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ARM Fired ARM China’s CEO But He Won’t Go: A Breakdown

GDP grew 18.3% in Q1 and 12.7% in H1 YoY. Urban unemployment is 5%, and 6.98 million new urban jobs, 63.5 percent of the annual target, were created in the first half. Per capita disposable income increased 12.6% YoY. Read full article $→

Exports up 32.2% in June, from 27.9% in May, YoY. Imports increased by 36.7% y/y last month, down from 51.1% y/y growth in May. The trade surplus was $51.5 billion in June, and to $45.5 billion in May. Read full article $→

Beijing’s investigation of Didi jolted global markets and tech startups canceled overseas IPOs. Keep, backed by SoftBank, Alibaba-backed medical data solutions provider, and Ximalaya, the podcast app, all canceled IPOs, admitting that regulators had discouraged them from listing overseas. The Financial Times says the “debacle signals [the] end of [a] steady stream of New York listings for Chinese companies.” Read full article $→

Couriers delivered 49 billion pieces in H1, up 46% YoY, and added an average of 2 billion pieces of express delivery per month, with business volume approaching 10 billion in a single month, constantly hitting new record highs. Read full article $→ 

Online retailer JD plans to raise pay for managers and tech employees 14% by July 2023. The company currently offers these workers two months’ extra salary every year. The new plan will double the extra pay, for a total of 16 months. Essential workers at distribution centers and delivery fleets may also receive a raise, depending on their position and location. Read full article $→ 

China’s Tech Crackdown Hits Wall Street’s Wallet. U.S. listings of Chinese companies have accounted for nearly 8 percent of Goldman Sachs’s underwriting fees so far this year, and over 12% of underwriting revenue over the previous five years. Didi Chuxing is just the tip of the iceberg. Read full article  →

A Global Times op-ed explains that Chinese tech companies are moving from an era of “barbaric growth” to an “era of compliance,” in which internet companies learn to observe domestic laws and regulations. China has long held restrictions on foreign investment but a loophole, called a VIE, allowed companies to bypass those rules. Chinese internet companies “should now step out of the gray area and move toward normalized corporate governance. Read full article  →

China seems intent on decoupling its companies from Western markets. The Economist. Nearly $2 trillion in shareholder wealth is on the line. Read full article  $→

How Chinese clampdown targets offshore listings: China’s securities regulator is setting up a team to review plans by Chinese companies for initial public offerings (IPOs) abroad, including those using a corporate structure that Beijing says has led to abuse. Read full article  →

In a separate act of decoupling, the U.S. Commerce Department today added 14 Chinese entities to its growing economic blacklist over their participation in “China’s campaign of repression, mass detention, and high technology surveillance” in Xinjiang. The companies include AI and other tech firms based in Xinjiang, Beijing, and Chengdu. Read full article $→

TikTok will stop requiring employees to work an extra day every two weeks, following a similar move by its local rival Kuaishou. Under the arrangement, workers were paid double their regular daily rate when working on weekends and triple during legal holidays, a bonus that some young professionals preferred to better work-life balance.  Read full article $→

Two of China’s three best-selling electric vehicles in June were Shanghai-built Tesla models, shining a light on the U.S. automaker’s popularity in the world’s largest auto market despite recent setbacks there like a regulatory probe into the safety of its autopilot system.”  Read full article $→

China is embarking on a building spree for battery swapping centers, as the nation’s network of swapping centers numbered 716 at the end of June, nearly three times the amount at the end of last year.  Read full article $→

Shanghai Microelectronics sells its 600/20 flagship lithography machine for 90 nm chips. By Q4, it will offer machines for 28 nm, replacements for ASML’s 1980Di machine and next year will offer 14 nm. machines. "China has world-class EDA(Electronic design automation) startups–companies with worldwide customers." Read full article $→

Trade & Travel

Alibaba Challenges Amazon With a Promise: Fast Global Shipping
With FDI of $133bn, China was the world's largest investor in 2020 and has 3,400 multinationals, equal to America and western Europe combined. 360 listed Chinese groups reported foreign revenues of $700bn in 2020, compared with 250 large firms earning $400bn in 2012. In 2020 Chinese venture capitalists ploughed $3.2bn into US startups in 249 deals. Read full article → 

China produces 80% of the silicon used in solar panels worldwide, half of it in Xinjiang, the target of US sanctions. Low-priced Chinese panels (80% of global production) have helped industry grow, but a 20% price increase in the last and the White House's arbitrary sanctions on four companies producing silicon there will squeeze the industry. Read full article →  

The U.S. Senate's Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would create a "rebuttable presumption" assuming goods manufactured in Xinjiang are made with forced labor and banned under the 1930 Tariff Act, unless otherwise certified. Passed by unanimous consent, the bipartisan measure would shift the burden of proof to importers. Read full article → 

January - May, Chinese trade with Germany, $92.8 billion, grew 36% YoY and France $32.9 billion rose 44%. China has proposed cooperating with Germany and France for Africa's development and aims to reopen investment deal with EU. Read full article →  

Six new projects broke ground at Gwadar Port, a flagship of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): a fertilizer factory, an animal vaccine factory, a lubricant factory and an exhibition center.  A 300MW imported coal power plant has been in construction since 2019 and the Power Purchase Agreement was signed earlier this year.  Read full article  →

Technology & IP

It's now possible to clone entire cities. Chinese company 51World has created digital twins of Shanghai and Singapore. Architects and designers believe this will revolutionise the design and operation of buildings, transport systems, streetscapes and more.
90% of the world's 5G users are Chinese, as are 989 million internet users. It also, has the world’s largest optical fiber network, 4G, and 5G independent networks and 916,000 5G base stations, accounting for 70% of the world’s total.  Read full article $ →

Level 4 autonomous driving—one level below fully autonomous–will enter the car market by 2023. is trialing 200 robotaxis in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, and Irvine and Fremont in California. Read full article $ →

China began construction of the world's first onshore small nuclear reactor, to meet the annual power needs of 500,000 households.  “Overall SMR research and development in China is very active, with vigorous competition among companies encouraging innovation". Read full article $


China's Fosun Pharmaceuticals sealed a deal to sell 10 million doses of BioNTech’s vaccine to Taiwan. The accord followed months of on-again-off-again talks that finally reached a breakthrough after the island experienced a Covid-19 outbreak. Read full article  →

A court in Harbin announced that the man who killed a COVID-19 control volunteer in February, which caused much sensation and anger among the public in China, was sentenced to death for intentional homicide. Read full article $ →

Vaccination slowdown worries Beijing. Some counties are trying 'incentives'. Some localities forbid unvaccinated people from entering key public venues, such as government buildings, state-owned companies, schools, and hospitals. Government employees, public servants, workers at state-owned companies may not be allowed to vacation out of town unless they are fully inoculated.  Read full article $ →

The WHO wants to investigate the case of a 25-year-old Milan resident who, in November 2019, visited a hospital with a sore throat and skin lesions: symptoms of a disease that wouldn’t be discovered in Wuhan in China for another month. She left behind a skin sample, smaller than a dime, that in two tests conducted more than six months later yielded traces of the Covid-19 virus.  Read full article $ →

Italian researchers reported a higher than usual number of cases of severe pneumonia and flu in Lombardy in the last quarter of 2019 in a sign that the new coronavirus might have circulated earlier than thought.  Read full article  →


Wild Giant pandas no longer endangered, but they are still vulnerable with a population outside captivity of 1,800. Authorities have expanded their habitats and replanted bamboo forests to feed them. The number of Siberian tigers, amur leopards, Asian elephants and crested ibis have also “visibly increased” as a result of conservation efforts. Read full article  →

