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Posts published in “South China Morning Post”

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.]

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.

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.

Unmasking Hong Kong – updated

UPDATE: The anti-mask regulations have been enacted. Carrie Lam has learned nothing, and she simply is unable to understand the effects that her actions will have. She clearly does not understand the thinking or motivations of other people.

We hope the law can create a deterrent effect.

Carrie Lam, cited in SCMP reporting on Lam’s press conference
https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3031515/hong-kong-leader-carrie-lam-announce-introduction-anti-mask

We think the law will not have just the opposite effect and predict that there will be more protests with people continuing to wear masks. Hong Kong is becoming more and more a police state. People with money in Hong Kong markets and businesses would be well-advised to move their investments elsewhere.


There are reports today from various sources saying that the Hong Kong legislature will pass regulations banning people from wearing masks at protests.

Of course, the Hong Kong police are behind this repressive and ill-advised scheme. They’ve completely lost their minds.

It is common in Asia for people to wear masks when they have colds or for other reasons. The new regulations will allow the police to make people remove their masks whenever an officer asks them to and completely bans wearing masks at large gatherings. Will the police stop thousands and thousands of ordinary Hong Kong people to make them remove their masks? Will they arrest thousands and thousands of people even at completely peaceful demonstrations?

Of course, the Hong Kong people will have their say about the matter.

Note the strobe lights on the police helmets, used to try to prevent video of what the police are doing.

This is a great idea!

As we’ve said here before, the Hong Kong government has no idea how to handle the protests. They want to hold “dialogs,” but they won’t listen to or consider the pro-democracy demonstrators’ demands, so the dialogs are useless. The police only know how to ratchet up the violence to higher and higher levels, even to the point of actually shooting demonstrators, trying to intimidate them into silence. It isn’t working, and just makes the demonstrators more and more angry.

The Hong Kong government, and by extension the CCP, has to realize the until they are actually willing to negotiate in good faith (not their usual “say one thing and do another” negotiating tactics, i.e. lying to get what they want), the protests won’t end. The police force has to be brought under control, police brutality must be independently and fairly investigated, and officers perpetrating acts of brutality must be arrested and prosecuted. The police must follow the law, wear identification and show warrant cards as required by law, and they must behave professionally and use the minimum force required to discharge their duties. If those things are not done, the protests will go on, unless thousands or tens of thousands of Hong Kongers are murdered in the streets. Carrie Lam, is that what you want?

Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act Passes House and Senate Committees

In a bit of good news about Hong Kong (for a change), today the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act passed unanimously out of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees.

Bipartisanship is so rare in the U.S. House and Senate in recent years; seeing unanimous support from both Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate is really gratifying.

But of course, the CCP can’t accept that anyone would hold them accountable for their oppression and fascism:

This weekend there will be rallies all over the world against totalitarianism in support of Hong Kong. September 29th is Global Anti-Totalitarianism Day. The CCP’s opposition to allowing the people of Hong Kong to exercise their natural rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, self-determination, and so on, proves the need for the U.S. to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and for the world to stand together in solidarity with Hong Kong. We hope that as many people as possible will join in one of the events at the link above. Free Hong Kong!

End of the Chinese Communist Party is Near?

The South China Morning Post has published an opinion piece by Minxin Pei arguing the we are seeing the “beginning of the end” of one-party rule in China.

Pei argues that, historically speaking, dictatorships typically last at most from 70 to 75 years. This has been true of dictatorships in Mexico, Taiwan (the KMT ruled autocratically from 1927 to 1949 on the mainland and from 1949 to 2000 in Taiwan), and the Soviet Union. The Kim family has ruled in North Korea for 71 years. Are there counter examples? The article doesn’t cite any, but many of the Chinese imperial dynasties lasted much, much longer than 75 years. Is the CCP more like dictatorships in other countries, or more like a Chinese imperial dynasty?

