Saturday 31 July 2021

Nine years’ jail for first conviction under security law

Today's front page. Buried online. Many comments
At least let’s be thankful for small mercies. Prisoner Leon Ting could have been sentenced under Chinese law and the sentence could have been life in prison. But the three judges held firm in that, at least: convicting under Hong Kong law, as required by our Basic Law. Though, tbf, nine years seems harsh. For the “crime” of riding a motorbike into a cordon of police.

Meantime Hong Kong’s second silver to add to the gold in fencing. Siobhan Haughey strikes again with Silver, in the 100m freestyle where Australia’s Emma McKeon won Gold. UPDATE: Kaylee McKeown just struck again with another Gold in 200m backstroke! (09:40 HKT). UPDATE: And then Oz’s Ariadne Titmus gets Silver 1.3 seconds behind Katie Ledecky’s Gold in the 800m freestyle  (10:00). Good race.

We’re enjoying the Olympics. Though weird and sometimes sad there’s no fans. Such great facilities. Empty. Though they need not have been. That was just an over cautious decision by…who? The Japanese? The IOC?

Our favourite sport, surprise to us, has been Archery. The format is terrific, quick and utterly fair competitions, that aren’t over till they’re over, and often tense. Jing and I are going to head off to buy Archery kits, after John has headed back to LA.

Friday 30 July 2021

Calligraphy (Mine)

七十而从心所欲,Qi Shi Er Cong Xin Suo Yu
"When you’re 70 you can go, like, wherever…" Li Shu = Clerical Script

As above, Xiao Zhuan = Small Seal Script
(Except top left, 心 ❤️, Xin, in script from Warring States
because I don’t like the Seal Script for xin)*

Si Zhong Hua Zhi Xing Nian Jiu Zhou Zhi You
When you think of travels in China think of your friends there
Xing Shu = Running Script

“Peaceful Night” by Tang poet, Li Bai
Xing Shu = Running Script 

First lines of “peaceful night” in
 Modified Li Shu = Clerical Script

Practice in various styles

“Friend”, You, in various scripts: Xing, Li, Xiao Zhuan, Da Zhuan, Kai
(With one trick "you" for China nerds)
The above are my calligraphy, on Meiyutang (美玉堂) Xuan Handmade Rice paper, with various brushes and brush pens. Done for friends around the world. 
The seals stamped on in red are also mine; first efforts at carving into soapstone.
Spring View, from here
*ADDED: (re 2nd from top) Here’s why I don’t like the Small Seal Script of 心 Xin ❤️. No matter how I draw it, it looks like bathroom graffiti. The Warring States version is far prettier, IMO…

HK rules to be used in terror case sentencing

Today’s SCMP front page 
Just as well, otherwise it would really have been all over for the rule of law in Hong Kong. Maintenance of which, the Common Law, is guaranteed under the Basic Law. Still, the prosecutor argued for mainland law to apply. Why? That's worrying indeed. Which could have given the convictee, Motorbike rider Leon Tong, life in prison for the “crime” of riding a bike into a police cordon. While flying a flag of the 2019 demonstrators. 

Also “terror” should be in quotes. By any reasonable take of the video it was dangerous driving. 

There’s more in this case in Wednesday post.

Thursday 29 July 2021

Inspector named to look into publisher

I’d thought it might be looking into the publisher arrested the other day for publishing kiddies books. 

But it’s all about the campaign of revenge against the Apple Daily. Not enough to have jailed the owner, his staff and shut it down. They’re dancing on the grave.

Meantime just to the right of the above headline, the good news… of Siobhan Haughey’s Sillver medal in the women’s 200 m freestyle. Just an arm behind Australia’s Ariadne Titmus in Gold, her second.