The new “multi-school dicing policy” addresses urban educational inequality, part of the latest reform in the domestic education sector, following measures including tightened regulation of off-campus tutoring, having public schools provide day care service during holidays, and a clampdown on the online education industry. Read full article  →

A woman and a man ran 49 red lights and incurred a speeding violation in the woman's ex-boyfriend’s Audi. The police detained the duo in Shaoxing on suspicion of provoking trouble – ruining her revenge plot. Mr. Chen rented the car from the ex-boyfriend, Mr. Qian.  Chen admitted that he rented the car for an acquaintance named Zhu who actually drove the car. Zhu had been pursuing Qian’s ex-girlfriend, surnamed Lou, who agreed to go out with him only if he helped her get revenge.  Read full article  →

Martial arts legend Jackie Chan has expressed his admiration for and desire to join the Chinese Communist Party, but some say he is not welcome because he has cheated on his wife and that his son has used drugs, both of which would disqualify him from membership. Chan said, “I envy Communist Party members, I think the Communist Party is just great, what the Communist Party says, what they promised, will always be delivered within a few decades”. Read full article  →



Last December, Xi Jinping promised that non-fossil fuels would account for 25% of China’s energy mix by 2030 – up from 20% announced in 2015. The 14th Five-Year Plan (FYP) calls for China to reduce energy intensity by 13.5% by 2025. In April, Xi promised that China’s coal consumption will peak during the 15th Five-Year Plan period (2026-2030). Consider this:

  • When active trading launches later this month, China’s CO2 Exchange Trading Scheme will be the world’s largest carbon market, covering 6% of global emissions.
  • It will nearly double the proportion of global emissions covered under such schemes (see Fig. 1).
  • Ultimately China’s ETS could cover as much as 11% of total global emissions.
  • The PBOC has pursued a range of measures to make green assets more attractive to banks, including:
  • Preferential interest rates for green projects
  • Refinancing funds designated for green financial products
  • Permission to use green bonds as collateral for PBoC lending facilities
  • It has also sought to increase the role of green finance in financial performance assessments, by:
  1. Incorporating green finance into the macroprudential assessment framework for banks
  2. Increasing green assets’ weighting in risk assessments
  3. Strengthening environmental impact reporting and mandatory disclosures by both financial institutions and borrowers
  4. As a result, green finance has seen strong growth in China over the past five years.
  5. In 2020, green bond issuance skyrocketed to USD 120 billion – up from just USD 35 billion in 2016.
  6. In 2020, green lending in 21 major financial institutions – which account for over 80% of Chinese banking assets – was RMB 11 trillion, up from RMB 7.5 trillion in 2016.
  7. Xi’s use of the international stage to announce China’s commitments ensured that domestic actors have no option but to make them happen.These goals are a floor, not a ceiling. Read full article $→
Brazilian legal expert Evandro Carvalho says, "China is building a democracy with Chinese characteristics that will perhaps involve more public participation and be more connected to the reality and interests of the people than many Western democracies". Read full article $→

Companies with 1 million or more users with registered personal information will be required to undergo regulatory screening before listing overseas. Separately,China’s cybersecurity regulator ordered the removal of 25 mobile applications operated by ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing offering services from carpool to finance, signaling an intensified clampdown on the company over data security concerns. Read full article $→


How China was scapegoated on COVID-19
According to western media, there are over 1 million Uyghurs locked up in concentration camps, or 10% of the entire Uyghur population. If we extrapolate the Uyghur population to the population of the US, that would mean the entire population of the top 18 cities in the US–from New York to Seattle–is locked up and bent from society. Read full article  →

Freedom in the United States is more rebellious, focuses on individual desires, and is based on human weaknesses, while China's freedom is more philosophical, focuses on social connections and is based on human decency, a Chinese reporter said recently. "Both Chinese and Americans value freedom, but both have their own definition of what it means," noted Xu Ruyi. "We cannot, in the guise of 'universal values,' judge something against our own standards, regardless of others' intrinsic features," she stressed. Read full article  →

FT’s China Editor, James Kynge, interpreted Xi Jinping's use of “头破血流”, as “blood gushing out and their heads split open”. The official translation is “anyone who attempts to bully China will find themselves on a collision course with a great wall of steel”. How would we translate into Chinese a public figure being ‘thrown under the bus’? Context is essential.  Read full article  →

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. –Upton Sinclair on mainstream journalists. Says critic Peter Man: "Mainstream media is a subset of capitalism. The Lords of Lies who own the lying machines are well rewarded for lying and smearing. They are protected by their sacrosanct freedoms, in short the freedom to lie, the freedom to slander, the freedom to insult, the freedom to incite, and the freedom to omit. While these lies may cause death and suffering to millions, the Lords of Lies are never held accountable. The situation is even worse for editors and journalists, most of whom are wage earners with a family and a mortgage. What freedom of the press do you have when the truth gets you fired and blacklisted, and you can't put food on the table, if not exiled for life or locked up in an oubliette. I believe I said somewhere earlier that there is no freedom without food (comment on Frederick Douglas and emancipated slaves not actually free). I used to work for the mainstream media. One of my first jobs in Canada was delivering live news and doubling as a director for field productions. I ended up building the first national Chinese language television in Canada. I really believed everything I was saying. Until one day, I had a Rosemary's Baby moment, and realized that every one of those trusted defenders of truth lied. I wouldn't have believed it if someone just told me, after all, I thought I was telling the truth. I had to find out for myself. That was the time I woke from the cesspool and realized I didn't have to be a maggot. 

"Upton Sinclair basically says that journalists are minions. Don't trust everything they say. It is however not easy to discern the truth in the ocean of bullsh*t. I learned to be critical by studying the methods of I. F. Stone. I also became a critical student of the Bible (a heavy KJV tome that I have read and kept by my side all through my life, traveling across the Pacific several times, and still within my reach at this very moment). Critical thinking really helps to clear one's head of ingrained myths. It is true that one can glean the truth from lies, much as what I.F. Stone did. It is however a difficult and rare skill. There is of course a large community trying to report what is at a variance with the mainstream. As I have developed a healthy sense of skepticism on the mainstream, I will exercise equal if not more skepticism on independent pundits who declare to be privy to the secret knowledge of the ages. I'll be happy to be convinced, but don't expect me to banish common sense and believe anyone blindly.

"In short, I actually agree with you that people should read history, but people should not blindly believe in history. It will take a lot of hard work and careful study to learn just a little bit of the truth. I also agree that there are many independent journalists and pundits not in the mainstream trying to tell the truth. We should however hold ourselves and our community to a higher standard and be critical about ourselves while we try to understand the truth and spread the truth. It is not an easy task and it is usually thankless. But only by changing our way of thinking can we truly wake from the nightmare, and only then can we help ourselves and others". Read Peter's articles  →


EU foreign ministers approved plans to develop a rival global investment strategy as an alternative to the BRI. The EU’s economic, foreign and development policy, security interests and 'values' will be advanced–a euphemism for Athenian democracy and related pre-conditions. Read full article $→ 

Xi Jinping and North Korea's Kim Jong-un have pledged to strengthen their friendly relations as they exchanged messages on the 60th anniversary of a bilateral landmark defense treaty. Under the 1961 agreement, China and North Korea must automatically defend each other when one of them is attacked. Xi said he is ready to work with Kim to “take bilateral friendly cooperation to a new level and deliver more benefits to the two countries and two peoples.” Read full article $→ 

Meng Wanzhou's extradition case suffered a major blow. A Canadian judge ruled that HSBC documents showing that US authorities had made selective, misleading and “outright false” claims about the Huawei CFO could play no part in the case. [Ed: Under Hong Kong's controversial extradition law one had to commit a crime. Under Canadian law one can be extradited if they "may" have committed a crime].  Read full article $→ 

Montenegro reached deal with Western banks to restructure Chinese debt: US and French banks help Balkan state refinance nearly US$1 billion in loans from Exim Bank of China, dropping interest rate to less than 1 per cent to counter Beijing’s influence in the region. Read full article $→ 

Huawei  demanded that Verizon, the American cell phone carrier, pay it $1 billion for the use of dozens of Huawei patents. Verizon now says they have reached a happy settlement with Huawei, without disclosing terms. Read full article $→ 


After a second US air force plane landed on the island of Taiwan in less than two months, the PLA warned that it can expel, fire warning shots or even shoot down foreign military aircraft that trespass upon China's airspace.  Read full article $ →



A new generation of Chinese firms is not just adapting to globalization but thriving. Many have spent years expanding global operations and now make as much money outside China as they do within. Some are pursuing smaller investments under the radar. And, inverting a decades-old trend of copying Western intellectual property (ip), a few have become tech powerhouses in their own right, selling advanced products to the world.

