Hibernation officially over

Reluctantly coming to terms with the fact that 2023 has begun.

Hong Kong is Asia’s Covid death-rate hub-zone. But first the good news:

Hong Kong, [unlike the Mainland], is still reporting covid deaths. Though Beijing has brought the city under its direct authoritarian control, Hong Kong’s official covid statistics are still widely regarded as transparent and accurate.

The bad news is that Hong Kong has six times the US – and double Botswana’s – Covid deaths per million.

In anticipation of upcoming high-profile court cases, Justice Minister Paul Lam seems to imply that overseas criticism of Hong Kong’s legal system constitutes a national security threat…

Lam warned of national security risks in the form of “escalating attacks” from the Western media and politicians.

“They have made repeated attempts to slander Hong Kong’s laws and judicial system and have even maliciously attacked court rulings,” he said, adding that the administration must strengthen its defense to “welcome” and prepare for such attacks.

“We must not think these malicious acts will peter out,” he said. “Instead, we must prepare for possible intensified attacks, especially when there will be a number of key national security cases this year.

“We must strengthen our defenses and retaliate, both internally and externally.”

Reading deeper between the lines, we have to wonder whether a bigger problem is a lack of genuine risks and dangers for the extensive NatSec bureaucracy to detect and fight. The main form of ‘retaliation’ here will be to mount more official overseas visits to tell ‘true and good’ stories about rule of law in Hong Kong. (Possible example: if you’re a cop accused of molestation and assault, you get bail; if you’re a speech therapist who produced sheep cartoons, you don’t. More cartoon panic here.)

You’d have thought the government would – out of enlightened self-interest – at least try to make accessing the tax department safe. But even at the new Inland Revenue Dept HQ, the Anti-Pedestrian Dept is at work: if you get run over crossing the road, it’s your fault for not driving there by car. 

Weekend reading…

From a couple of months ago, for fellow followers of ‘neo-Stalinist decivilization of elite politics’, something from the Royal United Services Institute.

And after archaeology, nationalism gets into Mainland sexology.

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Some mid-week links

From the Ministry of Truth

Pandemic prevention policy is scientific, proactive, and under control, and is being carried out in a planned and measured manner. This runs counter to false charges, leveled by the United States and the West, that China was “forced to relax its grip” or is “unprepared.”

Well, that’s me convinced!

In an interview with Anne Stevenson-Yang – China’s Covid-strategy-as-centralization-push, the ‘investability’ of China, and more…

…I have to say I think there has been some kind of quiet internal revolt against Xi Jinping’s personal rule.

…It’s important to be aware that China is really two countries: You have a fairly prosperous nation along the coast, and then you have a billion people in the interior who are there essentially just to supply cheap labor to the coastal cities. Since the coastal cities have not paid the full cost of that labor in terms of education, healthcare and pensions, their economies have looked very buoyant. In contrast to that, the health and education of the people in the interior is at a level similar to Algeria’s. Social well-being is definitely worse than, say, Malaysia. So if you were to raise those people out of poverty and sort of blend them with the 350 million on the coast, you would drag down growth for everybody. And if you were to leave them out entirely, you basically split the country.

In the Standard – comment and update on Hong Kong’s hamster situation.

From TransitJam, how you get a toppled-over bus out of the bushes around Lohas Park.

HKFP op-ed on the Lantau-reclamation twin elephants.

Really out of area, but long overdue: why manned missions to Mars are a stupid idea.

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Beijing’s New Year resolution for Hong Kong

Just kidding – they mean you’re on your own against Covid.

Beijing’s ‘interpretation’ gives Hong Kong’s government the power to bar foreign lawyers from NatSec trials, specifically that of Jimmy Lai. NPC Observer’s analysis of the ‘interpretation’ goes over the details, concluding…

Beyond the confines of Lai’s case and the specific issue it raised, the [NatSec] Committee’s seemingly broad and unreviewable power to “make [enforceable] judgments and decisions” on whether an issue of national security is involved, regardless of setting, could be cause for concern. It awaits to be seen whether and to what extent it would invoke this newly declared authority to deal with other situations in the future.

An optimistic/guileless SCMP op-ed hopes the powers will be used ‘with sensitivity and restraint’…

There is clearly an intention that the new mechanism, involving the chief executive and security committee, will be deployed to resolve other disputes over the national security law. This, presumably, means Hong Kong will not have to run to Beijing for an interpretation every time it can’t get its way in court.