We’re enjoying the Olympics. Archery has been the surprise package fo us. Easy to understand, skilful and tense competitions. Cool gear too…

Wednesday 28 July 2021

Guilty verdict in first case tried under new law

Today’s front page
Anywhere else — including Hong Kong of two years ago — the charge might have been “dangerous driving”. 
What he did, Leon Tong, and it was caught on video, was to ride a motorbike into a group of police. It’s not clear if it was deliberate or if he was just trying to break through the police cordon. 
His real “crime” was flying a black flag, with white characters 光復香港 時代革命 Guangfu Xiang Gang, Shidai  Geming, “Free Hong Kong; Revolution of our Times”, the motto of the 2019 demonstrations, and doing so on the 1st of July 2020, the day the new National Security Law came into effect.
The “free Hong Kong” bit is said to be Seditious. I thought it was a silly and pointless slogan for if there’s a bright red line for China it’s independence for Hong Kong. No way in a million years Beijing would allow even a whiff of a move to independence.  
So Tong was naive and foolish. But for that naivety for that foolishness he now faces life  in prison.
The National Security Law came into effect on July 1 last year, foisted on us by an impatient Beijing in direct response to the continuous riots through 2019. It was under that new law that Tong was charged with Sedition and Terrorism. A year in prison with no bail. Trial with no jury of his peers. Three judges. And verdict in a few weeks.
杀鸡儆猴 Shājī Jǐnghóu
“Kill the chicken to frighten the monkey”. Some say that strategy won’t work* but there are plenty of frightened monkeys. *(BTW that article, in Forbes, shows why it’s bad for ones health to be too rich or too independent in China. Why it won’t have its own Elon, or Jeff, or Bill).
Leon Tong Ying-kit plays chicken with the authorities …
ADDED: Inside pages:
Story of a slogan
ADDED: Is the South China Morning Post pushing the envelope in carrying a photo of the slogan that is now illegal — “Free Hong Kong; Revolution of our Times” ?

Tuesday 27 July 2021

Zen and the art of Archery (and Air Pistolry)

Korean men's and women's teams both won Gold
Great sport to watch! Passes Roy and HG's "pub test" for watchability. The men's final was tense and exciting. 

Both the Korean men's and women's teams are world conquerors, having won all the gold medals since it became Olympic.

What a great sport. You don't have to punish your body or bend it out of shape. Shoot a few quivers with your mates and head off to the pub.... A similar other is 10-metre Air Pistol. All the guys lining up for the final the other day looked like they'd wandered in off the street after a few pints and a fag.... Fun. Was exciting too. Definitely passes the pub test for watchability and great format. Easy to understand and quick results. Ditto the archery.

Jing and I are looking into it.... There's an Archery Centre in Kowloon.

Hong Kong’s golden boy

Hong Kong fencer Edgar Cheung wins Gold 🎃in the Fencing foil. Watched by millions here.

The Hong Kong government did something good. They bought the rights to the coverage and gave them out for free. So we have no less than nine channels in Olympics at any one time.

We’ve enjoyed the Archery. Jing and I are going to buy some gear and give it a try.

Monday 26 July 2021

The Carnival of Flowers, Toowoomba, Australia


The cutting above, from the Toowoomba Chronicle was sent by an occasional reader. I knew Essex Tait, quite well -- long-time dated his younger daughter. He was a bomber navigator over Italy in WW2. We used to have wonderful talks and disputations over the dinner table back in the 70s. Then we parted company, en tout, and he died a decade ago.

I never knew that he was the father of this Carnival of Flowers. Now 70+ years old. Like me. What a lovely legacy. If we could all have such a one, we'd be rightly proud.

Respectus Essex

Gone Girl.... and boy and mum and dad and family...

Hong Kong airport, once busy 24/7, is now busy only once a day:
for the afternoon flights to the UK
Returning home the other day I noticed a number of empty houses. I'd noticed one or two before, but that's normal Hong Kong churn. There seem to be rather more than usual now. 

If so, it's nor surprising, as we know a number of friends and colleagues who've left Hong Kong. For good. 

That number now is around 1,000 to 1,500 per day -- deduced from various data (and which I've not fact-checked).

Our government says it's no problem. They're just cracking hardy though.

1,000 a day is a million in three years; 1,500 is a million in just two. Of mostly working age folks, who've left and this time they're not coming back --unlike in 1997 when the jitters led some to head o/s to get foreign passports, before, in many cases, returning. We know that only from talking to them. Anecdote, in other words, not data. Still...