The scale of China Inc is formidable. China was the largest investor in the world in 2020. Foreign direct investment (fdi) from Chinese firms hit $133bn, down only slightly from 2019 despite the headwinds (see chart 1). The country has some 3,400 multinationals, almost as many as America and western Europe combined, reckons Bain, a consultancy. Around 360 big listed Chinese groups report foreign revenues. These amounted to around $700bn in 2020, compared with 250 large firms earning a total of $400bn in 2012, according to data from Bloomberg (see chart 2). In 2020 Chinese venture capitalists ploughed an estimated $3.2bn into American startups in 249 deals, the second-biggest year on record by value, calculates Rhodium Group, a research firm. Analysts at cb Insights say that Chinese investors’ participation in American venture deals last quarter was the highest since at least 2016.

The Chinese presence is broad and deep 

Last year more than 100 of the listed firms earned at least 30% of revenues outside China; 27 earned 70% or more. All told, China’s top ten foreign earners booked $350bn or so in overseas sales. This total has grown by 10% a year on average since 2005, Bain says, twice as fast as the equivalent figure in America, Europe or Japan. Tencent’s foreign sales have risen at an annual rate of 40% for nearly a decade, and now make up 7% of its huge top line.

The first plank of China Inc’s new global strategy is astute localisation. In the past most Chinese fdi consisted of asset purchases. Last year, by contrast, a lot was reinvested earnings from operations abroad. Hisense, a maker of consumer electronics, wants to treble its overseas sales, from $7.9bn in 2020 to $23.5bn in 2025, half its projected total, says Candy Pang, its head of marketing. That would leave a lot of money to spend on foreign factories, research and development, and marketing (it is sponsoring the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar, among other sports events).

Chinese firms have also retained their subsidiaries’ foreign leadership. Despite recently merging with another state-backed giant, ChemChina has allowed its foreign assets to operate as global companies. Pirelli, which it bought in 2015 for €7.1bn ($7.6bn), still makes tyres in Italy. Syngenta, for which it paid $43bn a year later, maintains a Swiss headquarters, a mostly foreign executive team, and a nine-person board with only two Chinese state officials. Similarly, Geely has allowed foreigners to run Volvo, and Haier, an appliance-maker, kept most of ge Appliances’ top brass after acquiring the American firm. “You can belong to China without having a Chinese-dominated board,” says an executive at one Chinese multinational.

The second pillar of China Inc’s new globalisation strategy is to shun mega-deals in favour of smaller ones. The speculative wave of outbound investments between 2015 and 2017 swallowed up $425bn in assets and raised plenty of eyebrows among foreign and Chinese regulators alike. By contrast, of the 235 outbound transactions so far this year only three were valued at more than $1bn.

The master of mini-dealmaking is Tencent.

It has made at least 85 cross-border investments since the start of 2019, according to Refinitiv, a data provider. Many of these are small stakes taken as part of a larger consortium of investors that includes prominent non-Chinese private-equity groups. This year, for example, Tencent bought a 4% stake in Rakuten, a Japanese internet group, for about $600m—small change for a giant worth nearly $700bn. It has also continued to invest in America, with at least 12 deals over the past two-and-a-half years, including the purchase of a $150m stake in Reddit, an American online platform which hosts popular discussion forums.

Chinese companies are making their global presence felt in one last way. Rather than swooping into foreign countries to buy up technology, or copying Western ip, they are going out to sell their own, says Bagrin Angelov of cicc, a Beijing-based investment bank. Because Chinese subsidies to makers of electric cars and batteries require them to own some of the core ip, companies such as byd, catl, Gangfeng and sVolt raced to develop it. Having done so, they are now targeting export markets. byd and sVolt are setting up factories in Europe. So is catl, which in December also announced plans to build a $5bn one in Indonesia.

BeiDou, China’s state-owned answer to America’s gps satellite-navigation system, was used by more than 100 countries in 2020, according to ey, a consultancy. Chinese telecommunications services cover more than 170 countries with a population of 3bn people. Regardless of American sanctions, Huawei remains a popular choice for 5g networks even in parts of Europe. Horizon Robotics, which develops self-driving systems, counts Germany’s Volkswagen and Bosch among its partners.

New Chinese stars are rising all the time.

Few fashionistas probably realise than Shein, a fast-fashion darling beloved of the hip TikTok set, is Chinese. The company boasts the top shopping app in 50 countries—including America, where it was downloaded on more iPhones than Amazon in June. OneConnect, a financial-technology platform owned by Ping An, a big insurer, is selling a number of digital-banking products developed for China to banks and other firms across Asia and beyond. It recently designed an artificial-intelligence fraud-prevention system for a Sri Lankan lender. The Economist


The News Killed Satire 

by Patrick Armstrong
Given what they say every day, how would you tell the difference between solemn official announcements and mischievous satire?

A couple of years ago a colleague suggested the idea that a group of us attempt to counter the rising passion of anti-Russia propaganda by satirising it. My reaction was that that was probably going to be a waste of effort because – this was in Trump’s time with Rachel Maddow and the rest spewing ever more preposterous conspiracy notions 24/7 – they were already well past the point of even being capable of noticing satire.
Nothing has made me change my mind since. Read this, for example, from Australia’s most-read newspaper – it’s about China but the point stands.
cuddly elephants are the latest weapon in President Xi Jinping’s propaganda offensive to present a more “lovable” global image of China.
In other words, to distract the West from noticing the millions of Uyghurs shackled together in chain gangs tearing down mosques while being force-fed pork sandwiches, the communist dictators in Beijing have unleashed stories of cute cuddly animals. How could anybody satirise that? And if someone tried, would anyone notice that it was satire? How would you tell the difference between satire and earnest pronouncements from “scholars” at “think” tanks? Cuddly elephants are believable but cuddly pandas are over the top?

Or how about the BBC solemnly explaining three years ago How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon. What’s next? Putin weaponises cheese? Oops, Masha Gessen’s already done that with her unforgettable paean to
My little Gorgonzola. My little mozzarella. My little Gruyere, chevre and Brie. I held them all in my arms — I didn’t even want to share them with the shopping cart – – and headed for the cash register.

Putin weaponises your breakfast cereal!

