You can set your minds at ease

Hong Kong officials and supporters take the initiative to reassure everyone that the new National Security law will be wonderful and benign.

Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng says that she believes (and that’s good enough for me!) that the CCP-appointed Chief Executive will not pick biased Red-friendly puppet-judges to hear NatSec trials on a case-by-case basis. Instead, they will be chosen from a list of them that the CE will already have drawn up. We can therefore ignore former Chief Justice Andrew Li’s bleating about threats to judicial independence.

And along comes ‘heavyweight’ Tam Yiu-chung, who sits on the rubber-stamp body that passes Chinese laws but – like everyone else – so far knows nothing about the contents of this new legislation. He opens up by saying it is inappropriate to explain what the phrase ‘subversion of state power’ means. To add further clarity, he tells us ‘the law should be kept confidential before it is made public’. (In other words, if you need it spelled out to you, it will be non-public until it is no longer confidential. You’re welcome.)

Finally, the mystery Black Dungeons in which NatSec suspects may be held indefinitely (you know – the ones we first heard about yesterday) will possibly be sort of like one that the British used in the 1967 Communist bombing campaign, or kind of similar to what they do in Singapore. So nothing to worry about there!

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Nothing to analyse

Beijing releases some more hazy semi-details of the draft Hong Kong National Security law in the form of a Xinhua report outlining some of the explanatory introduction and framework. It omits any definitions of criminal offenses, like ‘colluding with external forces’. 

This vague piecemeal approach is probably the closest we will get to a public consultation. Maybe Beijing is trying to manage expectations, or redraft scarier-sounding clauses following the negative international reaction to the law (the Xinhua report includes lots of reassurances about legal protections). More likely, Mainland officials are doing their usual making-it-up-as-they-go-along thing.

NPC Observer has a good summary. Among other things:

– the Chief Executive (ie Beijing) will choose judges to sit on NatSec cases;

– Beijing will establish a local office headed by a NatSec Commissioner;

– this body will ‘supervise and instruct’ a Hong Kong government Commission for Safeguarding National Security comprising top ministers plus a Beijing-appointed (Mainland?) advisor – among its roles is to somehow ‘cooperate’ with the judiciary;

– Justice and Police functions will have their own dedicated NatSec units;

– this law will override all others; and

– in undefined ‘special cases’, Beijing will handle things even more directly.

Also…

…the NPCSC [ie Beijing] will have the sole power to interpret this Law … it is unclear how the Hong Kong courts could hear and decide cases arising from this Law without interpreting it.

A lot of this framework stuff is window-dressing to make a Mainland-managed system look like it’s being run in and by Hong Kong.

One distinctly ‘Mainland’ feature of this framework is the clear conflict of interest involved in having the Chief Executive (ie the prosecution, ie Beijing) choose which judges hear national security cases. Some pro-Beijing voices are spinning this as a concession – a more liberal alternative to barring foreign judges from such trials. This is garbage: rather than screen out a few non-ethnic Chinese, this system will weed out all judges except a few who are guaranteed to deliver the CCP’s required decisions. The Bar Association are naturally alarmed. But would you seriously expect a Leninist regime to accommodate an independent judiciary?

There are no details of what actions will actually be offenses, nor, as Jerome Cohen points out, about extradition, jury trials, the privilege against self-incrimination, etc.

And anyway, as we all know, the law will mean whatever they want it to mean.

NPC Observer has an update on the likely next steps of various rubber-stamp committees – it all points to the law taking effect on July 1.

That’s a very important date: it will be the first day of the Company Gwailo’s retirement (and quite rightly a public holiday). While I get on with clearing out my orifice, some recommended links…

An interview with one of the best commentators on China – Anne Stevenson-Yang…

It’s very sad about Hong Kong because it’s so small and vulnerable, and the same really is true of Taiwan. I wouldn’t be surprised if the mainland government had figured: “Well, we’ve only got six months left of Trump and we know he won’t do anything, so why don’t we move now.” Xi clearly has very poor political instincts, at least internationally…

Alibaba and Tencent are the two biggest private banks in China. That’s principally what they do: They aggregate and deploy capital. It’s essentially pyramid schemes.

China Media Project on how the British Embassy in Beijing has fallen victim to the CCP’s censorship system.

