Carrie takes demented mouth-frothing intolerance too far

Carrie Lam gets miffed to the max about qualified scientists disputing a need for her community-wide virus screening plan…

…so-called experts, doctors or members of the public kept finding excuses to stop citizens from participating in the test … They are smearing the central [Beijing] government and it’s an effort to sever Hong Kong’s relations with the central government.

She gets equally stroppy about lawyers complaining about the Department of Justice’s barring of Ted Hui’s private prosecutions, accusing them of ‘casting doubt and disrespect on Hong Kong’s judiciary system’. (And Hui gets arrested, in case he didn’t get the point.)

There is something quite creepy about this hyper-aggressive intolerance in someone who used to be a just an average arrogant and haughty civil servant who would wave criticism aside without a word. She has become furious and insulted that others have different opinions – almost beside herself with incomprehension that she still cannot snap her fingers and a squad of henchmen will drag any dissenter out onto the street and behead them.

Yes, we know the CCP are in charge and she is a mere puppet. But it’s like something went wrong with her conditioning and she is doing it too robotically. Petrified by something Beijing has on her file? Botched lobotomy? 

The aim of all this is of course to silence ‘so-called experts’ who could embarrass hapless officials but now fear being hounded out of their jobs or indeed Hong Kong for criticizing a government policy. Here’s a quick intro to the subject

Even when sitting on the binge-watching couch, we get the message to fight despotism. Evidence that neo-Nazis in all shapes are even more desperately uncool than we ever imagined comes from none other than The Saint (it’s all in the first minute).

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Would HK lose more face than it saves at WTO?

Proof that you should use your quota of free articles wisely – the SCMP has a good in-depth feature on the pros and cons of Hong Kong appealing to the WTO over the US decision to require ‘Made in Hong Kong’ goods to be labeled ‘Made in China’. With comments from former trade reps and others. The author has more background on the story here.

Essentially, such a complaint would require the presentation of evidence by both sides. Does Hong Kong really want an international tribunal highlighting every aspect of the economic and other cross-border integration that the CCP has been pushing for well over a decade? Or of the new quasi-direct rule from Beijing under the NatSec Law regime?

Hong Kong’s response will – like so many things nowadays – be decided by Beijing’s officials, so don’t expect the city’s interests (whatever they might be) to come first. Also, the process would take years. A pity, because it could backfire on the government nicely.

On the subject of these labels, HKFP reveals the identities of two Hongkongers colluding with evil foreigners to try to split the city from the nation. The splittists want to dissociate local products from those of the rest of the glorious motherland – almost as if Mainland goods have a poor reputation owing to bad quality or manufacturers’ use of enslaved Uighurs. 

One example of where accurate labelling would be useful: the United Front’s copycat opinion pollster in Hong Kong – with a similar name to Robert Chung’s PORI, but none of the transparency in methodology. HKFP interview with Chung here.

And the National Endowment for Democracy hits back at Beijing’s (and blue ribbons’ and tankies’) allegations that it masterminded Hong Kong’s protests. (A bit hard to disentangle quotes from original commentary, but the last two paras seem to be from the NGO itself.) 

A few interesting items on glorious-motherland affairs…

CMP on the contrast between spotless Xi Jinping and…

Li Keqiang trudging through the muddy waters, engaged in an active discussion with local officials. A man of the muck. A man of the people.

From Willy Lam, a layman’s introduction to one of Xi Jinping’s big economic ideas – the ‘great domestic circulation’, or an attempt to engineer a more self-sufficient market.

And a CNN interview with Cai Xia. Globular Times is sorely vexed at her treachery.

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How the CCP poisons everything, Part 423

Can Hong Kong fight Covid 19 effectively when Beijing is ordering its puppet administration to focus on battling political opposition?

The authorities have already weaponized social-distancing regulations against protesters while leaving more obvious infringers alone. And of course, the LegCo election is postponed for at least a year on flimsy virus-related grounds, even though other life goes on as usual. (Is a day of gatherings to vote any different as a health risk from everyone’s weekly supermarket visit – entering a crowded building and standing in line for a few minutes?) Aside from undermining rule of law, this abuse of the rules sends a message that the government doesn’t see a genuine health risk. 