Falls rather flat after that, doesn’t it? All you’re left with is killer squids – nope, that’s been done too: Is 14-legged killer squid found TWO MILES beneath Antarctica being weaponised by Putin? (That cunning Putin has even managed to add six killer tentacles to the octopod – another breakthrough in Russian darkside science!) Beluga whales? No, too late!
In 2018 Rachel Maddow, on MSNBC, which modestly describes itself as “the premier destination for in-depth analysis of daily headlines”, spentnearly three in-depth minutes explaining in depth that Russia had a border with North Korea which, somehow, showed that Putin’s stooge Trump was doing something horrible. Watch it yourself, unless you have a root canal appointment you’d rather go to. Again, satirise that! Now it is possible that she was performing an education service for those Americans who thought North Korea was in Australia or Oman. But, on the other hand, given that a court determined that
Maddow’s show is different than a typical news segment where anchors inform viewers about the dailynews. The point of Maddow’s show is for her to provide the news but also to offer her opinions as to that news.
perhaps it already was a sort of satire.

These “news” items above are, of course, themselves deflections. The Uyghur stories are mostly nonsense as this former believer explains. The torn-down mosques are selectively-used satellite pictures as this explains(and here’s the ever-ready Bellingcat selectively using the very same pictures). And the witnesses are always changing their stories as documented here. So it’s not actually Beijing that’s using stories about wandering elephants to distract attention, in fact: it’s just the other way around. Putin’s “weaponised humour” was directed at the ever-changing Skripal story – here is a short list of the preposterosities the officials expect us to swallow – so the BBC’s accusation is another deflection from reality.

Weaponising cheese was anti-Putin nonsense that has already blown up now that Russia is basically self-sufficient in food – just another missed prediction from her ever-expanding list. As to Maddow, well she’s still weaving a Brownian movement of dots into webs of Russian conspiracies.

In the past I’ve done my own attempts at collecting the ever-churning nonsense about Russia and Putin that we’ve been subjected to: here in 2015 (Asperger’s syndrome, gunslinger walk), in 2019 at the height of the Trumputin insanity – remember this one?: Trump wanting to buy Greenland is yet another sign of Putin’s puppetry. How do you satirise that? Or this disgusting cartoon from the source of “All the News that’s Fit to Print“; that’s already been turned up so far past eleven that no satirist could turn the volume higher.

I challenge any satirist to do a skit on how four years of shrieking about Putin’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election came to a sudden slamming stop with the most secure election in history of 2020. Did Putin & his league of spooks suddenly forget how to rig foreign elections after, we were told, many many successful attempts? Was there a change of heart in the Kremlin and they tearfully realised it was wrong to swing foreign elections? Did they decide Biden would be better than Trump in their scheme to bring down the USA? Did Putin’s stooge Trump somehow so fortify the American election system that Putin was unable to put him back in? Has Rachel Maddow ever explained what happened? Or the WaPo? Or CNN?

Four years of ranting about Putin’s control of US elections disappeared in an instant. Widespread knowledge of Why US Elections Are So Vulnerable to Russian Hacking turned, overnight, into a despicable conspiracy theory – Donald Trump’s Big Lie explained. And this at a time, mind you, when Russian hackers were supposedly hacking everything in the USA except its election. Satirise that, if you dare.

Of course the real answer is obvious: this time the “right guy” won and there was no need to invent a Russian collusion story to weaken the “wrong guy”.
I am 100% going to say it, and I 100% believe that if it wasn’t for CNN, I don’t know that Trump would have got voted out. I came to CNN because I wanted to be a part of that.
So, when the need disappeared, so did the story and US elections became airtight again. But how do you satirise that? They knew what they were doing and telling the truth was the least part of it.
Which brings us to the real point and the reason why satire is a waste of time: you’re not supposed to remember the details; they don’t put details into their propaganda stories so you can remember them and compare them with other details. Not at all: the point is to leave an impression behind. In the foregoing case the object was to leave a bad smell around Trump’s victory – it was somehow – the details changed but the smell remained – wrong and illegitimate.

Pee tapes came and went 

Mueller rose and fell, Maddow found a map; always something new when the last thing rolled away. Satire can’t touch that – by the time the satirist has got his skit together about pussies, it’s time for the “all 17 intelligence agencies”; when the Mueller prayer candles burn out, Putin’s bribing Afghans to do what they happily do for free. But always Trump is somehow – can’t quite remember exactly how – suspiciously linked to an evil – forgotten the details there too, but undeniably evil – foreign bad guy. The show rolls along always with a new squirrel to distract you.

One of the delights of the Biden/Harris Administration is the return of old favourites, Here’s John Kirby explaining in 2014 why it’s Russia’s fault that it’s at NATO’s doorstep and, returned in 2021 as Pentagon spokesman, why Russia was “typically” disinforming us about firing warning shots at HMS Defender. I defy anyone to satirise that. Masters of BS – can’t say anything more than that, can you? Psaki and Kirby, together again. And where’s Harf, no mean practitioner herself? Prove them liars, they don’t care.

It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false.

For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose. (Harry G Frankfurt: On Bullshit)

For satire to be effective, there must be some connection to reality; but these people don’t care about reality so there can’t be any satire. Putin weaponises humour, children’s cartoons, vaccines and many more – here’s a list – but, O would-be satirist, anything you can imagine is probably already been solemnly discussed by the usual consortium of ex-security organ apparatchiks posing as objective experts.

And, given what they say every day, how would you tell the difference between solemn official announcements and mischievous satire anyway? Strategic Culture 


New Great Game gets Back to Basics 

by Pepe Escobar

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a Central Asian loop all through the week. He’s visiting Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The last two are full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, founded 20 years ago.

The SCO heavyweights are of course China and Russia. They are joined by four Central Asian “stans” (all but Turkmenistan), India and Pakistan. Crucially, Afghanistan and Iran are observers, alongside Belarus and Mongolia.

And that leads us to what’s happening this Wednesday in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital. The SCO will hold a 3 in 1: meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, and a conference titled “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities.”

At the same table, then, we will have Wang Yi, his very close strategic partner Sergey Lavrov and, most importantly, Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar. They’ll be debating trials and tribulations after the hegemon’s withdrawal and the miserable collapse of the myth of NATO “stabilizing” Afghanistan.

Let’s game a possible scenario: Wang Yi and Lavrov tell Atmar, in no uncertain terms, that there’s got to be a national reconciliation deal with the Taliban, brokered by Russia-China, with no American interference, including the end of the opium-heroin ratline.

Russia-China extract from the Taliban a firm promise that jihadism won’t be allowed to fester. The endgame: loads of productive investment, Afghanistan is incorporated to Belt and Road and – later on – to the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

The SCO’s joint statement on Wednesday will be particularly enlightening, perhaps detailing how the organization plans to coordinate a de facto Afghan peace process farther down the road.

In this scenario, the SCO now has the chance to implement what it has been actively discussing for years: that only an Asian solution to the Afghan drama applies.

Sun Zhuangzhi, executive director of the Chinese Research Center of the SCO, sums it all up: the organization is capable of coming up with a plan mixing political stability, economic and security development and a road map for infrastructure development projects.

The Taliban agree. Spokesman Suhail Shaheen has stressed, “China is a friendly country that we welcome for reconstruction and developing Afghanistan.”

On the Silk Road again

After economic connectivity, another SCO motto encouraged by Beijing since the early 2000s is the necessity to fight the “three evils”: terrorism, separatism and extremism. All SCO members are very much aware of jihadi metastases threatening Central Asia – from ISIS-Khorasan to shady Uighur factions currently fighting in Idlib in Syria, as well as the (fading) Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

The Taliban is a way more complex case. It’s still branded as a terrorist organization by Moscow. Yet on the new, fast-evolving chessboard, both Moscow and Beijing know the importance of engaging the Taliban in high-stakes diplomacy.

