"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Monday, December 09, 2019

Links - 9th December 2019 (3) (Hong Kong Protests)

For diaspora, there is more than one China - "Hong Kong's resistance to mainland China's demands -- and the way in which the overseas Chinese are processing it -- shows how the idea of a Chinese identity that connects them with their "Chineseness" does not necessarily imply affinity, empathy or nationalistic ties to China itself... In many conversations, Hong Kong's existence as part of China and its tarnished "one country, two systems" formula is not in doubt. But the point is no longer China's sovereignty, or what it can do in its territory, but whether China has space for differing Chinese identities... Beijing's "One China" principle will undoubtedly persist as a political idea, but for the overseas Chinese, there has not been one China for a long time."

American democracy group slams Beijing’s claim it is ‘black hand’ behind Hong Kong protests, as National Democratic Institute head calls it ‘patently false’ - "China has long accused “Western hostile forces” – such as the United States and Britain – of playing a behind-the-scenes role in instigating protests in Hong Kong as part of a broader effort to undermine Communist Party rule, with the NDI and its partner the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) frequent targets of Beijing’s ire... The NDI has been operating in Hong Kong since the handover in 1997, working with local civil society actors on the rule of law and political reform.  According to Mitchell, it has produced regular reports on political reform in the city, supported public opinion polling projects, and conducted programmes to strengthen parties across the political spectrum, including the city’s leading pro-Beijing party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.  “We had an office here until 2017. We’re not hiding. We’re transparent”"

Hong Kong Doesn’t Have a Pro-China ‘Silent Majority’ - The Atlantic - "For months, members of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing establishment have spoken of a “silent majority” here. The argument, parroted by government-friendly pundits and talking heads, offered a convenient counter-narrative to months of demonstrations and violent clashes that have ripped through the city: A large portion of the population, the fable went, had grown tired of the protests but remained quiet for fear of being attacked for their unpopular views. On voting day, they would emerge, cast their ballots, and restore an order of normalcy. That story line, flimsy from the start, has now collapsed entirely. Voters in Hong Kong’s district-council elections, the city’s only fully democratic contest, delivered a humiliating rebuke of the government. In a record voter turnout, pro-democracy candidates captured more than 80 percent of the 452 seats in contention and gained control of 17 of Hong Kong’s 18 district councils, all of which were previously pro-establishment following the 2015 election... Kenny Lee, a 12-year incumbent from Hong Kong’s largest pro-Beijing party, faced a challenge from Pakkin Leung, a 39-year-old journalist who gained a measure of fame in August when he filmed shocking footage of police storming a subway station, beating and pepper-spraying commuters and protesters. The moment stunned and angered many and helped turn the ire of protesters toward the police and their tactics... Nearly every race seemed to have a candidate like Leung, directly tied in some way or shaped by the experiences of the past six months... ichard Chan, who attempted in August to mediate between protesters and police outside Hong Kong’s airport, made his first foray into politics. Hailed as the “airport uncle” for his actions, he was later pepper-sprayed and his face pressed to the ground by riot police, who arrested him for taking part in an election rally. Leung, Yau, Sham, and Chan all won their respective races. The losers included a lengthy list of pro-Beijing heavyweights... Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s leader who has disappeared from public view for days at a time in recent months and who protesters have demanded resign, took no blame for the defeat. In a statement, she instead said that there were “various analyses and interpretations” of the voting results"
Now that China shills can't claim that only a small minority support the protesters, they claim that they are so simple minded that they are brainwashed by foreign influences. Maybe they think they're as easily influenced as the targets of the 50 cent army

In one voice, Hong Kong demands an independent inquiry into the unrest. Why won’t Carrie Lam say yes? - "The sudden emergence of People's Liberation Army soldiers in our streets, albeit not in uniform and with brooms rather than rifles, was ostensibly a goodwill gesture, but it was also a blunt reminder that they can be deployed at a moment’s notice to support the police. Under the terms of the Basic Law, they should not have been deployed at all without an explicit request from the Hong Kong government; this marks a step down a very slippery slope... We are constantly reminded that our society is deeply polarised, but on one point there is close to unanimous agreement among civic leaders, academics, commentators and the general public, namely the need for an independent inquiry into how our once peaceful and globally admired city has descended into such chaos"

ajmm on Twitter - "“Rioters” calling it a day in #HongKong, and got on #Police car so they could head back to police station and logged in their overtime hours. #HongKongProtests #FreeHongKong #PoliceState #PoliceBrutality"

Beijing will have its revenge on Hong Kong | Financial Times - "The protesters, steeped in Chinese history, are well aware of this impending retribution. It has given their movement a hard, nihilistic edge. “If we burn, you burn with us,” reads one of the most common slogans spray-painted across the central business district. For its part, the ruling Communist party has learnt a powerful lesson from its response to the earlier, peaceful “umbrella movement” of 2014 and its aftermath... The conclusion Beijing has drawn from the past four months of rage is the only one possible in an authoritarian — increasingly totalitarian — system: they were far too soft last time around. When the moment is right, they must act ruthlessly to punish Hong Kong. Just as in China in the aftermath of 1989, Hong Kong’s education system will be overhauled to promote “patriotic” narratives; “unreliable” civil servants and judges will be purged; news outlets will be muzzled; all business figures, including multinational companies, will be expected to display loyalty to the motherland. The internet will probably be censored. Mass arrests are likely. This is a best-case scenario, predicated on the protests ending now — which is unlikely.In Beijing, the discussion is instructive. Party cadres say there is nothing really wrong with the fish-tank that is Hong Kong, but what is needed is for all the “bad fish” to be replaced with “good fish”. The central government will try to retain the trappings of an international financial centre — open markets, a freely convertible currency, a relatively independent and professional judiciary for non-political cases — but will quickly strip away the rights and freedoms that make Hong Kong unique. The calculus of Communist rule does not allow for concessions to unruly provinces... Because the people of Hong Kong instinctively understand what is coming, they are unlikely to quietly return to their ordinary lives.Neither side can back down... One senior police official says privately that as many as a quarter of his officers are joining peaceful protests in their spare time. Hated as it is right now, the Hong Kong police force is made up of Cantonese-speaking locals. Faced with a Mandarin-speaking occupying army from the north, many officers would choose to join the rebellion."

Our city is dying and there’s little we can do - "To the protesters, any and all violence is seemingly justified because of the combination of the government’s lack of response to the public’s demands, and repeated incidents where the police have transgressed boundaries and protocol in their treatment of protesters.For the police, any violence from their end can be rationalized as both exercising self-defense and discharging their duties. For the administration, violence from the protesters is always impermissible, and all usage of force by the disciplinary forces – given the latter’s importance – must be accepted and endorsed... We could wish for the violent protesters to cease violence, but that would also mean a failure to understand why they remain on the streets. As much as we may personally disagree, they see the protests as a fight, as a mutually annihilative gesture whose catatonic consequences they are willing to bear. We could wish for more concessions from the Central and Hong Kong administration, but doing so would be based on a fundamental misreading of how politics works – particularly in the eyes of Beijing"
On Hong Kong

Former chairman of Hong Kong’s biggest pro-establishment party says election humiliation was ‘not a bad thing’ - "it was a reminder that party members have to fight as hard as their founders did 20 years ago.Jasper Tsang Yok-sing gave his advice to fellow party members

Beijing's Hong Kong Delusions Come Crashing Down - " the more tear gas had been used by the increasingly brutal Hong Kong police, the bigger the movement toward the democrats.In newsrooms in Beijing, however, the results began a panicked scramble to find a way to spin them in favor of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In stark contrast to most observers in Hong Kong, editors—and the officials behind them—appear to have sincerely believed that the establishment parties would win an overwhelming victory. Propaganda is a heady drug, and Beijing got high on its own supply... The misplaced confidence in Beijing’s victory points to a worrying problem; at high levels within the CCP, officials believe their own propaganda about Hong Kong. That’s a frightening prospect for both governance in China and for the future of the city, especially as the system struggles to come up with political excuses for a cataclysmic failure... this was a narrative easily refuted by opinion polling, which repeatedly showed a lack of identification with the mainland, massive distrust in the police, and that the overwhelming majority of Hong Kongers, while unhappy with violence, principally blamed the government for it... What caused such an enormous misjudgment? The biggest single problem is this: The people in charge of manipulating Hong Kong public opinion for the CCP are also the people charged with reporting on their own success... The protests have been a massive failure for the Liaison Office. The silent majority narrative was a way of redeeming itself. It seems more than likely that material supporting it was being fed back to Beijing while any counternarrative was suppressed. A similar problem reportedly emerged with the Taiwan office several years ago. But, of course, the CCP leadership doesn’t rely on just one channel. This isn’t a new problem for autocracies; from the Qing princes who told the emperor of fake successes against British forces to the Soviet underlings who reported imaginary harvests, dictatorships have a problem with data. The CCP leadership is aware of this and usually receives its information through a variety of methods, including neican (“internal reports”) produced by media staff, especially at the official news agency Xinhua, for the leadership and informal channels—sometimes deliberately circumventing official sources to get at the truth.The problem is that under the increasingly paranoid regime of Xi Jinping, even these internal reports have become much more geared toward what the leadership wants to hear. Reporting on a failed program can be painted as a sign of disloyalty. That’s especially the case when it comes to any issue involving separatism—in Xinjiang in 2017, more than 12,000 party members were investigated for supposed failings in the “fight against separatism.” Hong Kong is not as politically dangerous as Xinjiang, but it’s still highly risky waters. Political incentives cause multiple sources to repeat the same comforting narratives to the leadership, which then becomes convinced of its credibility. This paranoia can go to extreme lengths. In 2016, I began to notice that even positive comments from officials in the media about government programs were being reported anonymously. A journalist friend told me the reason: A positive comment about a program backed by a leader who later fell in the rolling political purges under Xi could be very dangerous. The fall of Bo Xilai, a prominent leader whom many journalists and pundits once backed, had killed many careers—and resulted in the disappearance of one of the country’s most famous TV anchors... The election has worsened a crisis of conscience in Beijing newsrooms. Several current and former reporters, although broadly sympathetic toward the government position and especially conscious of the prejudices felt by many Hong Kongers against mainlanders, spoke of feeling uncomfortable with the extremism of the coverage. Two especially singled out the repeated use of the term “traitors,” and one called their own paper’s coverage “toxic” and said it harmed attempts to win over the Hong Kong public. The result may cause a change of thinking. But so far, all indicators are for a doubling down on previous convictions. State media has turned to blaming protesters and the United States for supposed electoral interference, furthering a persistent paranoia inside the CCP about foreign intelligence. Heads are likely to roll for the failure—but quite possibly the wrong ones."