Now we have a proposal for a health code scheme, which some local medical professionals warn is a move towards China’s social credit system. Sensible people do not indulge in conspiracy theories. But do you really believe the CCP would not exploit a health policy that could serve as a cover for increased surveillance and control over the local population?

This puts a sinister slant on the government’s eagerness to test millions of people for the virus. Is the public’s skepticism paranoia or summon sense? Especially when the screening of care homes – surely a prime target for such an exercise – is mysteriously ‘not practicable’. And extra especially if they try to threaten everyone to give samples.

The point is that, even if the government sincerely formulates a good policy (say, mass shots when an effective vaccine is available), so few people will trust officials that they will resist it anyway, and community health will suffer. The CCP, of course, couldn’t care less.

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Revealed – How Jimmy Lai helped train senior HK Police

This week’s episode of Banana Republic was brought to you by: Teresa Cheng killing a private prosecution by pro-dem Ted Hui for the second time this week; and plain-clothes police grabbing a young woman off the street and into an unmarked car – apparently for suspected ‘access to a computer with dishonest intent’.

How things have changed. Would you believe there was a time when recently-and-frequently-arrested pro-democracy media boss Jimmy Lai served as a high-calibre speaker at a Hong Kong Police senior command course? (Scroll down to bottom story – just above the ‘copyright 1997’ thing.) The cops also invited Democrat James To and Amnesty International. What a difference the CCP makes.

By accident this morning, I see Nury Vittachi’s so-ultra-left-it’s-far-right theorising about the CIA supporting the protest movement in Thailand. For as long as I can remember, Thailand’s monarchist-military regimes have, if anything, been propped up by the US. Why would the CIA try to engineer regime change there? Also, for as long as anyone can remember, those regimes have been corrupt and oppressive, extracting wealth from the population through such scams as loan-sharking to rice farmers (to take a small example). It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the people are angry and have made their own minds up that their country should be run more fairly. 

It’s hard enough to understand why self-styled Marxist tankies find themselves siding with dictatorships. How does a columnist in a Hong Kong paper fall into such intellectual, logical and moral confusion that he thinks the victims of King ‘poodles and babes’ Vajiralongkorn and his generals’ misrule are in the wrong? What does he get into next – QAnon?

A variety of (sounder) reading material to wrap the week up…

Sinocism has republished John Garnaut’s speech on ideology in Xi Jinping’s China. If you’ve never read it, do.

A group of nine NGOs (who knew there were so many – fat CIA budgets, I guess) sign a statement on the arrests and harassment of journalists in Hong Kong.

In Atlantic, the (Hong Kong-born) director of Freedom House explains how it feels when China puts you on its Big List of Nasty People We Don’t Like

It is a bit disorienting to wake up early expecting to go out for a walk, and find that you have been personally targeted for sanctions by the most powerful authoritarian state in the world.

Fans of cartoons – especially basic ones apparently done on a smart phone on a bus – will like this.

Rest of World on Hong Kong’s future as a data hub post-NatSec Law.

At the mundane end of the spectrum, TransitJam reports that officials are demanding that HKU convert a welfare office to parking spaces. While other cities learn from Covid-19 experience and expand things like bicycle lanes, Hong Kong – as the CCP destroys its main advantages as a business location – focuses on reducing basic quality of life.

On cinematic matters… Why do people in Hong Kong hate Jackie Chan? Let me count the ways. (OK, you know already – but Vice lay it all out for a global audience.) And for some reason the Chinese public are unhappy with the poster for Disney’s Mulan. Apparently, it looks ‘too 2000’, which is a Bad Thing. So even the Mainland is going to boycott it. 

Not a movie – but maybe it will be one day! The Heritage Foundation (pinch of salt advised) on the possibility of the Three Gorges Dam bursting.

A slightly tongue-in-cheek essay on the difficulties of learning (basically reading and writing) Chinese. By David Moser when he was still a student (he’s now a distinguished sinologist). Daring in that it uses non-academic words like ‘stupid’ to describe things like the system of characters. (He later found digital methods a relief.)

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HK breaking 23-year-records!

If you want to read the phrase ‘All-time record low since 1997’ over and over, check out the latest PORI opinion poll on Hong Kong social indicators

The numbers still have room to fall lower. Perhaps with that in mind, Hong Kong education authorities get down to sanitizing school textbooks for the ‘liberal studies’ course that patriots blame (along with the CIA) for civil unrest. Among other things, some revised teaching materials remove references to ‘separation of powers’. This prompts much indignation.

