Thursday, 31 October 2019

It’s looking like a ghostly Halloween here in Hong Kong

Can you imagine, asking this sweet thing to remove the blood?
Police can ask revellers, such as there’ll be, to remove masks and make up if they find them “suspicious”.  Yikes! Apparently there’s a demo scheduled to go from Causeway Bay to Central. Great... big bummer. 
Not that there’ll be all that many people about.  Usually Halloween is a big big deal in Hong Kong, s a huge fun bash at Lan Kwai Fong just off Central. I’ve been several times, and it’s a beaut do. But unlikely tonight.  Allan Zeman, “Mr LKF”, is expecting the worst turnout in its 33 year history.
Meantime, here on Siena One Drive in DB, it’s a big nothing-burger. Usually places are decorated like crazy.  Today I went by, not a one, none, zip. I guess it’s people just don’t feel like it.  There’s studies done that show people in Hong Kong are suffering from depression and some from PTSD.
“Freedom" and “Democracy"! Yay!
Lawbreakers

"The United States Should Fear a Faltering China". Beijing’s Assertiveness Betrays Its Desperation

In this new article, Michael Beckley argues that Beijing’s newfound 
assertiveness betrays profound unease over the country’s ailing economy

I’ve sometimes wondered if Xi Jinping’s bullying tendency didn’t betray his insecurity, same as bullies the world over from the playpen to the politburo. Michael Beckley makes a good case for it here in the Foreign Affairs journal, which I think is free.  (I seem to get it for free, anyway...).

Wrong to ban Joshua Wong

I wrote about Joshua Wong here
LETTER TO SCMP:
Memo to Hong Kong government: banning Joshua Wong from standing in the DC elections? Come on! I have no time for rabble rouser Wong [example]. He presses the US to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Bill; this is dangerous and likely to hurt us. Wong is naive and misguided, in my view. But that's no reason to ban him.
He must be allowed to stand for the forthcoming elections. Let's hope the legal review allows it. He has clarified he does not stand for independence, previously the main objection to his candidacy.
In these difficult times, you again miss an opportunity to ease tensions.
How tin-eared, how insensitive, how misjudging. There's an opportunity to reverse. Please take it.

Pf, etc...

PS: Wong is Secretary-General of an outfit called Demosisto. Its 2017 membership is 25 people. It advocates “self-determination” for Hong Kong, though Wong now says that does not mean “independence”.  If he clarified that it means “Hong Kong people ruling (or running) Hong Kong” that would be better, because that’s an approved phrase going back to 1984 and Deng Xiaoping.  In Chinese 港人治港, Gang ren zhi gang.

RELATED:  "By blocking Joshua Wong from standing for election, Hong Kong is just driving protesters back to the streets", by Mike Chinoy
AND ALSO: a Letter I hadn’t seen: “Wong election ban more proof of a clueless government"

Does Hong Kong’s dual culture equip it to fulfil its potential? ASIAN VALUES


I’m posting this cause it’s about Asian Values, specifically Hong Kong’s so called “dual culture”, the communitarian Chinese and the individualistic West.
TBF, I haven’t yet read it closely, but I’m posting and bookmarking for the record, part of research for the “book” I’m struggling along with...

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Random find in a bookshop


Who knew? Mediterranean Africa is becoming less religious


From the Arab Barometer, described as “a research project that produces scientifically reliable data”. 
My own impression has been that this part of the world, including big hunks of the Middle East, was religious and getting more so. But the figures above show the opposite. Interesting, say I.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Best practice in CO2 reduction: the winner is France!


I did this for a bit of fun: comparing the two largest economies in Europe with very different approaches to generating electricity. France was an early nuclear power, now leads the world in the technology and gets some 75% of its power from nuclear. Germany has nuclear but is phasing it out, to rely on renewables.

“F/G” = France divided by Germany. (And “T/K/y” = Tonnes per capita per year)
French Costs of electricity are one third those of Germany
French Carbon dioxide Emissions are one half those of Germany
One third the cost for twice the benefit is a factor of six times better for France v Germany approaches.

Why is Germany trying to wean itself off Nuclear?  Two reasons: The Greens and Fukushima.

The German Greens have always been against Nuclear, as they have in Australia, indeed pretty much everywhere (hence “Greens caused climate change”). The reasons for their opposition are, in my view, scaremongering. I’ll grant it’s an arguable issue, but the argument is very much, and increasingly so, on the  side of nuclear as leading climate scientists attest.

Fukushima was the immediate reason.  Mutti Merkel somehow got it into her head that Fukushima highlighted the danger of nuclear, whereas the opposite conclusion is more logical. Fukushima was designed before the days of computers; it was engineered on slide rules. And it was hit with a thousand-year tsunami.  Still, deaths as result of the accident = zero.  Modern reactors are far safer, cannot melt down and use spent fuel from older reactors as feedstock. Germany is unlikely to suffer an earthquake, let alone a tsunami.  So it makes no sense to ditch the nuclear they’ve got. Still, cheered on by the Greens, she began the decommissioning of the only carbon-free, safe and reliable energy in the world, pushed ahead with renewables and the result is skyrocketing electricity costs -- next year expected to jump another 14% -- and supply problems.