Samuel Bickett puts it more plainly in this thread

Beijing’s own body in the city, the Committee for Safeguarding National Security, can declare any matter – in court or in society – to “involve national security” and thus be subject to the Committee’s final and unchallengeable regulation and restriction.

Read his full analysis here

Yesterday’s interpretation expands the already broad power of the Chief Executive to control court proceedings in national security cases. Under Article 44 of the NSL, the Chief Executive appoints national security judges. Under Article 18, the Chief Executive appoints the head of the DOJ’s national security prosecutions office. Under Article 46, the Chief Executive-appointed Secretary for Justice can bar a jury from hearing a case. And now, under the Article 47 interpretation, the Chief Executive can declare a defendant’s choice of counsel barred from participation in the case. Thus, the Chief Executive comprehensively holds power over both parties’ counsel, the judge, and the jury – an impossible prospect for national security defendants, and a death knell for judicial independence and due process…

Beijing’s interpretation did not stop there, however. Never one to miss an opportunity for a power grab, Beijing decided to use the occasion of the interpretation to vastly expand its own power in Hong Kong by creating a mechanism for its representatives in the city to overrule virtually any court, governmental, or political decision.

…as a result of Beijing’s interpretation this week, the [NatSec] Committee can declare any case, brought under any charges, to implicate national security, forcing the court to then strip away these rights from the defendant and transfer the case to a national security judge.

For ‘Chief Executive’ in the first sentence, read ‘Beijing’.

Thread by Eric Lai…

…the NSL interpretation today creates a de facto Political-Legal Committee for Hong Kong: judicial independence vanishes when the executive authorities can override court decision without being challenged by judicial review.

One from Kevin Yam

…both the Hong Kong CE and the NatSec [Committee] can now intervene and override the HK court at any time, and their decisions and acts would not be subject to any judicial review or any other form of legal challenge or oversight.

…But it gets worse. Given that Hong Kong NatSec [Committee] has plenary, unchecked powers to decide what is or isn’t NatSec, and make decisions in relation to the same, such powers can go beyond NatSec litigation or any litigation. It can touch on any policy area.

And Dennis Kwok.

In a Leninist system, courts cannot overrule the government. No-one can.

Some worthwhile links for the next few days’ hibernation…

This week’s must-read: Reuters on the neutering of Hong Kong’s legal profession and the departures of such figures as Michael Vidler, Paul Harris and (as it happens) Eric Lai, Kevin Yam and Dennis Kwok…

The intimidation is having a broad chilling effect, as less prominent lawyers also flee the city…

One Hong Kong solicitor who has relocated to England told Reuters that she knew of at least 80 Hong Kong lawyers who had moved to Britain since the security law was imposed in June 2020. Another lawyer, now living in Australia, estimated that several dozen Hong Kong lawyers had moved there.

An official hurt-feelings department pre-emptively gets a statement into the article…

“There is no truth in the alleged harassment or intimidation of ‘human rights’ lawyers” by the government, the Hong Kong Chief Executive’s Office said in response to questions from Reuters. “We dispute and strongly object to your highly suggestive questions and biased, baseless and false accusations against the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL) and law enforcement actions taken by law enforcement agencies.”

HK Democracy Council adds up the political prisoners in Hong Kong for 2022. (Hong Kong residents may need to use a proxy server). Summary in thread.

HKFP op-ed on the proposed crowdfunding-permit regime.

Dr David Owens’ wrap-up of 2022 and Covid.

FT piece doubts the peg could survive a US-China clash over Taiwan

The system has just one weakness, but it is existential. To function as a financial centre, Hong Kong must have access to US dollar clearing. If the city’s banks ever lost access to the American financial system, then a dollar in Hong Kong would not be worth the same as a dollar in New York. Under such circumstances, the peg could not hold for long — and the US imposed exactly these sanctions on Russia after it invaded Ukraine this year.