Pei makes other arguments based on politics, economics, military challenges, diplomacy, and domestic policy. Let’s discuss some of those issues.

Economically, China is facing challenges. The trade war with the U.S. is hurting China’s economy, despite the blustering denials coming from the CCP’s pet media outlets. From a military standpoint, even though China has been enlarging and modernizing its military, it is still far behind the U.S. military’s capabilities. Diplomatically, China’s “belt and road” initiatives and dollar diplomacy have made some headway, but China is still very much distrusted, and has few, if any, friends of consequence in the western Pacific. Japan, Korean, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and Taiwan all have contentious, if not actually hostile, relationships with China. Russia has a sometimes-friendly, sometimes-not relationship with China. At this moment, China and Russia seem to be cooperating, but that could change at any time, should the relationship sour.

Domestically, the CCP has sold itself by touting the improving standard of living. Millions of Chinese have been lifted out of poverty, there is no doubt about that. But coming from the abject state that the Chinese people lived in prior to the 1980’s, achieving that only required economic policies that weren’t completely disastrous. Much of the miraculous growth in the Chinese economy was achieved through capital investment coming from Western countries, Japan, and Taiwan. That growth has slowed, and capital from developed countries is moving into countries with cheaper labor (and better legal protections, in some cases). If the Chinese economy drops into recession, on what will the CCP base its claim to rule legitimately? It is stoking nationalism as one means, but sustained nationalism requires sustained national achievement and true pride in one’s country. With the CCP so disrespected in the world, it is hard to imagine that the Chinese people can truly believe in its legitimacy over the long term.

Dictatorships and one-party states face inherent internal contradictions. Every government, as an organization run by imperfect people, is imperfect and makes mistakes. Public and world opinion changes, natural disasters occur, new ideas arise, countries go to war, and so on. Things happen.

True democratic societies have a built-in mechanism – periodic elections – to make policy changes in response to changes in society and the world. Sometimes they are slow to respond, but they can respond in a deliberate way that reflects the will of the majority of the people (hopefully, as in the U.S., while respecting the rights of people that disagree). In essence, elections are “mini-revolutions” that allow for political challenges to be addressed through peaceful change.

Dictatorships and one-party states do not have this mechanism, so internal stresses build up that eventually lead to their downfall. They are “brittle.” They often respond to challenges either wildly or not at all. They become corrupt, as their legal systems are not fair and are bound to the policy of the one-party state; thus, they lack legitimacy. State-run economic systems cannot respond quickly to changes in markets, and so are inefficient. Historically in China, the process of a dynasty becoming weak and corrupt, unable to respond effectively to internal and external challenges, is known as “losing the mandate of heaven,” and it has always led to the downfall of the imperial dynasty, and eventual replacement by another. Is the CCP losing the “mandate of heaven?”

The modern, high-tech police state implemented in China, with ubiquitous surveillance, “social credit” scores for every person, and so on, maybe will allow the CCP to maintain its power through more efficient oppression of the Chinese people, but how long can that last? At what point do the Chinese people, with the greater access to information now than in the past, look at the rights that citizens of other countries enjoy, and say, “what about us?” Dictatorships and one-party states, like the Soviet Union, often have collapsed (as the famous quote says) “slowly, then all at once.” Will the CCP collapse in the same way?

Periods between dynasties in China have often been times of horrifying bloodshed and civil war. No one wants that in China. Could the CCP transition peacefully, allowing free elections and truly independent opposition political parties, as happened in Taiwan? That would be the best-case scenario, but it doesn’t seem likely, especially as long as Xi Jinping rules the CCP and mainland China autocratically. Could the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong spark a pro-democracy movement in the mainland? The CCP clearly is very, very afraid of that happening, but right now, that doesn’t seem likely either. In this writer’s view, the CCP is firmly in power in mainland China and will remain so, despite the challenges it faces. It may be the beginning of the end for the CCP, but sadly, the end is still far in the future.