Beijing Was Confident Its Hong Kong Allies Would Win. After the Election, It Went Silent. - The New York Times - "When it became clear early Monday that democracy advocates in the semiautonomous territory had won in a landslide, Beijing turned silent. The news media, for the most part, did not even report the election results. And Chinese officials directed their ire at a familiar foe: the United States... Like those in the pro-democracy camp, the Chinese media also appeared to position the vote as a referendum on the protests, albeit as a chance for the public to decry the violence and the pro-democracy movement.  But the vote on Sunday severely undercut the government’s narrative... The failure of the political establishment in Beijing to predict the outcome also raised questions about the party’s grasp of the political forces in Hong Kong. There are grumblings that Mr. Xi’s government has misread the grievances of the protesters and underestimated the depth of the anger in Hong Kong. Chinese state media has simultaneously argued that the frustrations have stemmed from economic issues like sky-high housing costs and depicted demonstrators as paid thugs. And those provocateurs, in Beijing’s view, didn’t have the broad support of the Hong Kong public."

How Hong Kong's greatest tycoon went from China friend to punching bag - "Instead of feting the 91-year-old businessman, Beijing has harangued him for failing to deliver in the rebellious city. When the Party was looking for a chorus of influential voices to counter the protests that began this summer, Li offered only even-handed pleas for restraint. In an online video of comments he made at a monastery, Li called for “humanity” when dealing with young protesters.The response was brutal. The Party’s central legal affairs commission in Beijing publicly accused Li of “harboring criminality” and “watching Hong Kong slip into the abyss.” A pro-Beijing trade union leader in Hong Kong posted a Facebook item mocking him as the “king of cockroaches” with an image that pasted Li’s head atop a picture of a fat insect... The vilification of the city’s preeminent capitalist was a rare public display of the new power dynamic, businessmen and analysts say. It sent a clear message that Li and his fellow Hong Kong tycoons must toe the line and unequivocally condemn the protests, which present the most serious challenge to Communist Party rule since Tiananmen. The now-scrapped legislation that sparked the recent unrest would have allowed for extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China. It also provided an avenue for the seizure of assets, according to a statement by the Hong Kong Bar Association. That could have exposed the city’s tycoons to the same fate as wealthy mainlanders who have been stripped of assets in Xi’s anti-corruption drive.Shortly after protests over the bill escalated in early June, some wealthy Hong Kongers began moving money outside of the region or setting up accounts that would allow them to do so, according to six private bankers whose institutions collectively handle hundreds of billions of dollars in assets... After Xi took power, Beijing adopted a harder line toward Hong Kong. In a 2014 white paper, Beijing said the autonomy the city enjoys was not a given but, instead, contingent on the permission of the central leadership. And Li himself began facing criticism from Chinese state media."

Ex-LegCo head: 2014 white paper was turning point of Beijing exercising 'overall jurisdiction' in Hong Kong - "Former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang has called Beijing’s issuance of the 2014 white paper on “One Country, Two Systems” a “turning point” in China’s policy towards the city. According to Tsang, the central government went from exercising a “high degree of autonomy”in Hong Kong to exercising “overall jurisdiction” over its Special Administrative Region.The controversial white paper, issued on June 10, 2014, stated that “The high degree of autonomy of the HKSAR is not full autonomy, nor a decentralized power. It is the power to run local affairs as authorized by the central leadership. The high degree of autonomy of HKSAR is subject to the level of the central leadership’s authorization.”... Tsang said that “comprehensive jurisdiction” and “supervisory power” did not appear in the Basic Law and – prior to the White Paper – they were not mentioned by Chinese officials. Rather, the articles in the Basic Law specified that “No department of the Central People’s Government and no province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the Central Government may interfere in the affairs which the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region administers on its own in accordance with this Law.”  At the ceremony of the establishment of the Hong Kong special administrative region in 1997, this point was also stressed by then-Chinese President Jiang Zemin... between 1997 and 2014, every time the Communist Party mentioned Hong Kong and Macau, it said that it supported the government and the chief executive’s policies and did not imply any intention to supervise the region... One event that caught the tycoons’ attention, he said, was the 2017 disappearance of China-born billionaire Xiao Jianhua. Xiao was last seen leaving a luxury Hong Kong hotel in a wheelchair with his head covered, accompanied by unknown men. In its annual human rights report, the U.S. State Department said that “multiple press reports stated he was likely abducted by state security agents from the mainland.”"
Of course China shills will insist this wasn't Beijing ripping up two countries, one system

China's propaganda on Weibo and WeChat misplaced on Twitter and Facebook - "Aiming to direct global perceptions about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, traces of Chinese propaganda aimed at Western audiences were detected on Facebook and Twitter. Viewed against the slick Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election of 2016, the Chinese equivalents appear ineffective or even bizarre.China resorted to armies of inauthentic accounts and brute-force attempts to frame the protests along the lines of national pride, sovereignty and anti-terrorism... The GFW certainly restricts some Chinese people from visiting foreign sites on its blacklist but, as our research shows, by and large the Chinese, just like people worldwide, gravitate toward websites and apps that appeal to their cultures. Even with an open internet, users in Britain and the U.S., despite having a lot in common, generally visit sites focused on their own countries.Media coverage about "the Chinese internet" often compares it to "the rest of the web." But the rest of the world does not share a common web-browsing experience. Facebook, WhatsApp and Google, though very popular in many countries, do not have as much traction in others, such as Japan, Russia and South Korea... one of us maps the associations between words that people say about the state on Weibo, which is China's Twitter equivalent.In 2011, when the government's "online public opinion guidance" project began, the state was largely discussed critically, with parts directly influenced by liberal democratic ideals. Just five years later, populist nationalism had displaced such critiques, suggesting the success of state propaganda measures. Our key finding is that the state has not achieved everything it intended. For example, its promotion of its economic accomplishments has been less than effective. What has worked is to frame messages in ways that appeal to national pride and territorial sovereignty."
This suggests that China's economic achievements - touted by many of China's champions as justifying its repression - are oversold, and that ordinary Chinese people don't think the Communist party has improved their lives all that much

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Trouble at the top - "I've been a reporter for many years, but I've never covered a story that could cost me my relations with my family and friends. Until now, with the Hong Kong protests. In the past week, some friends have accused me of being too sympathetic toward the protesters, while others felt I was overly critical of them. It's even riskier sharing my stories, or discussing this issue with relatives, especially those in mainland China. I could become persona non grata in my own family. Each day, I get text messages and videos from the two sides, those who support the protesters and those who oppose what they're doing. Such divisions exists even within the same household. Arguments have broken out between people who deeply love each other. Supporters of the protests tend to be young or idealistic, while opponents are older and more practical. But there is another big difference between the two sides. Those who back the protesters rarely visit China and have no affection for it. Those who oppose the protesters are from the mainland or visit regularly. They still care about China. One group has absolutely no faith China's government will eventually voluntarily relax controls and allow democracy. They think given the momentum of the protest, now is the best time to force Beijing to respect Hong Kong people's wishes for democracy. The other group is forgiving of the Chinese authorities’ involvement in Hong Kong affairs, and patiently hopes that China, including Hong Kong, will become more free and democratic one day, but they are under no illusion who is in charge? Do you think Hong Kong is yours?, one elderly Hong Kong person asked young protesters. People laugh at you kids, you read so many books. But what's the use? Hong Kong is not yours. It’s a part of China. We’re descendants of the dragon after all. People of her generation were not exposed to values of democracy and human rights. They were too busy putting a roof over their heads. They feel confident that as long as Hong Kong doesn't cross Beijing's red lines, it will be left more or less the same. Even after Beijing's promised to Britain that it will not change Hong Kong for 50 years expires in 2047. But the younger generation exposed to Western concepts of democracy and freedom, feel no connection to China. They've had enough of peaceful protests over the past two decades, and feel the clock is ticking. They are the ones who have to live with what happens next. That's why many have risked their lives and future to demand Beijing keep its promises of allowing universal suffrage. As I tried to mediate between these two camps, I could not help but remember the Hong Kong of my childhood and early adulthood. It was the Hollywood or Paris of modern Chinese culture, a place that practically everyone of Chinese descent worldwide has some connection to from its films and TV dramas, to its fashion and food. That's why scenes of protesters battling the police in tear gas shrouded streets are so disturbing, not only to locals, but Chinese people around the world. The Hong Kong many knew was a place where you could achieve your dreams if you worked hard. Like my uncle, who went from being a homeless restaurant kitchen helper to a chef. One of his sons just recently became a Michelin star chef. But for the younger generation, their dream is no longer just having a good job in a home. They want democracy."