Australia is in the same boat, with increasing prices and unreliable supply.

This is not a “climate denier” post.  Absolutely not. It is to say that if we are really serious about climate change -- which we are assured is an  “existential crisis” -- then we have to have nuclear in the mix. It’s an existential crisis, after all!
Yet, in Australia, it’s virtually taboo to even discuss nuclear, and federal law prohibits it. We’re quite happy to export uranium to India, even as we don’t allow its use in Australia. Surely that’s the greatest hypocrisy. Or is it just that Indian lives don’t matter? It’s too dangerous for Australia, but India... fine, fine!
The sooner Australia drops its de facto prohibition on discussing the issue, the sooner we can move on a realistic path to control our carbon emissions.  We have 40% of the world’s uranium. It’s not just hypocrisy, it’s insanity that we sell it to others, but deprive ourselves.
Two new technologies make it even more urgent: Bill Gates’ Terrapower is ready to go commercial.  It was only derailed by the Fukushima meltdown, and the attendant scares.  And in the UK they’re working on Small Modular Reactors.  Perfect for Australia with our widely distributed populations.

By the way, here in our suburb of DB, we get our electricity from the nearby Daya Nuclear Power station.  So our air-conditioning is 100% zero-carbon emissions. I’ve visited the Daya plant (with our local Classic Car Club) and it’s great.  Clean, neat, tidy. You’d be happy to have it in your backyard (we are), and surely less unsightly than Wind Farms.
Daya Bay nuclear plant.  We race our yacht in Daya bay.
It’s pretty, like a marina club, right?
[Much more at “Nuclear power in Australia”]

Monday, 28 October 2019

Why did China react so strongly to Daryl Morey’s tweet and the NBA?

October 4 tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey
A couple of weeks ago I suspected that China was going to suffer from the Streisand effect, when it got so uptight about a tweet by an NBA official, the image above.
Beijing-based Wang Xiangwei considers this and also another theory, that the hugely negative reaction was more from ordinary Chinese, who’ve been pumped up with jingoistic nationalism by Xi Jinping’s crudely robust and in-your-face policies.  He makes a good case. (Which, by the way, is critical of Xi Jinping).
Players in social media in China include the “fifty cent gang” (五毛, wu mao, aka the “5M"), meaning those who get paid five mao, or fifty Chinese cents, for every pro-government internet post, and now the Little Pinks (小粉红, xiao fenhong), who do it not for money, but for patriotism, who "take it upon themselves as true patriots to trawl the internet and attack anyone or any company displaying or voicing any slight against the country, particularly targeting foreigners or Chinese nationals in foreign countries.
Hence a huge kerfuffle over the tweet of an NBA official. Not necessarily all Beijing-directed, in other words.
Wang also talks of Chinas continuing sensitivity to what they call the hundred years humiliation, the carve up of China after the Opium Wars.  I can attest to that. Its alive in minds. And no wonder.  At one time, Queen Victoria was the largest drug dealer in the world, who had made up to 90% of China’s young men addicts to the opium Britain grew in its Indian colony and shipped into China to pay for the silk and tea it bought. The China Opium trade was 25% of Britain’s budget. 
[James Bradley’s China Mirage is good on this. He’s also good on The Imperial Cruise, from 24’00” for the China opium stuff. (Bradley wrote Flags of our Fathers, which was made into a hit Clint Eastwood movie)]
Comments on Wang’s essay are divided.  One good one, I thought, as I’ve written about how good the SCMP is, gets lots of upticks:
The fact that this writer is based in BJ, written an anti China opinion piece, for an anti China medium SCMP, that is owned by a Chinese company, is perhaps unknown by many people and certainly speaks volumes about how far the Chinese government has progressed.

New York Times romanticises, cheers on violent protesters

My response to a commenter on the NYT article, who  just said:
Posted 28 October 03:50 UT
@L: The government in Hong Kong didn’t “suddenly become China”. The changeover of sovereignty happened *22 years ago* and since then Hong Kong has ruled itself under “one country two systems”. We maintain every freedom that we had under the British: freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, freedom of capital, freedom of trade, freedom of surfing the internet. (and now, it seems, freedom to vandalise). 
These freedoms are real and not fantasy. I’ve lived in Hong Kong for over forty years, and have enjoyed enjoying said freedoms. 
Protesters say they are worried by “Beijing interference” but it’s more like the increasing numbers of mainlanders in Hong Kong and their different habits that they object to. This objection is a nativist, xenophobic attitude. If it were expressed in the West it would be hammered for being “bigoted”. (As was John Cleese when he said “London is no longer English”) 
The likeliest outcome of ongoing violence by these teenage millenarians — romanticised in this article — is *less* Freedom and *less* Democracy. 
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. 
Our street violence ought not be romanticised, celebrated and cheered on by the likes of the NYT

[Re the universal suffrage question, see my immediately preceding post]

Universal suffrage in Hong Kong was not a “promise”

From the New York Times today:
Their [protesters] goals: to seek police accountability and secure the universal suffrage that they say Beijing promised when this former British colony was returned to China in 1997.
Universal suffrage for Hong Kong is determined in our constitution which is the Basic Law, as signed off by China and Britain in 1990. Here is what the relevant article says:


You do not need to be a lawyer to see that you can drive a truck through the loopholes: “selected by election or through consultations…”, “actual situation” and “gradual and orderly progress” amongst them.
That’s the Basic Law. Separately Beijing did not “promise” universal suffrage. I know, because I remember. I was here at the time of discussions leading up to the Basic Law. The protesters, mostly teenagers, were not. Thus the idea of a “promise” is a fantasy. And so, therefore, are the alleged “breaking” of it.
The “actual situation” is what determines movement to universal suffrage and today’s “actual situation” can hardly give Beijing any comfort.
We must recall that a move towards universal suffrage was offered in 2015 after the Occupy demos. It involved a larger selection committee voted by District Councillors, themselves elected by universal suffrage. I remember thinking, good, go for it. It’s a step ahead.  But, no, for the pan-Democratic parties it was a Veto because they didn’t get a hundred percent of what they wanted, immediately. Perfection the enemy of the good.
It is wrong to say (or believe) that Beijing “promised” universal suffrage and it’s wrong to say (or believe) that the Hong Kong government has done zip to move it forward.
And if they think that either Hong Kong or Beijing can or will move on the issue in the face of violent vandalism they’re deluded.
This delusion joins many others. Amongst them that the police have secretly murdered people, that the police are the cause of current protests, that what’s going on is not “rioting”, that the vandalism of MTR stations is carried out by undercover police, that the police ought to be disbanded, FFS!

Sunday, 27 October 2019

“You made me do it”

“It’s you who taught me peaceful protest is useless”
More and more we see the "you-made-me-do-it" argument (Lawrence Lok, Owen Chau).  It's deployed to excuse the violence on our streets: "it's you who taught me peaceful protest is useless". 
It's also the rationale of terrorists around the world.
This is a dangerous trend. Taken to extreme it means that any time any group, fighting for any cause can resort to violence if they don't get 100% of what they demand "and not one percent less". 
Many causes around the world have been successfully prosecuted by peaceful protest, eschewing violence. Let us please go down that peaceful path. 
Our violence was enabled by a New York Times article of 30 June which went viral in our local social media. It promoted a Marxist theory — provoking the police to hit you will gain international sympathy and coverage. How successful it's been!
All sides are being manipulated into a spiral of violence.  It must stop. 
Enough of "you made me do it" argument. 

Pf etc…
As published, 29 October 

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Doxxing the shops

I’ve just learnt that the demos today on Hong Kong Island are going to target retail shops that “don’t support the protests”.  And by “target” we can be pretty sure - because we are sentient beings - that it will involve metal bars, petrol bombs and bricks through windows.
This begs the immediate question: what does “support” mean?  Must the “support” voiced publicly? Or will silence be deemed insufficient and reason enough for a good trashing?
This is a very bad trend that comes from the United States. Call it the “Chick-fil-A-ing” of life. That company has been harassed because it’s owners are deemed to be insufficient supportive of the LGBT agenda. Charles Murray writes about that here. Mind, as far as I know they’ve never had a Hong Kong style trashing. Maybe they can learn a thing or two from our dear protesters, as have Barcelona and Santiago.
The idea is that you should not patronise — or, here in Hong Kong, you trash — businesses that don’t share precisely 100% of your views.
It’s not hard to see how divisive this is. It’s a horrid trend. Whatever you think of the ultimate aims.
I condemn it. But what use am I? Sitting here in my comfortable bubble of DB. This movement is in the hands of anarchists, Pan-Dems and their proxies. And they are past caring for our greater social good. “Burn with us” is their motto. No, thanks. Not for this bubble dweller.

SCMP - Violent young protesters aren’t fighting a noble cause, they will only do lasting damage to themselves and Hong Kong

Forgive me if I don't want to see Hong Kong ruined by millenarian teenagers. No, I don't accept your offer to "Burn with us". I'm not the only one.

I've watched the protests from on the ground, like last Sunday, and for hours on live stream, uncensored, unblinking views of police and protesters. I've seen police using their batons to down protesters before arresting them. And I've seen them fire rubber bullets (which don't make much sense to me), and tear gas canisters (ditto), and the police do look pretty scary in their riot gear (but then again, so the the masked Black Guards). But I've seen nothing that I would call "police brutality". Yet that's the belief of every protester and a big chunk of their adult supporters.
> At the same time, the people of Hong Kong should beware of the protesters' propaganda machine, which has successfully led some to believe that one protester lost an eye after being shot by police; that people were killed by officers inside Prince Edward MTR station, and; that the police were somehow responsible for the suicide of a 15-year-old student . Raymond Young…
Sympathisers of protesters claim the violent acts are a result of the "excessive force" and lack of restraint by police. But, for of Hong Kong people who have in the past four months witnessed endless unauthorised demonstrations, as well as violent attacks on police and fellow citizens, this view is detached from reality.
In London the Police Commissioner banned the Extinction Rebellion demos and arrested thousands. When we do the same here, it's Carrie Lam's "dictatorship".
I don't understand why sensible adults support violence on the "you-made-me-do-it" argument. That's the terrorist argument. My grievances, which you created, made me do it.
Like many of us, Andrew Young supported the original anti Extradition Bill demos but is appalled at our increasing violence with so-called "responsible adults" cheering them on.
Unfortunately, the campaign has morphed into a thinly veiled pro-independence movement, with the slogan "Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times" painted on public roads and buildings all over the city. Mainland-controlled and China-friendly enterprises have been vandalised and ordinary citizens attacked for voicing dissenting views.…
All those who sympathise with violent protesters should take heed, before a whole generation of our youth bury themselves in a self-glorified utopia.