China’s Hostage Diplomacy

In the long history of imperial China, emperors of China (and other powerful officials) would on occasion keep hostages taken from other countries or rival organizations to ensure peace or allegiance between states or groups or as leverage in negotiations. Sometimes even, an emperor would take hostages from the family of powerful officials or generals to make sure that they stayed loyal to the emperor. Books have even been written about this practice.

In modern China, the practice of taking hostages continues, but in a somewhat different form. China frequently arrests and detains foreign nationals, accusing them of crimes and holding them for “investigation,” at times for months, without contact with lawyers, family, friends, or officials from their home country. This practice of holding people incommunicado is part of the reason that the Hong Kong people want nothing to do with China’s “justice” system. Sometimes, prisoners disappear permanently – killed or dying while in detention in China.

Today, the Wall Street Journal reported that China seized a U.S. citizen, a pilot for FedEx named Todd Hohn, accusing him of “transporting ammunition” on a flight where security had already cleared him. The “ammunition” in question was plastic pellets for a low-powered replica gun. They are common in Hong Kong, where he lives.

Not long ago, President Trump ordered FedEx and other package delivery companies to increase their inspections of packages entering the U.S. from China as part of a crackdown on fentanyl smuggling into the U.S. Recently, enough fentanyl to kill 14 million people was seized in Virginia. It was shipped from a vendor in Shanghai. China has denied has denied that it is the source for fentanyl entering the U.S. Of course, that is just more CCP propaganda.

Along with the fentanyl smuggling problem, trade negotiations between the U.S. and China are starting soon, and the U.S. Congress is pushing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act through the legislative process, on its way to becoming U.S. law.

So given this background, from China’s point of view, detaining a FedEx pilot – better yet, an American citizen living in Hong Kong – on this phony charge makes perfect sense. China gets some leverage over FedEx in enforcement of shipping regulations, and over the U.S in the trade negotiations, and China can also use it to pressure the U.S. Congress against passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and to express its anger at U.S. support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement. Given China’s long history of using hostages as pawns in diplomacy and negotiations, it isn’t really surprising that they would do this, but it is still despicable.

China at this moment is holding citizens of Australia, Canada, and the United States, and possibly other countries, on politically-based charges. It is unfortunately typical of China to engage in “hostage diplomacy,” and that fact is yet more evidence that the CCP is uncivilized, and not worthy to be a member of the community of nations. We will say it yet again: the Chinese people deserve a much better government than the one they unfortunately have.

Powerful Testimony By Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Activists Before U.S. Congress

Today, Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Denise Ho, Sunny Cheung, and Joshua Wong testified before the U.S. Congress on the Hong Kong protests. The South China Morning Post has an excerpt of their power testimony on YouTube:

The entire hearing (nearly 3 hours long) is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQJZTi-XRls

We understand that the Trump administration wants a trade deal with China. President Trump is a businessman, and it is likely that he identifies with U.S. business leaders that want a deal. The U.S./China trade war is affecting the world’s economy, though it hasn’t so far impacted the U.S. economy much. On the other hand, it seems to have affected China’s economy, which was already facing a slowdown for other reasons, including the swine fever epidemic, which has increased pork prices in China. Beijing does not want the trade war to continue, so no doubt is willing to negotiate an end to the tariffs.

But some things are more important than profits – and the plight of the Hong Kong people is one of them. Beijing has broken the treaty that was negotiated with the U.K. establishing Hong Kong’s Basic Law guaranteeing the rights of the Hong Kong people. The Hong Kong police are increasing violent and are cooperating with triad gang enforcers to oppress the pro-democracy movement. The Hong Kong government led by Carrie Lam is incompetent and ignores and denies the movement’s demands and concerns.

The pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong in China can only succeed if it has the backing of powerful allies (just as France backed the Americans in our revolutionary war). The very least that the U.S. can do is pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. President Trump should not let the Chinese hold the Act hostage to passage of a trade deal.

