Saving ‘two sessions’ excitement for later

Bloomberg’s report on the US Consul General’s comments on Article 23…

US Consul General Gregory May cautioned that connectivity issues and data security concerns had prompted some American companies to use burner phones and laptops when visiting the once free-wheeling enclave.

“Hong Kong is starting to go down the slope of trying to take certain content off the internet and blocking certain websites,” he told Bloomberg News on Thursday. “It is kind of a slippery slope once you start that internet censorship. Where does that end?”

…“Releasing Jimmy Lai and these other people facing jail for political expression — releasing them would do more to improve Hong Kong’s image than all the financial summits and tourism promotion campaigns put together,” May said.

…“The last thing Hong Kong needs after the NSL are more, very broad, new crimes,” May said. 

…“If you are operating in Hong Kong, US firms have to be mindful of their reputation on Capitol Hill,” he said. “Some of them are rightly concerned about coming under the cross-hairs in the United States because Hong Kong is doing things like bounties that show a very negative side — and the US is reacting to that.”

The government response criticizes ‘scaremongering’, with the anonymous spokesman saying…

“…The US has even at every turn suppressed dissidents through covert surveillance, illegal wiretapping, and global manhunt, and is in no position to point its finger at other countries and regions for making their own legislation for safeguarding national security legitimately. The US Consul General also deliberately ignored the HKSAR’s constitutional duty and practical needs for the Basic Law Article 23 legislation, and blatantly smeared the Basic Law Article 23 legislation and the law enforcement actions conducted in accordance with the law…”

When was the last time the US ‘suppressed dissidents through global manhunt’? (Or is this an attempt to get the Assange bores on side?)

A Diplomat piece reiterates concerns

We are witnessing in real time the Hong Kong authorities’ scramble to fill in what little holes remain in the otherwise total control under the NSL. The imminent expansion under Article 23 of the Basic Law will move Hong Kong a step closer toward Beijing-style internet governance. 

This is about more than just one song and one internet search provider. “Glory to Hong Kong” is a canary in the coal mine. The authorities are seeking to hold internet intermediaries in Hong Kong under the same yoke imposed upon companies doing business in mainland China. We have already seen the concessions forced upon the likes of Apple and Microsoft in the mainland. 

…In light of Hong Kong’s claim of extraterritoriality in national security affairs, global tech companies must further take into account how the changing legal environment in Hong Kong may expose them to legal penalty for failure to act on global censorship demands, and the concerns this raises for internet freedom around the world.  

A load more weekend reading that came in late…

Not a very interesting Telegraph article, but impressive pic/headline and pic.

China Leadership Monitor looks at the limits to China’s military-industrial state…

China seems to be losing direction after Xi Jinping gained absolute dominance during the 2022–23 round of leadership reorganization. This was initially demonstrated in December 2022 when he abruptly abandoned his “zero-Covid” policy.[1] Since spring 2023,  despite attempts to attract foreign investment that have been highlighted in both the leaders’ speeches and state media, the state has continued to raid or shut down foreign businesses to protect so-called state security.[2] A bigger surprise came in summer 2023, when Xi suddenly purged Foreign Minister Qin Gang and Defense Minister Li Shangfu, both of whom, as Xi’s confidantes, had recently been promoted.[3] Foreign policy moves contradicting Xi’s earlier foreign policy positions also took place, following, in particular, Xi’s San Francisco trip in November 2023.[4] Despite some adjusted wording, however, so far there has been no decisive, fundamental change in his political rationale; there are also no signs indicating that his power is being challenged or undermined. So, what explains these self-contradictory developments in Chinese politics? Why is Xi Jinping’s unprecedented concentration of power producing schizophrenic policy consequences?

Long story short: ‘the core of the dilemma lies in the tensions between Xi’s personnel appointments for governance purposes and Xi’s personal concerns about political control, which are inherent to his dictatorial concentration of power and his neo-Maoist governance program.’

In the (paywalled) WSJ – how a Chinese netizen posed online as an Iranian to fool China’s censorship regime…

The text of a letter purportedly sent from a Tehran prison began to circulate on the Chinese internet last year around Lunar New Year. Its author, writing under the name Mahsa, described how Iranian secret police snatched her during a crackdown on anti-headscarf protests and interrogated her about her feminist beliefs.