And, complete with introductory sentence that touches a raw nerve, Bloomberg opinion on how Beijing’s rewriting of history has distorted its Hong Kong policy

Refusing to acknowledge or understand that sense of separateness has led Beijing into a crisis that now threatens to ruin Hong Kong as a global financial center and further upend China’s relations with the United States and other democracies.

…To many in Hong Kong, the return to China is not the “homecoming” envisioned by the Communists, since China was never home. A survey … found that more than three-fourths of respondents identified themselves as ‘Hong Kongers’ compared to less than a quarter who considered themselves ‘Chinese’.

…In Hong Kong, mainland officials are trying to integrate what is essentially a foreign society with its own history and sense of self. And their heavy-handed tactics are only reinforcing Hong Kongers’ perception of their separateness.

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Phrase of the Week Award goes to ‘Valueless Mindset’

After proclaiming its pro-dem leanings, kids’ clothing chain Chickeeduck gains more customers and a touchy letter from landlord New World. Interesting titbit: New World scion Adrian Cheng, who is sort-of into culture, is possibly trying to take a stake in (or drive a stake through?) Art Basel.

Watch what happens to Chickeeduck. Possible repercussions include: attacks on stores, smearing of the owner, termination of leases, calls for boycotts by Mainland tourists, maybe tax audits or customs hassles. If they ever had plans to expand over the border, they can forget it. (Looks like nasty stuff to me – but what do I know?)

Meanwhile, get used to the vomit-inducing sight of more companies pre-emptively cringing and kowtowing to the CCP Emperor. Bloomberg interviews business people on United Front ideological pressure on Hong Kong firms…

The demand for political correctness has never been as prominent as it is today, and it’s likely to change the feel of Hong Kong as a free and open business center.”

…In the eyes of the Chinese Communist Party, if you don’t make these comments, it means you are not supporting them, and they will mark your name and come back on you later [but] You can never fill the CCP’s stomach … The more you back down, the more you will lose.

I declare the weekend open with a selection of quality links…

Atlantic looks at the personality/psychology/‘valueless mindset’ of Carrie Lam

The extradition bill, legislation pushed by Lam herself, catastrophically backfired, to the extent that she and her staff now appear entirely cut out of the loop by mainland officials who have taken the reins of Hong Kong’s most important policy-making decisions. 

…she signed the national anthem bill into law this month, and her government has signaled school curriculums will need to be more Beijing-friendly. Both are efforts to instill what the government views as the appropriate type of patriotism, and force love of a motherland that many see as an oppressor.

The author advises readers to…

…stick around until the end for a cameo by Matthew Cheung telling diplomats Hong Kong’s mask ban came about because of a lack of property insurance.

In Apple Daily, Steven Vines on Beijing’s crackdown

…the Chinese Communist Party has reverted to the only method that it really understands when it comes to suppressing opposition … The reliance on brute force to ensure compliance is an act of weakness, not strength.

In the introduction to the latest China Heritage piece Geremie Barme calls Education Secretary Kevin Yeung an ‘ideological ephebe’ (because to call him an adolescent would be an insult to Hong Kong’s teenagers). Yu Chun Him has seven questions for the minister about what will or will not be allowed in local schools.

East Asia Forum on the world’s pushback against Beijing’s moves to put Hong Kong in a chokehold.

For fans of CCP factions, an analysis of Politburo membership shows big increase in Xi-loyalists.

And, not coincidentally, China Media Project interprets the lavish praise of Xi Jinping Thought as Marxism for the 21st Century.

A couple of videos. The HK Ballet, very nice. And a fascinating (subversive, tongue-in-cheek) use of symbolism to create a spirit of nationhood (?) – a rousing Hong Kong Song (from the 60s? The first word is ‘Victoria’) against a backdrop of historic images, carefully chosen to avoid any reference whatsoever to the Mainland. CY Leung’s brain would explode.

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NatSec Law vs the Peg

Get ready for a Panda-tantrum of about – oh, 6 or 7 I guess – on the Richter Scale: concerted opposition to Hong Kong’s National Security law from every NGO you can think of, plus G7 foreign ministers.

The venerable Jerry Cohen expands on his post of yesterday in the Diplomat. He even mentions a sort-of bright side to Beijing’s plan to station its security agents in the city…

Some sophisticated defenders of this momentous change argue that it will improve upon the existing situation, where kidnappings or violent attacks by local thugs occasionally take place in clandestine cooperation with mainland secret police.