The loss of somewhere between 350,000 and 500,000 per year -- the total population of my old home town of Canberra, Australia's capital -- is the loss of the most productive of our society. The loss won't be made up by births, which run at 80-some thousand per year. And it won't be made up by mainlanders moving to Hong Kong, which number about 50,000 per year.

Despite all this, I remain fairly optimistic about Hong Kong. It will be more mainlandised, but that's not all bad. And the economy will power along, as we remain a financial centre and will be more so as China IPOs that might have gone to the US will now come to Hong Kong. It’ll be “good enough”. And especially in comparison with other places to live … we’ve seen some come back after having headed “home”, finding that home is in fact here.

The red line for me still is whether or not I can freely connect with the world. If that changes then I'd be looking to move. The arrest of kiddie book publishers, and opposition activists I deplore, as does the world. But does my leaving stop that. And I do know the "First they came for..." lament.

In the meantime, I hang out here. In fact some old mates, an occasional reader, that had left Hong Kong for Europe a few years back have recently returned. Because, they said, despite it all, Hong Kong was still "the best place to live" for them. 

Related articles:

Hong Kong residents leave, if they can

Hong Kong passes law that can stop people leaving

Leaving Hong Kong: a family makes a wrenching decision 

Friday 23 July 2021

Arrested for publishing kiddies’ books

Today’s South China Morning Post
Really? This is a priority?? This is deemed necessary?? Publishing kids books about sheep defending a village from wolves is now “instigating violence? What next, Animal Farm? Damn the National Security Law…(*)

By contrast the headline at bottom is about the thugs that attacked protesters at an MTR station. Hey beat them viciously amd was all caught on camera. They were believed to be pro-government types. Bringing them to justice is a good thing. 

Arresting booksellers not so much.


ADDED: Comments are taking a very anti-slant: i.e. mocking the arrests for making satire illegal.  Samples:
J W.
Lol, satire is a crime now! China quickly cementing itself as the laughing stock of the world. Continuing Mao's cultural devolution.
Pang-fei L.
0 Based on hundreds-of-year long common law, 'sedition' involves causing the receivers to act due to the seditious materials distributed or published.But the draconian National Security Law (Hong Kong version) focuses on politics only and its main function is to silence dissidents and have them (even suspected ones) to be harshly punished by the http://law.No wonder, the western civilized democratic countries claimed that the goal of the Law (which was promptly formulated and had not been read by our sole delegate in the National People's Congress's standing committee nor our Chief Executive before its promulgation/announcement.) was to silence dissidents in this city after the forced closure of the outspoken local paper,' The Apple Daily
Paul W.
It is obvious these publications are aimed at mocking the mainlanders and government and in most places this is rated as satire.  However, branding these as seditious material is a bit rich. 
Stu L.
Sad the way things are going. I assume satire would also now be illegal if it was directed at government officials or their actions. It's funny how people defend the NSL and say that all countries have national security laws like this .... because when I search Amazon UK for 'boris johnson' then every item is derogatory or 'inciting seditious thought', yet no one is being arrested or products withdrawn.
So if you come up with ideas to improve your government, is that seditious? If you say so and so is not suitable to be the head of gov, would that constitute an offence, bordering on seditiousness? 
Warren S.
So why this book and not other revolutionary related history books?  I'm sure our editors in SCMP have more scathing comments about the government and the protest events of 2019 than a picture book with no words.  Didn't SCMP also publish a book about the 2019 events with actual photos of protesters going up against police?  I would think that's more graphic than a bunch of sheep and wolves.

Damn the electric fence!

