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Posts published in “China/Hong Kong Relations”

2047 is Now. What is the Future of Hong Kong?

We haven’t posted anything for a couple of days on this site. It seemed nothing more could be said about the brutality of Hong Kong’s police, but no other news seems worth writing about in comparison.

By now, pretty much everyone that has been paying attention at all knows about the police siege of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Hundreds of students are trapped there. The police won’t let them leave unless they “surrender,” which would almost certainly mean being subjected to torture and abuse. Naturally, the students don’t want to surrender, for that reason, and also because they believe they are fighting for their home, their freedom, and their rights. They deserve and need the entire free world’s support.

In 2047, the “one country, two systems” agreement that was negotiated between the U.K. and the Chinese government at the handover in 1997 officially ends, and Hong Kong becomes completely subject to the arbitrary legal system of mainland China, where there is no rule of law, lawyers are regularly arrested and detained, the rights of citizens are non-existent, and people accused of “crimes” are disappeared into black jails, with no contact with lawyers or family.

But today, it is clear that it is already 2047 in Hong Kong.

In the past couple of days, Hong Kong’s highest court ruled that Carrie Lam’s ban on face masks is unconstitutional, violating the Basic Law.

Today, the CCP said that Hong Kong’s courts cannot rule on the constitutionality of legislation passed by the Hong Kong government. Only the CCP can. Read this important thread: https://twitter.com/stuartlauscmp/status/1196565359026999296

[China’s] constitution and the Basic Law jointly form the constitutional foundation of [HK]. Whether HK’s legislation is consistent with the HK Basic Law can only judged and decided by the National People’s Congress standing committee. No other parties can judge or decide.”

CCP National People’s Congress overrules Hong Kong’s High Court

If Hong Kong’s courts cannot decide what Kong Kong’s laws mean and whether or not they are in accordance with Hong Kong’s constitution (the Basic Law), then there is no reason for them to exist. There is no longer any rule of law in Hong Kong.

There is also now evidence that authorities are transporting arrested pro-democracy demonstrators out of Hong Kong. Carrie Lam may have withdrawn the extradition bill that started the demonstrations, but everyone knows that the CCP will do whatever it wants, regardless of what any law says.

If this is actually happening now in Hong Kong, it’s a scene that reminds us of the worst atrocities visited on people in all of human history. It is terrifying. Given what we know is happening in Xinjiang to the Uyghurs, it is certainly possible that these young people will disappear into China’s gulag, where they will have no rights at all. Pray that they will be released soon, unharmed.

It is already 2047 in Hong Kong.

The Definition of Insanity…

… is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result*.

Are Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong government, and the Hong Kong police insane?

They seem to be doing the same things again and again: oppressing the people of Hong Kong more and more ruthlessly, banning face masks, beating and abusing the demonstrators, firing more tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets, even raping and shooting demonstrators with lethal weapons. None of that has worked, and yet they continue to expect a different result. It won’t happen. The demonstrators continue their resistance. Public support for the demonstrations has continued, even increased, while at this point, the vast majority of the Hong Kong people loathe Carrie Lam and the police.

So, are Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong government, and the Hong Kong police actually insane? Probably not in the clinical sense; although, some of the members of the Hong Kong police definitely seem to have lost control of themselves and may truly be suffering from mental illness.

Carrie Lam has backed herself into a corner, probably with the “advice” of the CCP’s thugs government bureaucrats. She has said there can be and will be no negotiations, and the demonstrators Five Demands can never be implemented.

What then, is the solution? More of the same? Escalation of violence until dozens, hundreds, even thousands or tens of thousands are killed? Insanity.

At this point, there is more-or-less open warfare between the Hong Kong police and the young people of Hong Kong; although, it is by no means only young people that are protesting. In the past couple of days, thousands of office workers have taken to the streets in the Hong Kong central financial district, peacefully protesting, where of course, they were tear gassed by the police.

The CCP, and by extension the Hong Kong government and police, are utterly bereft of ideas. They seem to understand violence and oppression as the only means of dealing with people. It isn’t surprising, given the CCP’s history. Mao said, “Every Communist must grasp the truth; ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.'” It is what they believe and all they know, to this day. Insanity.