Wang Yi has already impressed upon Islamabad – Pakistan is a SCO member – the need to set up a trilateral mechanism, with Beijing and Kabul, to advance a feasible political solution to Afghanistan while managing the security front.

Here, from China’s point of view, it’s all about the multi-layered China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), to which Beijing plans to incorporate Kabul. Here is a detailed CPEC progress update.

Building blocks include the deal struck between China Telecom and Afghan Telecom already in 2017 to build a Kashgar-Faizabad fiber optic cable system and then expand it toward a China-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan Silk Road system.

Directly connected is the deal signed in February among Islamabad, Kabul and Tashkent to build a railway that in fact may establish Afghanistan as a key crossroads between Central and South Asia. Call it the SCO corridor.

All of the above was solidified by a crucial trilateral meeting last month among China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Foreign Ministers. Team Ghani in Kabul renewed its interest in being connected to Belt and Road – which translates in practice into an expanded CPEC. The Taliban said exactly the same thing last week.

Wang Yi knows very well that jihadism is bound to target CPEC. Not Afghanistan’s Taliban, though. And not the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), as quite a few CPEC projects (fiber optics, for instance) will improve infrastructure in Peshawar and environs.

Afghanistan in trade connectivity with CPEC and a key node of the New Silk Roads could not make more sense – even historically, as Afghanistan was always embedded in the ancient Silk Roads. Crossroads Afghanistan is the missing link in the connectivity equation between China and Central Asia. The devil, of course, will be in the details.

The Iranian equation

Then, to the West, there’s the Iranian equation. The recently solidified Iran-China strategic partnership may eventually lead to closer integration, with CPEC expanded to Afghanistan. The Taliban are keenly aware of it. As part of their current diplomatic offensive, they have been to Tehran and made all the right noises towards a political solution. Their joint statement with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif privileges negotiations with Kabul. The Taliban commit to refrain from attacking civilians, schools, mosques, hospitals and NGOs.

Tehran – an observer at the SCO and on the way to becoming a full member – is actively talking to all Afghan actors. No fewer than four delegations were visiting last week. The head of Kabul’s team was former Afghan Vice President Yunus Qanooni (a former warlord, as well), while the Taliban were led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, who commands their political office in Doha. This all implies serious business.

There are already 780,000 registered Afghan refugees in Iran, living in refugee villages along the border and not allowed to settle in major cities. But there are also at least 2.5 million illegals. No wonder Tehran needs to pay attention. Zarif once again is in total synch with Lavrov – and with Wang Yi, for that matter: a non-stop war of attrition between the Kabul government and the Taliban could lead only to “unfavorable” consequences.

The question, for Tehran, revolves around the ideal framework for negotiations. That would point to the SCO. After all, Iran has not participated in the snail-paced Doha mechanism for over two years now.

A debate is raging in Tehran on how to deal practically with the new Afghan equation. As I saw for myself in Mashhad less than three years ago, migration from Afghanistan – this time from skilled workers fleeing the Taliban advance – may actually help the Iranian economy.

The director general of the West Asia desk at Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Rasoul Mousavi, goes straight to the point: “The Taliban yield” to the Afghan people. “They are not separated from Afghanistan’s traditional society, and they have always been part of it. Moreover, they have military power.”

On the ground in western Afghanistan, in Herat – linked by a very busy highway corridor across the border to Mashhad – things are more complicated. The Taliban now control most of Herat province, apart from two districts.

Legendary local warlord Ismail Khan, now in his mid-70s, and carrying an overloaded history of fighting the Taliban, has deployed militias to guard the city, the airport and its outskirts.

Yet the Taliban have already vowed, in diplomatic talks with China, Russia and Iran, that they are not planning to “invade” anyone – be it Iran or the Central Asian “stans.” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has been adamant that cross-border trade in different latitudes, from Islam Quilla (in Iran) to Torghundi (in Turkmenistan) and across northern Tajikistan will “remain open and functional.”

That non-withdrawal withdrawal

In a fast-evolving situation, the Taliban now control at least half of Afghanistan’s 400 districts and are “contesting” dozens of others. They are policing some key highways (you can’t go on the road from Kabul to Kandahar, for instance, and avoid Taliban checkpoints). They do not hold any major city, yet. At least 15 of 34 regional capitals – including strategic Mazar-i-Sharif – are encircled.

Afghan news media, always very lively, have started to ask some tough questions. Such as: ISIS/Daesh did not exist in Iraq before the 2003 US invasion and occupation. So how come ISIS-Khorasan emerged right under NATO’s noses?

Within the SCO, as diplomats told me, there’s ample suspicion that the US deep state agenda is to fuel the flames of imminent civil war in Afghanistan and then extend it to the Central Asian “stans,” complete with shady jihadi commandos mixed with Uighurs also destabilizing Xinjiang.

This being the case, the non-withdrawal withdrawal – what with all those remaining 18,000 Pentagon contractors/mercenaries, plus special forces and CIA black op types – would be a cover, allowing Washington a new narrative spin: the Kabul government has invited us to fight a “terrorist” re-emergence and prevent a spiral towards civil war.

American soldiers retrieve their duffel bags after they returned home from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan on December 10, 2020, at Fort Drum, New York. Supposedly all US troops are to withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. Photo: AFP / John Moore / Getty Images
American soldiers retrieve their duffel bags after they returned home from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan on December 10, 2020, at Fort Drum, New York. Supposedly all US troops are to withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. Photo: AFP / John Moore / Getty Images
The protracted endgame would read like win-win hybrid war for the deep state and its NATO arm.

Well, not so fast. The Taliban have warned all the “stans” in no uncertain terms about hosting US military bases. And even Hamid Karzai is on the record: enough with American interference.

All these scenarios will be discussed in detail this Wednesday in Dushanbe. As well as the bright part: the – now very feasible – future incorporation of Afghanistan to the New Silk Roads. Asia Times

China Views

Dragged Screaming over the cliff.

By Hugh Steadman

Readers should take a few minutes and study the 2021 Lowy Institute poll, above, in detail. At the start of 2017, Australia and China were close partners. Polls would show that both parties anticipated a golden future for their economic partnership. As the current poll reveals, this relationship has now soured dramatically. There is no obvious reason for it having done so other than deliberate manipulation by government agencies.

I would have found this extraordinary were it not for my having picked up on an early indicator of what was going on behind the scenes. Tony Kevin (15 minute read.)

About two years ago, I was approached by Tony Kevin, a former Australian ambassador, and asked to write a review on his recent book, ‘Return to Moscow.” One of my few academic achievements had been to win the prize for ‘Russian studies’ while a cadet at the RMA Sandhurst. Ever since, I have paid close attention to events within that long-suffering country. With its defeat of Nazi Germany, at a cost of thirty million casualties, Russia has given so much to a West that has scarcely acknowledged the sacrifice from which it has so greatly benefited

In coming to terms with the contents of the Lowy surveys, I regard the blog on Tony Kevin, though posted more than a year ago, as crucial to understanding the massive exercise in public opinion manipulation being conducted by the US and British establishments in their attempt to lure the Anglo-Saxon core of their ambition into an unnecessary and potentially ruinous confrontation.  The Lowy surveys make far more sense when read together with the story of Tony Kevin – and most particularly viewing the eight minute video hyperlink (included.)  Integrity It was published after a hack by ‘Anonymous’ forced Colonel Christopher Donnelly to reveal more than he would have wished for into the calculated war-mongering of the British establishment.

(Once the eye is opened to it, it doesn’t take long to spot the likely academic pressure points of Donnelley’s clusters (try Marie-Anne Brady for instance.) It was indeed serendipitous for the likes of Donnelly, that the start of his campaign should have been launched, just as the West’s main stream media was going through an acute financial crisis. So many journalists become vulnerable to the temptations placed by the Western intelligence agencies in front of their threatened careers. It is all too easy to dress self-interest and career anxiety in noble-sounding garments such as’ freedom’ and ‘democracy.’