The Basic Law appears to describe separate executive, legislative and judicial branches, but Mainland officials have always stressed the ‘executive-led’ nature of the system. Mainland political theorists of course reject separation of powers as a dangerous Western idea.

In fact, the small print of the Basic Law indicates that Hong Kong’s three branches slot into the national Leninist unitary system. The Legislative Council has only feeble powers of oversight, plus a rigged composition that gives Beijing an inbuilt veto. And, although local officials since 1997 have boasted of judicial independence, local court decisions can be (and have been) ultimately overturned by ‘Basic Law interpretation’ in Beijing.

Back in the 1990s-2000s, Beijing was happy to let Hongkongers think they would have separation of powers. Today, the CCP wants you to stop kidding yourselves.

Under the new NatSec regime, LegCo is clearly destined to be a pure rubber stamp accommodating only a ‘loyal opposition’ that excludes even moderates like Kenneth Leung. (Pan-dems opposing a boycott should consider that if their continued presence in the council could make a damn difference to anything, it would not be permitted. The main impact of staying or boycotting is psychological – by quitting, you undermine the body’s claim to legitimacy. In case you’re still not sure, pro-Beijing figures want pan-dems to stay on.)

As for the judiciary, many judges now show a willingness to swallow the most absurd prosecution arguments in protest-related cases of ‘riot’, ‘offensive weapons’, ‘incitement’, etc. And we now have a parallel court structure for NatSec (aka ‘anything’) cases, which could encompass closed trials, trials without a jury, or even transfer of cases over the border to televised confessions-land. 

So – good news! In one respect at least, the new-look school textbooks are accurate, and not propaganda.

Some worthwhile links on the plight of Hong Kong today…

In Foreign Policy, a call for ground-level analysis of Hong Kong’s fight for its freedoms – as opposed to the macro- views that try to wedge the city into ‘Trump vs Xi’, workers vs capitalism, Black Lives Matter, imperialism or other global conceptual frameworks. International parallels (Thailand, Belorus) are obvious, but the Hong Kong movement is primarily a fight to preserve local identity and values from a hostile and alien CCP.

Howard French (Everything Under the Heavens) on why Beijing will regret crushing its only free city. It includes some annoying cliches (‘golden goose’) and errors (Shenzhen’s per-capita GDP is nowhere near close to Hong Kong’s). But he makes the main point – bewilderment at how demented the CCP must be to kill off such a vibrant and successful community – vividly…

These are the actions of a brittle and insecure system that is trying to cover up for the fact that it is haunted by the existence of a democratically run Chinese city, which it sees as a threat to its own increasingly rigid authoritarianism…

…It now seems more unlikely than ever that Taiwan would ever willfully and peacefully agree to reunify with China. But so too does the idea that China might boast a truly global city anytime in the foreseeable future—a place where people from every horizon can come and go freely, no matter who they associate with and how they express themselves.

In the Guardian, on the other hand, Ilaria Maria Sala disputes the notion that the NatSec Law reflects CCP weakness. 

(If you missed it, the Sinopsis article by Didi Kirsten Tatlow on the ‘repurposing’ of Hong Kong is now on HKFP.)

And in China Heritage‘Martyrs for a Cause’ by Lee Yee, about Jimmy Lai, translated by Geremie Barmé (who as usual provides a discursive introduction – this one referencing Professor Xu Zhangrun’s ‘Legalistic-Fascist-Stalinism’ phrase for China’s current political system). The article explains how phenomena like Next Digital’s share-price hike and boost in sales are a form of protest, mentions that Beijing’s clampdown is stirring up more resistance, and offers the hugely entertaining and delicious possibility of Jimmy Lai winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking of delicious, from HKFPhow US sanctions can affect Hong Kong officials.

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‘Relaunch HK’ suicide squad formed

Trade publication PRovoke Media has the latest on the Hong Kong government’s desperate attempts to improve its (or, officials would say, the city’s) international image. 

Saudi-advising mayhem-management agency Consulum has (presumably) splashed some money around and attracted three communications professionals to join its Hong Kong Mission Impossible team. 