Critique of a Foreign Affairs piece suggesting that the US can postpone conflict over Taiwan…

[CCP] leadership was not can-kicking when it set in motion its scheme to swallow the Taiwanese economy whole. We might have been deferring the Taiwan issue to an unknown future; they were deferring nothing. They were using economic, cultural, and political means to produce a settlement in their favor. There was a moment in the [Taiwan President Ma Ying Jeou 2008-16] administration where this looked like a winning strategy. That moment is passed; it will not return. The trajectory of Taiwanese politics from the Sunflower movement to the present day has delivered engagers in Beijing one resounding defeat after another. What is more: the Chinese know it.

From Hollywood Reporter – why China’s Born to Fly movie (supposedly a Top Gun) was mysteriously grounded

…word within the Beijing film industry is that Born to Fly‘s producers were made to realize that their movie’s stunts and visual effects were far inferior to Top Gun: Maverick’s and that the Chinese version risked ridicule in comparison… 

From The Atlantic, how China is using Putin

As 2022 has unfolded and the true nature of the Russia-China relationship has become more apparent, the danger it poses seems less acute. What has emerged is nothing like an axis of autocrats, but a lopsided partnership in which the terms are defined by its alpha member, Xi Jinping, primarily to serve China’s interests. This tells us a lot about the foreign-policy principles of China’s leaders and how those ideas may hamper Beijing’s quest to reshape the world order.

The Intercept on Russian-Chinese propaganda cooperation.

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There’s a ‘Command and Coordination Group’?

From the Command and Coordination Group press conference, CE John Lee’s comments explaining how – after months of unconvincingly explained foot-dragging – the sudden Covid U-turn is part of a highly planned strategy. Quick thread detailing the inconsistencies…

The overall perception rather is that HK authorities have been constrained in their decision by what authorities up north (Guangdong and Beijing) might have wanted – and sadly that’s a reality Lee can’t even share with his constituents, even in diplomatic words.

A late entry in the Really Bad Arguments of the Month Competition: Deputy Magistrate Kennis Tai, who ruled that the law banning people from urging others to not to vote in elections is constitutional…

The magistrate ruled that inciting people to cast invalid ballots “was not facilitating democracy,” as the move was “expecting to influence the public with collective power on whether they cast their ballots, or what their votes would be.”

Tai said that people who were incited to cast blank votes would waste electoral resources, and ruled that the restrictions imposed by the law were “reasonable and necessary” as it did not target a particular political group.

She added that people could still cast … invalid votes, they could just not encourage others to do so, and said the legislation preserved “a space for private discussion.”

Surely the government’s pro-voting campaigns are ‘expecting to influence’ etc. And the boycott idea was largely spurred by the ban on ‘a particular political group’ (pro-democrats) from the ballot. And how can ‘encouraging others’ to do something lawful be illegal?

Rubber-stamp LegCo rattles through government funding requests in minutes…

The chairman of Legco’s Finance Committee, Chan Chun-ying, on Thursday said he believes more funding applications can be scrutinized every year now that all lawmakers are patriots…

By ‘scrutinized’ we mean ‘not scrutinized’.

Some weekend reading…

Asia Times op-ed by Bill Emmott on 2022

The new Chinese emperor, Xi Jinping, has been shown to have no clothes. However long he stays in power, his myth has been broken, both inside China and around the world. More practically, all sorts of assumptions about the future of China and therefore of the world have been called into question.

More politically driven archaeology and historiography. Remember plucky little sunny Zhangzhung? The ancient pre-Buddhist Himalayan kingdom? Beijing does

Beijing is doing a large amount of research and excavation in western Tibet relating to Zhangzhung, but there is little examination of the topic outside China.

…China wants to link Tibetan culture and religion to Zhangzhung, thereby peeling it away from its Indian roots. 

Zhangzhung must be China’s because Tibet is, and Tibet must be China’s because Zhangzhung is.

On out-of-area matters, esteemed speechwriter James Fallows on the drafting of Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to Congress.

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‘Too risky to relax’ rules suddenly relaxed 

Rather obviously emulating Beijing, Hong Kong relaxes most Covid restrictions – except the really pointless and annoying ones. In particular, mask-wearing outdoors. (Don’t the authorities realize that compulsory mask-wearing has become so ingrained in Hong Kong life that many couples now get married without ever having seen each other’s faces, and still haven’t even weeks after their wedding day?)

