Hard to keep up with all this…

Hong Kong authorities call their treatment of Agnes Chow lenient. Overseas media like Nikkei take a less-cheery angle…

The chief executive of Hong Kong on Tuesday vowed that authorities will hound prominent pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow for as long as she lives, after she left for Canada and suggested she might never return to the city.

The SCMP puts a more positive spin on it, courtesy of former pan-dem, now government supporter, Ronny Tong. Perhaps he knows a thing or two about such things, effectively saying Agnes Chow’s patriotic tour of Shenzhen and letter of contrition are no big deal. He…

…brushed off concerns on Monday that the unprecedented conditions would infringe upon Chow’s civil rights, arguing the activist had agreed to them to study overseas.

“Once you’ve offended the law, you don’t have a right to leave [the city], as the law stipulates, unless police permit them to leave,” he said.

Bail conditions were usually decided by police and the arrested person, with no defined limits to the conditions as long as both parties agreed to them, Tong noted.

An unnamed opposition activist disagreed…

He feared such practices would become accepted as a new norm in Hong Kong. “Will forced televised confessions be brought to Hong Kong next?” he said.

Funny he should mention that. Hong Kong indeed gets into televised confessions – HK Police release a video showing Tsang Chi-kin saying he was ‘incited’ to take part in 2019 protests.

This looks like the next step in counterproductive propaganda-performance – or where ‘soft power’ goes to die. Like the over-outraged press release demanding that Agnes Chow return, this Mainland-style video is going to alienate, rather than persuade, the supposedly intended audience. But, in the finest tradition of civil-service PR folks stretching back decades before NatSec, it will please superiors.

And the ICAC – originally founded to combat corruption – arrests someone for allegedly sharing a post urging people not to vote at the forthcoming District Council elections…

ICAC also said authorities had issued an arrest warrant for the author of the online post, a YouTube political commentator named Wong Sai-chak. Wong, better known as Martin Oei, is from Hong Kong and now lives in Germany.

(How many fugitives from Hong Kong’s NatSec justice now have de facto asylum overseas?)

Voters will get a tasteful thank-you card ‘designed by civil servants’…

…photo spots will also be set up outside polling stations for those who’d like to capture the moment and mark the occasion.

…A government spokesman added that the photo spots will include signs that feature election mascots, the “Ballot Box Babies”.

The classic cantopop song, ‘Under the Lion Rock’, will also be given new lyrics and be performed by popular artists to boost people’s morale.

SCMP pulls an op-ed advising the West to ditch Ukraine after finding the author is fictitious (maybe a figment of Alex Lo’s imagination)…

Bangkok-based journalist Tomasz Augustyniak said on Twitter, now X, that a reverse image search revealed that the headshot used in the bio was generated by artificial intelligence.

“Peter Sojka – according to his made up bio a fellow at the Slovak Academy of Sciences – argued that the US should convince Ukraine to sign truce with Russia. That would align with Beijing’s interests. But no such person works at the Academy and nobody in Bratislava recognizes him,” he said.

…In July 2020, SCMP pulled op-eds from “Lin Nguyen,” replacing her bio with a statement that the newspaper was “unable to verify the authenticity of the author.” Five columns were deleted, including one which urged Hong Kong protesters to “stay at home” during the extradition bill protests and unrest in 2019.

So how do you go about getting an op-ed published in the SCMP under a fake persona? They don’t usually pay for opinion pieces (boy, does it show), so you don’t need to provide a bank account number or anything. A fake email address and photo are easy enough to create. So it’s just a matter of crafting vaguely believable credentials – something from Eastern Europe (or maybe South/Southeast Asia) will do. Now all you have to do is write an immensely dull article.

This week’s ‘Anything I’ve missed?’ award goes to the Diplomat for an article on Hong Kong’s lessons for Taiwan…

Whereas, once, anyone could vie for office, now the powers that be – China operating behind the scenes – decide who gets a chance, and this gives the pretense of democratic rule over Hong Kong. It is one of many signs that what’s happening here is a cautionary tale for the next objective of China’s expansionary vision: Taiwan. 

Officials tout Hong Kong’s “stability and prosperity,” but people decry, along with the democratic deficit, economic troubles, a sinking property market, weakening judiciary, rising crime rates, mass emigration, administrative mismanagement, compromised meritocracy, security crackdown fears, overzealous “patriotic” education, and the loss of media freedom. These make the “distant mirror” of what “unification” with China might mean for Taiwan look increasingly unappealing.

…“Hong Kong does not have any opposition politicians right now, no free press, no civil society organizations, and no student associations. Everything has been wiped out and been flattened, and no dissidents are allowed to speak up and people are under arrest, many leaders are still in jail… or in exile,” said National Taiwan University Professor Ho Ming-sho, author of a book on Hong Kong social movements. “…Instead of moving forward toward democracy, we see backsliding to the level of mainland China. It’s very worrying,” according to Ho. 