Friday, 25 October 2019

NYTimes: A Hong Kong Protester’s Tactic: Get the Police to Hit You

Police and protesters face off June 29
I just want to bookmark this article in the New York Times by one Fred Chan Ho-fai, "a Hong Konger" from back on June 30, immediately after the first of the demos against the Hong Kong Extradition Bill (返送中). An article I first mentioned on 8 October, having missed it in June.
In the article Chan promotes the so called "Marginal Violence Theory”.
Simply put: try to get the police to hit you — you'll get sympathetic media coverage. 
The "marginal" qualifier is "don't be more violent against the police than you need to be". Clearly this is a straight path to escalation: the more forbearing the police, the greater the need to increase violence "to get them to hit you". 
This article went viral on local social media (LIHKG and Telegram). To the protesters it showed both international support (the New York Times!) and suggested tactics to increase sympathy and exposure. It validated, encouraged and intensified.
The next day: attacks on the Legislative Council....
The NYT article has an internal link to an article on "Marginal Violence Theory" which I'm going to guess most Americans will not have read because it's in Chinese. I've read it. Turns out it's a Marxist concept.

Is it appropriate for the New York Times to publish an article promoting Marxist-inspired violence against the police of another country, a friendly jurisdiction?

The above is prompted by a writer today arguing "you made me do it". You deserve our violence because the government hasn't immediately and completely met every single one of our demands. And "not one less”. 
"It's you who taught me peaceful protest is useless"

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Sorry—organic farming is actually worse for climate change


From the tech magazine of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Eventually we'll need to produce food in high-rise hydroponic farms. Say I. 
/Snip from MIT Tech:
Organic practices can reduce climate pollution produced directly from farming – which would be fantastic if they didn't also require more land to produce the same amount of food.

Clearing additional grasslands or forests to grow enough food to make up for that difference would release far more greenhouse gas than the practices initially reduce, a new study in Nature Communications finds.

Other recent research has also concluded that organic farming produces more climate pollution than conventional practices when the additional land required is taken into account. In the new paper, researchers at the UK's Cranfield University took a broad look at the question by analyzing what would happen if all of England and Wales shifted entirely to these practices. 

… the switch to 100% organic practices would require 1.5 times more land to make up for the declines, which would add up to nearly five times more land overseas than England and Wales currently rely on for food. That difference is amplified by the fact that the UK's agricultural system produces particularly high yields compared with other parts of the world.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614605/sorryorganic-farming-is-actually-worse-for-climate-change/

cruel

cruel
And remember it’s perfectly safe to like this cartoon! It’s not bigoted.…

Beijing’s Black Hand



Moral equivalence from Tom Plate (The protests can end constructively for Hong Kong but neither side is showing the courage required):
Our [US’] own current leader, after all, was “elected” not by a majority but by an antiquated system that vitiates the overall voice of the people. Our electoral college produced Donald Trump; Beijing’s functional/geographical representation system produced ­Lam. Enough said. 
I don’t like the scare quotes around “election”. After all, the fight was over Electoral College votes not the popular vote. And in Hong Kong the functional constituencies were set up by the UK, not Beijing. Quibbles aside, there’s more than a skerrick of truth here: that the US system is far from direct democracy and Hong Kong has democratic elements. District Councillors elected by universal suffrage (I’ve voted many times) in turn vote for the selection committee that nominates Chief Executive candidates. That developed since the handover. Thus, two imperfect systems, with elements of democracy.  It’s a far from perfect analogy, sure, but it’s a skerrick of truth.

I’m bearing this in mind when reading this article by David Zweig (If the protest violence continues in Hong Kong the winners are Beijing and one-party rule), who makes some good points. The main one being that Hong Kong troubles are redounding to Beijing’s benefit. I was always sceptical of that, but maybe. The argument is vandals in Hong Kong show mainlanders the downsides of its system vs the peace and good order and economic growth of Beijing’s authoritarianism.. He’s certainly right about Chinese fear of chaos. In Chinese it’s luan (乱) as in pa luan to be afraid of chaos and it’s one of the first things you learn about in Chinese history. A deep and abiding fear of chaos. (亂  in traditional Hong Kong yellow-ribbon approved format).
Further on Zweig says:
These are the precise institutions – a free press, an independent judiciary which affords citizens fair trials, the right to elect a parliament and leader through a free and open process – that pro-democracy forces here in Hong Kong are fighting to preserve if not expand. And these are the same institutions whose curtailment by Beijing has helped foment the current crisis.
My comment: free press continues. Hong Kong has the forest press in Asia and one of the freest in the world. That’s just not the English language, like the Post, that I often recommend. The Chinese press is wide, deep, bristling with robust contention. Ditto the government broadcaster RTHK.  So I don’t know what Zweig means when he says “curtailed”. Perhaps he’s thinking of the kidnapping of several booksellers a few years ago. But as I said then and seems to be the case, that was likely a rogue operation, not approved by Beijing, shut down and not repeated.
Independent judiciary continues. As shown in the very article linked in Zweig’s quote above.
As for the third, the right to elect parliament, I refer back to my comment above on Tom Plate. Not perfect but better than pre-1997. Moreover suffrage could have been increased in 2015, but was voted down by the Pan Dems because it wasn’t perfect. The same Pan Dems who are encouraging the “yellow ribbon” protesters and enabling rioters. 