Hong Kong baker’s protest-themed cake disqualified from international contest in Birmingham after mainlander lodges complaint

If HongKong ‘is’ a part of china because it ‘was’ a part of the so-called china, should England be “returned” to Italy (Roman Empire?) - "To those who keep saying ‘Hong kong has always been a part of china and it will always be’ — — well you know this is hardly the truth.Before 1841, Hong Kong was part of the Manchurian Empire, and PRC China doesn’t even exist. If one accepts that Hong Kong was part of PRC as a precedent, it would mean that most countries in Europe should be ‘returned’ to Italy since they were part of Roman Empire. Many Eastern European countries should be under Russian rule forever, since they were part of USSR... If you say because we speak the “same language” and we are the “same races” — sorry again but we aren’t. Cantonese and Mandarin are very different languages. To say they are both “Chinese” and Cantonese is just a dialect, it is as non-sense as saying German is a dialect of English, and they are the ‘same’ languages since they are both “European”.People understand the logic is wrong when applied to the west, but come to Asia, everything non-sense make senses to them... why same ‘races’ has to stuck together? Isn’t it racists?If the logic of speaking same language should be stuck together, than Australia, America, Canada, UK, New Zealand ,and Singapore etc should all be one country under … the UK? Austria and 70% of Switzerland should be ‘united” with Germany? Most of the south American countries are part of Spain?I can go on. Opium war yeah, CCP China sold more opium to their people more than the UK"

Hong Kong is Xi Jinping’s failure | Financial Times - "Mr Xi could plausibly argue that the immediate crisis is not his fault. The spark for the first demonstrations in June was the introduction of a bill allowing extradition of criminal suspects from Hong Kong to mainland China. By most accounts that was an idea pushed by Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive. When Beijing saw the depth of the opposition, it tried to react sensibly by suspending the bill. But, by then, the protest movement had broadened its aims and gathered an irresistible momentum.Mr Xi bears a broader responsibility. In the seven years since he came to power, the Chinese state has become significantly more authoritarian, preparing the ground in Hong Kong for a backlash against rule from Beijing.An anti-corruption drive has seen prominent figures disappear from public life on the mainland and a rash of suicides among Communist party officials. More than a million people have been interned in re-education camps in the province of Xinjiang. The treatment of Xinjiang is often cited by demonstrators in Hong Kong as a sign of how far Beijing will go to crush cultural and regional diversity. The increasingly Kafkaesque legal system of mainland China stands in stark contrast with Hong Kong’s own tradition of the rule of law. But during the Xi period, the mainland’s intolerance for free speech and thuggish attitude towards the law has seeped into Hong Kong itself. The case of some Hong Kong booksellers who were kidnapped — then detained on the mainland — sent a chilling message as did the decision to ban elected lawmakers from the Hong Kong assembly, for mangling loyalty oaths to China... during the Xi years, China has gone backwards politically. Maoist-era slogans have been revived and “Xi Jinping Thought” has been written into the Chinese constitution. Free speech has been further restricted; civil rights lawyers have been locked up and non-governmental organisations have been closed down.It is hardly surprising if Hong Kong now regards the prospect of full integration with the mainland with horror. And that date no longer seems impossibly far-off. The most radical demonstrators are often in their teens or early twenties. They will be in the prime of their lives when the second handover takes place in 2047. So their assertions that they are fighting for their freedom cannot be dismissed as hyperbole — even if their tactics can be challenged... the rebellion in Hong Kong undermines a central tenet of the patriotic education pushed by the Communist party: namely that there is “one China” and that all Chinese people long for nothing more than to be united. It is now clear that millions of Hong Kongers do not feel that ethnic solidarity overrides their political concerns about mainland China. On the contrary, they are increasingly asserting a separate Hong Kong identity, that is often tinged with prejudice against mainlanders."

The truth behind Nathan Road Stampede: Police used minibuses to ram protesters. : HongKong
Comment to someone complaining about protester violence: "why are you holding the entire protest movement to the same standard as the Hong Kong Police force.  One side is full of individuals who have been driven to violence by both Government inaction and police brutality against initially peaceful protests.  The other side is meant to uphold the rules of society to the highest degree, utilize minimum force and serve the people.  As a society we are meant to trust the police, but time and time again they have broken that trust with lies. Both on the streets of HK and in their sham press conferences where they twist the truth to suit their needs.  I don't agree with everything the protesters are doing, but they are individuals who are committing heinous acts, not a unified organization. They are simply angry people who have been driven to that point by a corrupt system.  On the other side, it is not individuals beating protesters, arresting people for trivial reasons (even just playing a damn song), lying to the public, and generally terrorizing the population.  It is an institution.  And because of that, the HKPF has lost my trust in them. I'm sure there are still some 'good cops' left in the force. But right now, they are either too scared to do the right thing or have been relegated to desk duty by their superiors. Because every cop I see on the ground is a morally corrupt asshole who can't even see the people they're facing as actual human beings."

China says Hong Kong courts have no power to rule on face mask ban - CNA - "China’s top legislature said Hong Kong courts have no power to rule on the constitutionality of legislation under the city's Basic Law, which includes a ban on face masks, state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday (Nov 19).The statement came a day after Hong Kong’s High Court ruled that a ban on wearing face masks during public demonstrations that have rocked the financial hub for more than five months was unconstitutional... Dozens of protesters dramatically escaped the Hong Kong Polytechnic University late Monday by shimmying down ropes from a bridge to waiting motorbikes"
One country, one system

Hong Kong Protests: Inside the Chaos - The Atlantic - "Almost every protest results in videos of protesters being beaten by the police. Many are live-streamed, to horrified viewers. Thousands have been arrested. Fearful accounts are coming out of the police stations, alleging torture, sexual assault, and rape. On Telegram, many protesters claim that some recent suicides are actually murders by the police that have been disguised as suicides. (It’s not clear whether these claims are anything more than just rumors, misinformation, or a tendency to believe the worst.) When being arrested, it is not unusual for protesters to shout their name, in the hopes of lawyers and family being able to reach them, and some yell that they are in no way suicidal. If they aren’t heard from again, they want to make sure it’s clear who’s to blame... about half of Hong Kongers say that, on a scale of zero to 10, they would rate their trust in the police at zero. Before this current wave of protest, in June, just 6.5 percent picked zero on the same poll. Whatever else might be happening, this unelected government isn’t winning any hearts and minds. Maybe outright intimidation will work instead... Aren’t you afraid? I asked, gingerly. “We are afraid,” they quickly admitted. They even giggled, but it got serious quickly. This is our last chance, they said very matter-of-factly. If we stand down, nothing will stand between us and mainland China, they said. They talked about Xinjiang, and what China had done to the Uighur minority. I’ve heard about the fate of the Uighurs from so many protesters over the months. China may have wanted to make an example out of the region, but the lesson Hong Kongers took was in the other direction—resist with all your might, because if you lose once, there will be a catastrophe for your people, and the world will ignore it.The two women weren’t sure whether they would win. That’s also something I’ve heard often—these protesters aren’t the most optimistic group. No rose-colored glasses here. “But we cannot give up,” one insisted, “because if we do, there will be no future for us anyway. We might as well go down fighting.”"
For those who characterise the protesters as a small, unrepresentative minority - it's curious how half of Hong Kongers have absolutely no trust in the police

In Hong Kong, violence is the new normal for protesters and police - "From the Hong Kongers' perspective, who is to blame for this escalating violence?The latest survey by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute indicates that an overwhelming majority of people lay the blame with the Hong Kong government led by Chief Executive Carrie Lam (84 per cent).Almost as many (74 per cent) blame the police. Less than half of people (41 per cent) blame the protesters for the violence"

Hong Kong protesters defy mask ban by having too much fun with it

Hong Kong’s domestic workers feel caught between both sides in information war - The Washington Post - "Targeting domestic helpers as potential informants carries an eerie resonance with China’s Cultural Revolution, a decade of political upheaval that began in the mid-1960s and included public denunciations of those considered at odds with the state."

Collin Koh on Twitter - "This is what people had suspected. Now there is @Reuters film of PLA soldiers in their barracks in HK leaving their barracks in the uniforms of HK police."
"Reason why the small HKP riot police contingent could last for so many months like an Energizer bunny? 🧐"

The ‘Xi Doctrine’: Proclaiming and Rationalizing China’s Aggression

The ‘Xi Doctrine’: Proclaiming and Rationalizing China’s Aggression

"Empirical evidence of China’s aggression is increasingly common, from its attempt to dominate the South China Sea, the neo-imperialist effort to gain control of states through the Belt and Road Initiative, to its technological imperialism to control 5G and artificial intelligence technologies. What is rather less frequent are statements from high-level Chinese officials proclaiming the country’s intent to be aggressive and offering an attempted legitimizing principle justifying that aggression...

