Scaring people scares them

Hong Kong’s Justice Secretary again has to try and clarify what might or might not be illegal under the new Article 23 NatSec Law. Responding to a question a few days ago, he suggested that reposting criticism of Hong Kong might constitute a threat to national security – depending on such factors as frequency and, ultimately, intention. Now he stresses that it’s OK for journalists to report criticism…

“It is very important to report on unfriendly remarks made about Hong Kong, so that we know about ourselves and our enemies. We have to know what those who are not friendly to us have been doing and saying,” Lam told a radio programme. 

Among the negative coverage has been a string of stories from overseas news organizations quoting businessmen, academics and others as saying they find the NatSec laws intimidating. Officials insist that Hong Kong’s NatSec laws are the same as those in, for example, the US and the UK. Yet those countries don’t jail people for Facebook posts or wearing a particular T-shirt, or stir fears about keeping old newspapers or admitting particular sins to priests during confession. If the authorities don’t want the NatSec laws to scare people, why have they drafted them this way? And the government gets angry about it…

The Hong Kong government on Friday condemned newly-updated travel advice from Australia, Taiwan and other regions, which said travellers coming to Hong Kong after the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance came into force may face increased risk and they could violate local laws “without intending to.”

A government spokesperson defended the new law required under Article 23 of the Basic Law, saying all stipulations were accurate and the penalties were defined with clarity. Ordinary travellers would not engage in acts and activities endangering national security and would not “unwittingly” violate the law, the government said.

“The HKSAR Government strongly condemned such political manoeuvres with skewed, fact-twisting, scaremongering and panic-spreading remarks,” an English statement from the government read.

Andrew Sheng, former Deputy CE of the HKMA, recently wrote an SCMP op-ed lamenting the US’s apparently inexhaustible appetite for foreign capital…

…while the US is able to sustain growth through its growing fiscal and trade deficits, albeit a worrying debt habit, much of the rest of the world is languishing.

Given that the next US president, whether Trump or Biden, is likely to continue America’s spending and debt spree, will the rest of the world continue to fund it?

Michael Pettis picks it up

This article from a former central banker shows just how confused many economists are about basic balance of payments arithmetic. It argues that the US is trying to maintain dominance by increasing its net imports of foreign capital.

Net capital imports are just the obverse of the current account deficit, so this is just another way of saying that the US is trying to maintain dominance by increasing its current account deficit, something the US clearly does not want to do.

And China and the rest of the world just clearly want the US to continue expanding … its current account deficit, which is another way of saying that they want to increase their exports of capital into the US.

In fairness, Sheng does imply that it’s the rest of the world that perceives ‘no alternative to putting one’s money in the dollar’ and recognizes that the US is ‘the key engine of global recovery’. If anyone is at fault in these imbalances, it comes down to countries like China, Germany and Japan, which suppress workers’ consumption (including of US products and services) and channel the savings into de-facto subsidies for domestic producers and purchases of US debt.

From David Webb

Phase 3, the bulk of the HK Govt’s “Trade Single Window” software project for trade documents has already gone horribly over budget. Originally at HK$1.4bn, the tender was recently awarded to “Aisino-Varmeego Joint Venture” for HK$3.01bn. 

By ‘HK$3.01bn’ he means HK$3,010,570,786. Guess they rounded down the pennies. 

While we’re on Twitter, a quick reminder that the magnificent ‘not Nury’ account is still monitoring and correcting one of Beijing’s more tedious cheerleaders. Worth pointing out that the British law mentioned in this post is aimed at the online equivalent of menacing or abusive phone calls – not political opinions.

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17 Responses to Scaring people scares them

  1. Chinese Netizen says:

    “…so that we know about ourselves and our enemies.”

    It’s boiled down to government and those that side with it and everyone else as being seen as enemies. School kid reports his teacher to NatSec regime as enemy for giving out poor marks. Market hawker reported as enemy for being perceived to have high priced eggs. And it will go on and on because it’s a great way of settling scores.

  2. seedy tabloid journo Mike Lowse says:

    @Chinese Netizen: and there is an extra bonus for real patriots: the rat lines where you can snitch on your neighbors are anonymous.

  3. Load Toad says:

    ‘so that we know about ourselves and our enemies’

    The person that caused all this fucking mess was Carrie Lam.