Tuesday 20 July 2021

“He appears to be a machinist, at least by avocation and possibly professionally. He has access to very good tools: a lathe, a sandblasting cabinet, a milling machine, drill bits he keeps intimidatingly sharp." | Althouse

Click above to go to vid
With h/t to Althouse blog, a relaxing seventeen minute video of a careful restoration.
I love the comments at that blog post. I share their fascination with watching fine craftspeople and artisans at work. As commenters note, it's a relief after the hyper-ness of politics and current affairs. Relaxing, like after a fever.
The vid featured is a machinist restoring an ancient metal vise. It's an easy 17 minute watch.
In my own case I tend to watch vids on woodworking. Lumber milling (who knew? You can make fine lumber with just a chain saw); furniture making, especially with scrap wood, old palettes and the like; boat building.… 

Saturday 17 July 2021

‘Surely you must be joking, Mr President!’ | Alex Lo


US warns companies about doing business in Hong Kong 
Lately I’ve not often agreed with SCMP columnist Alex Lo.  But it today’s piece he’s spot on. Biden warns US businesses about doing busienss in Hong Kong. While that same business in Hong Kong tells him to butt out; his warnings will only harm them, they say.

Some believe Biden is just out to harm Hong Kong. Maybe. The real target is likely China and we’re just collateral damage. 

I give this “The Road to Hell…” tag, though I’m not so sure even the intentions are good. a matter of fact, multinationals are increasing staffs in Hong Kong as they see it being an increasingly direct route into the Greater Bay Area, the economic bloc of southern China comprising over 90 million and scads of high-tech.

Student union raided


Today’s front page, SCMP
Click to enlarge 
Just the ticket. Just what you want to see on your front pages. The rozzers arresting students…

Friday 16 July 2021

The Climate-Change Agenda Goes Out With a Bang | WSJ

Nissan Leaf recharging in Paris 

I had a discussion in Australia a few years ago on this very topic: given Australia has $x billion to spend on tackling climate change, how should we best spend it? Not just should it be wind or solar? Or carbon tax vs carbon capture. Where in the world should we spend it?

Given lie limited dollars, shouldn't we think more broadly? Globally? 

Given that it's a global problem, where in the world should we Australians spend that $xx billion? I suggested China, just on the basis that it has far larger carbon footprint than Australia. Economics teaches of the decreasing marginal utility of each extra dollar spent. It would have more far more utility — for the world — if spent our limited funds in China. Moreover each dollar would go further in China, given its lower labour and production costs.

Of course that doesn't cut much ice in Oz. Australia and its very active Greens want the money to be spent in Australia, to create new industries and generate new, green, clean jobs. And that’s understandable. It’s just not (arguably) in the best interest of the world. Not the most effective use of our money. 

I came across the same argument in the article below. Carbon intensity (amount of CO2 emitted per unit of GNP) in China and India is ten times that in America, Britain or Japan (note: not fact-checked). So it makes much more sense — from the world's point of view — to spend money in those countries, in China, etc, to reduce their carbon intensity, rather than our countries where they will have less impact globally.

Those coun­tries need only im­port al­ready-ex­ist­ing car­bon-re­ducing technologies. Beijing's new emis­sions-trad­ing sys­tem al­most cer­tainly is an attempt to force re­cal­ci­trant com­panies to do this, as much for the sake of gen­eral economic ef­fi­ciency as for any other rea­son.
Such a tran­si­tion still will be costly, to be fi­nanced ei­ther via higher con­sumer prices on Chi­nese ex­ports or di­rect gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies. But it's al­most certainly cheaper than de­vel­oped countries' cur­rent plans to blow an­other few tril­lion dol­lars try­ing to in­vent an en­tirely new econ­omy to achieve only mar­ginal emis­sions re­duc­tions.

As the author says, though, it's unlikely that that common sense will prevail. Much more likely that $trillions will be spent in the developed west, to relatively small marginal gains. Arguments such as this will no doubt be dismissed as "climate denial" or "avoiding our responsibilities" or some such. Though they are not; they’re discussions about how to use limited international funds.

If we really are — as Extinction Rebellion keep telling us — in an existential crisis which confronts mankind as a whole, it's more than a pity that can't adopt the most effective solutions, for the world.

Meamtime, let's not forget nuclear! Merkel does her farewells in Washington, her baleful legacy is demolishing a perfectly safe, clean technology. Good one, Mutti…

The Climate-Change Agenda Goes Out With a Bang

ADDED: The article is mainly about how publics from France to Japan are rejecting some climate change initiatives. … Change of strategy needed.