Democracy movement hijacked by xenophobia (or bigots, take your pick)

As I was saying … today’s Post
/Snip
 … I have become painfully aware that many “yellow ribbons” [protesters] are nothing more than nativists and bigots hiding behind the banner of democracy – who simply dislike anyone and anything from north of the border, who grimace whenever they hear Mandarin being spoken.
Trashing Bank of China, Tsuen Wan, October 13

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Hong Kong protests: from throwing bricks at police vans to becoming experts at putting out tear gas, meet the teenagers who are risking it all for their ideals

Some think that this article romanticises the Young Ones protesting on the front lines. Others think that it’s useful to know what’s on their minds....
Their yearnings, as revealed on social media, imagine a Hong Kong where people speak Cantonese, patronise family-run shops and not chain stores and pharmacies catering to mainland Chinese tourists, and care for one another as neighbours in close-knit communities. Maps and guides online provide a list of “yellow” restaurants and stores – the colour symbolising democracy in Hong Kong – that protesters should support.
My view: this strikes me as outright nativist.  If something similar were said in the UK, or Australia, or the US, you would be hammered for being xenophobic, bigoted, racist. As was John Cleese when he said that “London is no longer English”.  Here it’s “Hong Kong is no longer Cantonese”.  We don’t have ethnic difference between Hongkongers and mainlanders, and yet locals have grown to hate their mainland cousins, because they’re here, not there, and they’re buying up milk powder and cutting queues.
And in the west that’s praised as fighting for “Freedom” and “Democracy”. Yay!
Almost two-fifths of the 12,231 protesters cumulatively polled in 19 protests from June to August were younger than 24 and about 11.8 per cent of them were 19 or below....
As of October 21, around 35 per cent of the 2,671 arrested protesters are students, according to figures obtained by the Post from police. One in eight arrestees – or nearly 360 – are high school students. Around 140 of them are below 16, with the youngest being just 12 years old. A total of 232 people have been charged with rioting, an offence punishable by 10 years in prison. Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung described an earlier set of figures released as shocking and heartbreaking”.... 
Dr Samson Yuen Wai-hei, of Lingnan University, said the secondary school students’ involvement in the protests was unprecedented.
 So, as we know, they’re very young, and younger even than most other demos around the world.  Many just school kids.  Which begs the obvious question: how much do they know of the issues.  And the answer is; about Hong Kong before handover, nothing. About China: almost nothing, for very few of them have even visited China.
And we know, they think it’s fun:
But the increasingly dangerous stand-offs with police have sometimes also been thrilling, they admitted, giving their weekend protests an almost addictive quality.
Henry, a fit athlete, gave a sheepish smile as he recalled how he felt he was in a “Korean drama” when he had to sweep a female teammate into his arms and rescue her from smouldering tear gas.
For Bosco, who described himself as an introvert, the feeling of unity on the front lines is intoxicating. No one from his school or family would have thought he would be a hard core protester, he said.
“In a group, we hurl bricks together,” he said. “Wouldn’t you be happy if you get to hit a police van?”
And this? Below. .
But it was also easy for adults to dismiss them as young, foolish or being manipulated by other adults, a tendency common in movements worldwide.
Well, they are young!  Foolish? Well, who aren’t we all foolish, to some extent, when this young?. Manipulated by adults? The Pan-Dems are around always, spurring on. So, yes, I’d say that it’s true, if not dismissive.... We should not, as responsible adults, be letting the future of our fine city be decided by kids as young as 12. 

Democratic reform is the best way to protect Hong Kong’s autonomy and halt the cycle of protests and repression



It’s a bit of wishful thinking, from Michael C. Davis, but what the hell... we need some of that.... Sadly, Hong Kong bureaucrats have preemptively kowtowed to Beijing, and it will take some getting past that habit...
While Beijing has been reluctant to accept the universal suffrage it once promised, it is important to emphasise that a democratically elected government need not be one that is constantly at odds with Beijing, as mainland officials may fear, but one that could find its voice to explain Hong Kong’s concerns when necessary.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Kowtowers and others


The “Bad Boys” are those that haven’t kowtowed to China (the NBA took some time getting there....).
The “Good Boys” are those that are bending to China’s will.  And those in between on a watch list.
From last Sunday’s demos.