It all sounds like good news for hedge fund boss (and arguably wacko) Kyle Bass, who is shorting the Hong Kong Dollar in no uncertain terms. It is a 200-times leveraged bet in which investors will lose everything if the peg holds – but stand to make a 64-fold gain if the currency drops 40% against the USD in the next 18 months.

There are reasons to be skeptical. The HK Monetary Authority has in the past heaped scorn (without uttering his name) on Bass’s flawed understanding of the peg, notably his confusion about the amount of reserves at the HKMA’s disposal. It also rejects his claims that banks here are headed for a crisis, pointing to one of the world’s highest capital adequacy ratios.

Hong Kong authorities also say Beijing has pledged additional support for the currency if it really proves necessary. (Of course, you might wonder why – for the first time ever, I think – they feel a need to announce such a confidence-booster.)

Reasons to think Bass can succeed in creating a self-fulfilling prophecy are pretty thin. It is no secret that some ultra-rich local families discreetly moved cash out of the HKD last year – and many ordinary middle-class folk have done the same since Beijing announced the National Security law. But this is a drop in the bucket. As it happens, the HKMA is currently more occupied with excess inflows of funds.

The National Security law might kill Hong Kong as an autonomous and free society. But it doesn’t follow that it will break the peg (heck – it doesn’t even weaken housing prices much). A more likely way for Bass to win his bet would be through a Mainland, rather than purely Hong Kong, mega-crisis.

And that – if we see the National Security push as a symptom of panic in Beijing – points to a reason for the prudent among us to move cash out of HKD.

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Hard to keep up with the latest Mainlandizations…

Struck by Carrie Lam’s incomprehensible blathering in its support, Jerome Cohen concludes that Hong Kong’s National Security law is being drafted in a rush. Maybe it will be delayed. Maybe it will be a mess. Maybe both!

One glimpse of detail emerges today, as Security Secretary John Lee suggests that the law could target local figures if they say the wrong thing when meeting overseas politicians. This sounds ridiculously banana-republic. Use some words – outside Hong Kong – and you’ll be fine; use others and you’re under arrest? What if you say the words to a Washington DC cab driver rather than a Congressman?

Curiously, Lee seems particularly miffed that government opponents have been able to get face-time with foreign politicians whom our own officials can’t get to see. If we pointed out that – unlike members of the Hong Kong administration – some of these activists have actually won elections, would that make him feel better?

The Bar Association head says that if Beijing exercises jurisdiction over national-security cases it’s tantamount to extradition – except the Mainland comes to you rather than vice-versa.

The Justice Secretary considers barring private prosecutions if they are based on improper motives – otherwise known as ‘holding the police to account’.

Over in the Creepiness Department, the Education Bureau is asking schools to report on how they will rectify deviant-thinking students’ attitudes and put them on the path to virtue and positive values.

And the hounding of Next Media’s Jimmy Lai continues with a police raid on a secretarial services company suspected of business-licence and other desperate-sounding infringements.

Meanwhile, Beijing goes on making friends and influencing people – with its troops getting into a deadly scrap with Indian soldiers up in the Himalayas. For an idea of the extreme harshness of this territory, read this in the (aptly named) War on the Rocks.

There are two explanations for the CCP’s ever-increasing obnoxiousness. One is that Xi Jinping is seriously unaware of external reality and believes the rest of the world is so preoccupied with Covid and riots that China right now can grab grab grab with zero future consequences. The other is that Xi knows something we don’t about China’s economic state or internal power-struggles, and feels he needs overseas conflicts as a distraction.

In today’s Vindication by Gwailo – China Daily manages to find a French wine maker who says of the National Security law for Hong Kong, mais c’est formidable!

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Govt PR-hunt generates bad PR

So… one day Executive Council member Ronny Tong tells us the ‘whole weight of Common Law’ will ensure justice, and former judge Henry Litton says no Common Law court would convict you of subversion simply for holding a banner. The next day the Justice Secretary admits the National Security law won’t be compatible with Hong Kong’s Common Law system.

And now a Beijing official says the central authorities will have jurisdiction over rare cases involving ‘serious threats’. We don’t know what constitutes a ‘serious’ threat. Nor do we know whether ‘central jurisdiction’ means separate courts, transfer of suspects across the border, or what. But then we still don’t even know what the new law will say.