This is especially true when the news you want hear is presented to you by apparently respectable opinion-leaders. There seems little reason to take time or responsibility to research matters for yourself when all around you speak with the same voice – and public dissent could both win you public ridicule and endanger your career.

Any casual Google search reveals no end of detail on the deliberate manipulation of western opinion to promote hostility towards Russia and China. Though the media are ruthlessly and willingly exploited in this endeavour, behind it all, are the West’s ever expanding secret intelligence agencies. These, ever since WWII, have all been slaved to Washington’s wishes. Many a much-valued career is involved in keeping this irrational hostility at boiling point.

Provided the choir sings in unison, (and it is under strict financial control) any lie, repeated loud and often enough will become accepted truth. The western public is now so gullible; the lies don’t even have to be faintly plausible. Skripals snoozing

I would argue to all the journalists, who have filled their pages with ’the truth.’ that if they could persuade their readers to believe this, they could persuade their readers to believe the moon is made of cheese.  Novichok, without the antidote, kills in less than ten minutes. How come the inventors of the nerve agent, couldn’t summon a lethal dose – not once, but twice? (They failed again when Navalny survived their alleged ministrations.) How come the chief nursing officer of the British Army, happened to be on the scene immediately after the assassins struck. (A very public, park bench, just down the road from Porton Down, the UK military’s testing site for such poisons.) All these incidents, from 9/11 to Douma, speak of supreme confidence in a propaganda story pre-digested by the flock.  By coincidence, both incidents targeting Russia, happened to occur at the peak of Washington’s propaganda campaigns to persuade the Europeans to abandon the finishing of the North Stream 2  pipeline – and, hopefully, to replace Russian gas with US-sourced LPG.

It could be argued that after 9/11, the rogue intelligence agencies could get away with anything.  (An alternative view of the 9/I1 massacre would see an old man on dialysis in a cave in the Himalayas and fifteen assorted, former Saudi shepherd boys, single-handedly, bring down the world’s most sophisticated air defence system. To see it in proportion, the Mossad would deploy a full team of around sixty well-trained operatives to assassinate a single Palestinian fund-raiser in an Arab country on Israel’s doorstep.)

The west is being led up the garden path by the intelligence agencies it has spawned.  Follow Hugh's writing here...

Mosque Mystery

The Case of the Keriya Aitika Mosque

Sun Feiyang

One year ago there was a rash of articles in the media with the same claim—that China was on a massive, targeted campaign to destroy mosques in Xinjiang. The evidence? Google Earth satellite images, supplemented with the active imaginations of some dilettante ‘experts’ on Twitter.

Original claim: Keriya Eitika Mosque demolished

Many of these claims were later walked back to “partial demolition”. In the case of Keriya Aitika Mosque, Shawn Zhang clarified weeks later that this “mosque” was actually a recently built gatehouse that had been removed, and that the 800 year old mosque itself was intact (and much larger than the image he showed). Of course, the mosque-demolition narrative had already taken on a life of its own as major news outlets began to pick up on the story, many of which disregarded Shawn’s own admission that he was mistaken.

After these images were used as positive evidence to denounce the PRC for religious repression, they and the story of the Keriya Aitika Mosque largely faded from public view. The media moved on to new sensational claims about Xinjiang, shifting gears every few weeks in search of something that would stick. Given the lack of follow-up, I thought I would revisit the Keriya Aitika Mosque situation myself to provide an update. Readers are encouraged to follow along on Google Earth — the coordinates for the mosque are 36°51'08.75" N, 81°40'18.08"E.

Below is one of the images of Keriya Aitika from May 2017, before the northern gatehouse was removed. You may notice that there’s not much surrounding the mosque itself — the land on the south and east sides is basically empty.
May 2017 Google Earth image
Fast forward to April 2019, when we started to see these claims being made. The northern gatehouse has been removed and there appears to be just an empty spot where it once stood. This is the image generally used as “proof”.
April 2019 Google Earth image
Understandably the above image looks incriminating — are they in the process of demolishing all of it? Why does it look so barren in front of the mosque? But lost in the focus on the northern gatehouse is everything else going on -the new construction of buildings to the south and east as well as the expansion of roads around the mosque.

When we come back to Keriya Aitika Mosque in March 2020 though, everything has taken shape. The area to the north is a circular plaza with steps leading to the prayer hall. The southern gatehouse overlooks a new plaza and has been connected to a wall that extends around the mosque. The buildings to the east have sets of minarets, which certain media outlets even claimed were banned in Xinjiang. There’s even a parking lot to the west of the mosque for worshipers commuting from further away.
March 2020 Google Earth image
Were the above image put side by side with the May 2017 image, its unlikely that anyone would draw the conclusion that the Keriya Aitika Mosque was being targeted for demolition. Use of satellite imagery is massively misleading — renovation and construction can easily look like destruction. It’s no surprise that this narrative disappeared soon after — it would not support their story for people to go on Google Earth today and see for themselves.

I encourage readers to apply a level of skepticism to claims the Western media makes about Xinjiang. The speed at which narratives are built and then discarded, as well as their type, point to something that remains persistent: not earnest reporting of the facts, but a political purpose. Going back to claims made a year ago leads us to conclusions radically different, even opposite, from the original reporting, as we can see with the case of the Keriya Aitika Mosque.  CGTN.

Hong Kong?

A close run thing in Hong Kong in 2019.

By Henry Litton

What Hong Kong faced in 2019 was an insurgency, the overthrow of the government, nothing less. 

In 1815, China under the rule of the Emperor Jiaqing was at peace, but Britain, in the course of acquiring a great empire, was at war. When, after the battle of Waterloo in June 1815, the Duke of Wellington, commander of British forces, was asked how he saw the outcome, his laconic reply was: “It was a close-run thing”.  

His foot soldiers, formed in squares, withstood the repeated onslaught of Napoleon’s fearsome cavalry. Not a single square broke rank. Discipline ultimately prevailed.

Transposing the scene from the heights of Waterloo in June 1815 to the streets of Hong Kong in November/December 2019, what do we see? The Hong Kong Police in serried ranks protecting property, safe-guarding lives, staying calm and restrained, withstanding onslaughts by assailants wearing protective gear, weapons-grade gas-masks, wielding sharpened iron rods, throwing petrol bombs. And they did this month after month.

I put myself in the place of the ordinary policeman. He had been doing this for more than 6 months. His name has been posted on social media; doxxing involved not only himself but also his children; they are bullied at school; the quarters where he lived have been fire-bombed; his wife is seriously frightened; and his mother-in-law says to him repeatedly: “Why do you protect other peoples’ property and not your own home, your own family?”

When ordered to make an arrest he is required to exercise “reasonable force”, whatever that means. The thug he is arresting knows no reason, no restraint. An arrest risks serious injury to himself; some of his colleagues have been injured and hospitalized. The thug carries no ID card. He will not disclose his name, will not cooperate in having his photo or finger-print taken. He will not accept police bail. He cannot be charged. So, after 48 hours he is released unconditionally, to repeat the same outrage the next weekend.

How close was Hong Kong to total collapse? This, we ordinary citizens, will never know. This is something the government, for obvious reasons, will never disclose. But, as an observer looking from the outside, I would say: “It was a close-run thing”.

All it took was for one police unit to break ranks, to say: “We’ve had enough”. The whole force would have collapsed. But discipline held; and for that the community should be forever grateful.

