At the Jimmy Lai trial, the court hears more about Apple Daily being biased.
The Hong Kong Chief Executive tells the Hong Kong Federation of Journalists that their job is to ‘tell good Hong Kong stories’…
Lee accused Western politicians and media organisations of “fabricating lies, spreading illusions, and smearing Hong Kong for their political interests”.
He said the West had portrayed Hong Kong as “a place without freedom”.
(Out of curiosity, what ‘political interests’ do these Westerners have in smearing Hong Kong?)
And the city’s arts funding body – headed by the grandson of patriotic tycoon Henry Fok – cuts support for an annual drama awards ceremony after organizers last year invited a journalist who fought the government in court over press freedom and a political cartoonist. According to Fok, the HK Arts Development Council must ‘reduce the risk of potentially breaching the law, or even the national security law as far as possible’…
First held in 1992, the [HK Drama Awards] honour industry professionals across categories such as best producer, actor, stage design, composer and more.
Since 1996, the event has been held at a LCSD-operated venue every year, including at the City Hall’s concert hall 22 times. In 2022 and 2023, the ceremony was staged at Kwai Tsing Theatre.
In a response to HKFP, the [Leisure and Cultural Services Dept] confirmed it would not be sponsoring a venue this year after the last event sparked “different views in society.”
“Among them were views that some of the arrangements and content were inappropriate,” the LCSD wrote in a Chinese statement.
Some weekend links…
The Times asks Hongkongers how they are settling in to the UK (paywalled).
At a time when young people are growing indifferent to democracy — a 2022 study by the Onward centre-right think tank found that 60 per cent of British people under the age of 45 agreed that “having a strong leader who does not have to bother with parliament or elections” is a good way to run the country — there is something refreshing about the passion for democracy among Britain’s Hongkongers. They have not had the luxury of growing complacent towards it.
Inside the Place, as orders of beef brisket noodle soup and Hong Kong-style French toast fly to and from the kitchen, the waitress Kelly Ho is a calm presence. The 40-year-old, who was a teacher in Hong Kong before moving to Britain in July, says she has no regrets, nor any plans to return to teaching: “Education is very high pressure. Here I’m much happier. I can see my two children when they finish school.”
Her biggest shock was not the weather (“everyone’s always moaning about it”) but the pay. Here she earns just over minimum wage, which can amount to £21,000 a year for a full-time worker; in Hong Kong a teacher can earn £60,000 or more. Even high earners there are taxed at no more than 17 per cent.
…Yet most of Britain’s Hongkongers remain confident that even if their own careers stutter, their children’s won’t. After selling his home in Hong Kong, Mak could have bought a bigger place in Manchester, but saved money for the future by buying a flat. “My wife didn’t want to have to take care of the garden,” he jokes. “Social mobility takes decades to observe. But if you’re asking whether we believe that it is better here, I would say yes. In Hong Kong, unless you have a good job or are very rich parents, it’s hard for your children to be rich too.”
Some background (guess the Times didn’t get the ‘good Hong Kong stories’ memo)…
Since 2021 members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council have to be vetted by a screening committee, meaning nearly all are now pro-Beijing. The island’s pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, has shut and its founder is on trial on national security charges. Schoolchildren are being taught that Hong Kong was never a colony of Britain. All Sim cards must be registered with real names. When Queen Elizabeth II died in September 2022, a man played God Save the Queen on a harmonica near the British consulate to rapturous crowds — until he was arrested on sedition charges.
Not a big fan of podcasts – I can read 1,000 words in the time it takes someone to go ‘um, ah’ and introduce themselves. But lots of people seems to like them, and now HKFP have taken the plunge. The latest is former domestic helper Xyza Cruz Bacani, who became a renowned photographer.
An interesting comment from one ‘julia’ on Bill Bishop’s subscribers’ discussion thread, just before the Taiwan elections…
None of the major candidates in this election are talking about Taiwan independence, that is a myth pushed by Beijing as justification for their refusal to deal with the democratically elected president of the past 8 years.
I don’t think there is any point to the US publicly reiterating support for the status quo in response to a possible DPP victory. Everybody in Taiwan already knows that there is nothing to be gained from challenging the status quo, the topic has been done to death.
The only belligerent in cross-Strait relations is the CCP, who made a rash diplomatic decision 8 years ago and now don’t want to accept the loss of face involved in admitting that the DPP aren’t a gang of extremists striking fear into the hearts of every honest person in Taiwan, they’re just a middle of the road political party that some people believe will do a better job than the other ones. Surely the CCP “at the core” understands this, so the only question is how they choose to respond to reality. I don’t think there is anything that US diplomats can do to give them an off-ramp if their plan to engineer a DPP loss fails. This is a problem of the CCP’s own making.
From the Diplomat – some Mainlanders don’t buy Beijing’s line on Taiwan’s elections…
Shortly after Lai Ching-te, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate, won Taiwan’s widely watched presidential election on January 13, the spokesperson for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement, “The results of this election in the Taiwan region show that the DPP does not represent mainstream public opinion.”
Lai had captured 40 percent of the vote in a three-way race, finishing about seven points ahead of his nearest rival.
The official statement was posted by Toutiao, a popular news outlet on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, and quickly attracted mockery from numerous Chinese netizens.
“Oh my god… Can you stop lying to yourself?”
“So getting elected by one-person, one-vote doesn’t represent mainstream public opinion. Is what comes out of your mouth still human language?”
“Understood, as long as it is not 100 percent, it doesn’t represent the mainstream.”
…Most Taiwan-related online comments on the night of the election appeared to back the official goal of absorbing the island into the People’s Republic of China, but the amount of content that commended the free and fair election in Taiwan and criticized the lack thereof in China – and was noticed before being deleted – suggests that there could in fact be many in China who support democratic principles or even take a moderate view on Taiwanese autonomy.
Such democratic sentiments may have been strengthened by the grueling experience of Xi’s three-year-long “zero-COVID” policy. The policy’s extremely abusive enforcement measures awakened many Chinese citizens to the disastrous consequences of having no say in how and by whom they are governed.
The Guardian on China’s population decline…
On Tuesday, demographers proposed further reforms of fertility support policies, the Global Times reported. Some also drew hope from suggestions that there may be more babies born in 2024 in a post-pandemic baby boom, or because people wished to have children born in the Chinese zodiac year of the dragon, which starts in February.
Online, some Chinese Weibo users said they had anecdotally noticed many more pregnancies around them which they linked to the zodiac year.
Others were more sceptical, saying a single year baby boom would make life difficult for those children who would later sit for China’s highly competitive college entrance exam.
Not many of these guys left: YouTube interview with a 100-year-old WW2 US Air Force veteran.