Thus the prospect of border-opening. Naturally, we are all salivating over the prospect of millions of Mainland visitors pouring in again. Hundreds of small local grocery, stationery, hardware and hairdressing businesses to be shut down and replaced by rows of identical stores selling paracetamol and milk powder to ‘tourists’.

Meanwhile, the government unveils HK Talent Engage to attract a different sort of entrepreneur. In an attempt to be hip and groovy, it has a section called ‘practicalities’ featuring ‘Got love for a fluffy friend?’

…pet lovers tend to steer away from busy urban districts and instead opt for village houses, where there’s more space and your fur babies can live closer to nature.

Please explain this to my neighbourhood owners of four-legged poop-factories.

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Mid-hibernation links

It seems Hong Kong must get a taste of the Mainland’s instant Covid U-turns. After being told for years that reopening the border can’t be rushed, the government suddenly says

We must race against time to prepare for resumption of normal travel, with a two-pronged approach adopted…

…just as Covid is sweeping through the Mainland population.

Caixin on China’s shortage of fever and other remedies…

Panic buying might be one reason for the shortages, but the more pressing factor is the disruption to the drug manufacturing and sales industry caused by years of strict virus control policies.

Chiefly is the fact that the industry — just like everyone else — were caught off guard when the Covid policy changed, according to multiple sources in drug-making and sales industry who spoke to Caixin.

Over the past three years, demand for fever medicines and painkillers remained low as strict rules were imposed on purchases of such drugs in fear their use would mask outbreak clusters. This forced pharmacies to reduce inventories and drug makers to slash production, Caixin has learned.

People in Yunnan criticize shipments of Lianhua Qingwen medieval-medicine pills and demand paracetamol…

“Why give us expensive Lianhua Qingwen? What we need is drugs that can lower the temperature, such as ibuprofen and paracetamol,” said one Weibo user.

“Why can Lianhua Qingwen be transported and distributed freely, while the usual fever drugs are not available or distributed?” asked another.

(Worth reading just for the readers’ furious comments.)

A load of things you might have missed from the last week or so…

RFA looks at the politicization of schools in Hong Kong…

A Hong Kong teacher of 10 years’ experience who gave only the nickname Echo said this is the first time the profession has been asked to take exams testing their political attitudes.

“I don’t think this is reasonable,” she said. “How is mastery of the national security law related to the subject matter of somebody teaching math or physical education?”

“I think it’s very dubious … given that it’s a compulsory requirement [for employment], it looks a lot like a political review,” Echo said, in a reference to the political vetting of public servants at every level in mainland China for adherence to the Communist Party line.

“The government is fond of saying that politics has no place in schools, but now it’s the government that is putting politics in schools,” she said.

HKFP op-ed on the 70 ‘guidelines’.

Dozens of articles on China’s Covid wave. Here’s just one. Beijing’s state media struggle to find a ‘coherent narrative’. Former SCMP Wang Xiangwei editor blasts Beijing’s Covid U-turn, with some grim video footage from inside a Beijing hospital…China has had nearly three years to learn from other countries and prepare for reopening, how come it messes up big time?

Global Times op-ed (by an Indian) says everything’s fine – it’s just Westerners hoping China will suffer…

…people generally don’t die in China like the way they do [in the West]. Children aren’t shot in schools, civilians aren’t randomly killed by the police, and drug deaths and violent crime are extremely rare. As a result,  any event that causes Chinese deaths is warmly welcomed by Western propagandists.

Former diplomat in (paywalled) Globe and Mail predicts Xi Jinping’s downfall in the coming year…

The regime is not only suffering a grave loss of authority but is displaying a crippling incapacity to govern.

…Xi Jinping is highly skilled at domestic power-play, but his economic, social and geopolitical strategies have proved counterproductive. They are alienating the very people upon whose hard work and enterprise wealth-creation depends. They have turned the world’s most powerful nation from a benign partner into a hostile opponent. Regression and closure have replaced the reform and opening which gave people hope, some freedom and new opportunities in earlier decades.

From Politico: is China’s head of the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization serving Beijing’s interests rather than the world’s?

Stephen Roach on why his quarter century as a starry-eyed China bull has ended

In 2017, Xi kicked off the 19th party congress with a regression to Marxist ideology that immediately became known as “Xi Jinping Thought”. Consumer-led rebalancing was de-emphasised. An anti-corruption campaign became less about purging wrongdoers from the party and more about eliminating Xi’s political rivals and consolidating his power. Xi’s geostrategic muscularity broke from Deng’s low-key “hide and bide” posture and led to a major conflict with the US.