One, PRovoke says, has been boss of ‘strategy and communications’ for the English Schools Foundation. That’s a legacy schools system founded for expat colonial officials’ kids, now in constant controversy as it tries to balance an overpaid staff, a drop in public funding and the demands of whiny parents. He was also media advisor for a police force in Scotland.

Another is an ex-SCMP staffer who, interestingly, also did PR for the fuzz – in New South Wales. One person with experience working for the cops is a coincidence; two looks like a theme.

The third ran communications and government relations for AmCham – a function that suggests pretty serious shoe-shining of officials – and once worked for the Hong Kong government’s Central Policy Unit, which in post-colonial times drifted from research towards propaganda. Sounds a bit ‘gamekeeper-turned-poacher’.

I don’t know much more about the individuals* – except that we are all prostitutes really, are we not? (Why do I picture the three as seeing this as a last lucrative gig before fleeing Hong Kong?)

But it looks like an adequate team-assembled-in-a-hurry by an agency grabbing some easy money and to hell with what more fastidious quarters of the PR industry think. 

Other agencies avoided pitching for this job because they feared for their image. Communications advisors like to see their role as potentially heroic, speaking truth to power and convincing problematic clients to mend their ways rather than sweep dirt under the carpet.

That isn’t possible with this account, as the client is a collection of cowed bureaucrats (also no doubt desperate to flee the city) who must feed their own bosses in Beijing a load of phony hogwash. There is no point in telling Carrie and Co how they can restore their credibility when the only audience that matters to them is the CCP, which demands their total obedience and insists its Leninist thuggishness is inerrant and perfect. (And don’t even think about telling the Hong Kong Police how to redeem themselves, unless you want a face full of pepper spray.)

Someone once said you can’t sell shit as sugar. Where the CCP is concerned, if you even dare suggest the ‘sugar’ might be shit, you get the Cai Xia excommunication treatment.

*Though one has the same name as the guy who wrote the unique ‘Dystopia’ column at the Asia Times back in the late Ming Dynasty.

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Shoe-shining update

Wolfson College in Cambridge sort-of-strips Carrie Lam of her honorary fellowship. Strictly speaking, they mumble – under pressure – about looking into her role in suppressing Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms, and eventually she gets the message and does a stroppy foot-stamping act of ‘returning’ the award. Like she ‘withdrew’ the visa the US cancelled the instant she was sanctioned. (‘Please find enclosed your Fellowship, for which I have no further use. Thank you for your attention.’)

To emphasize how little Beijing cares about the slight from Wolfson, Globular Times publishes a stream of articles excitedly praising Carrie as mature and dignified, and We spit contemptuously on your Western fellowship flim-flam, and Gosh Cambridge U is making itself look silly isn’t it?

Meanwhile, another great and noble seat of learning invents the meaningless but allegedly fancy-sounding title ‘Belt and Road Academician from Oxford University’ for Hong Kong tycoon and donor Chan King-wai. (Note the multi-dimensional shoe-shining going on here: Oxford flatters the guy with a tawdry fake accreditation, while he – and the university – grovel to Xi Jinping by giving a name-check to the neo-colonial debt-trap vision. An obsequiousness win-win!)

The Guardian says the award and inane cosplay presentation ceremony ‘raise concerns about Chinese influence on UK higher education’. But surely, in cases like this it’s the other way round – exploitative and cynical universities mesmerizing vain and gullible Hong Kong industrialists (born on a fishing boat and barely went to elementary school) with tawdry honorary awards in order to extract money from them.

Mr Chan is boss of Hong Kong King Wai Group and a CPPCC member, and also sits on the Our Hong Kong Foundation’s Alarming Hair sub-committee. He likes cultivating – or being cultivated by – academia. Shoe-shining administrators at HK Baptist U rush to announce Dr Chan SBS’s idiotic-sounding ‘Oxford Belt and Road Academician’ bauble on their own website. The odious fawning over the odious.

In case there’s still room in your sick-bag, fans of shameless grovelling will like this from around 10 years ago – a French film director pens a putrid pile of puke-provoking Panda-puffery begging for another chance after ‘hurting the feelings’ with a movie about Tibet. What’s French for ‘Eeewww’?

Separated at birth?
L: Dr Chan; R: Eraserhead.
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The grey twilight zone

Following the outing and doxxing of Kong Tsung-gan as a white person with a Chinese-sounding pseudonym, I am in danger of being revealed as a human despite my herculean – and long-successful – efforts to pass myself off as a botanical species.

