A Coalition of the Shoe-shining

The Hong Kong Coalition – fronted by former Chief Executives Tung Chee-hwa and CY Leung – is apparently supposed to lure the middle ground to vote for the pro-government bloc in September’s Legislative Council elections. Instead, it is a vivid reminder of how unappealing the pro-Beijing brand is.

Its recruits so far are the usual depressing ‘heavyweights’ like Maria Tam, Henry ‘basement’ Tang, Regina Ip and the less recognizable industrialist Irons Sze. You can picture the rest: former Justice Secretary Elsie Leung perhaps, Executive Council people like Fanny Law and Arthur Li, some tycoons/tycoons’ kids and semi-forgotten retired officials. To add a dash of sexy and trendy, actor Jackie Chan or landlord Allen Zeman.

They will generally be old. Most will be rich. Most will have some base motive, like wealth or status, for publicly backing Beijing. Many will be ugly, in terms of personality if not physically. Only the spineless who parrot the official line will be accepted. Anyone under 40 will either be pitifully dim or (if they drag in some medal-winning cyclist) dependent on the state.

The HK Coalition will be a rancid line-up of not-very-nice-people. Nobody remotely hip or cool will join in because no-one who is smart, intellectual, sensitive, funny, caring, aware, creative, noble or heroic supports the Chinese Communist Party.

It is a toxic product, and this is the marketing campaign from Hell. For example: your target audience is the sort of person who admires the hospital staff who risked their lives working on the front-line and their jobs by striking to force the government to close the border. And this Coalition wheels out a spite-filled woman who rants about punishing and suing the doctors and nurses.

I declare the weekend open with a quick selection of diversions…

China Heritage/Geremie Barme translates an essay by journalist Lee Yee despairing at the arrests of Martin Lee et al as the end of any possibility of a third way for Hong Kong…

As the Communist authorities have directed the local authorities to arrest men and women such as these — remember, they have consistently been the most mild advocates of democratic norms in the territory — they have, in effect, wiped out what remained of a middle ground. Now the only choices open to Hong Kong people are: align yourself with a totalitarian regime or rise up to resist and oppose it. 

A Hong Kong Free Press interview with Martin Lee. Another is from DW, translated here. He still shows a touching faith in the US Cavalry coming to the rescue, and in constitutional niceties – hoping a pan-dem majority in the legislature could prevent National Security laws, as if the CCP lets voters give the orders. Also, the Catholic Herald does a feature on the veteran pro-democrat.

Ben Bland at the Interpreter looks at the CCP’s recent power-grab in Hong Kong

Beijing has always seen the One Country, Two Systems arrangement as a messy compromise to smooth the handover from British rule in 1997 rather than a long-term basis for political freedoms and autonomy for Hong Kong. In the last 10 years, and especially since Xi Jinping took power in 2012, it has intensified efforts to assert control over Hong Kong’s politics, economy and society…

By pushing so hard, the authorities risk intensifying the very nemesis of political violence that they claim to be opposing.

Prospects for the pro-democracy movement include…

…fighting a rear-guard action to disrupt the authorities while hoping to keep the flame of resistance alight until something dramatic changes in Beijing.

We could also add that Beijing is doing all the right things to encourage the growth of a genuine pro-independence movement.

Michael Davies in the SCMP asks (more or less) why we bother having a Basic Law if Beijing can change it anytime it likes.

From Harpers – a rather literary inside account of last year’s protests.

To celebrate HK-Taiwanese-Thai solidarity against the CCP, Milk-Tea Alliance protest artwork.

For heritage enthusiasts – the abandoned Peak Tram station.

And 7-Eleven has launched a worthwhile initiative where customers can team with the chain and some charities to donate lunch boxes to the needy (using a convoluted high-tech system involving gamma rays and blockchain – because just putting cash in a box wouldn’t be any fun).

A thread on the craziness of China’s latest South China Sea claims.

Bloomberg thinks China has pushed Europe too far this time on the virus crisis. It sounds serious, provided there is an entity called ‘Europe’ that carries weight on the world stage, and the region’s various national leaders have backbones.

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Conspiracy Corner

Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, when not increasing its ‘supervision’ over the local administration, has been amassing property in the city. The pro-dem Demosisto group’s research into this is not new, but the update is timely enough to annoy the government.