Radical revolution and independence

From last Sunday demos

The Chinese is: 光复香港,时代革命,Guangfu Xiang gang, Shidai Geming.
Which they’ve translated as “Free Hong Kong, Revolution Now”.
“Free” can also be translated as “Liberate”.  And “Revolution Now”, as “revolution of our times” or even “era revolution”.
This slogan was first used in the Occupy Central demos of 2015. It was put out by Liang Tianqi and, as he says, meant to mean something like "people of all ages taking part in innovation and change." Benign, and rather good. in other words. [ref]
Well, as they say these days,  it’s been “weaponised”.
The Guangfu (光复) bit, for example, was originally used about Taiwan’s liberation from Japanese occupation in 1945. So what does Hong Kong want to be liberated from?
They claim it’s not for independence, but clearly it is.
And the revolution is no longer “innovation and change”, but something rather more radical.  The anarchist symbol is all over,  around the graffiti:


Photo essay last weekend in Hong Kong

Photos here

Really good photos. I was there at the demo, last Sunday, and posted various bits and pieces, but nothing like a great photo essay.....

Some things are better since the handover

I’ve questioned the narrative of “Beijing encroachment”. Asked “when, where, how”.
And noted some ways things are better since the handover: like District Council elections which are universal and proper. I’ve taken part in one, as the chairman of an election committee for our candidate. The process was tough and rough fought just like an election anywhere. (We lost).
I wonder how much of the “Beijing encroachment” narrative is actually more day-to-day stuff: mainlanders buying up milk powder, occupying hospital beds, taking top-end jobs, not following queueing etiquette, dancing aunties simplified characters, etc. All grating, perhaps, depending on your patience and tolerance, but not the same as Beijing’s black hand.
And today an article on why there’s such hatred of mainlanders, here.
Meantime in this letter R. Heng (21/10) points out improvements in the rule of law since the handover.
/snip from Heng’s letter…

Monday, 21 October 2019

Are we silent majority or terrified minority?

From here
/Snip from this important piece I. Hongkongers views of the protests/ riots:

[From a survey of 738 Hongkongers randomly chosen, by phone]
More than 70 per cent said they would understand if protesters wanted to escalate their actions because the government had failed to respond to their demands for an independent inquiry into police conduct, amnesty for all those arrested so far, an end to the characterisation of protests as riots, and a revival of the city's stalled political reform process with universal suffrage as the goal.
But when asked whether there were actions they found unacceptable, more than a fifth cited vandalism at MTR stations. Nearly 15 per cent disapproved of shops being targeted, and 7 per cent were upset about petrol bombs being thrown.
“It is obvious that a considerable number of citizens have some reservations," Lee said.
[PF Comment: I don't think it’s a "a considerable number". I find these figures disturbing. Only 20% of Hongkongers think it's not ok to vandalise the MTR?? Only one in five? The MTR is - at least has been for 40 years - much loved. And now it's hated (黑铁, Black Rail) and trashed and 80% think that's OK? And only 15% think it’s not OK to trash shops? That's scary. Not just “citizens have some reservations” Have we gone mad? Isn’t it crazy for Lee to think this is a “considerable number” with reservations?]
But when asked who should be held responsible for the violent clashes between protesters and police, more than half named the government. Only 9.6 per cent blamed the protesters.
[PF: and of course no matter what the police do, they're always at fault. They “do nothing" or it's "police brutality"]

The streets…

(1:10 AM) … are strewn with trash and bricks and barricades and just general rubbish, laap saap.
In all the areas I mentioned before, Prince Edward, Mongkok, Cheung Sha Wan, Tsuen Wan.
And couples are wandering around, holding hands, surveying the carnage. Vandalism tourism.
The Black Guards have a routine now. They have a routine on how smash the MTR and blockade roads.
So is this to be the new normal? Every weekend?
What can the government do to stop it? Even meeting every one of the 5D won’t cut it. They’re having too much fun!

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Jordan road just now…

LATER (6:00 pm): back home and watching live stream, which is the most trusted news source. Nothing but the staring eye of the camera. No voiceover, no editing.
There’s vandalism going on in Tsim Sha Tsui, Lai Chee Kok, Sham Shui Po, Prince Edward, Mongkok, Cheung Sha Wan. Again, all working class areas. Smashing mainland linked shops. And the MTR. Graffiti on the MTR: 黑狗, hei gou Black dogs. And 黑铁, hei tie, Black Rail (but with the traditional form of 铁 (which I don’t have o my keyboard). You don’t want to write simplified characters these days. Otherwise you’re a running dog 走狗 zou gou of the communists. Lots of dogs).
I was just rethinking my Flying Squad idea: that the police fly in to just the places where they’re vandalising and arrest them. Don’t bother trying to clear whole streets. But for sure the vandals would hear about it and melt like water.
Today shows clearly, as if we didn’t know: there’s a deep, visceral, bitter, frightening  hatred of the police. It used not to be so. Not before June. The police athe enemy, representatives of the hated occupying power, China. The graffiti is “Fuck CCP, Fuck Popo” (popo = police)
********
EARLIER (2:00 pm): Jordan… I’m up the road from Austin road, going north along Nathan road, Hong Kong’s main tourist street, now (2:30) in Jordan road and they’re barricading the streets. There’s one black-clad protester directing traffic. Not a policeman in sight. This is this is control of the streets by random mobs.
Have asked many if they know what the Five Demands (5D). Not a single person knows all five.  Most cite the demand to investigate police “brutality”. Some “democracy” but not sure what they mean by that, though a few mention universal suffrage. I ask what will stop the protests. “The 5D, not one less”.  No response to “but some are impossible”.
It’s like the original demos against the extradition bill. No one had read it. But I forgave that because it was easy to imagine how it could be misused.
Now the misuse seems to be on the other side. Random mobs controlling the streets.
I read and see how in London and Australia people are very upset at the disruptions of the XR mobs. They are NOTHING, compared to this.
And yet if police do try to restore order, it’s “police brutality”. (ADDED: a guy just pissed on the TST police station. I fear for Hong Kong, we have the madness of crowds)
People watch a Bank of China branch get vandalised.
Vandal tourism … Jordan Rd. 
The sound of the Star Spangled Banner, in the background, FFS. A few people have HK colonial flags. Forgetting, or more likely not knowing, that they had less democracy under the Brits than we do now, and that in 1967 riots the troops came out of their barracks, clamped down hard on the demos and 50 people were killed.
It’s looking to ramp up to a bad day… plenty of vandalising. The odd thing is the more violence and vandalism, the more the government gets blamed. Even when they trash the MTR and it has to close, it’s the government’s fault. (“It’s you that taught us peaceful protest is useless”)
Sigh… I think I’ll go watch the Rugby somewhere. Wales v France 

