Google refuses to take Jimmy Lai biopic The Hong Konger off YouTube after HK Police complain that the movie is seditious (and in contempt of court owing to ongoing trial).
A (possibly paywalled) WaPo piece including Siu Gaa’s short story Our Time, with an introduction and background by Cantonese-language activist Andrew Chan…
Every day, I am inundated with news about Hong Kong’s national security law — but I never imagined becoming ensnared in its grasp. That changed when the police arrived at our front door and told my father they would search our apartment without a warrant. Until then, I had naively believed that their focus was on politicians and protesters, never nerds like me. The police’s concern was stranger than fiction: They had taken umbrage at 11 essays submitted to a Cantonese writing competition that I had organized in 2020.
The national security law is intended to promote “social harmony” — in large part by stamping out Cantonese, the mother tongue of most Hongkongers, in favor of forcing the widespread use of Mandarin, China’s national language. The essays had violated that “social harmony,” a government official told me, pointing out their “problematic content,” ranging from Cantonese profanities to narratives of emigration, all deemed unlawful.
A (also possibly paywalled) WSJ feature by author Ian Johnson on ‘finding new homes’ in the West for potentially illicit books stored in Hong Kong…
In February 2022, a friend in Hong Kong sent me an urgent notice on an encrypted messaging app. It was Bao Pu, a publisher whose New Century Press once regularly issued memoirs by some of China’s most important dissidents, thinkers and activists, as well as photo books and collections of official documents that challenged the government’s account of key events. Since 2019, when the Chinese government violently suppressed protests in Hong Kong, it had been difficult for him to publish, in part because printers were too afraid to touch his manuscripts. He had tried printing in Taiwan and shipping the books back to Hong Kong, but customs made trouble. After a draconian new National Security Law was passed in 2020, he all but gave up and was thinking of new projects, and possibly even of moving abroad.
Now there was a more pressing matter: the warehouses where he and other publishers kept their books wanted them to clear out their stock. The titles were so sensitive that even storing them had become a potential violation of the law. The warehouse owners issued an ultimatum: get them out immediately or they would be pulped.
…Six weeks later, my office was filled with 380 banned books—roughly five copies each of 79 titles, everything from studies of political reform to accounts of famine and love stories about politically persecuted families.
…In any open society, these books would be part of the normal political discourse, featured in a newspaper book review or on a television talk show. In China, they were written by people mostly working on their own time, at night, after years in prison, sometimes in exile, and other times holed up in an apartment under 24-hour surveillance. There was no money in this, but they felt compelled to set in words the problems that their country faced. These fragile works had already been consigned to Hong Kong, on the fringes of China’s empire, and now they were retreating even further.
Some not-very-light reading and viewing for the weekend…
In the (paywalled) FT – Beijing launches its new Central Financial Commission, which assumes powers to guide the central bank and securities regulators….
“Party oversight of China’s financial system . . . will become far more centralised and controlling, in line with the ways in which the party itself and economic governance have changed already,” said George Magnus, an associate at Oxford university’s China Centre.
“The temptation to intervene in capital and credit allocation, whether arising from risk or management failure, or from political directive, is likely to be elevated,” he added. “These features do not augur well for China’s financial stability or economic prospects.”
…Victor Shih, professor of Chinese political economy at the University of California, San Diego, said businesses should expect to be affected by the commission, which will have the final say on important deals including major mergers and joint ventures.
Shih said the commission would also control mid-level state financial sector personnel appointments and the regulations applied by government agencies.
CMP on fake news China-style, including fake (and real) reporters who blackmail businesses by threatening to expose corporate shenanigans…
China’s leadership is unable to concede … that it has created the conditions for media corruption by making power the only standard of truth that truly matters. Crooks and crooked reporters, whether they hold valid press cards or not, understand that their power as journalists arises not from their ability to expose the facts to the public, but from their share, real or perceived, of state power. They thrive commercially on the threat of journalism as a function of state power — and on the promise of silence on the flip side.
A long China Books Review piece on Spark – a samizdat publication created by Chinese students sent to the countryside during the great famine around 1960.
Back on YouTube (but is it seditious?), a US Tokyo embassy interview with a US academic on how Beijing nurtures anti-American sentiment among the Chinese public.
Also from CMP, a look at the ‘soul and root’ of China’s cultural civilization. The former is Marxism, and the latter is China’s ‘excellent traditional culture’ -’ a visual representation of Xi’s theory of the Two Combines’ – and inspiration for TV hit When Marx Met Confucius.