Government gets upset with ‘patriots’ too

The HK Journalists Association (a non-profit organization) gets hit for profits tax of HK$400,000 for 2017-18…

The HKJA has increasingly been a target of government officials and pro-Beijing media outlets in recent years. State-backed Wen Wei Po in 2021 labelled the association an “anti-government political organisation” which defends “fake news.” There is no evidence the group has defended misinformation.

Secretary for Security Chris Tang also accused the group at the time of “breaching professional ethics” by backing the idea that “everyone is a journalist.” The HKJA said his claims were “factually wrong.”

An example of the HKJA’s anti-government tendencies – complaining about new rules tightening access to public records on vehicles. How long before the Association goes the way of the teachers’ union?

Pro-Beijing figures also incur the wrath. ‘Maverick’ lawmaker Paul Tse criticizes the police for heavy-handed law enforcement – excessive parking tickets at ‘Night Vibes’ events – and the government for failing to explain its planned household waste charging system more effectively. He also suggests that the government puts Mainlanders’ views ahead of Hongkongers’. For his pains, he gets a rebuke from Chief Executive John Lee, who said his phrasing was dangerous, incited conflict and reminded him of 2019-style ‘soft resistance’, and the ‘all patriots’ folk should support one another. 

Should the ‘soft resistance’ accusation make Tse feel threatened?

Standard editorial

The complaints that Tse made in the Legco chamber were believed to be also shared by a number of other lawmakers.

But who would dare to take them up further after hearing Lee rebuking Tse for speaking the “dangerous” words and nearly accusing him of inciting conflicts by evoking memories of what happened in 2019?

Nonetheless, the chief executive’s rebuttal did contain a rather strong message that even lawmakers are expected to take heed of the “new normal.”

If they continue to think in the “old normal” way, they can expect to be reprimanded – and that is the bottom line.

This week’s brain teaser: You are the HK government and you want to establish a team to ‘fight off smears’ when you roll out the draft Article 23 NatSec Law. Using your skill and judgement, which four top officials do you choose to engage in lobbying? And which three lawmakers will you pick to engage as sexy core members of the oh-so persuasive rebuttal team? Answer right down there at the bottom.

Some weekend reading…

Art Asia Pacific on the un-titling of Zhang Yuan’s Beijing Bastards

According to a spokesperson at M+, both Zhang and the curatorial team updated the title on the museum website “to highlight the filmmaker’s presence in [the screening program] ‘Once Upon a Time in Beijing’ in the M+ Cinema Winter Edition 2024.” Running until March 2024, the M+ program includes six seminal films that feature Beijing’s rich cultural history, such as Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor (1987) and Chen Kaige’s Farewell to My Concubine (1992). Aside from Zhang’s work, the other films all hold their original titles. 

…In the Hong Kong media, some commentators speculated that 雜種 / “zhazhong” (mixed-bred) of the title is a homophone to Chinese leader Xi Jingping’s surname in Cantonese, “zaap.” Other commentators believe that it is the defiant nature of the title, suggesting cultural resistance, that was problematic. While the practice of changing titles to avoid homophones is common in mainland China, it has not been to date in Hong Kong.

Loey Interpreter on how the world treats Taiwan

Rather than this being China’s power over Taiwan, it is actually the power China has over the rest of us. The way we exclude Taiwan from being a normal country in order to placate Beijing is our own indignity. It is how we refuse to treat China as an adult, far too concerned with its feet stamping and emotional outbursts. Alongside this sits a betrayal of the Taiwanese people – how we ask them to carry the burden of limiting themselves to protect the world from any Chinese aggression.

A brief description of Anne Stevenson-Yang’s forthcoming book Wild Ride.

Some level-headed commentary on the St Pancras Station, London public piano weirdness…

Overall, Kavanaugh was shrewd in his responses, taking the high road of making light of it and keeping calm, even if he was slyly playing to his camera and knew the whole while this sort of thing was gold for his live stream business model.

As the event unfolded, Kavanaugh was in communion with his fan base, while his accusers, perhaps feeling isolated and out of their element in London despite many years’ residence, lost their tempers and lost all perspective.

The way they acted was as if they were physically in London but psychically in Beijing, trying to produce something that would be a hit back home on CCTV, if it was CCTV they were freelancing for.

Under this self-imposed pressure, they lost their manners and rudely repeated the demands of their undisclosed employer that everything be kept secret until broadcast. It was the secret pact with Beijing that put them on a collision course with the freewheeling, live-streaming pianist in London.

The piano back in use.

Another recent hissy fit in a teacup concerns an Economist cover portraying the world being bombarded with Chinese-made electric vehicles. China Media Project looks at the state media’s reaction…

Certainly, Western headline writers could walk more in step with the content of the articles on their platforms. But by judging a magazine by its cover, state media have only discredited a story that — had they quoted it instead — might have served the talking points of the Chinese government, arguing that Western countries, now gripped by fear of Chinese EV imports, should keep their markets open. 

The Council on Geostrategy on Beijing’s conflicts with the UN Law of the Sea Convention.

From HKFP – an interview with Hong Kong’s leading expert on those adorable but noisy yellow-crested cockatoos. (An actual ‘good Hong Kong story’.)

Weekly brain teaser answer (from the Standard): 

Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok and Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung will be core lobbying officials. Chief Secretary Eric Chan Kwok-ki and Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po will be involved in supporting roles.

