Prosecution witness in Jimmy Lai trial…
Former media tycoon Jimmy Lai sought to paint China in a negative light in Apple Daily’s English edition so the United States would take hostile actions against Beijing, an ex-senior executive of the now-defunct outlet told Lai’s national security trial on Wednesday.
…“Lai felt that the Chinese Communist Party regime was suppressing human rights, covering up [issues] and lacking integrity, so he hoped to portray this image to foreign readers,” he said.
The defendant hoped that the English edition could “influence public opinion in the United States and thus create an impact on American politics,” in order for Washington to take hostile actions such as sanctions, to “protect Hong Kong and Apple Daily”, the court heard.
“We are alarmed by the multiple and serious violations of Jimmy Lai’s freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, and his right to a fair trial, including the denial of access to a lawyer of his own choosing and the handpicking of judges by the authorities,” the experts said.
More ‘smearing’ of Hong Kong from the Guardian, which visited M+ and the West Kowloon Cultural Hub-Zone…
Herzog & de Meuron decided to dig, taking an “archeological” approach, unearthing an unlikely gift in the form of the Airport Express train tunnel, cutting diagonally beneath the site. “It was like discovering the body of a huge animal,” says Herzog. “It gave us the impulse to create a kind of underworld, which is mysterious and strange – and so Hong Kong.”
…The architects describe it as “a space of unprecedented potential”, and it has so far staged some dangling installations. But it was empty on my visit, and curators confide that they struggle to find ways to use it.
And it’s difficult to get to…
The nearest metro station is across a bridge, up and down several escalators, in the bowels of a shopping mall whose operators clearly prefer people to get lost in their retail labyrinth rather than find their way to the museum. Once you emerge, you are greeted with the blank concrete silo of M+’s conservation and storage building, a later addition to the brief whose lower floors are leased to the Phillips auction house, so it is their gigantic logo you see first, not the museum’s.
The nearest bus stop, meanwhile, drops you on the edge of an eight-lane highway from where you must tackle a 20-minute obstacle course of bridges and underpasses. Finally, coming by car (which, strangely for such a public transport-oriented city, was the recommended option) leaves you in an unprepossessing undercroft, as if you’re coming to service the boiler. Even arriving on foot presents challenges: the building is so big and “permeable”, with entrances on all sides, that the museum cannot staff all its doors, so many remain locked. A dedicated ferry service, opening later this year, should hopefully provide a more seamless arrival.
Coming by car is the ‘recommended option’ – in a city where 90% of households do not have one (and are not car-owning planner-bureaucrats who design everything for themselves). The writer concludes with the phrase ‘a motley hotchpotch of architectural misfits, marooned on the waterfront’. And he didn’t even get to the Cruise Terminal or the Zhuhai Bridge.
Beijing’s attempts to prop up China’s falling stock market fail to impress – from Bloomberg…
China’s history of botched market rescue efforts, the grim state of its economy, and uncertainties over Beijing’s long-term policy roadmap are keeping investors skeptical about the sustainability of these gains.
…“Xi Jinping’s people are almost certainly telling him that the rout in the equity market is a stability risk,” said George Magnus, a research associate at Oxford University’s China Centre. “Investors aren’t just abandoning Chinese stocks for normal reasons of valuation, but because the whole economic policy and political environment has atrophied. Getting confidence back probably requires major changes in both.”
…[Previous efforts suggest] that throwing money at the market as Beijing appears willing to do, while economic woes lie unresolved, will only embolden traders to sell into what may at best be a bear-market rally.
Howard French – always worth reading – in FP…
Xi is not just ideologically hostile to the creation of more generous health, retirement, and unemployment systems. The real problem is that China has waited this long to grapple with these issues in the first place. Beijing was slow to take aging and population decline seriously, putting them off until they could no longer remotely be denied and then all but panicking. The country is suddenly now awash in campaigns urging young people to create bigger families, and these are unlikely to work.
…[Beijing’s dilemma] looms as an increasingly excruciating choice between guns and butter … China saw the present period as a window of opportunity that was bound to close. Beijing hoped to use this window to make big geopolitical advances and lock them in through a combination of impressive economic growth and extraordinary military modernization before the costs unavoidably associated with aging forced it to switch direction and prioritize social needs at home.
Signs of this strategy can be found nearly everywhere one looks, from China’s muscling into the seas of the Western Pacific, where it has rebuffed its neighbors’ territorial claims while building artificial islands that host military outposts, to its enormous capital expenditures on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Now in something of a retreat, the BRI is the program through which China has invested massively in infrastructure projects throughout Eurasia and other regions of the world.