‘China’s vaccine profiteering at the U.N. is being funded by U.S. taxpayers’ | WaPo

Sinovaxing a Manila resident

It must be really bad when Republicans and Democrats agree on something. In this case that China is ripping off the UN body in charge of distributing Covid vaccines. 

China stands to make billions by selling 550 million shots to the UN. 

That's after staring the whole mess in the first place.

I had the impression that China had been quite generous in distributing its Sinovac worldwide. It turns out, not so much …


Beijing has been exploiting the pandemic to advance its political and financial interests since covid-19 emerged in late 2019 in China. The latest and perhaps most egregious example came this week, when Covax, the World Health Organization-backed initiative, announced its new plan to purchase up to 550 million doses of China's Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines, with expected costs in the billions.

This deal struck both U.S. lawmakers and some senior members of the Biden administration as scandalous, for several obvious reasons. Not only have the Chinese-made vaccines been shown to be less effective, but China has also contributed no money to the Covax program and has donated zero shots from its national stockpile. By contrast, the United States is Covax's largest donor, having pledged $4 billion, and has begun distributing 55 million donated shots and promised to donate 500 million more, no charge.

During Wednesday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, ranking Republican James E. Risch (Idaho) called the Covax contract "appalling." He asked Samantha Power, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, to comment on "the irony that China has contributed nothing to Covax and yet now stands to profit from it, when indeed, they started this whole mess in the first place."

Power agreed, saying: "It is appalling that Beijing chose to make a profit on those vaccines rather than to contribute financially to Covax or to donate its state-owned vaccines to Covax to reach people in their hour of desperate need."

Digital Art or Visual Propaganda? China’s New Wave of Online Political Satire


The problem with these memes is that they're very persuasive. They're powerful. Wrong. But powerful.

With thanks to Manya Koetse over at What's on Weibo. Where they say:

A specific genre of political satire has been gaining popularity on Chinese social media lately, with some images even making international headlines. While political satire mocking Chinese authorities is generally soon taken offline, these online works are brought to the limelight by Chinese official channels. Is it grassroots digital art? Or is it official visual propaganda?

This is original content by What's on Weibo that requires investment. You are free to link to this article. Please identify this website or author when you base content on this source or quote from it. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at to buy additional rights. 
'The Last G7' by 半桶老阿汤, Half Bucket of Old Soup
Check it out. Click to enlarge. It's powerful satire. 

Thursday 15 July 2021

‘Biden warning will only do more harm, US businesses say’ | SCMP

Today’s front page
Remember what Robert Gates, Obama’s Defence Secretary, said about Joe Biden: that he had been “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades”. [Link]

In office now as President — after 47 years in government — Biden is keeping his record intact. He pulls out of Afghanistan precipitately, leaving it to the murderous Taliban. Did he need to leave right now, so fast? No. He claimed that Afghanistan army could maintain territory and stability. Everyone in the know knows that’s a lie.

Now he calls for boycott of business here in Hong Kong. Like the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (HKHRDA) before it, this move — arguably well-intentioned — will increase harm on Hong Kong. As American businesses are telling him. The business reps express “shock”. They shouldn’t be shocked. If they’d been paying attention, rather than hating on Trump, they might have noted Gates’ observation. (Not that Trump was any better on HK, mind). The article

Click Label HKHRDA below for previous articles I’ve posted on harm done while trying to “help”us. That’s the road to hell… paved with good intentions. (Parenthetically, I’m not even sure they do have good intentions. More like trying to harm China and we’re collateral damage)

Wednesday 14 July 2021

“Peaceful protest in Hong Kong brutally crushed by police”. Not

Stop gaslighting us. Protesters killed by police: zero
I’m watching Germany’s English language DW TV. We quite like it as it seems to be — at at least tries to be ~~ neutral and objective. But not the show I’ve just watched. They’ve just shown some clips of 2019 demos on our Hong Kong streets. 

They just said the words above. Both parts of the statement are wrong. They were not peaceful protests in 2019; and they were not brutally crushed.