Additionally, three lawmakers – Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and Lai Tung-kwok from the New People’s Party as well as Starry Lee Wai-king from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong – have been named as core members of the team responsible for rebuttal efforts.

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14 Responses to Government gets upset with ‘patriots’ too

  1. arthog says:

    “six seminal films that feature Beijing’s rich cultural history, such as Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor (1987) ”

    i’m sorry what? how does a curator consider a foreigner’s film to be a seminal film of Beijing’s “rich cultural history?” I can understand it being important and even indicative of that history but seminal? When I think of seminal I think of something that is original or a genesis of one’s own cultural creations.

    Not meaning to be nitpicky but that seemed like a meaningful misnomer to me.

  2. Judge Pao says:

    The article 23 legislation must be horrendous if they’re wheeling out the big guns months before it’s even been gazetted.

  3. Chinese Netizen says:

    “Overseas Chinese” (but still under the thumb of the CCP) are truly a hateful lot most of the time. They just don’t realize their thuggish CCP ways (fingers pointing into a lens, saying what someone can or can’t do, trying to get physical and invading personal space) do not translate or play well outside of their precious motherland. Kavanaugh’s big fail was insulting Japan by insinuating the goons were Japanese. But hey, ching chang chong, they all look the same.

    Glad the writer exposed and doxxed these thugs but I couldn’t read past the first few paragraphs of the story. (“Newton” Leng probably whinging in Mandarin to an Asian constable that probably only speaks Canto.)

  4. MC says:

    Re: Paul Tse – confirmation, if you needed it, that ‘soft resistance’ is the SAR’s ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’. Used to prevent criticism of the government, regardless of how patriotic and well-intentioned. Note that there was nothing political in Tse’s comments.

  5. Mark Bradley says:

    “Re: Paul Tse – confirmation, if you needed it, that ‘soft resistance’ is the SAR’s ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’. Used to prevent criticism of the government, regardless of how patriotic and well-intentioned.”

    Yes and they will now greatly expand the prison max prison term and meaning of sedition under Article 23.

  6. steve says:

    As always, the censors haven’t watched the movie they’re censoring. Beijing Bastards has never been screened on the mainland, and given that history it’s fairly remarkable that M+ had the guts to show it in the 2024 version of Hong Kong.

    In fact, the film is actually pretty ambivalent about liumang culture. Zhang Yuan clearly really likes the nascent Beijing rock n roll and arts scene, but the film’s protagonist (insofar as it has one) is something of a sexist asshole, and the other ancestors of today’s lie-flatters are mostly pathetic goofs.

    Way back in the day, when I was teaching in Texas, I was the campus faculty advisor for the Chinese Student Association (which was largely independent of Party governance in those days), while also being the advisor for the Taiwanese Student Association. Those were the days, eh? My “advising” consisted entirely of scheduling weekend film screenings of movies borrowed from the Taiwan non-consulate in Houston (Yang De-chang’s Terrorizers was a major coup) and cadged from Chinese video stores in Dallas.

    Anyway, I somehow got hold of a 16mm print of Beijing Bastards, and it was widely anticipated by both groups of students, who had heard about this banned outlaw film that featured Cui Jian, Dou Wei, and He Yong. The auditorium was packed, and people brought their families with them, including several little kids. That was a mistake, as the film’s dialogue is rife with profanity and drunk guys pissing on walls and the like. When the film began, there was a buzz of anticipation, but as it unfolded, that buzz turned into a murmur of what-the-hell-is-this as the barely there story line focuses more on liumang losers than on the musicians. By halfway through the screening, people were leaving in a steady stream, and by the end the house was maybe a quarter full. Near the end of the film, there is a wonderful, moody sequence shot mostly at Tiananmen Square, in the rain, with one of Cui’s best known June 4-associated songs playing on the soundtrack, but hardly anyone was left to see it.

    It was one of my favorite evenings ever of working in the ed biz.

  7. Young Winston says:

    You know things are bad/surreal when Paul Tse seems like the adult/good guy in the room/chamber.

  8. Barry Bananalove says:

    @Winston: In all fairness, Paul Tse is wearing a Mao jacket (“Look Mum, I’m a good boy!”). But being Paul Tse, it is an expensive designer jacket and not something off-the-rack from Shenzhen.

  9. Chinese Netizen says:

    @Barry B – Shanghai Tang bespoke, no doubt. For the patriot that doesn’t want to appear too prole.

  10. cautious cynic says:

    Am I the only quasi geriatric old enough to remember Paul Tse posing nude on the cover of a then local magazine, supposedly to promote somthing (the Basic Law?).

    In 1999. SCMP reoport and I suspect pciture stillout there if you can be bothered to by passs the fire wall. I cannot?

    Magzine? Next. Is this evidence of a latent tendency to sedition?

    Not to mention the subsequent posing in pink.

    His wikipedia entry is worth skimming. Self promotion and property acquisition etc pays off.

  11. cautious cynic says:

    Apologies for the numerous unspotted typos.

  12. Reactor #4 says:

    Further to Cautious Cynic

    I have just been checking out Paul Tse’s missus, Pamela Peck ( She sounds like a right hoot, and that’s based purely on stuff that found it’s way in to her Wikipedia page. Definitely a swallower.

  13. Been here too long says:

    It looks like Paul Tse had a pint of whatever James Tien was drinking in 2014.

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