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12 Responses to Hard to keep up with all this…

  1. W. the Pooh says:

    But… but… China encourages Afghanistan to “build an open and inclusive political structure” (https://hongkongfp.com/2023/12/05/china-says-afghan-taliban-must-reform-before-full-diplomatic-ties/). So what could Taiwan possibly have to worry about?

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    “And the ICAC – originally founded to combat corruption – arrests someone for allegedly sharing a post urging people not to vote at the forthcoming District Council elections…”

    Well to be fair, the ICAC needs something to do now that corruption has been conquered!

  3. Joe Blow says:

    “The classic cantopop song, ‘Under the Lion Rock’, will also be given new lyrics and be performed by popular artists to boost people’s morale.”

    I wonder who is going to sink his/her Cantopop career in the service of the DC election festival extravaganza? Probably some poor kids from the Emperor Entertainment group like those Twins birds.

    I always thought that there was something fake about that “David Dodwell” and I was right: I have it on good authority (the tea lady of the Ali rag) that he is, in fact, Mike Rowse with a hairpiece.

    By the way, whatever happened to those Dodwell stores where I used to buy white dress shirts for the office?

  4. Chinese Netizen says:

    “So how do you go about getting an op-ed published in the SCMP under a fake persona? They don’t usually pay for opinion pieces (boy, does it show), so you don’t need to provide a bank account number or anything.”

    Back in the early aughts, I contributed several columns to the SCMP – under a nom de plume – in the “The View From…” section of the opinion pages where observers living in various mainland cities would write about possibly something interesting to people in HK about daily life there. I originally volunteered to do it gratis but the editor at the time wouldn’t have that and (if I recall correctly) mailed checks to me in the mainland and, to be quite honest, I can’t remember how I got them cashed.

    But cashed they were (maybe on the occasional HK visit?) and though it was definitely not big money or a reason to quit the day job, it was more than enough to contribute to the Friday happy hours with the boys.

  5. Low Profile says:

    @Joe Blow – “I wonder who is going to sink his/her Cantopop career in the service of the DC election festival extravaganza?” Just about anyone who wants to perform in the mainland – which means everyone except Denise Ho. Look at the current propaganda blitz for the (so-called) elections featuring every past and present star TVB can drag up.

  6. asiaseen says:

    Know-nothing Dodwell is the counterpoint to Know-everything Lo. It’s what is called balanced journalism.

  7. AgnesBagness says:

    Checks notes…..

    but the police did give Agnes Chow permission to leave for Canada. Must she also return at their beck and call?

  8. South China Missing Persons says:

    On the glass-half-full side of things for the SCMP, at least their fake writers are disappearing at twice the rate their real ones are.

  9. Switching off says:

    Slightly OT, but did anyone hear the presenter of this morning’s RTHK ‘Money Talk’ drop a bollock? Our man, who stumbles over his script as if on opioids at the best of times, referred to Ms Bullock as one half of the male testes.

    There are only one or two coherent presenters of that show and it must be a way of torturing long-suffering listeners since they got shot of the fella who presented the half-hour version of the show superbly. The worst, however, is a camp-as-a-row of tents rentamouth with a backgr0und in marketing who seems to know sweet FA except dead British celebrities he name drops to nonplussed guests.

  10. Mary Melville says:

    Re Moneytalk – as Peter Lewis was suddenly axed for a perceived indiscretion, a number of guests were press ganged into hosting. Nitin is more suited to the ‘expert guest’ role he previously filled. Filby is painful. Richard Harris was another ‘guest’ who could not hack the presenter role. The Carolyn Wright segment is a time filler and repetitive
    and she is a bit too strident for a crack of dawn programme.
    It was disappointing that the ‘expert guests’ soildered on, I had expected a defection or two in support of the admirable Mr. Lewis.

  11. MeKnowNothing says:

    What’s it like on the radio elsewhere over at RTHK since they disappeared Chiverton? Have the other services been buggered up as much as things are now at R3?

    The new Boy Wonder doing Money Talk is a must listen, simply for his fumbles & sounding like he knows something about what’s being discussed. Other than that, haven’t been listening to RTHK-anything for years now…

    With perhaps the exception of the flaphead, I suspect the various commentators they still reach out to on that programme are equally unimpressed with all the new presenters.

  12. Switching off says:

    @Mary @meknownothing

    At least this morning’s effort had the chirpy Canuck who seems to know his way around. The other presenters are dire (and it’s time I found another distraction at that time of day.)

    Sooner hear that chirpy northern English lass on Money Talk. I’d think she’d rather the spot too; better than daily product placement. The interviewees show up to promote themselves and their institutions anyway and are surprisingly patient, even though they sound tired of the routine

    I thought Peter Lewis’ only discretion was bashing gov policy on social media. It’s all going down in Kowloon Tong!

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