This, as I see it, is the true scenario against which the National Security Law should be viewed. The rest is creative fiction crafted to put the Hong Kong government in the worse possible light. 

What Hong Kong faced was an insurgency, the overthrow of the government, nothing less. 

The insurgents made the classic mistake of the cowardly, of the school-yard bully. They took the government’s low-key response, its restraint, as signs of weakness. So, for a few months, their leaders strutted on the stage as if they owned the whole show. They attracted the label of “freedom fighters” and got themselves onto the cover of Time magazine. They took no responsibility for the misery they caused to millions of their fellow citizens, and the billions of dollars of damage they inflicted, to be paid for by Hong Kong tax-payers.

What happened on Sunday 18 August 2019 is a good example. The police had raised no objection to a mass gathering in Victoria Park, provided the organizers arranged for 200 marshals to control the crowd; but the police objected to a procession to Central and a further mass gathering there. In open defiance of the law the leaders raised a huge banner and led a procession down the highways to Central, vaunting their impunity from the law. So filled were they with their own sense of triumph that they forgot the inherent strength of the law; that the law has long arms.

In retrospect, it can be seen that the seeds of insurgency were laid many years before. As Professor Cullen recently explained, much of the world had been dominated by the notion of Western ascendancy for some 200 years. China’s decline in the late Qing Dynasty had been accelerated by Western belligerency.

But, after WW2, the balance began to shift. The USA, for all its awesome fire-power, met stale-mate in Korea, defeat in Vietnam and expulsion in Cuba.

Then came the astonishing rise of China after the end of the Cultural Revolution in the early 1980s. The tectonic plates began to shift, but there was no change in Western thinking: it clung tenaciously to the notion of Western ascendancy. One aspect of this, as Prof. Cullen puts it, is “turbulent pushback from an unnerved Western media”; this “pushback” reflects the stance of the Western powers clinging to its assumed ascendancy.

With the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, China was seen, more and more, as posing a threat to the dominance of the West. How to counteract that? Destabilize Hong Kong was one answer.

The thinking seems to run along these lines: China stands today as a strong homogenous nation-state; but it wasn’t that long ago that China was splintered into separate fiefdoms dominated by warlords. Well, maybe, its territorial integrity could be broken up again. 

If the stirrings of industrial action in the late 1980s, in a lousy little shipyard in Gdansk – a small port on the Baltic Sea – could lead to the eventual breakup of the Soviet Empire, why wouldn’t the seeds of insurgency, sown in Hong Kong, do the same thing to China’s territorial integrity?

The signs of such a movement are everywhere to be seen. We need to look no further than at how the controversy surrounding the National Security Law arose.

As everyone knows, the Basic Law (Article 23) required the Hong Kong SAR, on its own, to enact laws to prohibit treason, secession, subversion etc. The laws in the statute books, inherited from colonial times, scattered over 3 Ordinances, were plainly unfit for that purpose.

So, 5 years after reunification, the government issued a consultation paper on proposals to implement Article 23. It made out a strong case. This is what it said:

“All countries round the world …..have express provisions on their statute books to prevent and punish crimes which endanger the sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of the state. Therefore, while nationals of a state enjoy the privilege of protection provided by it on the one hand, the individual citizens have a reciprocal obligation to protect the state by not committing criminal acts which threaten the existence of the state, and to support legislation which prohibits such acts on the other hand.”

The proposals took into account the whole range of constitutional guarantees of personal freedoms: speech, expression, the press; and freedom from arbitrary arrest, sanctity of the home, etc.

All thinking persons would have realized that to implement Article 23 was an absolute necessity. The Central Government had entrusted this to the Hong Kong SAR; it was a considerable responsibility.

What was needed was not a regional security law; it was a national security law, affecting not only security within the region, but nationally. To emphasize Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, this law was to be enacted by the SAR “on its own”. 

When the National Security (Legislative Provisions) Bill was introduced in LegCo in February 2003 one would have thought that all community leaders would have given it their support. If there were flaws in its details these could be ironed out in Committee.

There was no rational basis for a total rejection of the Bill. There was only one possible alternative to the enactment of the law by the local legislature: its promulgation by the Central Government.

But misinformation got to work in the social media. People’s passions were aroused. Dark forces were at play to defeat the Bill.  It failed to pass.

Fast-forward to early 2019, the controversy surrounding another piece of legislation, the Return of Fugitive Offenders (Amendment) Bill. 

The international community was much concerned at that time about cross-country crimes, money-laundering and terrorist financing. To align Hong Kong with other developed economies, it was necessary to upgrade the existing Ordinance: hence the amending statute. 

A scare campaign was mounted through social media. The Bill was portrayed as allowing Mainland agents to grab people off the streets of Hong Kong and bring them for trial across the border. 

Trouble in the streets erupted, turning into the most damaging unrest Hong Kong has ever seen.

This is what Mr C H Tung (former Chief Executive) said in May 2019: “As Hong Kong had failed to enact its own security legislation for over 20 years, it had become an easy target for hostile foreign opportunists to disrupt public order, using Hong Kong in effect as a proxy for a wider power conflict”.

On Wednesday 12 June 2019, an organized group of rioters outside the fenced perimeter, fighting to get into the LegCo building, forced the suspension of the second reading of the Bill.

Three days later the government announced the withdrawal of the Bill.

The speech made by the Chief Executive was calculated to calm nerves and dampen passions. It was a model of restraint and humility. She said:

“I want to stress that the original purposes of the exercise stem from my and my team’s passion for Hong Kong and our empathy for Hong Kong people. I feel deep sorrow and regret that the deficiencies in our work and various other factors have stirred up substantial controversies and dispute in society following the relatively calm periods of the past two years, disappointing many people. We will adopt the most sincere and humble attitude to accept criticisms and make improvements so that we can continue to connect with the people of Hong Kong”. 

That, surely, would have satisfied demands of the protesters. Their aim had been achieved; the withdrawal of the Bill. 

But not at all, showing beyond all doubt that the movement had much darker roots.

Monday 1 July was a public holiday, to celebrate Hong Kong’s reunification with the Mainland. On that day an organized group broke into the LegCo building and trashed the Legislative Council chamber. The Chinese national emblem was defaced; the Hong Kong colonial flag was raised. The rioters had declared war on the government, on the existing constitutional order.

It was also a war on democracy, just as it was in 1933 when Hitler’s thugs burned the Reichstag. This was the moment for the veteran leaders of the democratic movement, and the “pro-dem” members of LegCo, to distance themselves from the movement, to condemn the acts of violence and desecration. No one did, thereby allying themselves inextricably with the violent segment of the movement.

Fast forward again to 11-12 July 2020, soon after the enactment of the National Security Law. Various agitators had got together to mount what they called “primary elections” to find the best candidates for the LegCo elections due to take place later that year. They have since been arrested on suspicion of subversion under the new law.

In a report to Parliament this month the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the National Security Law was being used “to stifle political opposition”.

It seems, sadly, that the Foreign Secretary had not been told the full facts; or is it possible that someone of that standing would knowingly distort the truth?

Most of the truth of that story is on public record. The “primaries” were simply a small part of a larger plot calculated to bring down the government. This was described as “10-steps to mutual destruction”, which had been outlined in Apple Daily in late April 2020. The label attached to this plot is “LaamChau” meaning “We Burn, You Burn”, an expression taken from a popular TV series. It was, on its face, a last desperate attempt by the insurgents to bring down the government.

The full facts have not been revealed. Investigations are still going on. The case has not yet come on for trial.