Just now in Salisbury road …

Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
I’m in town at the demos:
1:30 pm. Taken from just near the Space Museum looking towards The Peninsula Hotel, world famous. And just to right is the Sheraton where we arrived in September 1976 before heading off to China.
Things peaceful so far. But violence is usually at night. We’ll see.
Some of the signs are new ones to me “Justice must prevail”, which I imagine we’d all agree with.
I’m here with my iPad, blogging live…
It feels and looks pretty big…
Most are wearing masks …
AUSTIN ROAD: (2 pm): Just up the road from Salisbury road and where we had the headquarters of our business where I used to go to my office every day. They’re tearing down the barriers. Bear in mind this is an illegal march today.

Freedom and democracy, yay…
Police? non c’e

How not to make friends and influence people

When I first saw that China was bullying the National Basketball Association over a tweet it didn't like, I guessed they would be "Streisanded". Barbra Streisand wanted the press to stop covering a Malibu property of hers, so she complained. Result: even more coverage. And so with China's NBA complaints. They just highlighted just what a horrid bullying thug Beijing is. And it backfired on them. We say "shot in the foot" or "own goal". The Chinese say "pick up a stone only to drop it in your foot". 
Also: this piece by Minxin Pei is another example of a Beijing critical article. The SCMP strives for neutrality in these difficult times. Significant when the Post is now owned by mainland billionaire Jack Ma of Alibaba. I wouldn't have been surprised if it had started to hew a line closer to Beijing's.  I'm pleasantly surprised they don't. Just in the last few days the Post has run a number of op-ed pieces strongly critical of the government or of Beijing and strongly supporting the protesters. (Which were hammered by the commenters, by the way).
I suspect the reason the Post can keep criticising China is that Beijing views it as a gweilo paper, foreigners' little sandbox, where they can let off steam harmlessly. And they'd be right, though it's also educated Asians who read it, opinion makers. Then again, the NBA thing was mostly a foreigner thing too. Twitter is not even available on the mainland. It could just be a matter of the right hand not knowing what the left is up to, as Pei suggests. A lower level functionary thing and they've been reined in. 
The NBA finally got its stance right. It would be good if other western companies showed a bit more spine too.

Looks like Hong Kong …

… but i’s Santiago, Chile’s capital. Add to the list, with Barcelona, of cities like Hong Kong, wracked by violence and the trashing of subways, the target du jour.
Also burning subway stations
What are they protesting about in Santiago? Rising cost of living. Sigh… if only it were that simple here. 

Please don’t let South Asians burn in this revolution | Yonden Lhatoo

Yonden Lhatoo is another SCMP columnist I’ve had run ins with in the past (another is Alex Lo). He’s a bit of a leftie, tends to be an America hater and stern government critic. Like me, like Jing and me, he’s gone from being a supporter of the anti-extradition bill demonstrations, to being a critic of the protest movement as it is now. Especially it’s bigoted parts: anti-mainlander bigotry and, as here, anti-South Asian bigotry.
An ill wind is blowing in Hong Kong that threatens to add a whole new dimension to the ugly side of the civil unrest that has been plaguing this city for well over four months now.
I’m talking about the targeting of ethnic minority groups, easily visible South Asians in particular, as those who have subverted the anti-government protest movement
 with venom and violence look for more victims and scapegoats. 
It’s bad enough that extreme resentment against Beijing is regularly misdirected at mainlanders who have been abused, harassed and attacked on the streets in the name of this great “revolution of our times”. Now another vulnerable demographic is facing persecution by the champions of freedom and democracy as they go about “liberating” us. 
When a bunch of thugswent on a rampage
 in July at Yuen Long MTR station, indiscriminately beating up commuters and protesters returning from a mass rally, public outrage quickly took off on a xenophobic tangent, thanks to scurrilous rumours spreading online that South Asian men had been paid to carry out the attack.
… 
The widespread online racial hatred seeks to further polarise society by scapegoating and fomenting hatred towards an already vulnerable, visible ethnic minority community. Such incitement of racially motivated hate breeds chaos and threatens to undermine rather than advance principles of inclusion, the core value being pursued by the movement.” [two anti-racism activists’ open letter]
 Let’s hope their words will resonate in this age of intimidation, when mob rule is the order of the day, and people are not speaking out for fear of being shouted down, doxxed and lynched. Evil triumphs when good men – and women – do nothing.
Read on

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Fox, meet marmot. Marmot, meet your fate

Winner: “The Moment”, shot on Qinghai-Tibet plateau, China

Wonderful photos in today’s Post and I found the link. It’s Wildlife Photo of the Year, sponsored by the Natural History Museum in Britain. 