I was here. I went to the demos person to see what what was happening. I watched hours of livestream. They were not “peaceful protests”. And the police did not, at any stage, at any time “ brutally crush” the rioters. Indeed as was noted by media at the time, it was remarkable that there was not a single death of a protester, or of a policeman, during the many months if unrest, which every time descended to chaos, burning and vandalism (all which I saw, with mine own eyes).

I don’t for one minute support what’s going on now. The arrests. Closing down the Apple Daily. Stflimg the opposition. Proof of my views: Click on Labels “Xi Jinping” or “National Security Law”.

But for goodness sake, in 2019 they were not “peaceful protesters” and they weren’t “brutally crushed”. 

But this is how narratives get created. The narrative will be that in 2019 they were fine and peaceful protesters, until the police waded in, “brutally”. For the record: That did not happen. 

Tokyo 2020 Games: Hong Kong sailor Stephanie Norton trains with reigning Olympic gold medallist during pit-stop in the Netherlands

We were on a junk trip a few weeks back up around Sai Kung in NE Hong Kong, with Stephanie Norton and her dad amongst the guests. They were hanging on hearing if they'd made the cut to the Olympics. She did make it, in the Laser Radial class. Go Stephanie!

How lovely to be 20 yo and going to an Olympics, even if it's a Covid-hit one. 

All strength and luck to the team.

More photos at the link and story


History-making Hong Kong sailor Stephanie Norton is preparing for her Olympic Games debut in the strongest way possible – by training alongside the reigning Olympic champion.
The 20-year-old Norton, who became the
first women’s dingy sailor to reach the Olympics via a competitive route since the 1996 Atlanta Games after qualifying in Oman in April, has spent the last two and a half months training in the Netherlands.
With the help of Hong Kong coach and Dutch native Ben Koppelaar, Norton has been soaking up knowledge from the likes of 2016 Rio Olympics laser radial gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester.
“We’ve been lucky enough to train with the Dutch team so we’ve basically had the same preparations as them. We were able to train with a couple of boats so that’s worked out really, really well because Steph was the only laser radial sailor in Hong Kong,” said Koppelaar, who was part of the Dutch Olympic men’s coaching team five years ago. [More]
Stephanie at training 

Weird extremes in Covid “strategies”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk guranatees lockdowns
In Australia the premier of Queensland guarantees she will lockdown if needed. She guarantees it to put people’s minds at ease. Meanwhile, in the UK, Boris guarantees that he will ease the lockdown on July 19. He guarantees it to put people’s minds at ease. 

One promises lockdown, one promises easing. That’s the extremes of handling the pandemic. 

At the Australian “Zero Covid” end, you also have New Zealand and us here in Hong Kong. In fact, if anything, we’re even stricter here in Hong Kong, requiring three weeks of in-hotel isolation for all arrivals, the longest quarantine mandate in the world. The US, meanwhile, has pretty well opened up all its states, Democratic and Republican. We three — the Antipodes and Hong Kong — appear to be the only Zero Covid places in the planet. 

It was weird listening to Australian ABC Radio Canberra yesterday, with the “breaking news” that one case of Covid had been found in Goulburn, an hour’s drive north of Canberra. The news promised more details as they came to hand.…

The thing about these Zero Covid “strategies” is that they’re not really strategies at all. At least not for handling Covid longer term There’s no hint of an exit strategy. Other than continuing to keep the borders closed and locking down at every single new case. Australia has already said it will keep borders closed until late 2022. Here in Hong Kong we used to have 30 million visitors a year. Now that’s a trickle. Apart from “hoping” for a border opening with the mainland, our beloved motherland, there’s not hint of a clue of an idea of when and how we might open up to the rest of the world as “Asia’s World City”.What kind of “strategy” is that?