There are four elements that comprise the Xi Doctrine and are indications of China’s signaling its willingness to use force. The first component is a new and alarming proclamation of the undisguised threats to use force or wage an unlimited war. China is becoming bolder as its military power grows. This is evidenced in Wei’s muscular remarks on the People’s Republic of China’s approach against Taiwan, his explicit statement that China does not renounce the use of force against Taiwan, and his effort to deter the United States and its allies from intervention should an attack occur. Wei forcefully stated: “If anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese military has no choice but must go to war, and must fight for the reunification of the motherland at all costs.” “At all cost” means that China will not hesitate to use nuclear weapons or launching another Pearl Harbor to take over Taiwan. This is a clear warning of an invasion.

Second, the Xi Doctrine legitimizes territorial expansion. Through his remarks, Wei sought to convince the rest of the world that China’s seizure of most of the South China Sea is an accomplished fact that cannot be overturned. He made bogus accusations, which included blaming the United States for “raking in profits by stirring up troubles” in the region. He insisted that only ASEAN and China must resolve the issue. He claimed that China’s militarization on South China Sea islands and reefs were an act of self-defense. Should this be allowed to stand, then the Xi Doctrine will set a perilous precedent of successful territorial expansion, which will further entice China and jeopardize the peace of the region.

Third, the doctrine targets the United States as a cause of the world’s major problems and envisions a powerful China evicting the United States from the region...

The Xi Doctrine’s fourth element is the mendacity regarding China’s historical use of force and current actions. While the distortions of history were numerous, there were three major lies that should be alarming for the states of the region and the global community. First, Wei said that China had never invaded another country, which is a claim so transparently false it can only be a measure of the contempt he held for the audience. China has a long history of aggression, including against the Tibetans and Vietnamese, and perhaps soon against the Taiwanese. Second, Wei argued that hegemony does not conform to China’s values when, in fact, China proudly was Asia’s hegemon for most of the last two thousand years. Lastly, he claimed that the situation in the SCS is moving toward stability—from China’s perspective this stability is caused by its successful seizure of territory. In fact, the SCS is far less stable as a result of China’s actions. Efforts to counter this grab are denounced by Wei as destabilizing, which is a bit like a thief accusing you of a crime for wanting your property returned.

Wei’s belligerent rhetoric is an indication that the CCP regime faces deep external and internal crises. Externally, the Trump administration has shocked the CCP with the three major steps it has taken. First, it has shifted the focus of the U.S. national-security strategy and now identifies China explicitly as its primary rival—abandoning the far more muted policies of previous administrations. Second, Trump has acted on this peer competitive threat by advancing tangible measures, such as arms sales to allies and the ban of Huawei. Third, the administration has made credible commitments to assure partners and allies to counter China’s aggression and bullying. These have unbalanced the CCP regime, and its natural reaction is to bully its way out. Additionally, the CCP regime has perceived that the world today has begun to consider the negative implications of China’s rise...

nternally, Xi’s anti-corruption campaign that selectively targets his political rivalries, and his abandoning the established rules such as term limited of presidency, have introduced deep cleavages into the unity of the regime unity. China’s economic slowdown, made worse by the U.S. trade war, is a fundamental challenge to the regime’s legitimacy...

Drawing from the pages of unfortunate history, in a classic social-imperialist move, the regime wants to direct these internal tensions outward... the nationalistic fervor advanced by the CCP’s propaganda and by the rapid military modernization have made many young militant officers in the PLA overconfident. This is infrequently noticed in the West. They can hardly wait to fight an ultimate war to defeat the arch-enemy. This plainly dangerous mentality echoes the Japanese military’s beliefs before Pearl Harbor."

Links - 9th December 2019 (2) (China's 'Peaceful' Rise)

China Wants to Dominate World, but Will U.S. Values Survive? - "His answer to the question “What does China want?” is simple: The Chinese want supremacy... Despite presenting modest and peaceful ambitions to foreigners, the Chinese Communist Party leadership transparently communicates its desire for primacy to internal audiences. By guiding readers through a barrage of official documents, excerpted liberally throughout the book, Ward shows just how wide-ranging these ambitions are... Ward traces the Chinese desire to shape the future of all mankind (not just the East Asian part of it) to a national myth taught to schoolchildren across China. According to this narrative, China was once the center of the world; China was the mother of invention, the seat of global wealth, and the beacon of civilization. This is China’s natural role in the world order—a role disrupted by the “century of humiliation” between the Opium Wars and World War II, when China suffered at the hands of foreign powers. But now that age of suffering is over. China’s destiny, according to its leaders, is to reclaim its natural perch as the leading force of human civilization. This is a familiar narrative to China specialists and one well-suited to a Communist clique that wishes to leverage nationalism to maintain its hold on power. However, Ward repeatedly stresses the popularity of this “national rejuvenation” ideal outside of party circles. “[T]he Chinese public has come to embrace this sense of destiny,” he writes. “But this vision is not the Communist Party’s alone. It is the vision at the heart of China’s restoration—a cause to which numerous Chinese citizens and patriots have devoted their lives—and of which the Communist Party is only one expression.”... Communist Party leaders believe they are locked in what Chinese President Xi Jinping has called “fierce competition … in the ideological sphere” with the West. They assert that this ideological competition threatens the existence of their party and imperils the road to national rejuvenation. They describe historians, researchers, dissidents, and Chinese-language media outlets in countries like Australia, Germany, and the United States as dangers equal to anything U.S. Indo-Pacific Command can throw at them. This is the root motivation behind what are now being called “interference” and “influence” operations in Western countries... the enemies China’s leaders fear most: the ones who pose an ideological, not a geopolitical, threat to the Communist Party. These are the hostile forces that threaten the stability of the Communist regime, and many of them—from Christians and Uighurs fleeing religious persecution to Taiwanese, Hong Kongers, and others of Chinese descent who dare imagine different futures for their people—live in America. As long as these groups can safely assemble and freely speak within the United States, America will be seen as a threat to the Chinese party-state. Similar fears have already led Beijing to demand ideological fealty from its foreign debtors. China’s leaders do not ask clients to change their system of government but to squelch criticism of Chinese communism inside their borders... Accommodating the geopolitical ambitions of the Chinese people is comparatively easy. Easing the ideological insecurities of the Communist elite would demand far more drastic changes to U.S. politics and society."

Nice Democracy You’ve Got There. Be a Shame If Something Happened to It. – Foreign Policy - "Secret societies, criminal organizations, and triads have existed for centuries in China, but most were chased out after the victory of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the 1949 civil war. Triads continued to flourish in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan — where many fled alongside Chiang Kai-shek’s defeated Nationalists. But while the CCP drove them out of the mainland, the party has found them a very useful tool to disrupt and frustrate opponents in societies such as Taiwan and Hong Kong, where resistance to the party runs high... By the second decade of the 21st century, the CCP’s strategy was, as sometime party mouthpiece Global Times wrote in 2016, to engineer the “Lebanonization” of Taiwan — in other words, to create division and chaos in the island."

China's latest tactic: Call America racist - "Of all the angry responses to President Trump’s decision to sign bills supporting the Hong Kong protest movement, the oddest one of all is an online campaign to label America as racist.It’s coming straight from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs... Zhao’s twitter comments very closely mirror the American left’s long-running complaints about racism in this country. He was even shrewd enough to add references to mass shootings and President Trump’s controversial comments against the so-called “squad” of four freshman female congresswomen who are each members of racial minority communities... Anyone who doubts the perception of racism in this country isn’t very strong just needs to look at the still-developing Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. Even after the evidence showed that Smollett staged a purported racial attack against himself, most politicians who supported him haven’t rescinded their public comments in support of Smollett that were filled with angry arguments about racism and President Trump. It’s not that those politicians still believe Smollett was really attacked. It’s just too hard for them to retreat from any position that decries racism in America... The tactic has a mixed and disputed record of success. When the U.S. started a massive military buildup under President Reagan in the 1980s, the USSR promoted videos of homeless people in America as a way to tap into the left’s opposition to defense spending at the perceived expense of spending to help the poor. But none of that stopped the Reagan policy and that U.S. military buildup that Moscow couldn’t keep up with was a key factor in ending the Cold War.  Going further back in history, imperial Japan adopted a campaign that mixed promoting Depression-era complaints about U.S. economic inequality along with a healthy dose of 1930s American isolationism in hopes of discouraging U.S. troops during World War II... A key wildcard now is that the U.S. is much more divided on partisan lines than it was in the Reagan era or World War II.  It’s also a presidential election year, where two of President Trump’s Democratic rivals have already sent multiple signals that they’d be more dovish with China... It’s also informative, if not a scientifically conducted analysis, to look at the responses to Zhao’s twitter statements. The litany of counterarguments that include references to Beijing’s rounding up of Chinese Muslims and dozens of other human rights abuses add up to what seems like a massive social media backfire.  Most importantly, the vote on the bill to support the Hong Kong protesters and punish China for cracking down on them was a whopping 417-1 in the House and unanimous in the Senate...  it could end up as a strong positive for the U.S. in another way if this incident helps us all realize that as real as our racism problems still are, not everyone talking about them has our best interests at heart."
"You hypocrite, first take the speck out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the log out of your brother's eye"

Han Chinese & Uighurs -- Government Assigning Han Men to Sleep with Uighur Women: Report - "The Chinese government assigns men as “relatives” to monitor the families of detained Muslim Uighur men in China’s Xinjiang province in order to “promote ethnic unity,” according to a report from Radio Free Asia.Titled the “Pair up and Become Family” program, the initiative involves Uighurs opening their homes for weeks at a time to Communist officials, who work, eat, and even sleep with the family.“They help [the families] with their ideology, bringing new ideas. They talk to them about life, during which time they develop feelings for one another”... “We also try to help them to make proper [sleeping] arrangements . . . it is now considered normal for females to sleep on the same platform with their paired male ‘relatives.’”"

‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims - The New York Times - "[It was] one of the most significant leaks of government papers from inside China’s ruling Communist Party in decades... in Xinjiang... authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years. The party has rejected international criticism of the camps and described them as job-training centers that use mild methods to fight Islamic extremism. But the documents confirm the coercive nature of the crackdown in the words and orders of the very officials who conceived and orchestrated it.  Even as the government presented its efforts in Xinjiang to the public as benevolent and unexceptional, it discussed and organized a ruthless and extraordinary campaign in these internal communications... officials were directed to tell people who complained to be grateful for the Communist Party’s help and stay quiet. The leaked papers offer a striking picture of how the hidden machinery of the Chinese state carried out the country’s most far-reaching internment campaign since the Mao era... Even as the document advises officials to inform students that their relatives are receiving “treatment” for exposure to radical Islam, its title refers to family members who are being “dealt with,” or chuzhi, a euphemism used in party documents to mean punishment... “Returning students from other parts of China have widespread social ties across the entire country,” the directive noted. “The moment they issue incorrect opinions on WeChat, Weibo and other social media platforms, the impact is widespread and difficult to eradicate.”... Students should be grateful that the authorities had taken their relatives away... “Treasure this chance for free education that the party and government has provided to thoroughly eradicate erroneous thinking, and also learn Chinese and job skills”... The authorities appear to be using a scoring system to determine who can be released from the camps: The document instructed officials to tell the students that their behavior could hurt their relatives’ scores, and to assess the daily behavior of the students and record their attendance at training sessions, meetings and other activities... Xi sees risks to China through the prism of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which he blamed on ideological laxity and spineless leadership.Across China, he set about eliminating challenges to party rule; dissidents and human rights lawyers disappeared in waves of arrests... there was more resistance to the crackdown inside the party than previously known — and highlight the key role that the new party boss in Xinjiang played in overcoming it.  Mr. Chen led a campaign akin to one of Mao’s turbulent political crusades, in which top-down pressure on local officials encouraged overreach and any expression of doubt was treated as a crime."
It is interesting how the CCP (or Xi, at least) recognises that the Mandate of Heaven from economic growth is not enough and repression is needed

Bilahari Kausikan - "That China would defend its policy is only to be expected. That the documents were not immediately denounced as fabrications is interesting. I think China will in time so denounce them, but the delay may indicate some internal dissension — a leak of this magnitude cannot happen unless some — not just one person — in the Party are unhappy."
Here is an interesting dilemma for Singaporean pro-government China Shills - if an establishment figure endorses the leaks, are they still fake news made up by the CIA?
Comment: "Love the shifting narrative by the CCP: - 2017 Camps don't exist
-2018 Yes they exist but they are used for professional training
-2019 They are effectively concentration camps but at least they are effective. What's next?"
I wonder how China shills rationalise the CCP's shifting pattern of lies

China Defends Crackdown on Muslims, and Criticizes Times Article - The New York Times - "The Communist government once flatly dismissed reports on the mass detentions of as many as one million Muslims as fabrications, but since evidence of the camps has become irrefutable, it has stepped up attempts to defend its actions as justifiable steps to stamp out a national security threat... The Times’s website is blocked in China, but there were signs that the disclosures had filtered through the country’s so-called Great Firewall, as they received unexpected expressions of support."

Secret documents reveal how China mass detention camps work - "The documents were given to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists by an anonymous source. The ICIJ verified them by examining state media reports and public notices from the time, consulting experts, cross-checking signatures and confirming the contents with former camp employees and detainees.They consist of a notice with guidelines for the camps, four bulletins on how to use technology to target people, and a court case sentencing a Uighur Communist Party member to 10 years in prison for telling colleagues not to say dirty words, watch porn or eat without praying... “There’s no other place in the world where a computer can send you to an internment camp,” said Rian Thum, a Xinjiang expert at the University of Nottingham. “This is absolutely unprecedented.”The IJOP spat out the names of people considered suspicious, such as thousands of “unauthorized” imams not registered with the Chinese government, along with their associates. Suspicious or extremist behavior was so broadly defined that it included going abroad, asking others to pray or using cell phone apps that cannot be monitored by the government... The system also targeted people who obtained foreign passports or visas, reflecting the government’s fear of Islamic extremist influences from abroad and deep discomfort with any connection between the Uighurs and the outside world. Officials were asked to verify the identities even of people outside the country, showing how China is casting its dragnet for Uighurs far beyond Xinjiang.In recent years, Beijing has put pressure on countries to which Uighurs have fled, such as Thailand and Afghanistan, to send them back to China. In other countries, state security has also contacted Uighurs and pushed them to spy on each other. For example, a restaurateur now in Turkey, Qurbanjan Nurmemet, said police contacted him with videos of his son strapped to a chair and asked him for information on other Uighurs in Turkey... Sauytbay called the detention center a “concentration camp ... much more horrifying than prison,” with rape, brainwashing and torture in a “black room” where people screamed. She and another former prisoner, Zumrat Dawut, also told the ICIJ detainees were given medication that made them listless and obedient, and every move was surveilled... Mandarin is mandated. Beijing has said “the customs of all ethnic groups and the right to use their spoken and written languages are fully protected at the centers.” But the documents show that in practice, lessons are taught in Mandarin, and it is the language to be used in daily communication."

Countries Blast China at UN Over Xinjiang Abuses - "Nearly two dozen countries confronted China at the United Nations this week, voicing outrage over its persecution of Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang and demanding the government comply with international obligations on the freedom of religion... The statement was backed by Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States.Predictably, a group of more than 50 countries supporting China sought to “commend China’s remarkable achievements in the field of human rights.” The rebuttal, delivered by Belarus, was joined by notablerights abusers that included Russia and Egypt."
Since Muslim countries support China and Albania was the only Muslim country to condemn it, does this mean that condemning China for putting Muslims in concentration camps is Islamophobic?

Imam Tawhidi - "US puts visa restrictions on Chinese officials over abuses of Muslims in Xinjiang"
"Here you have it. The Trump administration standing up for Muslims like no Muslim country or leader has ever done. Yet we hear the lying Islamist radicals Ilhan Qatar, TRashida Tlaib and future Congresswoman Linda Cockroach cry about “Islamophobia” and “racism.” #QatarInCongress #IlhanQatar"
Presumably it's Islamophobic to protest the detention of Muslims, since Muslim countries support it

China and the Difficulties of Dissent

China and the Difficulties of Dissent

"It is important to understand that China is a fascist dictatorship. The term “fascist” is now thrown around with such carelessness that it has lost most of its meaning outside the offices of a few historians or political science professors. But fascism, in its original early twentieth century incarnation, meant a political system defined by three attributes—authoritarianism, ethnonationalism, and an economic model in which capitalism co-existed with large state-directed industries and partnerships between the government and corporations.

China is an ethnonationalist, corporatist, authoritarian state. The government harasses, imprisons, or murders those who demand the right to vote. It engages in cultural genocide and seeks to make the Chinese dictatorship ideologically inseparable from the self-image of the Chinese people. It protects its domestic economy from foreign competition, subsidises all its important industries, mandates that government officials sit on the boards of all large companies, and does not allow independent labour unions. Despite the use of the word “communist” in both the name of the state and the name of its ruling elite, China is fascist. The label of communism is now merely a historical anomaly, relevant only to the extent that totalitarianism remains an underlying principle, the source code of a regime that has likely killed more people than any other in history...

One would expect China to encounter great difficulties spreading its influence on liberal Australian university campuses...

China, however, has had no problem spreading its influence.This is partly because most of its influence is not visible to students or the general public. For instance, China scholars from Western universities require access to Chinese sources and travel visas. In order to secure interviews or travel permits, they must not write anything the Chinese government dislikes...

Most academics speak euphemistically about this self-censorship. They will claim that you “have to be measured” when talking about China and that you have to be “sensitive” to Chinese feelings, which makes acquiescence to Chinese coercion sound warmer and fuzzier than it really is. They will claim that you have to see things from “China’s perspective,” and omit that this is the perspective of a regime that makes dissidents disappear.

The corporatisation of Australian universities has also made them vulnerable to implicit threats of Chinese sanctions. The commodity at stake is student fees because China can control how many students it will allow to leave the country to study at a foreign institution...

When I was a lecturer it was relatively common to go through an entire semester without a single criticism of the Chinese regime by Chinese students in front of their classmates. Occasionally, a courageous student would privately explain why. Students who voiced objections were monitored by their classmates and denounced to the home government. They in turn had representatives within the student bodies whose job it was to warn students about their activism and remind them of the consequences of dissent. By making sure the students knew they were being watched, the students would self-censor (as a minimum requirement) or defend China in whatever debate was taking place.

In this way, the Chinese students provide something priceless to the cultivation of China’s national image—they make the regime appear to be popular at home...

In the same way that China only allows self-censoring or friendly academics to enter the country, it only allows politically reliable students to leave it and study abroad. Students need to have family at home, good “social credit” scores, and it is best if they have family members who work for the Party. Hence, when I privately asked a friend why he could not speak out against China, despite his liberal inclinations and many years of residency in Australia, he excused himself from open dissenting duties with reference to his family at home. “It is dangerous for them”...