It looks like Hong Kong…

… but it’s actually Barcelona.
Barcelona, not Hong Kong!

The images on BBC look for all the world like the ones coming out of Hong Kong since June. Burning streets, masked protesters smashing shops, police baton charges.
The government are threatening a crack down. Will they be labelled “authoritarian”?  As they have here in Hong Kong. Police are arresting people. Will this be labelled “police brutality”? As they have here in Hong Kong.
And Alex Lo has his Take

Friday, 18 October 2019

Lee Hsien Loong says the 5D intend to humiliate HK government

He’s a thoughtful man and well-regarded leader. Snip:
…Lee said the five main demands [5D] of Hong Kong’s anti-government protesters were intended to “humiliate” the city’s administration.
Acceding to them was unlikely to solve the deep-seated issues linked to “one country, two systems”, he said.
“I don’t see any easy way forward because the demonstrators, they say they have five major demands, and not one can be compromised,” said Lee, 67.
Read it all here

Harbingers… simplified characters vs traditional characters

We now realise that some seemingly minor things that we’d dismissed as trivial were part of the growing Hong Kong resentment of all things mainland China.
Example: the battles over simplified characters (used in the mainland) and traditional characters (used here in Hong Kong).
I got involved in a couple of  “letter wars” starting in 2011. I asked “what’s the big deal about the spread of simplified characters?“ I wondered why the “brouhaha”, why the “kerfuffle”. My main line was: if I, as an adult gweilo, could learn traditional characters after having learnt simplified ones, surely native speakers could go from traditional to simplified, which is the easier route.  That was “common sense”.
But common sense wasn’t what this was about. It was an emotive issue.
Those in the other side of the debate — railing against simplified characters— saw them as “Beijing influence”. Which resentment they could add to many others, like the “dancing aunties” and Chinese tourists behaving badly. All became part of the “Beijing running Hong Kong” narrative.
The “character wars” were a harbinger of our troubles today.

[Prompted by SCMP article today: “An identity crisis” by Franklin Koo]

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Hong Kong is exporting its protest techniques across the world

The "Be Water" nature of Hong Kong's protests—fluid, flexible, and fast-moving—has taken on a new form half way across the world in Catalonia: as a tsunami.
Hmmmm

(And "tsunami" is Japanese)

Protesters on a suicide mission



This is pretty much my take on the situation. Pretty much our take, as Jing would agree. The simple take is: no matter how well-intentioned, the protests, the violence, can only lead to a worse Hong Kong. A Hong Kong with less Freedom and Democracy, not more. That’s a reality, sad and inconvenient. 
Forgive me if I don’t want to see the destruction of our city by a bunch of deluded millenarians....
Snip/
It has been more than four months since Hong Kong plunged into its current wave of violent protests against Chinese rule. It started with large-scale demonstrations against proposed amendments to an extradition bill sought by the government, which then snowballed into an all-encompassing struggle for the protection of human rights and democracy in Hong Kong, as embodied by the Basic Law in the eyes of most Hong Kong citizens.
Meanwhile, the hard core of the protest movement pursues a strategy of urban guerilla warfare to engage Hong Kong’s security forces in almost ritualised – and increasingly violent – showdowns, mostly at weekends. These are the actions of several thousand protesters.
Gone are the days, it seems, of millions of people peacefully taking to the streets to speak out against the bill and Chinese infringement of Hong Kong’s guaranteed autonomy. Many are wary of the clashes between protesters and police, which are following a predictable logic of escalation on both sides.
People have been wounded by gunfire and fatalities are likely to follow soon if the stand-off continues. Where is Hong Kong’s protest movement heading? What is at stake for the city’s future?
When Joshua Wong Chi-fung came to Germany in September, he called Hong Kong the “new Berlin”, drawing a comparison with the West German enclave within the socialist (and authoritarian) German Democratic Republic during the cold war. He demanded that the German government, as well as the entire European Union, stand firmly behind the people of Hong Kong in their struggle against Chinese oppression.
In the end, no European government stood up and took a firm stance against Beijing. Wong’s attempt to internationalise the “Hong Kong problem” by taking it to the level of a fight between democracy and authoritarianism, between good and bad, has failed. It was predictable.
Although Western governments are sympathetic towards the protest movement, they do not question that Hong Kong is an integral part of China. Nor do they publicly reject the Chinese understanding that the Basic Law is a gift Beijing bestowed on the Hong Kong people in 1997, rather than a source of legal authority that now stands above the Chinese party-state.
Read the rest:
Hong Kong’s protesters will find that violent action to achieve abstract ideas is a suicide mission