Monday 12 July 2021

Zsa Zsa Gabor, Jackie Stewart, Winston Churchill: pre-war British yacht’s storied past comes back to life in Japan, cigar burn included

Cynara, gaff-rigged schooner, launched 1927
In Japanese waters. Click screenshot to go to article
I'm very interested in wooden boat building and restoration.
I built a small one myself in the backyard a few years back. These days I follow a couple of boat-building and restoration sites: Mark Reuten’s 2.4mR project and Leo’s rebuild of Tally Ho are favourites. Also Bob Emser building a Haven 12.5 which is the carvel version of the lapstrake Somes Sound 12.5 I built. I pay them monthly contributions because they produce excellent videos that take time and effort and cost them time and money. They give me pleasure and teach me. That’s worth supporting to the tune of a couple of glasses of wine per month… (Patreon is the go).
Here I'm book-marking a lovely story in today's SCMP about the 6-year restoration of a famous wooden boat that ended up in Japan: the gaff-rigged schooner that ended up as Cynara, nearly as scrap ina Japanese marina. Fantastic that their owners committed so much to the rebuild. 
I wish I'd known; I could've popped over to Japan and offered my humble hands. Sigh…

‘Half Chinese, half white Australian – the mixed-race families who thrived when many did not amid 19th century prejudices’ | SCMP

"The Mongolian Octopus" in Australia's The Bulletin, 1886
By the 1850s, the opium wars had devastated China and brought the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) to the verge of collapse, while far to the south a gold rush had led to a period of unprecedented economic growth. Setting out towards a faraway fortune, nearly 40,000 Chinese men left home for "Xin Jin Shan", or New Gold Mountain, also known as Australia. [More]

And also another mention of an early Aussie of Chinese descent, Quong Tart, who I've posted about here.
My first wife was part Chinese, her grandfather from Shanghai. But she didn't know until after we'd met. It had been a family secret. The reason for her and siblings' dark complexion and almond eyes had been put down to "Spanish blood". At least we've grown past that sort of nonsense. I assume.
[And now I'm married to a Beijing-born, and we have a son together, so I feel pretty engaged with the whole issue of how Asians are treated in Australia and western countries]

Talking of fascism....

Yoof, in Trafalgar Square, proud members of the Communist Party
of GB, Marxist-Leninist. They’re also "anti-fascist" they say.
But today's CCP is fascist. It's one or the other, lads
As I was talking the other day about fascism as an accurate description of today's China, here's Joel Kotkin on the same line: "... China, in many aspects the model fascist state of our times, follows Il Duce’s model of cementing the corporate elite into the power structure."

It's in Kotkin's "How the Democrats fell for Mussolini":  

Indeed, Mussolini’s idea of an economy controlled from above, with generous benefits but dominated by large business interests, is gradually supplanting the old liberal capitalist model. In the West, for example, the “Great Reset,” introduced by the World Economic Forum’s Klaus Schwab, proposes an expanded welfare state and an economy that transcends the market for the greater goal of serving racial and gender “equity”, as well as saving the planet.

Wherever it appears, whether in the early 20th century or today, fascism — in its corporate sense — relies on concentrated economic power to achieve its essential and ideological goals. In 1922, for instance, large corporations and landowners helped finance Mussolini’s Black Shirts for their March on Rome. Confindustria, the leading organisation of Italian industrialists, was glad to see the end of class-based chaos and welcomed the state’s infrastructure surge.

Elsewhere, the German cartels and Japanese zaibatsu both kowtowed to and benefited from fascist state support and contracts. Even today, China, in many aspects the model fascist state of our times, follows Il Duce’s model of cementing the corporate elite into the power structure. Since 2000, a hundred billionaires sit in the country’s Communist legislation, a development that Mao would never have countenanced.

More here  

There's been a lot of talk in recent years -- from the likes of Eric & Bret Weinstein -- about how we are ruled not by a fair and decent democracy, but by an entitled oligarchy. And who can argue that there's not an elite, that see themselves as our righteous rulers? And to centralise, centralise. Or is that all horrid right-wing paranoia, hard-right talking points?

“Biden and US hawks must understand China before waving the democratic torch” | Jing Lee

Click above for the article
The geopolitical map of our time is unsettling. World politics is entering a new phase, and many politicians and intellectuals have not hesitated to proliferate visions of what it should be: a clash of civilisations, the end of history, the decline of the nation-state, and the return of traditional rivalries between nations. [Read on …]
Jing again in the Op-Ed pages of our South China Morning Post. Links above or also Web Archive.