But 2022 was the ultimate wake-up call for China optimists…

Took him 10 years to get it.

Russian number-two Dmitry Medvedev’s predictions for 2023, concluding with the immortal phrase…

Season greetings to you all, Anglo-Saxon friends, and their happily oinking piglets!

(On ThreadReader here, if it goes missing – but the original has comments, such as ‘I predict you will fall from a window’.)

Of possible interest to fans of Middle Eastern music: Silent Night in quarter-tone harmonization

Headline of the Year nominees

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‘Nearly biased’

The judge sentencing four men for trying to help students at the siege of PolyU in 2019 calls their actions ‘nearly paedophilic’ (though he gives them up to two years in prison). Does this extreme terminology spring from the judge’s personal bias, or a lack of awareness of what was happening at the time? (And how can something be ‘nearly’ paedophilic?)

The Lantau reclamation plan could end up delivering a glut of housing – and costing HK$800 billion. Simple question: what else could Hong Kong do with that wealth? Other than sending a man to the moon?

I’ll be getting my ‘bivalent’ vaccination tomorrow, and then in theory a week or two of holiday-season inactivity. Some non-festive links…

Recent Guardian piece on the reasons behind Beijing’s persecution of Jimmy Lai.

Pithy British Medical Journal piece by Dr David Owens and Jane Parry asking what China can learn from Hong Kong and Singapore in extricating itself from zero-Covid.

A longish essay by a Hongkonger in Taiwan on the search for a new home.

China Media Project on Mainland media’s relentlessly positive coverage of the nation’s leadership.

If you can stomach any more Elon Musk, a thread on his ties to China.

From state-backed voice of warm-and-cuddly reason Sixthtone, an archaeologist counters claims that the bronze-age Erlitou site was the capital of the Xia – the mythical first dynasty…

Experts, including not just historians, but also many archaeologists, continue to view archaeology as a subdiscipline of historiography. They see it as a tool for proving the validity of historical texts…

…Chinese archaeologists believe their main task is to verify the authenticity of ancient historical records.

Worth a look just for the graphics – special ASPI feature on the border clashes between China and India.

ArtNet on how Beijing pressures overseas artists to self-censor.

And for photography fans: LeaveHomeSafe snapshots (at last – someone found a use for that app!) and an exhibition (ends Dec 31) at the FCC of Magritte-inspired surreal photomontages by Basil Pao

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White elephant cost overrun shock

Hard to believe they are still really going to do this Lantau reclamation – but in Hong Kong these days, unbelievable is normal. The plan is to spend HK$580 billion on something we already have: land. 

Research group Liber estimates that there are 2,000 hectares (that’s 20 sq km/7.6 sq miles) of underused land in the New Territories. But officials insist that there is a ‘shortage of land’.

The truth is that there is a ‘shortage’ of space for housing because ultra-high land-use taxes prevent landowners from developing. If landowners didn’t have to pay massive up-front premiums, they would be delighted to build housing on their property. 

What’s really perverse is that the HK$580 billion represents years of accumulated land premiums. We will now blow it on reclaiming land unnecessarily, which the government can gradually auction off at the highest prices it can – all to maintain ‘scarcity’ and artificially high valuation of space.

And, of course, to channel vast amounts of public wealth into the pockets of engineering companies.

(The ‘Northern Metropolis’ plan will unlock some underused parts of the New Territories. And Hong Kong’s population is falling. Even more reasons not to reclaim off Lantau.)

The government continues its fight with Google – apparently believing that the search engine provides content. But wait! There’s more! Ukraine is also in the doghouse for using the black version of the Hong Kong flag in a video. (Something tells me this wasn’t an accident.)

A court rules on the massage place where a NatSec cop was found last March…

“Of about 10 random visits during the relevant period of time, sexual services were being offered on about half of the occasions,” [Magistrate Jason Wan] said. “One can hardly say it is mainly used for vice.”

So that’s OK then!

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Did you instil love for the country in your kid today?

The Education Bureau’s annual inspection of schools finds teachers are…

…[failing] to promote a sense of belonging to the country or duty to safeguard its well-being.