Amid this confusion, it’s no surprise that the Hong Kong government has suffered a tragic setback in its second desperate and forlorn attempt to lure PR agencies to help repair the city’s battered image. The prize catch – the venerable Edelman company – has dropped out of the bidding

This call for pitches in March-April was more focused on a global business audience, and supposedly less daunting than the one last year (which expected PR firms to magic away the whole protests/police brutality mess). Officials probably saw the Covid pandemic as a window of opportunity – then Beijing dropped the National Security bomb and the challenge became more impossible than ever.

For a taste of how badly the government needs advice on communication, here’s a  wretchedly bad video trying to convince you that the National Security law will be all fine and dandy.

You might ask why, when evil foreign forces are infiltrating our city and trying to topple the CCP, the government wants Western expertise. Surely, 20,000 years of civilization, Confucian wisdom and Xi Jinping Thought should ensure that Chinese PR skills are at least as good as a bunch of American hucksters. We could go further and ask why, when officials routinely denounce foreign comment on our ‘internal affairs’, the government deigns to give a damn what Westerners think anyway.

Patriotic Mainland academics lament Hong Kong’s failure to de-colonize its thinking, and the Western world is waking up to the CCP’s true nature and starting to disconnect from China. But Carrie Lam and her fellow puppets are stuck in a time-warp where Asia’s World City still exists and craves the approval of white businessmen.

Even Beijing’s own state media believe that the ultimate killer trump card in this battle of ideas is Vindication by Gwailo.

China Daily presents a Canadian guy doing one of those ‘impromptu pour-heart-out behind the wheel’ vids explaining why Hong Kong needs to be CCP-ized. (This guy has also been wheeled out on CGTN wanting his kids to be proud Chinese. Some demented conspiracy theorist on Reddit thinks he’s real – ‘a Shenzhen loser who wants some extra income by selling his ass’ – but I assume it’s a computer-generated thing.)

Where one audience is concerned, the propagandists are correct in thinking that whites have more credibility. Many older educated Hong Kong middle-class blue-ribbon types – Regina Ip fans and other products of the colonial-cringe era – pass these videos around on Facebook avidly. My theory is that it helps these anxiety-ridden identity-confused outcasts assure themselves that they are not turning into parochial Mainland hicks. 

The quest for a PR agency with sub-zero integrity continues.

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If NatSec law vagueness doesn’t worry you, the reassurances will

So much going on – including another setback in the Hong Kong government’s tantalizing efforts to hire a PR agency, and a US hedge fund’s audacious/wacko/worth-a-punt plan to topple the Hong Kong Dollar. But first, a wrap-up of the weekend’s Mainlandizing.

The Security Secretary announces that Hong Kong will have some sort of home-grown secret police. Members of the new national-security unit will have to pass loyalty tests, and confidentiality will be necessary because their targets could be ‘very smart people, maybe specialists’.

If that’s not unfathomable enough for you, the Justice Secretary tells us that it would be impractical for the National Security law to be totally compatible with the Common Law system. Her full (hastily translated) blog post is here.

Reassurances that the Civil Law system offers the same protections as Common Law (presumption of innocence, etc) would be fine if we were talking about legislation emanating from France or Germany. But this is Mainland ‘Civil Law’, with Leninist characteristics: the law serves the government by restraining the people, not vice-versa.

The lack of a sunset clause is hardly surprising: the CCP doesn’t relinquish power after grabbing it.

But is she implying a parallel court system? We don’t know.

Genial old pro-CCP think-tank guy Lau Siu-kai says Beijing will not allow pro-democrats to win a majority of seats in September’s LegCo election. ‘You can only vote if you choose the candidates we want.’ What, you may ask, is the point of having an election? It’s not as if LegCo has much power anyway – but to Beijing it’s as scary as a bunch of schoolgirls singing the wrong song.

Some perspective…

Jerome Cohen expects Beijing to use National Security laws to target Hongkongers who ‘support’ (which could mean anything) organizations banned on the Mainland. In The Wire China, Victor Shih foresees trouble for Hong Kong as a financial hub as the CCP finds it can’t stop itself from freezing funds and pressuring courts on ‘national security’ grounds (you can see this coming). And the Diplomat looks at the impact on tech companies, privacy and cybersecurity.

At HKFP, Jean-François Dupré sees the National Security law as primarily a way to absorb Hong Kong’s constitution into that of China…

By bringing issues of national security into Hong Kong’s constitutional arena, the regime is using the NSL as a Trojan Horse to bring the Basic Law closer in line with the Chinese constitution—especially in its embodiment of authoritarianism.

