If you were deluded enough to think it might be an idea to ease off on NatSec, you were wrong (and there are some business types who have been quietly pleading for a more authentic ‘back to normal’). NatSec gets top place in the Policy Address, no doubt partly because it has become a big, well-resourced local bureaucratic force, and partly because it is a nationwide priority for Beijing.
So the local Article 23 NatSec Law will come in 2024. This could increase penalties for ‘inciting hatred of government’ sedition charges, reduce government transparency (to protect state secrets), and even extend controls over the internet.
The Museum of Coastal Defence will be renamed to reflect an emphasis on the ‘War of Resistance’ – which suggests a version of the 1937-45 Sino-Japanese War that downplays the role of the ROC and the Western-backed KMT regime’s forces.
Not to be confused with ‘soft resistance’! This new Big Thing also gets a mention in the Policy Address. Indeed, a judge cited it when sentencing an old guy to prison for playing Glory to Hong Kong, even though the phrase has no legal definition or status. AFP reports…
The rise of the ambiguous concept has triggered rare debate in Hong Kong’s pro-establishment camp, which is the only game in town after the political opposition was wiped out under Beijing’s national security law.
Legislator Paul Tse told AFP in August that criminalising “soft resistance” with further national security laws could be damaging.
“There will be a very big grey area and huge censorship threat,” he said.
“In the long run it won’t benefit us because no society can sustain without noises, not for long.”
…The term has since been used to describe criminal offences such as sedition, incitement, terrorism, and advocacy for Hong Kong independence, according to security chief [Chris] Tang.
“Some national security perpetrators have continued to incite, infiltrate and collude with foreign forces through means like ‘soft resistance’,” Tang told pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po in June.
He also blamed “soft resistance” for causing “multiple social chaos in Hong Kong over the past 20 years”.
Leader Lee — under US sanctions for his role in cracking down on the 2019 protests — had in July warned about “destructive forces engaging in soft resistance hidden within Hong Kong”.
Taking a lead from Lee, customs commissioner Louise Ho later vowed to “strictly scrutinise ‘soft resistance’ items being imported”.
Then there are the usual Policy Address inducements. Cutting stamp duty to bolster (or something) the housing market. While this appears to increase buyers’ purchasing power, all it really does in a market with short supply is enable them to bid up the prices – so it benefits sellers. (Same goes for tax relief for mortgages, easier mortgage ratios etc.)
Reversing the falling birthrate – even RTHK blurts out ‘I won’t have a baby for $20,000’. (Has any government anywhere in the world ever boosted births by offering money?) Similarly, stock investors say ‘we won’t trade more for a 0.03 percentage point cut in stamp duty’. Also, a plan to give residency to outsiders who buy HK$30 million in stocks or bonds. We’re not desperate or anything.
Is there anything I’ve missed? Tons. How much Belt and Road do you want?
On the subject of newly weds (roughly), fans of the Taiwanese couple having their wedding photo taken in front of a huge pile of garbage will be delighted to find that the lady talks about the issue on video.