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Posts published in October 2019

China Gets a Lesson on the Streisand Effect

One of the emergent behaviors that has come about as a result of the rise of the Internet and social media is the “Streisand effect.” If you haven’t heard of it, this is how Wikipedia defines it:

The Streisand effect is a phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.[1] It is an example of psychological reactance, wherein once people are aware that some information is being kept from them, their motivation to access and spread it is increased.[2]

Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

On October 4th, 2019, Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey posted a tweet that said “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” That’s all. A short, simple tweet in support of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. It didn’t disparage or insult China or the Chinese leadership in any way.

Despite the fact that the tweet itself is basically innocuous and was posted by someone that is pretty much unknown outside of Houston and hardcore basketball fans, China (the CCP) went crazy over it, cancelling appearances by NBA players in China, citing it as evidence of US meddling in China’s affairs, and severing ties with the Houston Rockets, among many other completely over the-top reactions to what should have been a very, very minor incident. If China had simply ignored the tweet, it would have amounted to nothing, and by now it would have been largely forgotten.

But instead, the CCP turned it into an international firestorm, forcing the NBA commissioner to issue a statement that was a half-apology that then had to be walked back after he got criticized in the U.S. media. NBA stars were asked for comment and subsequently made fools of themselves. Chinese Internet trolls (五毛党 – the wu mao dang – literally translated as the “50-cent party”) even issued death threats over this innocuous tweet, saying it threatened China’s sovereignty and disrespected the Chinese people. Joe Tsai, owner of the Brooklyn Nets, issued a widely-ridiculed statement “explaining” why the Chinese were so sensitive to the tweet.

And in the end, what was the result of all of the uproar? More people than ever in the United States and internationally are aware of what is happening in Hong Kong and support the people of Hong Kong in their fight for human rights and democracy. At a Brooklyn Nets basketball game at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York, hundreds of people wore black Stand With Hong Kong tee shirts and face masks mocking Carrie Lam’s ridiculous ban on face masks in Hong Kong:

In addition, more and more people are aware of and speaking out against the CCP’s other abuses of human rights. At the same game, demonstrators protested China’s long-standing occupation and subjugation of Tibet:

The backlash against China’s completely over-the-top reaction to Daryl Morey’s tweet perhaps doesn’t exactly fit the Wikipedia definition of the Streisand effect, but the principle is the same: attempts to suppress information – in this case, the CCP’s attempt to suppress support of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement by anyone associated with the NBA – just leads to more and more people wanting to know why it is happening and being interested in it. A minor incident that would have been nothing quickly turns into a major, widely known and discussed issue.

The CCP’s over-reaction to Daryl Morey’s tweet and the backlash to it is an example not just of the Streisand effect, but also of an “own-goal.” Here’s another similarly embarrassing one:

Japanese butt own goal

The CCP has an incredibly thin skin, constantly over-reacting to minor slights and insults, which shows their lack of maturity and self-confidence. Will they learn a lesson about the Streisand effect and own goals from this incident? Doubtful.

Men and Women in Black

Anyone that has been following the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong knows that the demonstrators often wear black clothes as part of their unofficial uniform. The Hong Kong police know it too, and often target people wearing black clothes for beatings, pepper spray, and arrest – whether those people are actually taking part in a demonstration or not. Undercover police also wear black to blend in with the demonstrators.

So, after Carrie Lam’s ridiculous ban on masks had no effect whatsoever on reducing the number of demonstrators nor on reducing violence during the demonstrations (not surprising at all, since at least some of the violence is instigated by those same undercover police), the CCP has taken another step to oppress the people of Hong Kong in a way that will no doubt severely impact the pro-democracy movement – they’ve banned export of black clothes from China to Hong Kong!

By taking this extreme measure, the CCP thinks they will no doubt shut down – or at least very nearly shut down – the pro-democracy movement. But here at China Daily News, we’ve heard from reliable sources (ok, really no sources at all) that the pro-democracy demonstrators will retaliate by switching their black gear for this:

Image result for tie-dyed shirt democracy

Hah! Take that, CCP! What color are you going to ban next? All of them?

[Yes, this post is intended to be sarcastic, in case it wasn’t clear.]

Another Step in the Right Direction: House Passes Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and PROTECT Hong Kong Act

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the PROTECT Hong Kong Act.

These two acts apply pressure to the Beijing and Hong Kong governments and support the pro-democracy demonstrators in their fight for their human rights, as promised to them in the treaty between the United Kingdom and China, which was registered with the United Nations. Those rights were then enshrined in the Hong Kong Basic Law.