…Only a “minority” of teachers incorporated national security education into their subjects, the bureau said and “many others focused too much on knowledge-feeding” and “rarely did they try to enhance students’ … sense of belonging towards the country from the sentimental level”.

It said schools should create an atmosphere in the classroom and outside to instil “love for the country and love for Hong Kong” among pupils.

The report allows that schools might lack appropriate teaching materials. The bureaucrats need to tell educators how, exactly, they should ‘enhance a sense of belonging from the sentimental level’.

The Standard’s story on the crowdfunding-permit idea stresses the ‘transparency angle. But if that’s a problem, why not improve regulation of all charitable fund-raising, regardless of the method of collecting donations?

A reminder that Google has experience of dealing with Hong Kong. A decade ago, Emperor Holdings tycoon Albert Yeung took legal action took legal action against the search engine, claiming its autocomplete function smeared him…

Yeung filed the lawsuit after Google refused to remove autocomplete suggestions such as “triad,” as organized crime gangs are known in China, which popped up with searches on his name.

The billionaire’s business empire includes an entertainment company that produces films and manages some of the city’s biggest celebrities. He argues that his reputation has been “gravely injured” and wants compensation.

Judge Marlene Ng disagreed with Google’s lawyers, who argued Yeung was better off asking the websites where the defamatory information was published to remove it. She said Google had the ability to censor material.

“Any risk of misinformation can spread easily as users forage in the web. The art is to find the comfortable equilibrium in between,” she said in her ruling.

Just tried foraging in the web: the offending word still jumps out at the user in third place on the autocomplete list.

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Festive NatSec weirdness – ‘crowdfunders add oil!’

Possibly not a coincidence: just before the winter solstice/Christmas/New Year/CNY season starts, the government ‘proposes’ a wacky new NatSec restriction. They want to (can’t believe I’m writing this) require online crowdfunding campaigns to get permits from some sort of regulatory body (reports from SCMP, RTHK). 

The idea seems to be to prevent funding of ‘colour revolutions’. A few questions spring to mind…

Surely the CIA, not local populations, finances uprisings? Also, how will this help Hong Kong become a tech/culture/innovation hub-zone, if budding entrepreneurs and creative types need a permit just to raise small sums for their startups and projects?

And how do you even enforce it? How does the government prevent anyone from registering a cause with GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Patreon or any other platform? Can the authorities determine whether such an appeal is Hong Kong-based? Do officials expect the platforms to turn away would-be fundraisers from Hong Kong who do not have a permit? Will officials complain – as with Google – when the platforms do not cooperate? What other online applications will we need a permit to use? Whatever happened to laissez faire and ‘none of the government’s business’? 

Will officials react badly when commentators tell them the idea is absurd? 

Which brings us to the worst example yet of an embarrassingly over-whiny official press release in response to Ming Pao content. As usual, the government expresses ‘regret’, which Google defines as feeling…

…sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that one has done or failed to do).

Since the government is not a person, it cannot experience emotions (though a named spokesman speaking personally could complain that an op-ed ‘hurt his feelings’). More to the point, the government did not write the Ming Pao column, so does not need to regret it. Officials could, on the other hand, regret making decisions that invite criticism in the newspapers.

Meanwhile – there goes any hope of turning Hong Kong into Asia’s leading bathroom accessories hub…

After school that day, Gary said the school had summoned all 30 members of the running team and confiscated their towels, telling them the case would be reported to the police.

This is a patriotic/petrified school administrator at work, not law enforcement. We do not know if the nifty design that sort-of reads ‘香港’ in one position but ‘加油’ in another is banned as a national security threat. Maybe the whole ‘Heung Gong ga yau’ phrase is prohibited. If it is, what are Hong Kong fans supposed to shout at international sports tournaments? Should the government set up a committee? It could urge spectators to make a ‘T’ sign with their hands if they hear the words, and devise a new officially recommended correct phrase, like ‘Go Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China!’

Next step: hounding Google for still including the phrase in search results? (The Google-angst continues, by the way.)

In other matters – an interesting article on former Global Times editor Hu Xijin attracting criticism from other, more devout nationalists for backing Beijing’s Covid U-turn…

After China’s abrupt change on Covid policies, the nationalist influencers and the “zero-Covid camp” are having a hard time pivoting themselves.

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