Not unreasonably, the activists equate the number of apartments in the portfolio with the size of the Office’s staff. What is interesting is that the purchases of the flats go back decades. The conspiracy-theorists among us might ask whether Beijing’s local officials anticipated the land and housing policies that contributed to the huge uplift in property prices during that time, and took steps to insulate their organization from the results. By ‘anticipated’ we mean ‘had advance knowledge of’ or ‘actively engineered’.

A less suspicious mind would point out that it would be standard practice for a Mainland public-sector employer to provide its expatriate staff with housing, not least to keep tabs on them.

That would score a 1 or 2 on the Conspiracy Theory Scale. Here’s something that would rate a lot higher…

This article in The Diplomat begins with the sentence: ‘We often ascribe a basic level of humanity to even the cruelest leaders…’ Personally, I don’t, so this isn’t a very promising start. But it gets better. The author postulates that at some point between the original cover-ups and the eventual semi-transparency over COVID-19, Beijing knowingly allowed the virus to spread from Wuhan out into the big wide world.

The suggestion concerns the CCP leadership’s crude, zero-sum attitude to international relations…

Why should China suffer the effects of a pandemic while others stayed safe — and increased their strength relative to China…?

If we are going to take a massive economic hit in the first half of 2020, foreign countries can damn well do the same.

It is an appalling accusation. But – to anyone who has even passing knowledge of the CCP’s cold thuggery – it makes disturbing sense.

Daniel Bell (a fan of China’s ‘meritocratic’ model) quibbles about details on flights. And of course China doesn’t exactly benefit from a collapse in Western consumer demand. Sinocism’s Bill Bishop says in his daily newsletter that overdoing the finger-pointing…

…ultimately will only hurt the efforts to hold Xi and the CCP accountable. Do people really need to embellish their bad behavior? I think a much more effective approach is to sit back and let the CCP and its wolf warrior diplomats torch their reputation in many countries around the world. 

On the other hand, Beijing is not exactly keen on the idea of an independent inquiry. And isn’t there something hard-to-imagine about Xi and pals putting humanity first?

With Trump and Biden preparing to compete on who can blame China most, perhaps the truth doesn’t matter.

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Purge of the mediocrities

In a Night of the Long Knives for charisma-free nonentities, Mainland Affairs Minister Patrick Nip is shoved sideways in favour of the Xi fanboy from Immigration, and several other top posts are reshuffled. This entails a fond farewell to the laughable Lau Kong-wah and a warm welcome for a couple of rising, ideologically reliable officials drawn from the pro-Beijing DAB.

An anonymous insider suggests Chief Executive Carrie Lam was disappointed in the individuals’ performances – though they were relatively uninvolved in the last year’s horrendous screw-ups, and anyway she’s not in charge. The lateral-thinker in me wonders if, perhaps, they were not mediocre enough? There’s also a hint that, in his new role as Civil Service Secretary, Nip will be tasked with enforcing political discipline among rank and file government staff.

The HK & Macau Affairs Office issues a buy-two-get-one-free pack of general-purpose mouth-froth, accusing Joshua Wong and Martin Lee of an independence plot, blasting lawmaker Dennis Kwok, supporting police arrests of pro-dem veterans, repeating Beijing’s authority over Hong Kong, whining about foreign forces, and on, and on.

Dennis Kwok expects to be disqualified.

RTHK is criticized for allowing opinion that is opinionated. And the police have a panty-wetting fit about ‘hate speech’ directed at themselves, which they will ‘follow up’.

Cue the news that Hong Kong falls another seven points to 80th place in the World Press Freedom Index, courtesy of police violence and government evasiveness (this would pre-date the late-night press-release-airbrushing).

Hong Kong U’s SPACE extramural department reportedly fires a lecturer for saying the virus cover-ups make him ashamed to be Chinese.

Human Rights Watch struggles to keep up.

For those who find it all too bewildering, bear in mind that the Chinese Communist Party inhabits a parallel universe. Rational observers might wonder why Beijing can’t come to terms with an educated, free, pluralist society that essentially just wants to be left alone. But the CCP sees mortal enemies everywhere, and in its paranoid mind, Hong Kong’s mainstream middle-class population is a (foreign-led) threat – and this is a fight for survival.

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HK govt clarifies misunderstanding following confusion about screw-up

Having been hung out to dry by its CCP masters, the Hong Kong government issues a squirming late-night press release on why it needs to keep on redrafting late-night press releases. Essentially: Beijing’s local Liaison Office was founded as the Xinhua News Agency in 1947 and the dog ate my homework.