For copious links on the saga, try this.

Kong’s flawless English should be enough to mark him as someone who is probably not a standard ethnic-Chinese Hongkonger brought up to be mainly Canto-speaking. But so what? He is basically a tweeter and author whose output includes some sharp analysis and an invaluable up-to-date list of all the arrests, charges and court cases arising from Hong Kong’s protest movement. 

The people behind his outing and doxxing are an obnoxious bunch – primarily a website called Greyzone that is so dogmatically left it supports dictatorships, denying such atrocities as genocide against the Uighurs and denouncing the mass-opposition to regimes in Hong Kong (and I guess Thailand and Belarus) as CIA-led plots. Their angles of attack seem to be that only authentic yellow people can write about Hong Kong from residents’ standpoint and/or Kong is committing a political-correctness sin (‘yellow-face’) by using a pen-name indicating a different ethnicity and/or he is somehow and for some reason being deceitful, and/or ‘CIA plot’.

The tankies are perverse. What’s disturbing is that local media (and no doubt blue-ribbon nuts) have latched onto this absurd mouth-froth. They include Nury Vittachi in the Standard (who seems to have fallen into this mentally ill online milieu as part of his pro-CCP positioning) and the SCMP, which splashed the Kong story as if it were newsworthy and a scandal. 

With only the man-in-green-shirt-set-on-fire to run with, the blue-ribbon brigade are always desperate for something to use against the protest movement. But note that the doxxing of Kong has led to death threats. 

Finding themselves using a freakish site like Greyzone as a source and pushing its weird inverted-racism agenda, SCMP reporters are trying to worm their way out of the embarrassment – which obviously results from an editorial decision to ramp up the story as a smear against the protest movement.

Not sure how well the SCMP’s subscriptions drive is going.

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Made in China but not made in China

Remember in May when Hong Kong Customs confiscated a Demosisto face-mask shipment for being labelled ‘Not made in China’? Now the Hong Kong government is freaking out about product labels saying the opposite. 

You can’t win. The Hong Kong authorities demand that we identify with the glorious motherland if pan-dem radicals don’t, but insist on being militantly localist if the US wants us to be ‘Chinese’.

Commerce Secretary Edward Yau’s comments suggest he felt a need (or was ordered) to make a big fuss about this, but couldn’t scrape together the logic. factual arguments or anger necessary to sound at all convincing. (All he needs to say is ‘consumers think Mainland products are toxic garbage, so our manufacturers need to differentiate themselves’. Simple enough, you would think.)

One thing I’d like to know: what (genuinely) locally grown/manufactured/hand-crafted goods does our 95% services economy export to the US these days? Vitasoy comes to mind. Feel sorry for them having to degrade their brand as Mainland-made.

Meanwhile, a pollster deletes survey questions on the NatSec Law in case they infringe… the NatSec Law. This sounds ridiculously squeamish. Even the paranoid Leninists who drafted the law probably weren’t thinking of opinion polls much. Who needs a Gestapo when YouGove will do its job without being asked? HKFP notes the company ‘has interests in China’, surprise surprise. Another degraded brand.

Some interesting reading material for days beginning with ‘S’…

Didi Kirsten Tatlow at Sinopsis produces a short but thorough history of how the CCP has taken over Hong Kong. Co-option and influence-building extended into the police and triads way back. The process also made heavy use of United Front activities and the CPPCC, as seen in the large number of new civil society organizations founded since 1997. Seems obvious now, but few paid attention at the time. Rest of the world, take note…

This process of infiltrating, shadowing, then replacing – in essence, repurposing – can be likened to a long, silent coup, with the state security law the final flourish. Into the old bottle of Hong Kong’s imperfect, developing political system, which dates from the late colonial years, the CPC has poured an even older wine – itself.

Or perhaps a better analogy would be the spores that invade insect larvae and slowly consume the innards until all that’s left is a caterpillar-shaped fungus.

HKFP join HKU Media Studies Centre to launch a database of Hong Kong’s 2019-2020 protests, including huge archives of photos and posters/artwork.

An interview with the venerable Anne Stevenson-Yang on shorting crappy Chinese companies. How will the migration of listings from New York to Hong Kong affect this shooting-fish-in-a-barrel business?