…the letter reached thousands of Chinese readers, many of whom marveled at its familiar descriptions of state control. “Is this a strange land?” wrote one user on the popular social-media platform Weibo. “Or is this the homeland?” 

The answer arrived weeks later when a new version appeared on overseas websites. It had footnotes and an epilogue revealing that “Mahsa” was a Chinese writer who had adopted the persona of an Iranian protester to tell the story of her own detention and interrogation. That writer would turn out to be Wu Qin, a former editor at a state-run media outlet. Recently translated into English, Wu’s letter is a rare example of subversive writing in China that has managed to have enduring impact. Barriers to communication have soared to new heights as leader Xi Jinping gives priority to security above all else. In reaching for a roundabout way to tell her story, Chinese observers say, Wu has opened a new window into the challenges activists in China now wrestle with, and the links they have with others laboring under authoritarian rule around the globe.

…She had paid close attention to the protests in Iran against headscarves. To give herself some distance from her experiences, she came up with the idea of writing about them as if they had taken place there instead. Cloaking her story in foreign clothing had the secondary benefit of helping it slip past censors, she said.

She gave Persian names to her friends and some prominent Chinese dissidents, and switched Chinese place names for places in Iran, which she had visited twice before. She said she named herself Mahsa in tribute to Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old whose 2022 death in police custody in Tehran sparked the Iranian protests.

…Parts of the letter contain minor details that are unlikely to be set in Iran, such as the crime of “picking quarrels,” which only exists in China. Wu said she hoped those hints would be picked up by her readers, but not the censors. 

From a perhaps-obscure Indian strategic studies outlet – Russia prepares for a possible invasion by China.

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6 Responses to Saving ‘two sessions’ excitement for later

  1. Stanley Lieber says:

    Mr Xi figures, despite all the bleating, that the US and the West will remain engaged in Hong Kong & China because commercial considerations will outweigh any moral qualms that might arise.

    Of course, Mr Xi’s policies increase the risk a serious and concerted attack on China’s interests by Western powers, but as long as he keeps the pot on simmer and doesn’t let it boil over, he’s probably right.

  2. MeKnowNothing says:

    “Long story short: ‘the core of the dilemma lies…’ ”

    The core of the problem is the core itself.

    “Rotten to the core” has a new meaning in The New Era.

    Puns intended.


  3. Who Is Alex Trebek's Spirit? says:

    “…and blatantly smeared the Basic Law Article 23 legislation and the law enforcement actions conducted in accordance with the law…”

    Ding ding ding!! We have a winnah in today’s WordWang!! The old favourite standby: “In accordance with the law”!!

  4. Boris Badanov says:

    Leaves me in mind of people who did business with the Nazis through the late 1930s.

  5. Mary Melville says:

    The Alphard mob keep banging on about the $2 fare. Looks like the pressure is on to push through amendments before the mandatory Joy U comes into force. This will eliminate the thousands of visitors and non residents who currently use the senior Octopus and will reduce the burden.
    Moreover the reports ignore the fact that seniors previously enjoyed half fares so the top up from government is not on full fare.
    Meanwhile the university gravy train is gathering speed. PolyU is now looking for a new campus at Northern Metropolis with another medical school and an hotel. Now those of us with long memories know that its TST Hotel ICON was mired in scandal when it was developed. Hundreds of millions in cost overruns and the plan to provide a private members club on the top floor was only dropped after a public outcry.
    Oh for the days when we had a media that was free to investigate and highlight those vested interests that are the real drain on the taxpayers dollars.

  6. Janice from Accounts says:

    @Stanley Lieber

    I reckon it’s not so much that Xi thinks foreigners will remain engaged, as it is that Xi just doesn’t give a flying fuck what they do. Economic growth isn’t actually on his agenda at all. It should be, but it isn’t.

    It’s writ fairly plainly by his deliberate destruction of billions of dollars worth of revenue from tech companies, the tutorial industry, the lack of any stimulus measures post covid, and the disincentivisation of FDI in China through various means (writing off local company debts to foreigners, shutting down due diligence, hiding the accounts).

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