The text of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act is here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3289/text. The Wikipedia article on the bill says this:

According to the Congressional Research office,[2][3] the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would direct various departments to assess whether political developments in Hong Kong justify changing Hong Kong’s unique treatment under U.S. law. Specifically, it would:
• Require the Secretary of State to issue an annual certification of Hong Kong’s autonomy to justify special treatment afforded to Hong Kong by the U.S. Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.[13]
• Require the President to identify persons responsible for the abductions of Hong Kong booksellers and journalists and those complicit in suppressing basic freedoms in Hong Kong, including those complicit in the rendition of individuals, in connection to their exercise of internationally recognized rights, to mainland China for detention or trial, and to freeze their U.S.-based assets and deny them entry into the United States.[13]
• Require the President to issue a strategy to protect U.S. citizens and businesses from the risks posed by a revised Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, including by determining whether to revise the U.S.–Hong Kong extradition agreement and the State Department’s travel advisory for Hong Kong.[13]
• Require the Secretary of Commerce to issue an annual report assessing whether the government of Hong Kong is adequately enforcing both U.S. export regulations regarding sensitive dual-use items and U.S. and U.N. sanctions, particularly regarding Iran and North Korea.[13]
• Make clear that visa applicants shall not be denied visas on the basis of the applicant’s arrest, detention or other adverse government action taken as a result of their participation in the nonviolent protest activities related to pro-democracy advocacy, human rights, or the rule of law in Hong Kong.[13]

Wikipedia article on Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act

For the pro-democracy movement, the first, second, and last items are likely the most significant.

First, if Hong Kong’s autonomy is not guaranteed, it may lose its special status as a trading partner with the U.S. This will put enormous pressure on Hong Kong’s business people. They have significant influence on the Hong Kong government, and to some degree on the Beijing government. The CCP is trying to replace the Hong Kong financial markets with markets in Shenzhen and Shanghai, but even if that is ultimately successful, it will take time – probably some years. Much of the capital from the west that finances China’s business enters through Hong Kong, so losing special status would be a blow not just to Hong Kong, but also to mainland China. It is not something Beijing can just ignore; though the CCP will no doubt downplay its importance.

Next, the second bullet point contains a bombshell in the clause that says that the President must “identify persons…complicit in suppressing basic freedoms in Hong Kong…and to freeze their U.S.-based assets and deny them entry into the United States.” That is big. Members of the Hong Kong government and police, as well as members of the Beijing government identified by the U.S. administration as having oppressed the human rights of the people of Hong Kong risk losing investments and property in the U.S. and being denied entry. Given that many wealthy Chinese from the mainland and from Hong Kong have investments and property in the U.S., it is a powerful statement.

Finally, the last bullet point says that the pro-democracy demonstrators are welcome in the U.S. regardless of whether Hong Kong or mainland China says they have committed crimes, as they should be. Fighting for one’s natural human rights is not a crime.

The PROTECT Hong Kong Act is perhaps more symbolic, in that it will restrict the sale of tear gas and other non-lethal munitions to the Hong Kong government and police by U.S. companies. Those non-lethal munitions can undoubtedly be sourced from other countries, so the impact on brutality and violence by the Hong Kong police is probably limited. Nevertheless, it does send another message to the Hong Kong government that the U.S. will not be complicit in its violation of the rights of the demonstrators.

We continue to urge the U.S. government to take additional measures to pressure the Beijing and Hong Kong governments to honor the promises that they have made in formal treaties and in the Basic Law, to respect the rights of all citizens of Hong Kong to self-representation, free speech, free assembly, and a free and impartial legal system (among others). In addition, there must be a free, impartial, and effective investigation into the clearly documented acts of brutality committed by the Hong Kong police. The U.S. has additional legal and diplomatic tools at its disposal, including designating individuals and organizations under the Global Magnitsky Act and placement on the Department of Commerce Entity List. Despite the shameful actions of a few, the vast majority of Americans support the pro-democracy demonstrations. Continued support by prominent Americans, senators, and representatives encourages the demonstrators and adds pressure to the Beijing and Hong Kong governments to take necessary steps to guarantee Hong Kong’s rights and freedom. Americans in a position to speak up in support should do so, not hide behind moral equivalence and platitudes to protect their wallets. Have moral courage to do what is right.

Support the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act

The U.S. Congress is set to debate (and should pass) the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy act soon (tomorrow in the U.S. House of Representatives). Today, massive rallies were held in Hong Kong in support of the bill.

Tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of Hong Kongers took part in the rallies, asking for U.S. support of the bill.

As we’ve said before, the U.S. Congress should pass the bill as soon as possible, and President Trump should sign it into law. In addition, we strongly urge President Trump’s administration to designate members of the Hong Kong legislative council, including Carrie Lam, and the entire Hong Kong police force under the Global Magnitsky Act. Further measures should also be taken to add some Hong Kong individuals and companies to the Entities List by the U.S. Commerce Department, preventing them from doing business in or with the U.S. Twenty-eight Chinese companies and organizations were added to the Entities List a few days ago for their part in oppression of the Uyghurs and other Chinese Muslim populations. The people of Hong Kong are also suffering human rights abuses by the Hong Kong government and police, so the Hong Kong government and police, and their supporters in the Hong Kong business community, should be similarly placed on the Entities List.

Hong Kong Police Infiltrated by Mainland People’s Armed Police?

We have speculated here on China Daily News, as have many others, that the Hong Kong police have been infiltrated by People’s Armed Police from the mainland, and perhaps are being directly run by the People’s Armed Police now. It is possible that some regular Hong Kong police have been supplanted by People’s Armed Police officers and agents. The Hong Kong police leadership could be serving just as figureheads, with real control exercised by People’s Armed Police (the CCP, essentially) from behind the scenes.

It hasn’t made much sense that one of the most respected police forces in Asia would suddenly become out-of-control, brutal thugs completely disregarding the law and the rights of the Hong Kong people. Infiltration by People’s Armed Police would explain that.

In press conferences, the Hong Kong police leadership has denied that mainland People’s Armed Police or People’s Liberation Army units are embedded in the Hong Kong police force.

Today, however, more evidence has come to light that there are, in fact, mainland police in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong people usually speak Cantonese, a language spoken widely in southern China, including in Hong Kong. Mandarin is spoken in mainland China, and originates in northern China. They do not sound the same. This writer has studied Mandarin for over ten years, and it is pretty clear that the police in this video are speaking Mandarin. Native Mandarin and Cantonese speakers viewing the video have said the same.

What is actually happening in Hong Kong? Hong Kong police are also infiltrating the pro-democracy movement, and have admitted doing so, to arrest “extremely violent protesters.” There is clear evidence of it happening, like this Hong Kong police identity card dropped by a “protester.”

So how much of the violence and vandalism has actually been committed by CCP infiltrators and agitators posing as members of the pro-democracy movement in order to blame the demonstrators and turn public opinion away from them? At this point, who can say? Infiltration and espionage have long been a favored tactic of communists, going back to the earliest days of the CCP in its fight against the Nationalists.

The CCP’s pet media lapdogs, China Daily, Xinhua News, CCTV, Global Daily, etc. incessantly call the pro-democracy demonstrators, “rioters,” and show lurid images of violence and vandalism supposedly committed by them. But given that we know that the demonstrations have been infiltrated by the Hong Kong police, and the Hong Kong police have been infiltrated – or even taken over – by the CCP-controlled People’s Armed Police, is there really any doubt that CCP agents provocateur have also infiltrated the demonstrations? Who is really behind the violence and vandalism?

Senator Ted Cruz Visits Hong Kong

Today, Texas Senator Ted Cruz is in Hong Kong investigating what is happening there and supporting the pro-democracy demonstrations.

Senator Cruz was apparently scheduled to meet Hong Kong Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, but when he arrived in Hong Kong was told that the meeting was cancelled.

Cruz said, and we agree with him:

What I have encouraged the protest leaders with whom I have spoken is to embrace non-violent protest, to follow the tradition of Gandhi in India and Dr Martin Luther King in the United States.
That can be difficult to carry out, it can be particularly difficult in the face of violent oppression by government forces, of police beatings and shootings.

Senator Ted Cruz, speaking to the South China Morning Post

We are gratified that prominent members of the U.S. government are standing with Hong Kong’s fight for human rights and freedom, and encouraging non-violent protests. We believe that much of the violence that we’ve seen in Hong Kong has been encouraged, if not out-right committed, by CCP agitators embedded in the protests and in the Hong Kong police force.