Often, these statements are attributed to a fictitious ‘government spokesman’, but this one attributes the embarrassing blather to a fabricated nameless official specifically attached to the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau. To further help distance other government agencies from the haplessness and horror, the Bureau’s boss Patrick Nip kneels on broken glass and confesses to ‘errors’:

…releases needed to be issued again to make corrections and explanations, and there were confusion and misunderstanding. I deeply regret that!

An unimpressed Bar Association releases another opinion, pointing out (among other things) that the Central Government in Beijing is supposed to be subject to the Basic Law (a PRC law), so its Liaison Office must be too.

A commentator in Ming Pao makes another good point, namely that the Basic Law not only says the Hong Kong government will have autonomy over internal affairs – it allows for Beijing to replace the Chief Executive if things go badly wrong. Such a failsafe mechanism presumably not being necessary if the Liaison Office is intended or able to micro-manage internal affairs.

In case you need any more evidence that we are witnessing Classic CCP Making-Up-Casuistry-As-They-Go-Along Mayhem, here come Beijing shoe-shiners Tam Yiu-chung, Regina Ip and Ronny Tong to tell us that the Hong Kong government has failed to grasp/doesn’t understand/is confused about the Basic Law (‘unlike us, as we are so knowledgeable and insightful’).

Meanwhile, the local administration-puppets have to watch helplessly as the round-up of Martin Lee, Margaret Ng et al attracts more attention around the world (eg here and here).

And Fitch rushes to reduce Hong Kong’s credit rating again, citing a lot of economic troubles, but also…

…central authorities taking a more vocal role in Hong Kong affairs than at any time since the 1997 handover…

Cue anguished mouth-frothing about a ‘disproportionate emphasis on prevailing socio-political issues’. Which sounds slightly like the CCP’s basic problem.

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Cyd Ho – national security threat

So where were we? Oh yes – during the National Security Day publicity campaign, Beijing’s HK Affairs and Liaison Offices were criticizing Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers, even accusing them of possible criminal offenses, for holding up legislative business, including the National Anthem (Compulsory Adoration) Bill.

This sparks a debate on whether these departments can interfere in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, when Basic Law Article 22 says they can’t.

Now the Liaison Office abruptly ends that debate by forcing the Hong Kong government to reword its own press releases overnight as they are published. By the third draft at around 1.00am, the Liaison Office is not a Chinese government ‘department’, but directly under central government control, which is apparently different, despite past statements and documents to the contrary.

For gory textual analysis, see threads (in ascending order of detail) here, here and here.

The Liaison Office has been organizing local United Front election campaigns and other operations for years. Beijing’s officials clearly started to exert influence over the HK Police, public prosecutions and other functions in the post-Occupy period, and have obviously taken some form of direct control over the police since mid-2019. It was all in the 2014 white paper, which declared Hong Kong’s autonomy to be purely at the CCP’s pleasure.

So the Ever-Transmuting Press Release Saga largely confirms what we all know: the CCP, which is above the law, runs Hong Kong via the Liaison Office. The humiliation of local flunkies having to rewrite statements dictated by the knuckle-draggers at midnight is the message.

Meanwhile, there’s a mass arrest of opposition leaders. To add to the brutish, banana-republic ambience, the Police Commissioner gets stroppy and personal with two of the arrestees – 81-year-old lawyer Martin Lee for showing bravado, and pro-democracy publisher Jimmy Lai for ‘smearing’ his cops.

Among other detainees: cat-owning barrister Margaret Ng, unionist Lee Cheuk-yan, long-time single-parent activist Cyd Ho and veteran ultra-moderates like Yeung Sam and Albert Ho. A key point: the most venerable of these, like Martin Lee and Ng, are pretty much honorary members of Hong Kong’s traditional business-bureaucrat society. They are personally close to some leading establishment figures.

Reactions include international protest, but also sheer puzzlement. Is Beijing using the pandemic as a distraction, or is this following a separate timetable? Is the idea to disrupt the pan-dems through disqualifications before the September Legislative Council election? Is it to somehow set the scene for pushing through Article 23 National Security laws? Is it to provoke yet more unrest in order to justify martial law?

It’s best not to read too much into it. It accords with the CCP’s mentality that the ‘masses’ who voted in November’s district elections have no minds of their own, and Hong Kong’s protest movement will end if a handful of masterminds and leaders are taken out. It also sends a message that no-one is safe – even aging moderates can be rounded up, so you must all tremble and obey.