From China Digital Times, a translation of comments by a former Central Party School academic – no longer in China (no kidding) – calling for Xi Jinping to step down and censorship and political arrests to be reduced, as a start. The CCP, she says…

…is no longer a political party, and hasn’t been one for a long time. It is just a tool in the hands of a mafia boss.

A quick summary with all the juicy bits in this thread. As Andreas Fulda said, the CCP will split.

Calvin Coolidge thought that “four-fifths of all our troubles would disappear, if we would only sit down and keep still.” If Beijing and the local puppets can manage that for a day or two, we will get on to the highly amusing PR agency fiasco and the supposed attack on the Hong Kong Dollar.

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Songs in schools a national-security threat

Our Mainlandizations du jour…

It seems teachers will soon have to attend ‘professional conduct’ and National Blah-Blah courses. And Secretary of Education Kelvin Yeung is now banning songs from schools. ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ is forbidden, while ditties from Les Mis might be OK, but maybe not – it depends (he didn’t say on what). The ever-popular tune ‘Love the Basic Law’ is fine. Update: ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ is a firing offence.

So much for the Hong Kong Police being sensible on June 4 (it did seem odd). Lee Cheuk-yan, Albert Ho, Richard Tsoi and Jimmy Lai are being charged with ‘inciting unlawful assembly’ for (presumably, allegedly) luring thousands into Victoria Park.

Also, RTHK’s deputy head is leaving the public broadcaster-turning-propaganda organ, and a civil service union organizer gets demoted.

Oh, and the National Anthem law takes effect today.

Japan and Taiwan have both indicated a desire to attract Hong Kong financial professionals to their shores. I won’t wish them luck, as an absence of international bankers and fund managers is one of the two countries’ many charms. Singapore is maintaining a blissful and smug silence.

I declare the weekend open with a roundup of reading and viewing excitement…

HKPF’s expert explains the HK cops’ new space-age pepper-spray handgun. Keep deploying more sophisticated and expensive sub-lethal weapons, and Hong Kong will be returned to harmony.  

Clifford Stott talks to the FCC about how he and the other overseas ornaments pulled out of the Independent Police Complaints Council’s whitewash on the police…

We were put in a difficult position. We were in the end manipulated and put in an awkward position … There is no way I could have stood by that report.

The FCC will post the whole video sometime, and Stott will soon release his own work on Hong Kong.

A good synopsis of Johannes Chan’s analysis (with link to original) of how the National Security law breaks China’s constitution and or the Basic Law, based on BL Articles 18, 19 and 23. This is basically an elegant way of showing that the CCP isn’t bound by laws.

For your audio-visual pleasure, Regina Ip gets quite agitated in an interview with DW’s Tim Sebastian. Look how much I am wetting myself on TV, now will you let me be Chief Executive?

The pro-Beijing Hong Kong Coalition launches a platform with suggestions on where to spend your HK$10,000 handout. Or maybe – if the businesses are all shoe-shining buddies of Tung Chee-hwa – where not to spend it. So quite useful!

An interview with Kong Tsung-gan on the protest movement, coronavirus, yellow economy, police, prisoners and the future – part one and part two.

In the Guardian, a long history (starting in post-war years) of the Hong Kong protests.

Lowy Interpreter sees Beijing’s policy on Hong Kong as self-defeating

Not only does such a manoeuvre signal Xi’s willingness to place the CCP’s immediate political needs ahead of its global aspirations, but it also puts the inherent contradictions of the party’s long-term strategy for absorbing Hong Kong on full display.

Nikkei Asian Review looks at China’s imperial overstretch, which seems to be paralleling the country’s rapid economic development in its speediness – never has a major power become so obnoxious so quickly…

Can Xi make China, without any allies, the world’s leading power by relying on an open disregard of international rules and on bullying? Leadership demands more than brute might…

…with the pandemic and the move to strip Hong Kong of its autonomy, Tibet-style, Xi is courting an international backlash, underlined by a spate of actions from the U.S., EU, U.K., India and Australia.

Minxin Pei in ASPI Strategist asks why China’s diplomats are behaving badly

So keen are China’s leaders to gain the respect they feel their country deserves that they have become highly sensitive to criticism and quick to threaten economic coercion when countries dare to defy them.