As Senator Cruz said during his interview:

There is a reason the Communist Party in China wants the Hong Kong protests to turn violent because the Chinese Communist Party very much wants to characterise these protests as violent acts of terrorism rather than democracy protesters standing up for human rights

Senator Ted Cruz, speaking to the South China Morning Post

Violence at the demonstrations plays into the CCP propaganda machine’s hands, and Beijing’s propagandists have made use of the violence that has occurred to try to paint the protesters as rioters destroying Hong Kong for no rational reason. Anyone paying attention knows that those accusations are false, but the CCP cares nothing for the truth. If a lie promotes their agenda, they will use it.

We again encourage Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the TAIPEI Act as soon as possible. The CCP’s assault on freedom and human rights must be halted.

Full House in Shanghai for NBA Pre-Season Game

Well, this has got to be a little embarrassing for the CCP…

On the other hand, we all know that the CCP is incapable of feeling shame, so maybe not.

In any case, all the fire and brimstone cast down on the NBA and other companies by the CCP, as usual, is just a lot of hot air. The actions of Chinese people tell the real story. The CCP can bluster and bully all they want, but they don’t represent the majority of the Chinese people. Only around 6.5% of the Chinese people are CCP members. The CCP has an outsized voice, because it controls the Chinese media, but U.S. and international companies doing business in China need to realize that if a product is popular there, the Chinese people will get it, one way or another. Companies don’t have to, and should not, kowtow to the CCP’s demands. Have moral courage and be smart.

The Love of Money

Have you heard the phrase “the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil?” That phrase comes from the book of 1st Timothy in the Bible. Whether or not you believe the Bible, the wisdom in that verse and the preceding verse are undeniable.

People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

1st Timothy 6:9,10a New International Version

We are seeing the reality of that all over the world right now. Several companies, from Apple to Blizzard Entertainment to the NBA to Google to Vans, have kowtowed to the CCP in order to continue stay in the good graces of the brutal, totalitarian Chinese Communist Party, so that they can continue to sell products and services in China.

We are reminded of another verse full of wisdom:

What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

Matthew 16:26 New International Version

There is nothing wrong with making money and being successful through honest hard work, risk taking, smart investing, and so on. Money is not evil, per se. But the love of moneygreed – is evil, because leads to bad decisions and moral compromises that endanger not only the greedy person or organization, but also the many, many other people affected by those bad decisions and moral compromises made for the love of money.

Selling out to the evils of the Chinese Communist Party, being willfully blind to the horrors it has perpetrated on humanity, are a prime example of this. Not only is it wrong morally, but in the long run, it is bad business. By at first kowtowing to the CCP, then backtracking and saying they support free speech, the NBA has alienated both their Chinese fan base, and their U.S. and international fan base. The same kind of thing is happening to other U.S. companies that kowtow to the CCP’s bullying. There is a price to be paid for being complicit in clear evil.

The NBA has said that they support free speech, and we respect that. Still, fans are being removed from pre-season games for showing support for Hong Kong and the Hong Kong people’s fight for freedom and human rights.

Let’s hope that the NBA and all American companies realize that they must not give in to greed and stand up against evil and for good. It is the moral and smart thing to do.

One More Step in the Right Direction

The U.S. needs to do much more of this:

The Chinese understand their own government quite well. That is why wealthy Chinese move their money out of China and buy real estate in Canada and the United States. Cities along the West Coast and a few others (e.g. Toronto) have had a major influx of Chinese buying expensive (multi-million-dollar) homes, usually paying cash for them.

So, restricting visas may have some impact to those wealthy (and influential) Chinese, and at the very least, sends a message that the U.S. is paying attention to what is happening in Xinjiang.

The Trump administration has also discussed limits/regulations on U.S. capital being invested in Chinese markets and companies. We think such limits and regulations should also be put in place. China’s economic rise was largely financed by capital from western countries, Japan, and Taiwan investing in China after the “opening up.” That rise was unequivocally good for the Chinese people. But there is no good reason for U.S. capital to continue to fund oppression by the CCP under Xi Jinping’s increasingly totalitarian, nationalistic, and closed rule.

A Step in the Right Direction

Today the U.S. government announced it is adding 28 Chinese companies on the “Entity List” that bars them from trading (buying and selling) in the U.S.

The 28 companies added to the Entity List have been implicated in taking part in oppression or surveillance of Muslim minority people in Xinjiang province.

This is just a small step in the right direction for the United States. Economic and diplomatic pressure should be continued against Chinese businesses until the CCP gives up their oppression in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong. The CCP is not afraid to use economic pressure against U.S. businesses (like the NBA); the U.S. still has a much larger economic hammer that can be used against the CCP, and shouldn’t be afraid to use it. Bullying by the CCP should be responded to in kind.

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