At this point, we have no answers, only prayers for Hong Kong.

* Although often attributed to Albert Einstein, apparently, it was not actually said by him.

More Unbearable Tragedy in Hong Kong

Less than an hour before this post is being written, the Hong Kong police have again shot a young demonstrator. It was captured on live video. It is clear that the demonstrator was completely unarmed. There was no reason whatsoever for the shooting.

WARNING: This live video is extremely disturbing.

At this point, we have not seen any reports on the identity or the condition of the demonstrator, but judging from the photos from the scene, it looks very dire. Reports are that two teenage demonstrators have been shot.

As if anyone needed more evidence that the Hong Kong police are completely out of control, here is video of them just randomly firing teargas at people as they leave an area.

As ridiculous as this is, it is nothing compared to shooting teenage demonstrators at near point blank range. All of humanity should be outraged at what is happening in Hong Kong now. It is horrific, unleashed by the totalitarian evil of the Chinese Communist Party. Since its founding, the CCP has murdered more people than any other regime in the history of humanity. They would have you believe that they are different now. They are not. If anything, with their increasingly sophisticated use of technology, they have become more adept at oppression and murder. The CCP is a clear and present danger to all of humanity. It must be deposed.

The Price of Freedom

It is a tragic fact that securing and maintaining freedom for people is costly, in time, in treasure, and in life itself. There are always those that for their own selfish reasons – power, money, misguided ideology, or just an evil heart – want to take away the natural, God-given rights of all human beings. In opposing such people, there are some – always too many – that will be injured or even lose their lives; they are martyrs for the cause of freedom and human rights.

Usually, those that pay the ultimate price, losing their lives in the never-ending struggle for human rights and freedom are members of the military and first responders, but sometimes – always too often – members of the general public become martyrs as well.

In the struggle by the Hong Kong people to protect their rights, many, many have been injured, beaten, tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, even raped and shot by the brutal Hong Kong police. This week a young university student, Alex Chow Tsz-lok , just 22 years old, died after falling from the 3rd level to the 2nd level of a parking garage, in the midst of the police clearance action. The circumstances leading to his death are unclear. Security cameras video that has been released apparently did not capture the exact moment that he fell. Naturally, the police have denied any involvement. Naturally, the demonstrators blame the police, as almost no one in Hong Kong trusts the police any more. Demands for a completely independent investigation into the actions of the police during the demonstrations have intensified. Few believe that the current mechanisms and organizations for investigating police misconduct and brutality that currently exist in Hong Kong are adequate. They have little or no real investigative or prosecutorial power and are part of the police power structure, so they are not independent and are unlikely to return impartial results from any investigation that they do. The people of Hong Kong are demanding, as they have for weeks now, a completely independent and impartial investigation by an agency that has the power to compel testimony and to prosecute police misconduct.

Regardless of the cause of Alex Chow Tsz-lok’s death, he is a martyr to the cause of human rights and freedom in Hong Kong. The people know that, and are honoring him:

No rational person wishes for violence, but as long as there are those that want to take away rights and freedom, they must be resisted. Let’s all hope that the CCP and Hong Kong government and police regain their senses, and that the people of Hong Kong’s struggle to maintain their rights and freedom is won.

How the Government and Police are Eroding Human Rights in Hong Kong

By now it is well known that the protests in Hong Kong started over a proposed amendment to Hong Kong law that would allow people to be extradited to mainland China for trial. The people of Hong Kong were rightfully concerned – terrified, is perhaps the better word – that this change in the law would allow political dissidents to be arrested for some “crime” and then extradited to the mainland, where they would be under the control of the CCP’s “legal” system – and where they would have no rights whatsoever. Undoubtedly, some, many, all of them would be disappeared into China’s notorious prisons, never to be heard from again.