Which brings us back to the overlap between pan-dem grandees like Martin Lee and the tycoon-bureaucrat ‘elites’. Beijing is frustrated not just with the Hong Kong rabble, but with its government and its shoe-shiners. This is simply a next step in its insecure and paranoid obsession with crushing all, not just radical, Hong Kong opposition.

It also illustrates the CCP’s complete lack of understanding of Hong Kong but – as with the press-release rewrites – not giving a damn is part of the point.

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Crisis over, nearly, please?

Hong Kong’s new detected virus cases are now in the low single digits per day, and those mostly from overseas. While it would be crazy to reopen the borders to visitors from Planet Plague, it should be OK to start relaxing some local social-distancing measures in the next week or so – to get some aspects of daily life and the domestic economy moving again. Shouldn’t it? At least let kids use playgrounds and restaurants serve some more customers. We could reimpose restrictions if infection cases rise again.

More likely, the officials who moved late and reluctantly at the beginning will now drag their feet over lifting the measures. What’s the betting we still have a minimum six more weeks of taped-up coffee-shop tables, personal trainers holding classes in the park, and people slowly going more and more nuts?

And of civil servants ‘working from home’. Despite having a whole Innovation and Technology Bureau (and being able to blow HK$100 billion on a bridge to nowhere), the Hong Kong government hasn’t equipped its staff to do their paper-shuffling from the couch.

I declare the weekend semi-open with a round-up of the usual bits and pieces…

Will the Great Pandemic of 2020 change the world forever? The boring-but-safe prediction is that we’ll all bounce back quite quickly and return to our old working-in-offices, buying-stuff-from-shops, letting-cars-monopolize-streets, sneezing-on-each-other way of life. But HK Free Press’s futurist has other ideas.

Louisa Lim and Graeme Smith did a chapter in the China Story Yearbook entitled ‘Hong Kong and the Tiananmen Playbook’, which you can, and should, read here:

As events in Hong Kong unfolded in 2019, it became increasingly clear just how much China’s rulers are still informed by the Tiananmen playbook thirty years on, despite Hong Kong’s own particular political proposition. 

…the idea that this type of post-Tiananmen solution could also be applied in Hong Kong is likely to be a pipedream; Hong Kong had both economic growth and stability before the return to mainland sovereignty and, so long as its people are free to remember and write their own history, they are unlikely to buy into such a ‘bargain’.

From Initium, and translated by Guardians of Hong Kong – all you ever wanted to know about the Fujianese thugs of North Point.

HKFP presents the work of artist Giraffe Leung, who frames the scrubbed-over remnants and palimpsests of the 2019 Uprising.

Check out the seriously cool 70s retro counterculture alternative mag graphics of digital HK Protests underground zine Fragrant Harbour (here’s some background).

And in the Apples and Oranges Dept: California Governor Gavin Newsom compared with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

An open letter from international academics calling the CCP a threat to China and the world provokes an entertainingly over-lengthy, over-detailed and over-whiny response from Global Times.

Beijing’s CGTV propaganda outlet’s Arabic-language fake news report (with subtitles) on how the US Army brought the Wuhan Virus to Wuhan.

And the CCP enlists the University of Queensland in its worldwide ‘soft power’ PR campaign disaster with a move to expel activist Drew Pavlou.

The Guardian explores why the WHO wasn’t up to the job. And Axios reports that China already has a new WHO – the Health Silk Road.

As the Chinese government dithers over whether to be racist or not – a Mainland video about how black people have less buoyancy in water.

Next to which, John Bolton comes across as pretty sane on dual recognition of the PRC and Taiwan.

In the history and culture departments: ‘the Red armies have now encircled the city’ – a Pathe newsreel of Brits fleeing Shanghai in 1949; a look at Muslims in Taiwan; and Mongolia plans to ditch Cyrillic and go back to its traditional vertical thing (which apparently dates back to Syriac).

And, badly needed, something soothing from It’s Your Fault – Taiwan jazz-pop (or something)…

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Have a creepy National Security Day

No sooner does Beijing denounce pan-dem lawmakers (prompting a response from the Progressive Lawyers Group) than we get National Security Education Day. Obviously planned well ahead of time, the celebration entails videos of CY Leung, Carrie Lam, the ever-charismatic Maria Tam and others ranting about pro-independence forces, foreign interference and extreme violent radicals, all demanding Serious Action. 

