Chinese civil servants and employees of state-linked enterprises are facing tighter constraints on private travel abroad and scrutiny of their foreign connections, according to official notices and more than a dozen people familiar with the matter, as Beijing wages a campaign against foreign influence.
Ten current and former employees told Reuters the curbs had been widened since 2021 to include bans on overseas travel, tighter limits on trips’ frequency and duration, onerous approval processes, and pre-departure confidentiality training. They said the measures were unrelated to COVID-19.
…”Beijing is increasingly paranoid about the threat of espionage by Western countries, and preventing government employees from going abroad could be a way to reduce opportunities for spying by foreign powers,” said Neil Thomas, a fellow of Chinese politics at the Asia Society Policy Institute’s Center for China Analysis in Washington.
Political ideology was a factor, too, Thomas said, with Xi wanting to “look inward for ideas” rather than seek inspiration from the West.
…Some public school teachers also face new curbs on overseas trips, according to a teacher in southeastern Zhejiang province and a person with knowledge of new regulations introduced in a Shanghai district this year.
At one large branch of state policy lender China Development Bank, overseas trips have been banned this year, according to a person who works there, while an employee of a state-connected mutual fund said travel restrictions were extended recently to new hires in Hong Kong and Singapore.
…Wang Zhi’an, a former Chinese state-television anchor who runs an independent media outlet in Japan, said authorities may be worried about officials’ observations outside China.
“This exposure might subtly influence the thinking and awareness of these officials,” he said. “They might start to question the Communist Party’s management system and wonder why it’s like this.”
Jerome Cohen in The Hill on China’s position if the DPP wins Taiwan’s forthcoming presidential election…
Taiwanese society has been stunned by the PRC’s overt violations of human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, coupled with escalating attempts to intimidate the island into submission.
…The ball would then be in Beijing’s court to consider whether, in view of the failure of its anti-Tsai policies, it makes more sense to react more flexibly to the new Democratic Progressive Party regime in the hope that honey will yield better results than poison. Xi Jinping faces an array of challenges threatening his rule’s legitimacy, with a sluggish economy at the forefront. It behooves him to abandon the rigidity that has distinguished him from Deng Xiaoping and Deng’s successors. The continuing failure of his Taiwan policy will only magnify Xi’s many quandaries.
Private Eye pays homage to the creator of what – to me – was always the funniest ever single-frame cartoon (pictured).
A quick promo video – Marx arrives at the Confucian temple: ‘A production by Hunan Television brings together Karl Marx and Confucius to discuss the integration of their philosophies in China in the twenty-first century’.
Another video – a look inside Japan’s prisons and confession-focused criminal justice system.
And a less grim one on the guy who designed the Rolling Stones tongue logo.