What, for instance, was put to the voters to induce them to come out and vote in the “primaries”?  Probably different things were said to different constituents, and there may be questions as to the truthfulness of what was said. According to the police, the voters were paid substantial sums to take part in the process. Arising from this, HK$1.6 million have been frozen. The significance of this will need to be explored.

Under such circumstances, how could it possibly be right for the British Foreign Secretary to assert that the National Security Law is being used “to stifle dissent”?

As things stand today, there is a Bill in the British Parliament entitled “Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021”. It is meeting with considerable opposite from ordinary citizens, who have launched street protests. This is what the policy paper says:

“Protests are an important part of our vibrant and tolerant democracy. Under human rights law, we all have the right to gather and express our views. But these rights are not absolute rights. That fact raises important questions for the police and wider society to consider about how much disruption is tolerable, and how to deal with protesters who break the law. A fair balance should be struck between individual rights and the general interests of the community …..”

Section 59 of the Bill, for instance, abolishes the common law offence of public nuisance and replaces it with a statutory offence of very wide scope, attracting 10 years imprisonment on indictment.

Would it be right for, say, the Hong Kong Chief Secretary to comment on this provision, or on how the “fair balance” should be struck in the UK? Obviously not. So how is the reciprocal position justified?

What is more, the National Security Law deals with something more fundamental than the so-called “fair balance”. It arms the Hong Kong government, for the first time since reunification, with effective legislation to deal with an insurgency.

The law starts with statements of general principles where the lawful rights and interests of Hong Kong residents are fully protected. The common law principles governing criminal trials are safe-guarded including, for instance, the presumption of innocence, the exclusion of prejudicial evidence, etc.

If one looks at, for instance, the US Patriot Act 2001, the contrast with Hong Kong’s national security law is stark.

It is an Act to deter and punish terrorist acts in the USA and around the world. It is extremely difficult to judge from the text of the law its overall effect. It is not only an enabling Act but also an amending Act, amending many other enactments; unless one is familiar with those other enactments it is not possible to make sense of the Act.

But its introduction paragraph is startling. It says: “Any provision of this Act …… applied to any person or circumstance, shall be construed so as to give it the maximum effect permitted by law, unless such holding shall be one of utter invalidity or unenforceability in which event such provision shall be deemed severable from this Act ….”.

No mention of the presumption of innocence. No safeguard for the rights of the defendant.

The repeated accusations made by Western leaders and media of Beijing’s so-called stifling of freedoms in Hong Kong through use of the National Security Law is so far from reality that the conclusion is inevitable: as Mr C H Tung said, Hong Kong is being used as a proxy for a wider power conflict.

Henry Litton CBE, GBM is a retired permanent Judge of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. Litton founded the Hong Kong Law Journal in 1971. In 2019, Litton published the book ‘Is the Hong Kong Judiciary Sleepwalking to 2047’ in which he criticised numerous aspects of Hong Kong’s legal system, focusing particularly on the misuse of judicial reviews in recent years. Pearls & Irritations


Village Life

My brother had arranged with some people in the village to come over tomorrow to talk about fluctuations in the village population and the general economic situation. He said: I thought long and hard but could hardly come up with anyone who could talk about these things.

It was 10 p.m. by the time we finished dinner, and the few Liangs whom my brother had invited came over. One was the village head. He’s in his 50s, the son of a storekeeper. Like his father, he has a light complexion and is pretty sharp. He watched me closely as we talked; he wanted to know what I was really up to, what my purpose was.

Another was my paternal uncle, a village accountant famous for his prudence.

Another, whom I call “Elder Brother,” left the village early on to work. At around 40, he came back to the village and hasn’t left since. He keeps to himself and is rather mysterious. He doesn’t drop in on other people, although he doesn’t object when others visit his place. One year all his hair suddenly fell out, and since then he’s worn a black woolen hat all year round.

Finally, there was a middle-aged man who lives outside the village. He’s known as somebody who can get things done.

A few hundred years ago, the two Liang brothers brought their seven sons here, established homes, and began to increase in number. Currently, there are 54 Liang households of substantial size.

The number of smaller families is less clear. For example, two brothers left to find jobs after getting married. Their parents stayed behind to help take care of the children. No matter how you divide the family, from an economic perspective, they are one small household.

Calculated this way, there would be around 150 households of more than 640 people. Young couples in their mid-30s have at least two children, and a few have three. Two families have left the village altogether. They moved to live in the cities in which they work (selling their houses and land in the village). One family’s final whereabouts is unknown because they haven’t been in touch with anyone in the village.

Seven families work outside the village and their children attend schools where they live. Their family homes are closed up, and they have not come back for several years, and aren’t likely to anytime soon. One family lives in town but they still have a house and land in the village, and they plan to build a house soon. Three families do business in other places and come back every year or two. They have built nice family homes in the village, so it seems like they’re preparing to return in the future.

Of the several dozen families who still live in the village, the younger members work outside the village all year round, and it is the elderly, the middle-aged women, and the children who remain at home.

A woman works while her grandchild plays nearby, Tangyin County, Henan province, May 2011. People Visual
A woman works while her grandchild plays nearby, Tangyin County, Henan province, May 2011. People Visual

In addition, there are eight or nine households whose members have never left but who eke out a living from the land. They are considered the most unworldly members of the village and are the most looked down on and overlooked.

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, a large number of people from Liang Village left to find jobs, and in the early years, Beijing and Xi’an were the principal destinations. In Beijing, many worked in factories, on construction sites, or as security guards. For a short time, they gathered at Beijing’s train station to scalp tickets.

After reform and opening up, finding work in the cities created new avenues for earning. No matter what you did, every year you could bring home a little bit of income. It was a way to pay both the larger expenses and the daily expenditures.

Because you had to pay tax on farmland and had to come home during the harvest season, many people simply rented their land to other villagers, on the condition that the tenant would pay the taxes and give the owner 200 jin (about 220 pounds) of wheat per annum. It was a way for families who stayed in the village to earn money. Even if the early wheat harvest only covered the taxes and the landowner’s share, the autumn harvest would be profit.

By the 1990s, it was rare to see hungry or poorly dressed people in the village, but the ability to build a new house and live comfortably — that was something only for the village cadre and other successful people, the few families who worked in business or who bought their food instead of growing it.

For the past two years, rural taxes have been suspended around the country, and according to the village head, several families have wanted to take back land they haven’t worked for years to grow wheat or corn. They don’t come back themselves, but ask relatives to do the planting and harvesting for them and then pay their wages.

There are also those who don’t want to bring the land back into production, and this has caused disputes. These disputes have nothing to do with what Fei Xiaotong (a renowned Chinese anthropologist and sociologist specializing in rural issues) called the “farmers’ rootedness in the land.” The emotional connection between farmers and the land has weakened; all that is left is a relationship based on benefit.

New houses are more and more common in the village, yet one by one, without exception, their locks have grown rusty. At the same time, the people are fewer and fewer. Only a few feeble old folks totter down the lanes, rest on the edges of fields, or gather beneath the eaves.

All across the village, weeds and debris rule the land around the houses. They reveal the village’s inner desolation, its decay, its exhaustion. Internally, the village is no longer an organic, living entity. Or perhaps we should say that its life, if indeed it has a life, has reached old age and that its very vitality is ebbing away.

This is an excerpt from China in One Village: The Story of One Town and the Changing World by Liang Hong, translated by Emily Goedde, published by Verso.


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The Report of the International Scientific Commission for the Investigation of Facts Concerning Bacteriological Warfare in Korea and China (the ISC report), published at the height of the Korean War, validated claims by North Korea and China that the US had launched bacteriological warfare (biological warfare, BW) attacks against both troops and civilian targets in those two countries over a period of several months in 1952.

The most vilified document of the 20th Century.

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