Newsletter 121 - July 2, 2022
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Beijing celebrates 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return with Xi visit. Hong Kongers react to Chinese president’s speech with views ranging from ‘reassuring’ to ‘delusional.’ And global distrust of China reaches new highs.
Tech companies begin more layoffs and Chinese save even more. U.S. blacklists 25 Chinese entities for supporting Russian invasion of Ukraine. And tech company Hikvision to set up protester monitoring system for China’s capital.
A bonus section where I talk to Swedish business daily Dagens Industri about why China is cracking down on Elon Musk’s business empire.
And a brand new Quote of the Week.
HK power to be in ‘hands of patriots’
Xi Jinping’s visit to Hong Kong to commemorate the 25th anniversary of its return to China was a “declaration of victory, an assertion of power and a warning to critics,” report the New York Times’ Austin Ramzy and Vivian Wang.
“The city’s streets were empty of the protesters who traditionally gathered by the thousands each July 1. And Mr. Xi delivered a stern admonition that the open dissent and pro-democracy activism that had roiled—and, in many ways, defined—the city in recent years are things of the past,” write Ramzy and Wang.
“Political power must be in the hands of patriots,” Xi said, after overseeing the swearing in as chief executive former policeman John Lee, who was in charge of the crackdown on protests in 2019. “There is no country or region in the world that would allow unpatriotic or even treasonous or traitorous forces and people to take power,” Xi said.
“The case of Hong Kong makes clear that challenges and subversions of China’s core national interests inevitably will meet with serious counterattacks, and ultimately will fail,” said Tian Feilong, a law professor at Beihang University in Beijing.
Who bowed deepest?
Here’s a handy picture to gauge which member of Hong Kong’s new administration bowed deepest to the visiting Xi Jinping.
Sino-British joint declaration censored
“Today we tried to share on weibo 微博 the facts about the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong: enduring past 1997; legally binding; registered at the UN. Censored after 30 mins. Even the words of PM Thatcher and President Jiang Zemin too sensitive?” tweets Caroline Wilson, the U.K. ambassador to China.
Xi’s speech: ‘reassuring’ to ‘delusional’
Reactions to Xi’s speech from Hong Kongers ranged from "reassuring" to "delusional,” write AFP’s Holmes Chan and Su Xinqi.
“Xi's insistence that democracy was flourishing despite the years-long political crackdown was met with scorn by those who had been most affected by Beijing's tightening grip on the city,” write Chan and Su.
The Chinese leader’s remark that “true democracy” began after the handover was "a lie," said former opposition lawmaker Ted Hui, who left Hong Kong in 2020 after being arrested repeatedly. “As early as the 1970s and 1980s, Hong Kong people had started our own democracy movement, and begun to develop our civil society.”
“I think it's delusional to say that Hong Kong can continue to maintain its unique advantages under the current system,” Hui said. “Hong Kong's uniqueness used to lie in its liberty, its autonomy in policy making.”
By contrast, Hong Kong's Law Society, praised the speech noting Xi’s “clear reassurances and inspirational directions” for Hong Kong and its “integration into the overall development of our country.”
Xi is right that Hong Kong can “not afford to fall into chaos,” said a 44-year-old jewelry shop owner surnamed Wan. “The past few years were very tough, no matter one's politics and occupation.”
Jittery Dragon: from the vaults
I wrote about how a hit song “My 1997” encapsulated the hopes that many Chinese felt towards Hong Kong’s imminent return 25 years ago, in this piece from the vaults of BusinessWeek.
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