    She should be the one in prison.

  4. Peter Murphy says:

    “Yet those countries don’t jail people for Facebook posts or wearing a particular T-shirt”

    One 50cent bot on SCMP was desperate enough to use this article to try deflect:

    The difference this twerp failed to mention is that the offender wasn’t arrested for sedition but a “public order offence” and a matter of public decency.

    Also unlike in HK where the T shirt wearer was jailed for 3 months, this chav was fined 1k pounds.

    Having said that, as someone who grew up in USA though, it does seem kinda crazy you can get arrested for this in U.K. In the US you can joke about 9/11 and not get arrested, and the Hillsborough tragedy is even older from 1989. People could try to cancel you but you will never face prosecution as the 1st amendment makes free speech practically absolute barring a few edge cases involving defamation or causing a panic.

  5. Young Winston says:

    Latest in the SCMP: “Chief Executive John Lee says training must be strengthened to ‘resist espionage activities and the infiltration of intelligence units from various countries’…”

    This is beyond a joke.

  6. Low Profile says:

    @Peter Murphy – why would any decent poerson even want to joke about 9/11? As for Hillsborough, it may seem a long time ago, but it left enduring scars on Merseyside because the press and police initially – and falsely – blamed Liverpool fans for the deaths. It took Liverpudlians nearly two decades of campaigning to get the record set straight.

  7. Ping Che says:

    Seems there is still a Nuri fan around:

    “….Nury Vittachi, a prominent local journalist who deeply understands Hong Kong, documented the surrender of fake medics and pretend reporters at the Polytechnic University campus. He observed that “a Catholic bishop, politicians, and the media taught our youngest that any action, however violent, illegal, or harmful it is, is allowable if you have the right excuse.”

  8. Peter Murphy says:

    @Low Profile

    “@Peter Murphy – why would any decent poerson even want to joke about 9/11?”

    I don’t think it should be a crime to be an edgelord if said speech isn’t directly inciting violence or defaming an individual.

    I miss pre NSL HK that had free speech to almost the level of US (defamation in HK is UK style so stricter than US which has the world’s weakest defamation laws).

    Yes I am a free speech absolutist.

  9. Peter Murphy says:

    I have no issue with private individuals trying to name, shame, or “cancel” someone for heinous speech however. I just think the government should not be involved unless it is over incitement or defamation

  10. Justsayin says:

    @Low Profile I remember very clearly my local breakfast lady in Shanghai saying that the USA wasnt looking so mighty anymore after the September 11th attack- she made a decent breakfast crepe though…

  11. wmjp says:

    the rat lines where you can snitch on your neighbors are anonymous.

    What the betting there is a record of the telephone number called from?

  12. HK-Cynic says:

    Is “3 Body Problem” available in Netflix or elsewhere in Hong Kong? Or is it simply banned in the Mainland?

  13. Low Profile says:

    @Peter Murphy – not a crime, I agree, just in execrably bad taste. Though on the other hand, “Life of Brian” is one of my favourite movies…

    BTW, “poerson” was a typo.

  14. MC says:

    “the offender wasn’t arrested for sedition but a “public order offence” ” – presumably he was arrested because someone would be guaranteed to fill him in if they saw him wearing it.

    Re: “Walter de Havilland” – hardly a surprise that an ex-Plod, especially one who continued at it post-handover, is a sucker for authoritarianism and the heavy hand. Although that doesn’t fully explain bigging up Nury, so perhaps he’s just thick.

  15. Mark Bradley says:

    “ Is “3 Body Problem” available in Netflix or elsewhere in Hong Kong? Or is it simply banned in the Mainland?”

    It’s on Netflix in HK. No issues accessing it. I do think it sucks compared to the book and Tencent version. All the “scientists” look like Instagram influencers and act really dumb.

    I hate to agree with nationalists but they have a point on Netflix 3 body being whitewashed watered down crap

  16. Not Ted Thomas says:

    If po-po loving Kevin Sinclair was still alive, would he be blue or yellow?

  17. Mary Melville says:

    @wmjp: “What the betting there is a record of the telephone number called from?”
    Of course, this is a de facto recruitment line,
    “The omnipresent opportunities for denunciation,” Hedwig Richter says, “fuelled the most important disciplinary mechanism: self-censorship.”

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