Visiting Chinese lecturers and students often firmly believe in all the fundamental elements of Chinese fascism (although, they do not call it that). They are brought up in a nationalist education system. They have usually made a lot of money under the regime (otherwise they could not afford to travel). They are taught there is no difference between the people, the Party, and the state. They are taught that all opposition to Chinese policies is either hypocritical, a misunderstanding, or racist. They are taught that China is being contained, hemmed in, limited in its growth by pernicious outside forces. And nothing will persuade them otherwise. Our openness to Chinese students, immigration, technological cooperation, investment, and trade is meaningless. Chinese victimhood is an ideology crafted for expedience, not because it accords with reality, and it is believed, disseminated, and defended by an indoctrinated, nationalistic establishment that has done rather well out of the regime...

Politburo member Li Changchun actually admitted that Confucius Institutes were “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda setup” as far back as 2009, and by 2014 some of the Institute leaders were openly censoring conferences by tearing out pages and refusing to hand them back."

Links - 9th December 2019 (1) (China's 'Peaceful' Rise)

Organ harvesting of ethnic and religious minorities in China happening on a 'significant scale' - "The Tribunal, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who previously worked in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, found evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt" that innocent Falun Gong practitioners and Uighur's were being targeted for their organs... "thousands of innocents" had their bodies cut open while they were still alive and their kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, cornea and skin removed and "turned into commodities for sale"."

TikTok starts banning pro-LGBT content worldwide - "the app has now restricted content that go against China. The ban includes any mention of Tiananmen Square or Tibet.The strangeness doesn’t end there. TikTok has also added more levels of guidelines depending on location. Reserved for conservative countries, the new “strict” set bans nudity and vulgarity. The nudity parameters are surprisingly detailed as well. Users cannot post “partially naked buttocks, more than 1/3 length” of a whole cleavage, and overly explicit depictions of sanitary pads.Further, TikTok has also implemented localized sets for certain countries. Turkish users, for example, cannot post any pro-LGBT content. This unusual ban includes hand holding and any content that promotes homosexuality. Unusually, TikTok’s guidelines are much harsher than Turkish law."

China's Interbank Funding Squeeze Has Echoes of Lehman - Bloomberg - "China’s central bank has acknowledged its monetary tools are insufficient. The most powerful ones are proving too blunt to drill through a hardening financial system.The country’s money markets have been shuddering since regulators took over Baoshang Bank Co. last month, despite initial assurances from the central bank and other authorities that they would maintain ample liquidity. While there has been little direct contagion, the seizure of the small commercial lender has hurt confidence. Funding costs for companies have shot up as large banks flinch from lending to some counterparties in the interbank market. For the first time in more than two decades, lenders face the prospect of defaults and haircuts on loans to other financial institutions... That means counterparty risk and solvency risk have arrived – together."

China to take over Uganda's main assets over unpaid rising huge debt - "Uganda’s auditor-general warned in a report released this month that public debt from June 2017 to 2018 had increased from $9.1 billion to $11.1 billion.The report — without naming China — warned that conditions placed on major loans were a threat to Uganda’s sovereign assets.It said that in some loans, Uganda had agreed to waive sovereignty over properties if it defaults on the debt"

He Never Intended To Become A Political Dissident, But Then He Started Beating Up Tai Chi Masters - "Since 2015, Xu has been the director, producer, and host of a lively one-man martial arts talk show called Brother Dong’s Hot Takes that he self-distributes via his various social media accounts... One recurring bit that initially gained Hot Takes a cult following was Xu’s profanity laced call-outs of “fakes,” or pianzi, in the Chinese martial arts world.These callouts were inspired by what Xu calls a “bad wind” of fake tai chi masters penetrating the national consciousness. This was largely thanks to government intervention. Traditional Chinese martial arts (wushu), and tai chi in particular, are a core component of what President Hu Jintao called in 2007 the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” Since rising to power in 2013, President Xi Jinping has redoubled efforts to promote and spread “traditional Chinese culture”—which includes tai chi as well as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)—through a battery of subsidies, policy interventions, and good old-fashioned propaganda. Last year, it became mandatory for students in southeastern China’s Fujian Province to prove mastery of 24 tai chi moves in order to graduate from high school. Only a few months ago, state mouthpiece People’s Daily announced the establishment of the “People’s Tai Chi Development Alliance,” which purports to be aimed at making tai chi “fashionable” for young people and showcasing the accomplishments of Chinese civilization to the world. Meanwhile, grandmasters from across China’s martial arts schools were called on to hype up tai chi in the media. In a 2013 program called The Showdown Show, the famed 12th-generation Chen-style tai chi master Wang Zhanhai showed how he could harness his energy to fling off four musclebound attackers in a single movement. On another episode of the show, the 76-year-old pressure point (dianxue) master Zhang Zhenling showed up a group of skeptical, strapping young kung fu students by causing one to double over in pain with a single touch to the ribs. (Zhang then cured the humbled student by touching a pressure point in his neck.) Xu was unimpressed by all of this... The Chinese government would really like for him to stop his war against tai chi. As of this writing, Xu has been ordered to publicly apologize; had to pay the equivalent of USD $36,000 in fines and legal fees; had his social credit score lowered after he refused to apologize, preventing him temporarily from traveling by plane or high-speed train; had one of his gyms shut down; and seen a total of 11 social media accounts mysteriously disappear... recent events had caused him to conclude he would never be on the right side of the law in China, no matter what he did. Not long after he signed the contract to fight Wang Zhenling, his 18th tai chi grandmaster, relevant authorities informed him that the match, or any future matches, would not be allowed to take place. This should be illegal, Xu noted angrily, but his lawyer friend had advised him that in China, the law is essentially “whatever they say it is.” And so, Xu figured, he had nothing more to lose by taking the extra step of hopping the firewall... As someone who has been living and reporting in China for five years, I was caught off guard by Xu’s belief in the power of truth and sincerity. Although he was fully cognizant of the fact that there were things he could say that would have him disappeared tomorrow—that the ruling Party had inflicted and continues to inflict grievous human rights violations on the population such as the concentration camps in Xinjiang, and that the State relentlessly censors reports of said atrocities—he never discarded the notion that the truth had some value.Such a belief is something that’s become almost impossible to hold onto in China, where the truth has long since ceased to matter... the Party had pivoted its policy toward coverage of the Hong Kong protests from the usual program of suppression to an all-out disinformation campaign. State media organs blared with reports of protester violence and a secret CIA plot. These reports left out the disproportionate brutality being inflicted by the Hong Kong police, and that a protestor had lost an eye to a bean bag round."

Jewish Socialist of America on Twitter - "As a Jewish person it infuriates me that people unironically compare the way Tibetans and Uighurs are treated in China to the way Nazis exterminated, enslaved, and mass deported Jewish people. If this so-called “genocide” is actually happening, then where’s the refugee crisis?
Yes, national and ethnic chauvinism exists in China. It has undeniably increased since the revolutionary Mao era ended. No, that doesn’t mean China is now a fascist Han ethno-state, the same way the USSR was never a social imperialist Russian ethno-state.
If anyone thinks what’s happening in Xinjiang is bad, wait until you see how all your own countries treat Muslims! And no, this isn’t “whataboutism,” this is me telling you to study geopolitics, global class war, and the history of U.S.&I.S.-backed terrorism in the region (:"
This is not a parody

Prague city council moves to axe partnership with Beijing - "Prague city council voted on Monday to cancel a partnership agreement with Beijing after it failed to remove an article requiring it commit to the “one China” principle, which refers to China’s stance that Taiwan and it both belong to one China. The city’s leadership, elected last year, says it is non-standard for city-to-city partnerships such as the one signed by the previous administration in 2016, to include diplomatic matters that are up to national governments.“Unfortunately, the Chinese side did not respect our opinion that we do not want the political article, so the negotiations did not lead anywhere,” council member Hana Kordova Marvanova.“For us this is also a gesture that we do not want to declare subservient attitude to the authoritarian regime in China.”... Chinese authorities have already canceled tours of several Czech musical groups to China that had some link to Prague."

BeWater HK - "After Prague unilaterally ended its sister-city agreement with Beijing, the Chinese Embassy in Prague threatened the Prague city council with a statement. "The city council of Prague must change its approach, accommodate current trends and progress in history. We urge the city to return to the correct path which promotes the development of bilateral relations. Otherwise, they will damage their own interests." Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib's Czech Pirate Party responded with a snide statement on their facebook page, saying "We know the Chinese regime likes to view its partners as vassals and does not like disobedience. However, we are a country of free people, with a democratic Constitution. We refuse to bow down to a authoritarian regime responsible for 're-education camps',plus participating in human trafficking and illegal trading of organs. Lastly, we would like to conclude with a picture that will be censored by the Chinese communist government." A picture comparing Chinese President Xi-Jinping with Winnie the Pooh was attached with the statement."

Beijing’s simplistic narrative on Taiwan is fuelling tensions | Financial Times - "International news reports frequently claim that Taiwan “broke away from the mainland at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949”. Beijing “has shaped international discourse to the extent that many observers will talk about China’s plans to    nniversary Taipei celebrates is the Republic of China (ROC), the state created in the first Chinese Revolution in 1911. Taiwan was at that time not part of China but a Japanese colony.Neither the ROC’s ruling party, the Kuomintang, nor the Chinese Communist party viewed Taiwan as part of China during this period. It was not until 1943 that the CCP reversed course... While ROC-centred patriotism still runs strong in the KMT, KMT politicians acknowledge China’s hostile treatment of Taiwan has undermined Chinese identity in the broader population.“Since the 1980s, Taiwan’s gradual international isolation created an internal feeling of insecurity,” says Chao Chien-min, a professor at Chinese Culture University in Taipei and a policy adviser to KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu. “Therefore, if the People’s Republic of China represents China, then the proportion of Taiwanese willing to recognise that they are Chinese naturally goes down.”"