And the equally venerable Joe Studwell (Asia’s Godfathers) links to an extremely economics-heavy paper by World Bank Group, and summarizes it as saying ‘China isn’t going to take over the world, or indeed anything close’. It’s all about productivity (plus some demographics): the reforms China needs to boost real economic growth are mainly institutional and would reduce the CCP’s grip on power – so they won’t happen.

Hate the stuff, personally – but Sixth Tone explains how China learned to like milk

In Taiwan, people are designing a new passport – see ideas here and here.

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HK media undergoes rectification

Widespread international attention, plus a 500%+ boost to Apple Daily’s sales – and Jimmy Lai and other NatSec arrestees are out on bail the next day anyway, feted as local heroes. Whatever the CCP’s henchmen are trying to do, it seems their Mainland methods don’t translate well to Hong Kong. It’s harder to intimidate and crush dissent out of existence in a place where people have for decades taken freedom for granted.

Things will get even more fraught when Jimmy Lai, Agnes Chow et al appear before a politically obedient NatSec judge (if not on the other side of the border). Bloomberg links the arrests to the loss of overseas confidence in Hong Kong’s courts, citing locally based Beijing officials who declare the accused guilty before there’s even a trial. (Maybe the CCP’s Han nationalists will be heartened to see that Hong Kong is upholding the noble ideals of an ancient legendary Chinese icon – the righteous magistrate. Or maybe not.)

One of Beijing’s most stolid and dependable stooges, Lau Siu-kai, explains that, in Apple Daily, the authorities are not targeting a media organization but a ‘political group’. By which he presumably means not backing the government.

The Guardian explains

“China sees the role of the media as to serve the regime … now it is imposing this view on Hong Kong,” said Mak Yin Ting, veteran journalist and former chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association.

The foreign press won’t escape. The FCC asks the Immigration Dept to clarify things after reports of Mainland-style visa delays for overseas media personnel.

New York Times staff might be waiting an especially long time for passport stamps after its latest scoop: an expose of the daughter of China’s number-three leader and her tons of luxury real estate here

“Members of the Red aristocracy in China, including the princelings, have made huge investments in Hong Kong,” said Willy Lam, an adjunct professor of China studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “If Hong Kong suddenly loses its financial status, they cannot park their money here.”

As with some other links, this is behind a paywall. But the background on how NYT wrote the story is almost better than the piece itself – a ripping yarn of forensic journalism requiring evidence carved in stone (literally), plus of course a guest appearance by Deutsche Bank, and lots more. This is the sort of story that has also made Jimmy Lai’s Next Media so hated in Beijing, and it builds on their past investigations, and on the work that got Shirley Yam fired from the SCMP. CCP elites’ families and their offshore wealth are about as touchy as it gets.

A quick review of Jimmy Lai’s son’s Cafe Seasons in Central – a hotbed (or hotpot?) of subversive culinary activity, serving up splittist toast and similar colonial running-dog race-traitors’ fare.

And the BBC picks up the ‘Agnes Chow as true Mulan’ meme. The Twitter political correctness patrol is not happy with the ‘doe-eyed Oriental babe’ angle when profiling the 23-year-old who strikes fear into Beijing. Ditto with the ‘scrawny bespectacled’ Asian-geek stereotype used to portray Joshua Wong. Which is understandable – these young activists are not fantasy manga characters but real, smart and tough. (Why else would the SCMP’s Alex Lo and other aging blue-ribbons have such visceral loathing for them?) But while pushing such imagery is facile and even insulting, it gets clicks and convinces audiences that might not otherwise notice that the CCP are thugs. Whatever works.

We’re not done with Jimmy Lai. The Diplomat links the arrests with the government’s woefully unconvincing virus-stopped-the-elections argument…

Dispelling the myth that Hong Kong’s public health crisis is insurmountable compared to other countries reveals the postponement for the transparent ploy that it is: A desperate attempt by the chief executive to buy time for security officials to marginalize and silence pro-democracy activists within the city.

The arrests of Jimmy Lai and others were only possible because the elections were cancelled. Any election weeks after a dozen popular figures found themselves politically purged would have guaranteed a democratic landslide. But remove public accountability and the government can act with impunity.

The public will just have to find another way to express their views.

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