Now that the extradition bill has been withdrawn, the protests have become primarily a pro-democracy movement. The protesters are demanding universal suffrage as one of their “Five Demands, Not One Less,” as well as advocating for their human rights, which are guaranteed in the Hong Kong Basic Law, but are not respected by the CCP government in Beijing and are being eroded step-by-step by the Hong Kong government and police. This excellent Twitter thread by Elson Tong, a Hong Kong University law student, explains how the Hong Kong police have been further and further restricting the Hong Kong people’s right of assembly. It’s long, but well worth the read to better understand the tactics of the Hong Kong police, no doubt backed and organized by CCP elements within the Hong Kong police:

This kind of clear-eyed view of the strategies and tactics of the CCP and their followers is very much needed. Thanks to Elson Tong for providing this thread. We hope he is okay with us reposting it here. Of course, if he is not, we will take down this post immediately.

It is typical of the CCP to continue to apply pressure until their target capitulates. They almost never negotiate, and even when they do, they do not negotiate in good faith. They will break any agreement they make as soon as they think it is in their interest to do so, and they think they can get away with it. So far the pro-democracy movement has not capitulated to the CCP’s pressure tactics and use of violence as a means of oppression and coercion.

You Can’t Argue About the Law in Here! This is a Courtroom!

One of the primary reasons that China cannot be trusted as a business or trade partner, and also one of the primary reasons that it is one of the world’s foremost violators of human rights, is because China does not have a free, fair, and independent legal system. There is no effective rule of law in China; rather, legal decisions are based on what CCP bosses or other influential people want them to be. Judges are entirely beholden to the CCP, and often do not have any legal training whatsoever. On top of that, the Chinese reliance on guan xi (关系) – a term that is hard to translate, but roughly means relationships, connections, and influence – for solving problems and decision making makes the legal system incredibly corrupt. Declarations of guilt or innocence, who is right or wrong in contract negotiations, and so on, depend as much or more on guan xi as they do on what the law actually says or on the facts and evidence at hand.

To be sure, China does have laws, and when non-Chinese read the laws (translated), they often even sound good and right. The problem is that the laws are not fairly or evenly enforced, not just because of the guan xi issue we described above, but also because lawyers are themselves often charged with crimes for advocating for their clients!

Read this heartbreaking story from the Hong Kong Free Press.

Stories like this are all too common in China. Lawyers who advocate for their clients’ rights are often arrested and disappeared – held incommunicado for months or years, with no contact with their families or their own lawyers.

[Lawyer] Yu [Wensheng] was detained in Beijing in January 2018 in front of his young son after he wrote an open letter calling for constitutional reforms, including multi-candidate elections.
He was later charged with “inciting subversion of state power”.

Hong Kong Free Press article

Human rights lawyers are especially targeted by the CCP, as was the case here, and charged with nonsense crimes like “inciting subversion of state power” or “subverting public order” – the usual kind of things that fascist dictatorships make up to give legal cover to their oppression and abuse. However, lawyers in other kinds of cases, like contract disputes between Chinese companies and western companies, have also been targeted, if they happen to argue too effectively or vociferously for their foreign client’s rights and interests. Western companies doing business in China should not expect to be treated fairly or in accordance with the law if they happen to get into a dispute with a Chinese company.

This is all part and parcel of the CCP’s oppression of human rights in China. It is why the people of Hong Kong are so vehemently opposed to the (now withdrawn) extradition bill that would allow Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to mainland China for “trial.” The CCP simply cannot be trusted – for many reasons, not least of which is that there is no rule of law in China. China’s abominable treatment of lawyers is one more proof of that.

Will the Hong Kong Police Ever Face Justice?

At this point, can anything more be said about the Hong Kong Police Force’s brutality? They are simply out-of-control thugs. Any resemblance to an actual police force is merely coincidental. They are targeting not just demonstrators, but passers-by, journalists – even elderly people and families – for beatings, pepper-spray, bean-bag rounds and rubber bullets. And the Hong Kong government has issued a broad injunction making it illegal to publish any information about the police that might in some way identify them. They wear masks and remove any identification from their uniforms. Who knows if they are even actual police officers?

These tweets showing what has been happening are just from today.