Anonymous wants to take down the Great Firewall of China - "Anonymous China has hacked shangzhi.gov.cn, publicly posting eight user names and passwords on Pastebay. This was soon followed by the hacking of szzfcg.gov.cn, which resulted in the site's full database being leaked and posted to Wikisend. The document was hard to parse, but I could easily see that it included thousands of e-mail addresses, logins, and passwords."

Opinion | What Xi Jinping Hasn’t Learned From China’s Emperors - The New York Times - "The early P.R.C., then, recognized and drew upon the Qing tradition with flexible approaches to diversity and sovereignty. But over the years, especially since Mr. Xi came to power in 2012, the C.C.P. has abandoned its relatively tolerant tradition while intensifying ethnic assimilationism and political rigidity. Today, rather than celebrating the uniqueness of individual cultures, the C.C.P. increasingly promotes a unitary category called “zhonghua,” a kind of pan-Chinese identity. Though supposedly all-inclusive, the customs and characteristics of “zhonghua” are practically identical to those of the Han. The government now calls Mandarin, previously known as the “Han-language” (“hanyu”), the “national language” (“guoyu”) and more forcefully pushes its use in schools and public settings, even though linguistic freedom and the official use of local languages are guaranteed by the Constitution. The P.R.C. once actively supported publishing and bilingual education in non-Han languages. Now, Uighur bookstores in Xinjiang are empty and shuttered. In both Xinjiang and Tibet, bilingual education has been replaced by Mandarin schools, and proponents of Uighur and Tibetan language-learning have been persecuted. Authorities have scrubbed Arabic script from public places across China — including the word “halal” on the front of stores and restaurants. TV shows in non-Mandarin Chinese languages are disappearing from P.R.C. broadcasts. Cantonese is under pressure, in Hong Kong and neighboring Guangzhou province. Similarly, in the name of Sinicizing religion, Mr. Xi’s party-state is razing mosques and churches and has demolished huge swaths of the Tibetan Buddhist monastic centers of Larung Gar and Yachen Gar, expelling monks and nuns and interning some of them in so-called re-education camps like those in which it now holds some one million Uighurs. The C.C.P. has tried to impose “patriotic education” in Hong Kong schools to enforce the teaching of the party’s version of history. When Taiwanese voters elected a leader Beijing didn’t like in 2016, Mr. Xi threatened military force and prevented mainland tourists from visiting the island.Such policies undercut the P.R.C.’s legacy of administrative flexibility and relative ethnic tolerance, as well as expose it to international criticism, exacerbating tensions while undermining the party’s legitimacy"

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Links - 5th December 2019 (2) (Tolkien)

The People of Middle-earth: One Ring to Rule Them All - "From humble beginnings as a mere trinket bartered in a game of riddles (see the original Hobbit), the Ring grew in power and influence until it did indeed include all of Middle-earth in its simple band of gold. “One Ring to rule them all” wasn’t just meant to sound intimidating—it was hard truth. Even Sauron couldn’t escape the confines of its powers. It was his greatest weakness."

Tolkien was ‘racist’ to orcs?! Sci-fi author echoes dank memes, totally unironically - "Because everything is racist in 2018, a US sci-fi writer has blasted JRR Tolkien for his portrayal of orcs in the Lord of the Rings. He claimed they were simply misunderstood, comparing them to today’s migrants and refugees... Science fiction and fantasy author Andy Duncan, however, thinks this is all a bit... problematic.“It's hard to miss the repeated notion in Tolkien that some races are just worse than others, or that some peoples are just worse than others”... "I can easily imagine that a lot of these people that were doing the dark lord's bidding were doing so out of simple self preservation and so forth,” he added, ironically echoing the ‘just following orders’ defense that Nazi war criminals used at Nuremberg.Rather than drive Sauron’s armies back from the walls of Minas Tirith with sword and spear, Duncan argued that Gandalf the White (supremacist?) and the leaders of men and elves should simply have let them in. After all, the orcs probably brought great cuisine and some much-needed cultural enrichment to Gondor... Whereas President Donald Trump wants a wall to deal with border-jumpers and rock-throwers, the Denethor administration had to contend with armored war-trolls and trebuchets raining severed human heads down on Gondor’s terrified population.Still, if the modern media had been around during the War of the Ring, what would they have made of Tolkien’s heroes’ last stand against the Orcish horde of Mordor? Bigotry? Racism? Shameless elven supremacy?Bizarrely, Duncan’s argument actually sounds like the #orcposting memes - which use the world of Tolkien to mock the modern left - taken at face value. If liberal journalists existed in Middle-Earth, the orcposters joked, surely they would have pointed out that #notallorcs are responsible for acts of radical Orcish terrorism. There may have even been long-read  think-pieces justifying the orcs’ behavior as noble cultural traditions. This is not the first time Tolkien and his fantasy magnum opus have come under fire for “racism,” either. In 2002, amid the theatrical release of Peter Jackson’s film adaptations, cultural studies professor Dr. Stephen Shapiro wrote that “Tolkien's good guys are white and the bad guys are black, slant-eyed, unattractive, inarticulate and a psychologically undeveloped horde.”Some Tolkien fans have responded to Duncan’s claims by arguing that the orcs were the actual racists, using Tolkien’s letters and the novels themselves as proof."

'Lord of the Rings' Slammed for Perpetuating Racism through Depiction of Orcs - "I think that it is important to point out that orcs are A) not people and B) not real, so starting some sort of social-justice movement over their treatment is probably the biggest, most idiotic waste of time that I’ve ever seen — and this is coming from an adult woman who spends time playing a game called “Pet Shop” on her phone... the only “dire consequences” that I can see coming from this whole debacle would be the consequences that any thinking like Duncan’s might have on the arts of fiction and fantasy. Think about it: If we’re going to say that the treatment of the orcs in Lord of the Rings perpetuates racism, then we’re also going to have to have a Wizard of Oz without flying monkeys. We’re also going to have to have a Beauty and the Beast without the wolves, a Lion King without the hyenas, and a Jungle Book without the vultures. The whole concept of a fantasy story with evil fantasy villains is actually put in jeopardy by this kind of stupidity. I may not know J. R. R. Tolkien personally (he never returns my calls, because he’s dead), but I can confidently say that he didn’t make the orcs completely evil creatures to advance the notion that some race of humans is completely evil. No, I’d guess that the much more likely scenario is he was trying to make his fantasy story as scary as possible, and he realized that the nature of fantasy gave him the freedom to do exactly that. After all, what’s more frightening than a large swarm of completely evil, irredeemable creatures? If the orcs were just misunderstood, if they had redeeming qualities and maybe volunteered at their local animal shelter in their spare time, then the story just wouldn’t be as frightening or captivating as it is when they’re completely evil"

Why does the Left hate Tolkien? - "It’s interesting that some of Tolkien’s earliest fans were the hippies of late 60s and early 70s. Their enthusiasm came as quite a surprise to the crusty old professor, but there is in fact a place where the borders of traditional conservatism meet those of the pacificist, anarchical Left – because both share a distrust of over-centralised, overbearing power.But perhaps that’s also why other elements of the Left dislike Tolkien. At key points in its history, when it could have embraced its anti-authoritarian, decentralising tendencies, the Left has gone the other way – replacing the hierarchies of the old order with an equally hierarchical new order. Whether it was the ‘democratic centralism’ of the communists, the well-meaning bureaucracy of the social democrats, or the foreign interventionism of the Blairites, the Left in power has always taken up the Ring… and tried it on for size."

Master of his universe: the warnings in JRR Tolkien’s novels - "The narrative of The Lord of the Rings and the “legendarium” of The Silmarillion and other writings are presented as a set of imaginative structures in and through which people can think and feel with the same consistency, intelligence and growing wisdom as they did through the stories of Olympus, Troy, Asgard or the Arthurian cycle. This is not an entertainment. It has to take itself seriously – which explains why Tolkien had no time for his friend CS Lewis’s Narnia. Narnia was a world that characters could drop in or out of; it was cheerfully eclectic in its use of mythical and legendary raw material, and the stories were narrated with a good deal of the tongue-in-cheek waggishness of the great Edwardian children’s writers whom Lewis loved. For Tolkien, all this was embarrassingly trivial... the story repeatedly reminds us that all this is taking place in a post-heroic age: the great days of elves and humans are over, and the elves are on their way across the sea, never to return. For all the triumph of the king’s return, some things can never be restored. Straightforward fortissimo heroics are rare and often ineffectual. Back in the Shire at the end of the book, the young hobbits, Merry and Pippin, enjoy a grand reputation as champions against the forces of darkness; but the focal figure of Frodo (not, in the book, a youth at all but – like the exiled king, Aragorn – a taciturn middle-aged figure) fades from popular view and suffers physically and mentally as a result of his earlier struggles. Second, throughout the narrative, “noble” figures succumb to temptation, are corrupted by passion and ego, and have their judgement clouded by partisan loyalty... The dynamic of the relation between Frodo, his servant Sam, and Gollum – surely one of Tolkien’s most disturbing and original creations, at once monstrous and pathetic – is one of his subtlest achievements. He deals with complex emotional rivalries, with the “homosocial” intensities of patron and client, or master and servant relationships – which seem a long way from our contemporary social or sexual politics, but which still offer illuminations about power, projection and desire. In short, one thing that Tolkien does not do is to tell his story as though conventional heroics solved anything at all... not enough readers reflect on the fact that at the crucial moment of the story, Frodo himself fails: he gives way to temptation, a temptation of genuinely apocalyptic implications. We have seen him wrestling with the addictive power of the Ring, and can understand how smaller yieldings finally make this culminating disaster possible.... The work is ultimately a fiction about how desire for power – the kind of power that will make us safe, reverse injustices and avenge defeats – is a dream that can devour even the most decent... Some, including Michael Moorcock, have accused Tolkien himself of implicit fascism because the story ends with everyone going back home and order being restored. But this is a travesty of the narrative’s logic. The return home is a return to a bitter conflict with exploitation, malice and petty tyranny. And, as we have seen, the whole story is haunted by memories of loss, awareness of fallibility and, above all, scepticism about anyone’s fitness to wield absolute power. Tolkien’s work is indeed more than just “fantasy”"

