Thursday, 17 November 2022

Streisand Effects thick and fast!

P3, of today’s South China Morning Post 
Follow on from my letter yesterday.

Who would have heard of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission 2022 Report, if not for the HK government getting bent out of shape over it? Not me, for sure. Even if I should have, as an ex Diplomat and ex Intel analyst…

But we’re all getting to hear about it and read about it, courtesy of the Hong Kong government publicising it! That’s the “Streisand Effect”. (Wiki: “…an attempt to hide, remove, or censor information…”. In this case the attempt is to censor the US government: “There is no place for the US to comment…”. How dare the US publish its frank views?).

My comments:

1. A substantial Report: The Report is 785 pages long! Hong Kong appears at 663-727. It’s not some lightweight hit piece in the mainstream media. You have to dig to find it.

2. Fair comments: Many of the comments it makes on Hong Kong I judge as fair. Though I don’t buy that Hong Kong has lost all its freedoms. I’ve said many times: living here we have (most) all our past freedoms, including the freedom to write this. We have freedom of religion, of conscience, of travel, of internet, of speech, of capital movement. We also have freedom from crime, as one of the very safest cities in the world. The media is more constrained than before 2020, that’s for sure.. It is so thanks to the dullards who pushed for “HK independence” in the 2019 rioting. 

3. Commie-speak: The government resorts to what I’ve called “commie speak”. Beijing apparatchik language like “vehemently rejects”, “slandering remarks”, “ill-intentioned political attacks” and “despicable political motives” (yuck!). It is chilling to hear our locals cravenly copying creepy commie cant.

4. Beijing control: It is also true, as the Report says, that Beijing is in much more control over all aspects of Hong Kong than it ever was. Again, promoted by the very riots that sought to enhance democracy. Thanks to them, we now have less. Last time I voted was in December 2021, for District Councils which were free and fair elections. Our household voted for pro-government candidates as a rejection of the “Yellows” who supported the rioters (aka “fighters for freedom and democracy”), but our candidate lost, a sign in itself of the freedom of the elections.  Now, though, we don’t know when the next elections might be and what they will mean. It’s true as the Report notes, that the LegCo is run by “patriots”, i.e. Beijing ruled. No amount of blustering by our blithering bureaucrats changes that.

5. Transparency: Would China have an equivalent Report? Of course it would. Will we be allowed to see it? Of course we won’t. So again it’s the US being hammered for its transparency. Some folks, including occasional readers of this blog, will see the China approach as “smart”. Keep your cards close to your chest. I don’t agree. In the end I’m sure transparency wins out. From having to defend itself, not least.