Many of the commenters support her thesis (we must understand China). My own simplistic response to the thesis is: Assume we do fully understand China and its history, what then? Do we treat it with more empathy and softness? Would that get any useful response from Beijing/Xi? Or just encourage assertiveness (aka aggressiveness or bullying)? Also: Don't forget China's (Xi's) "Document 9".

A US-based [Reader] comments (indent) and author [JL] response (flush left), below:

“Vitasoy trouble shows dark side of cancel culture in divided Hong Kong” | SCMP

A disturbing thought: on the Uyghur issue (indentured servitude or slave labour, take your pick) Chinese netizens may have even tougher attitude than Beijing! They deserve to be suppressed by the Han, seems to be a popular view.
Might doesn't make right. I'm guessing large numbers of Americans were in favour of actual slavery before their Civil War.
No physical copy of the SCMP today.
As I worry if and when our 103-year old paper, the best English language press in the region, might succumb to the National Security Law of Hong Kong. So happy to see that online at least all is fine. 
Like this article on the cancelling of Vitasoy.[Web archive]
And as I mourn yet another England loss in a final, on penalties. Oh dear. The 55-year wait goes on…
Below: "Cancel culture" with Chinese characteristics. That is, hyper nationalistic.…

Sunday 11 July 2021

Is the "lying flat" [躺平) movement in China a thing? Or a beat up?

Chillaxing Chinese style aka 躺平 Tang Ping. Pic @ Zhi Hu*
A number of occasional readers have sent links to stories on the latest Chinese phenomenon of "Lying flat". AS in the Guardian and the BBC. Here's a summary from VOA:
Some young adults in China are unhappy with the culture of long working hours, high housing prices and a very high cost of living. So, the young people are “lying flat” to express their anger. They have rejected traditional goals like getting married, having children, purchasing a home or car, and following the corporate money-making path. [Link]

I first wrote about it here, and labelled later posts under "Wu Wei", which is the ancient Chinese Taoist concept of "do nothing". 

My own thoughts and after speaking to long-term residents in China is that its probably more of a beat up than a "thing". Maybe getting more coverage in the west than China. Because it goes so much against the stereotypes. 

To the extent that it's around, as an idea and lifestyle in China, it's likely more amongst the single children of middle-class, well-off Chinese parents (remember whole generations of single children, result of the One Child policy). Others, the bulk of Chinese youth, may not like the relentless pace of life (they call it "involution", or 内卷 nei juan) but they've no choice but to get on with it.

The West meantime, hates China like we hate a swot. They're just too damned hard-working and so of course they must be cheating (often the are too, so that complicates matters). Of course there's Xinjiang Uygurs, domestic repression, international bullying, and all the rest of it, but there's also nascent schadenfreude, looking for, hoping for, the failure that we can glory in. The Chinese simply do too well, like the  students in the US, who have to be hobbled at universities, lest they dominate freshman years. So too in manufacturing and trade. They're simply too slick and now also moving up the value chain. If China is going to face domestic problems, like youngsters "lying flat" rather than working for the great machine, so that its economic growth is impacted, so much the better for us. Or so goes the thinking. Or so goes the hope. Like here, at TechStream. If it turns out to be true then it's schadenfreude all the way down. 

'Cept it's not likely to keep going. Then again, don't believe me. I've been too wrong on too many things....

*ADDED: "Zhi Hu" (知乎) is a Chinese Q&A website modelled after Quora ("modelled" as in "ripped off"), which I tend to use quite a bit. "Zhi Hu" is a mash-up of a bit of Confucius about knowledge and study:

好学近乎知, Hao Xue Jin Hu Zhi, To love learning is akin to knowledge. Confucius Analects

Headline watch — disconcerting trends in South China Morning Post


Front page South China Morning Post today
‘Patriotic education’ to become nice little xenophobic nationalists …
Oh… and another front page with “appalling old waxworks

Who decides “fake news”?
The beginning of forgetting: Tiananmen vigil group slashes staff in face of “obvious repression”