The core message comes from Liaison Office chief Luo Huining, who calls for Hong Kong to enact Article 23 national security laws ‘as soon as possible’. Here are highlights of the clips

Luo Huining said justice might be lost if people rely solely on laws. He encouraged the society to “move the defence line forward” and “create a social and public opinion environment favourable to struggle against behaviours threatening HK’s stability and national security”

Yes – we’re creepy!

Among the choreographed freak-out are warnings of a murky terrorist or ‘near-terrorist’ threat. In case you were wondering what the HK Police’s clunky ‘bomb’ discoveries in recent months were for.

If the participants were limited to the local pro-Beijing crowd, we could dismiss it as an embarrassing show to mollify the CCP. But the presence of knuckle-dragger Luo makes it clear this is coming from high up (cue a whole load of bots on Twitter). Beijing is preparing for something significant – maybe a rush-through of National Security laws, maybe mass disqualifications of pro-dem office-holders, maybe a suspension of the Legislative Council.

It is hard to believe that, as Hong Kong is supposed to enter a period of post-pandemic recovery, Beijing is really going to trigger 2019 Uprising Part II. (Did anyone up there monitor the District Council election? Are they so deranged they see the pandemic as an opportunity?) Kong Tsung-gan asks

Is it that the #CCP & its United Front in #HK have boxed themselves in & have no strategy at all except to repeat their failed policies of the past? 

Except – of course they’re going to provoke even greater alienation, opposition and street protests because they simply know of no other way. Any sort of ‘hearts and minds’ effort to win over the city’s people would be a concession would be an admission of defeat. We must crush, crush, crush.

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Naughty judges spill the beans again

Reuters gets another exclusive scoop as our normally tight-lipped judiciary open up…

Some in the city’s legal establishment are now bracing for the possibility that China will begin to meddle in the appointment of new judges… Any intervention in the selection process, said one of the justices, would likely spark resignations on the bench. “We’re worried that they are losing patience, and will find ways of tightening the screws,” the judge said, referring to the Beijing leadership. “We know from our interactions with senior mainland judges that they just don’t get Hong Kong at all,” said the justice, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They always want to know why Hong Kong is so confused and chaotic, and not ‘patriotic.’”

This comes as Chinese officials blast pro-dem lawmakers for their filibustering – even asserting that they are committing offences – prompting an inevitable hoo-hah over whether this constitutes ‘interference’.

It definitely constitutes continued Mainlandization of Hong Kong. At best, it’s an attempt to smear and demonize the opposition; more likely, it is a sign that Beijing is planning to use more quasi-legal tactics to disqualify pan-dems in the LegCo elections in September. Either way, it sends a message that – to Beijing – the legislative branch exists to rubber-stamp the CCP-appointed executive.

It is a clear assertion that the opposition, who have a mandate from the people, are the problem – not the appointed government. (The pan-dems might help their case if they made more of this angle.) And, in addition to Mainland interference in Hong Kong’s (in fact LegCo’s) internal affairs, it is a direct challenge to the notion of separation of powers.

The judiciary and the legislature are in the same boat: the Leninist system into which Hong Kong is gradually being absorbed is about total control. When Liaison Office boss Luo Huining drones on about ‘improving’ and ‘strengthening’ legal systems and law-enforcement, this is what he means. Checks and balances and independent institutions are threats to national (ie CCP) security, and their days are numbered.

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China’s weekend of soft-power fails

Asia-wide lockdown-boredom combined with anti-CCP sentiment over the weekend to create the Great #nnevvy War.

Long story short for those self-disciplined enough to spend less than five hours a day on Twitter… Following a perceived slight by a Thai showbiz couple, hyper-nationalist Chinese wumao launched a barrage of what they imagined to be hurtful insults against the Land of Smiles. Not only did Thais gracefully deflect the supposed insults in such a way as to highlight the wumaos’ own inadequacies, they attracted an online alliance of Hong Kong, Taiwanese and other free Asians in a frenzy of Mainland-propagandist-mutilation-by-memes. (For the unenlightened, pro-dem District Council member Lo Kin-hei offers a video Dummy’s Guide to Wumao and Associated Memes.)

The #nnevvy massacre seems contained within (or incomprehensible beyond) the Twitter bubble, so is unlikely to lead to shattering geopolitical shifts in the real world. But it’s a vivid illustration of how anti-CCP feeling runs across a certain pan-Asian demographic. (Also interesting for its memes-with-English lingua franca.) And of course a glorious example of Beijing’s acutely cringe-making soft-power shortcomings.