Beijing Ramping Up Violence in Hong Kong

Several media sources are reporting on clashes between pro-democracy demonstrators and pro-CCP agitators in Hong Kong.

SCMP Post on Twitter
Tom Grundy of Hong Kong Free Press

Pro-CCP agitators attacked random passers-by – it appears just about any young person – and when Hong Kong police arrived, none of the blue-shirted agitators was arrested. The Hong Kong police appear to be cooperating with pro-Beijing thugs (triad gang members?). Note also that some of the police are in plain clothes and are not carrying identification. When asked by reporters to show identification, as they must according to Hong Kong law, they threatened the reporters. Are they actually Hong Kong police, or are they mainland China People’s Armed Police that have infiltrated the Hong Kong police?

Kids as young as 11 years old were arrested by the Hong Kong police.

All of this happened in the past day, and it is intentional.

These are not, for the most part, random Hong Kong people that are “pro-Beijing.” They are paid agitators, triad gang members, perhaps even People’s Armed Police agents, and the Hong Kong police are cooperating with them. Despite all of their rhetoric about returning Hong Kong to normal, stopping the violence, and so on, Beijing is ramping up the violence on purpose. They want to violently crack down on the pro-democracy movement, but they also don’t want to be seen as overtly doing so, so they resort to covert tactics like these to give themselves plausible deniability. Arresting and beating children and teenagers, even when they aren’t taking part in any protest, is intended to scare these kids and their parents from participating in demonstrations or supporting the pro-democracy movement. Using triad gang members and plainclothes People’s Armed Police agents as provocateurs and shock troops allows Beijing and the HK government to deny responsibility for the violence. But it is Beijing and the Hong Kong government and police that are responsible. At this point, we are speculating that the Hong Kong government may have entirely lost control of the Hong Kong police. The police no longer care about the law; they are openly beating people in the streets, violating Hong Kong law, arresting people for no reason whatsoever, and even arresting young children. Has someone from Beijing taken direct control of the Hong Kong police?

Carrie Lam Echoes Beijing Line on U.S. “Meddling;” Hong Kong Executive Council Member Throws Wild Accusations at Protest Movement

In a clear sign that Carrie Lam, chief executive of Hong Kong, is controlled by the CCP from Beijing, and echoing the typical CCP rhetoric, she said today that it was unnecessary for the U.S. to intervene in the affairs of Hong Kong by passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

The South China Morning Post quotes Lam as saying:

Any form of interference from foreign congresses is extremely inappropriate,” Lam said. “I hope no more local figures, particular those in certain positions, will ask proactively for the American congress to pass the act.

SCMP article

Ironically, Lam’s remarks show exactly why passing the bill is appropriate and so urgently needed. She is echoing the typical CCP line on non-interference in China’s “internal affairs,” which just lends weight to the Hong Kong peoples’ belief that she is a puppet of Beijing.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the most egregious thing said by Hong Kong government officials today. Executive Council member Fanny Law, appearing on a radio talk show, said this:

Reacting to a listener’s email which alleged that some girls are being tasked to provide “comfort” to frontline protesters, Law said: “I think we have confirmed that this is a true case. I am so sad for these young girls who have been misled into offering free sex.”

RTHK article
https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1479601-20190909.htm

Pro-democracy protesters responded at a press conference:

Speaking at the self-styled Citizens’ Press Conference on Monday evening, the protesters said Mrs Law didn’t back her claims with evidence, and called on her to report the matter to police if she has proof.

“This is another example of the state campaign against protesters and this shows the quality of the government,” said a protester who calls himself Ezra Chan.

“Without legitimately responding to our demands, they have chosen to launch a smear campaign against everyone and this is why we’re against fake news,” he said.

RTHK article
https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1479695-20190909.htm

The Hong Kong government is seriously out of touch and out of control. Flinging wild accusations without rock-solid evidence to back them just discredits the government even more.

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