Journalist committing the crime of journalism, according to HK police. Foreigner committed the crime of being foreign. Obviously they are spies.
These girls committed the crime of walking while drinking something. What were they thinking?
This man committed the crime of getting his face in the way of a tear gas round. After that he committed the crime of being injured, leaving his face bloody, burnt, and smoking.
HK police said she committed the crime of taking pictures they don’t like. She looks dangerous. Arrest her!
Brave HK police punish the crime of walking on the sidewalk by pepper-spraying regular citizens, children, and the elderly. They obviously deserved it.
A kid commits the crime of carrying his books and homework in a backpack. Despicable!
These people committed the crimes of buying and selling medicine in a pharmacy. Only terrorists need medicine!

These kinds of incidents have been happening for weeks, with no end in sight. The Hong Kong police are supposedly trained professionals, regarded as the best police force in Asia. What has happened to them? They’ve turned into a gang of undisciplined thugs, and despite clear evidence of their brutality, the Hong Kong government and police leadership continue to deny there’s any problem. It’s gaslighting.

It’s tiresome to keep on repeating this, but we must: the Hong Kong police must be held accountable for their brutality.

Shaq Dunks on the CCP; VP Pence Backs Pro-Democracy Movement

Without doubt, Shaquille O’Neal is one of the NBA’s greatest and most colorful players of all-time. Of course, he’s retired now, and is working as an analyst/commentator on TNT’s Inside the NBA show with host Ernie Johnson, and fellow former NBA stars Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith.

In a discussion on the show, Shaq has this to say about the controversy over Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s tweet support the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement:

As American people, we do a lot of business in China, and they know and understand our values and we understand their values. And one of our best values in America is free speech. We’re allowed to say what we want to say and we’re allowed to speak up on injustices, and that’s just how it goes.

Shaquille O’Neal

Shaq understands what it is to be an American. Cynics might say that he’s retired and very, very wealthy, so it doesn’t cost him anything to say what he said. True, but the NBA as a whole and many of the players and coaches that have backed down to pressure from China are also very, very wealthy. They could also easily afford to forego some money coming from China in order to stand up for American values and for the people of Hong Kong that are fighting to retain those same values: free speech, free assembly, self-representation and universal suffrage, and a fair and independent judiciary and legal system.

As we noted in an article from two weeks ago, “The Love of Money,” greed leads to short-term thinking and bad decisions that often are destructive, not just to those making the poor choices, but also to people around them, and even to entire countries and the whole world. The NBA and some of its coaches and players have been caught in that. To continue making money from basketball fans in China, they have been trying to appease the oppressive and evil CCP. It’s wrong and shortsighted, and we are very happy to see Shaquille O’Neal come down squarely on the side of human rights and Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

Vice President Pence Speaks on Hong Kong and U.S. Relationship China

In recent weeks, we’ve seen numerous U.S. senators and representatives making appearances in Hong Kong, posting tweets and video supporting the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, and it is under consideration in the Senate (it needs to be passed by the Senate as soon as possible; we urge the Senate leadership to schedule it for a vote immediately).

However, the Trump administration has been relatively restrained in its comments on Hong Kong – until today, when Vice President Pence spoke on the subject.

The text of the Vice President’s speech is here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-vice-president-pence-frederic-v-malek-memorial-lecture/

And to the millions in Hong Kong who have been peacefully demonstrating to protect your rights these past months, we stand with you. We are inspired by you, and we urge you to stay on the path of nonviolent protest. But know that you have the prayers and the admiration of millions of Americans.

Vice President Pence

The Vice President’s clear statement supporting the pro-democracy movement is heartening. He tied Beijing’s handling of Hong Kong to the outcome of trade negotiations, reiterating earlier statements that “it would be much harder for us to make a trade deal if the authorities resort to the use of violence against protestors in Hong Kong.”

The Vice President also talked about the NBA’s shameful handling of the CCP’s reaction to Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of the Hong Kong demonstrators, saying:

And some of the NBA’s biggest players and owners, who routinely exercise their freedom to criticize this country, lose their voices when it comes to the freedom and rights of the people of China.  In siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime.

A progressive corporate culture that willfully ignores the abuse of human rights is not progressive; it is repressive.

When American corporations, professional sports, pro athletes embrace censorship, it’s not just wrong; it’s un-American.  American corporations should stand up for American values here at home and around the world.