The Australians, finding their farmers being threatened and suspecting they don’t need China as much as they’re told, coin an exquisite phrase for Beijing’s ambassadors – ‘wolf wankers’.

Also from ASPI, an enormous manual on the CCP’s United Front.

Christopher Balding sets the limp, wet Panda-huggers straight with a no-nonsense look at what the CCP’s China is and wants. It’s amazing that even in mid-2020 after the Wuhan virus cover-ups, the wolf-warrior tantrums and bullying, and the Hong Kong clampdown, there are people out there (and not just grasping investment banks and German and other Euro-weenies) who still think they can do lovey-dovey cooperation and partnership. You almost dread a Biden win.

As if 2020 hasn’t brought enough – some bad news from the illustrious David Webb.

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Your mid-week Mainlandizations…

An RTHK ‘advisor’ (dentist-cum-government stooge) says the public broadcaster must provide positive coverage of national-security and national-anthem laws in order to educate the public and nurture their sense of national identity. Obviously ordered by Beijing officials who are too dumb to realize that (in Hong Kong at least) such propaganda will increase alienation and resistance. So carry on!

The Education Secretary tells schools to ban (the wrong sort of) politics and ‘punish’ kids who take part in banner-waving, slogan-shouting, or the dreaded ‘referendum’ on a strike. Again, clearly a Beijing idea. What better way to make kids see protests as even cooler? (I read somewhere the Education Secretary educates his offspring in Australia.)

As if in anticipation of these measures not working – indeed backfiring – the HK Police are already forming a dedicated unit to do ‘national-security’ work. Presumably, this group (the ‘Red Berets’) will house/liaise with/take orders from the Ministries of Public and State Security.

The SCMP has a graphic representing the 9,000 people who have been arrested in connection with protests since June 9 last year – with a whole 17 jailed so far. (Can’t find it on their website, but these graphics are good too.)

Ever since around last July-August, the police have assumed they can arrest protests out of existence. At first they were telling officials that if they could detain one or two thousand ‘hardcore’ it would all be over – and they just carried on upping the figure. More recently, they’ve moved on to mass/arbitrary arrests. One likely reason is to gather intelligence, notably by accessing arrestees’ phones, for a Mainland-style database of dissidents, sympathizers, etc. Which will come under your friendly local Red Berets.

The SCMP is also running a fairly putrid series of puff-pieces on the heroic and under-appreciated cops (here and here if you really want). Lots of oh-so candid ‘caring’ sentiments and tear-jerking tales of hardship. The smell of shallow, hackneyed, money-grabbing PR consultant is overwhelming.

The new HK Police National-Security Unit in training yesterday
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Trump to help write HK’s anti-subversion laws (maybe)

An amusing conspiracy theory: the US and Beijing will do a deal on a watered-down national-security law behind closed doors. If you want some circumstantial evidence, the draft law is mysteriously not on the agenda for the imminent NPC Standing Committee meeting (but nor was it, at least until the last minute, for the big NPC gathering two weeks ago).

You be the judge. On the one hand, there have been signs that Beijing is surprised at the negative reaction to the law from overseas and business. On the other, Zhang Xiaoming’s webinar made it clear that the CCP sees Hong Kong as a mortal threat. Clue: Communist dictatorships have not traditionally involved the US in drafting their national security legislation.

Would Brian Leung be nuts to come back to Hong Kong? In a word, yes. No point in offering yourself up for a multi-year sentence. What about Patrick Ho – now released from prison in the US? He is, I think we can all agree, excellent ‘heavyweight’ material and would look great wearing a Gold Bauhinia Medal and serving as Deputy Sub-Assistant Convener of the CPPCC.

Some things you might have missed in HKFP

John Burns points out that the CCP’s strategy for Hong Kong is kept secret even from the Hong Kong government. In the absence of a Party-controlled (-trusted, and even -staffed) administration, more direct rule from Beijing looks like the only way.

A useful refresher from Chris Maden on the difference between rule of law and ‘rule by law’…

…the Annex III laws are, for all practical purposes, a constitutional amendment that prioritises the state’s paranoia over the freedoms of speech, the press, assembly and travel

And CUHK’s Denis Edwards on the likely incompatibility of the national-security law with the Hong Kong legal system…

…in a case governed by the new law, is it obvious that the ordinary Hong Kong laws of evidence will apply? What if, in the Mainland’s view, local laws result in obstructing the full effectiveness of the new law?

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