Which rather neatly brings us to other weekend excitements.

Apparently inspired by Beijing’s blame-foreigners-for-the-virus PR strategy, Guangzhou decides to round up black peopledamaging China’s friendly/’win-win’/neo-colonial African relations, not to mention the reputation of McDonalds. Followed by the inevitable ‘foreign-plot’ tantrum.

And as if that’s not enough (hey – it was a four-day weekend), Chinese diplomats are caught stooping to new depths of odiousness by pressuring officials in Germany and Wisconsin to kowtow to the Emperor as a mark of awe for the CCP’s wondrous handling of the COVID outbreak. Not so much odious, perhaps, as pitiful.

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Carrie-come-lately

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive was going to take a pay hike, then, following criticism from even her supporters, backtracked. After dithering over wage subsidies, she now commits to them, ‘taking reference’ from Singapore, the UK, Australia, etc. Most hilariously, the courts will decide today whether she can go through with banning face masks – at a time when everyone else talks of making them compulsory.

If there were only one banana skin, one cliff edge and one sponge cake in the world, Carrie Lam would find a way to slip on the peel, tumble straight off the mountain and land face-first in the icing. The woman is a walking disaster.

After a pause, Hong Kong Free Press is back with a new upgraded website. Most of the enhancements are apparently behind the scenes, and – perhaps for the first time in the history of the Internet – there don’t seem to be any pointless/annoying/for-the-heck-of-it changes to the layout.

Among recent items by HKFP and partners: the plight of a Kenyan domestic helper, how local farmers benefit from the pandemic, smuggling of meat to the Mainland by boats hiding among the third-runway construction, the HK Police terrorism scare as smear campaign and the use of sign language by pro-dem activists. None of these subjects have been covered by any other local English-language media (that I’ve seen, though RTHK might have done one or two). (Update: there’s more, here and here.)

I declare the four-day weekend open with a round-up of potentially interesting reading/viewing…

The Washington Post does a video on the impact of arbitrary arrests on the reputation of the HK Police and government.

Fed up with snotty arrogant whining, a journalist at Sydney’s Daily Telegraph rips a letter from the Chinese ambassador to shreds with full Australian finesse and subtlety – one of the funniest things you’ll read all week (if you haven’t already).

The Atlantic invites you to consider the possibility that Trump is right – about China, at least. Not so much a tribute to the reality TV star’s perceptive foreign-affairs analysis as a wake-up call for consumers of pointy-headed East Coast media about the West’s vulnerabilities.

Foreign Affairs looks at China’s coming upheaval: the stronger the country appears to be, the more fragile it is.

The Pittsburgh Quarterly (of all things) on why China won’t become the world’s biggest economy. Nothing new, but a neat summary. He could say more about drags on productivity growth (like discrimination against rural underclass) and demographics. But he makes the point.

The AEI thinks China’s pandemic statistics aren’t arithmetically sensible.

Expats.cz on how the Mayor of Prague has gone off China.

Thoughts on a 30-year old piece by Simon Leys on skills necessary for reading CCP tea-leaves.

Taiwan seems to be taking to its new-found international respectability and stature like a duck to water. Here it comes to slam the Hong Kong government for menacing press freedom.

By ‘respectability and stature’ we mean Babs Streisand speaks up for Taiwan.

In a move straight out of the ‘Hurt Feelings’ chapter of the CCP’s PR manual, the WHO’s Beijing-friendly boss Mr Tedros accuses Taiwan critics of racism against Africans.

For all I know, the Ethiopian Register might be as dependable an outlet as Epoch Times, so maybe this needs a pinch of salt. But a non-glowing opinion of Tedros – a member of the (originally Marxist) Tigre People’s Liberation Front. Also in Amharic if you want.

And on general big-picture matters, a fund manager foresees the world’s political economy going back to the 1950s

This virus will most likely terminate the laissez-faire globalized economic model. Since this model had already stopped working long before the crisis started, that is no bad thing. We should remember that the prevailing economic system had entered a self-reinforcing negative loop of declining productivity, slowing trend growth, stagnating real living standards and rising inequality a good 15 years ago.

The current crisis should therefore strongly reinforce the political pressure to ensure that economies are managed in a way that benefits most of their citizens.

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