Vice President Pence

The Vice President’s and Shaquille O’Neal’s remarks on the NBA’s handling of Daryl Morey’s tweet reflect American values. As Shaq said – Daryl Morey was right.

Foreign Policy’s web site has a good article on the Vice President’s speech. Read it at this link:

Recurring Themes: Brutality and Gaslighting

Frankly, it’s getting a little tiresome to write so many articles about the Hong Kong police force’s brutality against the people of Hong Kong. We could post about some incident of brutality or another literally every day – even multiple times a day. But we really feel like we are left with no choice but to continue. If the world stops paying attention, the situation in Hong Kong very likely would be even worse than it already is. Even though this site doesn’t get many readers, it’s our mission to highlight important news from Chinese communities around the world, and we will continue to do so. What is happening in Hong Kong is one of the most important things happening in the world right now, so we have to write about it.

The brutality and unprofessionalism of the Hong Kong police has been well documented by several respected observers and news organizations: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the New York Times, and many others, as well as in dozens, even hundreds, of videos taken by professional and amateur videographers. With cell phone cameras in the hands of just about everyone on the street these days, incidents of police brutality are almost certain to be recorded by someone. In press conferences, the Hong Kong police have been confronted by these videos showing their brutality many times. Not surprisingly, the police have been retaliating against journalists, targeting them for violence and harassment. Like this:

The police officer threw a tear gas grenade directly at reporters covering the Hong Kong demonstrations, hitting or nearly hitting one female reporter in the head, then the police just boarded their busses and left. What was the purpose of that, if not just to harass journalists?

The oppression of organized religion by the CCP is also well-known. Was the CCP behind today’s incident where the oldest mosque in Hong Kong was targeted by a police water cannon spraying blue dye and irritants? Or was it just more brutality, hostility, and unprofessionalism by the Hong Kong police? Whatever the case, a small group of people was standing in front of the mosque, not doing anything illegal, not violent, when a police water cannon truck stopped in front of the mosque, and twice sprayed the front steps and the small group of people.

In this video from above, you can clearly see the small group of people in front on the mosque, then the water cannon truck stopping and firing the water cannon at the people, deliberately dousing the people there and splashing the steps and grounds of the mosque with blue dye and irritant chemicals – and then, like in the case where the police targeted the journalists with a tear gas grenade, they just drove away. It serves no legitimate purpose; it’s just harassment and terrorism.

Making the situation worse was the gaslighting by the Hong Kong police.

As anyone can see by watching these videos, there was nothing accidental about the water cannon being used on the small, peaceful group of people in front of the mosque. It was deliberate targeting of people doing nothing illegal, nothing violent.

In this case, even the tone-deaf, obtuse, stupid Hong Kong government realized that the police had gone too far, and they were forced to apologize:

Carrie Lam had to make an appearance at the mosque to try to smooth things over.

While the Hong Kong police brutalized Hong Kongers, the pro-democracy demonstrators and other ordinary Hong Kong people gathered to clean up the mess that the police made:

Hours later, continuing their gaslighting of the people of Hong Kong, some police showed up at the mosque to stage a photo op and PR stunt to show how concerned they were by “cleaning up” the blue dye that had already been cleaned up. According to reports, they were there for about five minutes:

This kind of gaslighting by the Hong Kong police, denying obvious reality and daring anyone to say anything about it, is a common tactic when confronted with their brutality and law-breaking. Here a Hong Kong police officer says he works for the U.S. FBI when asked for his identification:

A couple of weeks ago, Vasco Williams, a senior officer of the HK police said in a press conference in front of dozens of journalists that a video of the police kicking a member of the “Protect Our Children” group in a yellow vest just showed them kicking a “yellow object.”

What he said was so ridiculous and stupid that he had to walk it back later, but he continued to insist that the police had done nothing wrong, even in the face of video evidence of the officers kicking a prostrate, unresisting person – that is not even a protester!

Throughout the entire 20 weeks (at this writing) of pro-democracy demonstrations, these things come up over and over again. The Hong Kong police brutalize the people and then deny, obfuscate, and outright lie about it. They are gaslighting the people of Hong Kong and the world. This outrageous behavior cannot stand. They must be held accountable.

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.

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