JRR Tolkien’s orcs are no more racist than George Lucas’s Stormtroopers - "They are a metaphorical embodiment of wickedness – his equivalent of Star Wars’s Stormtroopers or the ghosts in Ghostbusters. Just as significantly, given Tolkien was an officer in the First World War, they are the manifestation of the nightmare of mechanised war... it wasn’t as if in the Lord the Rings he placed his “Westernised” characters on a pedestal either. The great warrior Boromir is unmasked as weak and opportunistic. The hobbits, early on in particular, are as much feckless as steadfast –and many retain to the end a selfish naivety. Saruman the White – the closest in the novels to a Merlin-like archetype –is revealed to have a soul as rotten as a barrel of apples left in the sun for a week.Nor should it be forgotten that one of Tolkien’s motives for writing Lord of the Rings was to furnish England with a national mythology of its own – the equivalent of the Norse sagas, the Irish tales of the Fianna and the bed-hopping and limb-lopping of Greek legend... Every myth cycle and box office brand requires heroes and villains and demands they be etched essentially in black and white. For all their pretence towards nuance, even the Marvel Universe and the Harry Potter saga ultimately abide by these same rules (Marvel’s Thanos might be a melancholy evildoer – but his heart is still as black as the void from whence he came). "

They Hate Us for Our Freedoms

They Hate Us for Our Freedoms — HUSSEIN ABOUBAKR

"On the evening of September 11, 2001, Cairo time, I watched on TV as Americans were being terrorized by the sight of two towers set to blaze. The following weeks, the atmosphere around me in Muslim Egypt was that of joyous festivities. My parents, my teachers, and my imams were all pleased by the well-deserved punishment Allah brought upon the infidels. TVs broadcasted images of people across the Muslim world expressing joy, some even handed out candy in the Palestinian Territories (Jordanians reportedly also did). As a child, I rejoiced like all the adults, as an adult I agonize over the memory. Why did my parents and my school teachers, who are not terrorists nor are they violent people, have no moral objection to such terrorism against Americans? Why did we hate them? The answer lies in the history of the deadly alliance between Saudi money and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and its toxic impact on Arab culture...

To find the origin of contempt held in the collective Muslim loathing ofthe west, one needs to understand the Muslim view of western civilization as well as history itself. To understand the former, one need not turn but to the main theologian of militant Islamism, Sayyed Qutb himself. Qutb spent two years in the United States between 1948 and 1950. His writings about that period are characterized by deep resentment and a very negative view of the United States. For Qutb, America was the ultimate personification of western decadence and western moral degeneracy. The lack of traditional sexual morality and the near absolutism of freedom of speech were among his chief complaints, complaints which are still echoed today by the majority of Muslim scholars. American materialism and emphasis on individual liberty are seen, sometimes legitimately, as a threat to the social cohesion, spiritual well being, family structure, and collectivism of Muslim societies. This is the truest meaning of the iconic George Bush line “They hate us for our freedoms.” In this sense, the hatred for America is not for what it does, but for what it is.

The Muslim view of history is of no less importance. Historical awareness in the Muslim world is much deeper and much more important than it is in the western world. References to early and ancient history are very common in public discourse. Being a product of the Egyptian state curriculum, I received instruction in a painfully detailed fashion in the history of the crusades as well as imperialism. In Muslim collective consciousness, the medieval hostility of the crusades was transferred unto European colonialism, and later unto American hegemony. The American world order is seen as nothing but the continuity of the historical rivalry between the House of Islam and the House of War as it appears from the referring to Americans as “crusaders” in Islamist literature. The first Iraq war, for example, is viewed by Americans as an American intervention on behalf of a Muslim nation to protect it against the aggression of Sadam Hussein. However, in the Muslim world, it is generally viewed as  Christian aggression on a Muslim nation. This is the most problematic aspect in the relationship between the west and the Muslim world as it is very poorly understood by the west.

The rise of nation-states in the Muslim world in the 20th century is generally viewed in the west as the end of the old world order, but this superficial change is yet to penetrate into Muslim collective consciousness. There is no international organization of protestant cooperation in which the state leaders of the UK, Scandinavia, Germany, and the US meet to express solidarity. There are no summits for Hindu or Buddhist nations. There is no Catholic world league. There are, however, Muslim ones. Christian or Catholic nations do not try to act as a bloc in the different bodies in the UN, Muslim countries do. The Muslim world is profoundly Muslim in a way the western world stopped being Christian. Islam in this sense serves not just as a religion, but as a pan-Islamic identity that sees the world through a binary prism.

This very strong sense of identity also generates one of the most profound grievances against the west which were in their totality incurred by the United States as the current “leader of the infidel world.” In a bin Laden tape released in October 2001, he mentioned the “humiliation and disgrace” Islam has been suffering for the past 80 years. Westerners were clueless but the average Muslim listener immediately picked up on the reference; the end of the historical Islamic Caliphate and the division of the Muslim world into nation-states by European powers... A sense of collective victimhood combined with cultural religious adherence -- even without religious Islamic education, led to the Arab world’s celebrations on September 11, 2001. Sadly, in a world where entire societies are opposed to critical thought, such tragedies are perceived through a distorted lens, in which the most evil of actions can be interpreted as heroic."

Links - 5th December 2019 (1) (Chick-Fil-A)

Protesters at New Toronto Chick-fil-A Outnumbered by Customers, 100 to 1

Reading Chick-fil-A outlet to close in LGBT rights row - "A US fast-food chain will cease trading at its first UK outlet amid a row over donations to anti-LGBT groups. Gay rights campaigners called for a boycott of Chick-fil-A, which opened its first branch at The Oracle shopping centre in Reading on 10 October.A spokeswoman for the centre said "the right thing to do" was to not extend the restaurant's lease beyond the "six-month pilot period". Chick-fil-A said its donations were purely focused on youth and education."
Clearly the only choice liberals let you have is whether to get an abortion

Chick-Fil-A Trades Adoring Christian Fans For Outraged Mob That Won't Be Appeased Until Their Every Demand Is Met | The Babylon Bee - "Cathy said the Christian fans have been great, but it's boring just having loyal fans who support you through thick and thin, and he'd much rather have fans who stage die-ins and cancel you when you don't cave in."Sometimes you just want to be loved by a group that protests you for years and calls you a bigot," he added, shrugging. At publishing time, a source had confirmed that Chick-fil-A was paid a sizable bribe of thirty pieces of silver to defund the Christian organizations."

Chick-fil-A denies capitulating to LGBT activists; Christian groups won't be excluded from donations - "Amid reports that fast food chain Chick-fil-A was halting donations to Christian groups, the restaurant's foundation is maintaining they are philanthropically restructuring, not caving to political correctness in pursuit of higher profits... "Our goal is to donate to the most effective organizations in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger. No organization will be excluded from future consideration – faith-based or non-faith based," the spokesperson said, noting "I also wanted to add that Chick-fil-A will not be opening on Sundays.""

Don’t be such a chicken about Chick-fil-A | The Spectator - "America’s third-largest restaurant chain opened its first British outlet earlier this month. But after not much more than a week the Oracle Shopping Centre announced that it was not intending to renew Chick-fil-A’s lease past its present six-month trial period. A local paper slightly histrionically claimed that the restaurant’s opening had ‘bitterly divided’ the people of Berkshire. In fact all that happened was that some local gay rights groups including Reading Pride announced that they were going to demonstrate outside the shop... Chick-fil-A has become part of that trend of our times: the politicisation of absolutely everything. Specifically Chick-fil-A has become one of those tests of political virtue in America. At the start of this decade the owners of the business were found to have made a set of donations to ‘family values’ organisations in the US. These included the Salvation Army and other groups who were accused of harbouring opposition to gay marriage. The family owners of the Chick-fil-A franchise are Christian and run their business as a Christian business, paying workers roughly twice the national average, giving to Christian causes and remaining closed on Sundays. They also say in their corporate mission statement that Chick-fil-A’s intention is ‘to glorify God’. And if you cannot see how the production of chicken nuggets is either here or there to the creator of the universe then we’ll just have to put that into the bucket marked ‘things that other people think that we may not think ourselves’.  Unfortunately this last attitude has become increasingly unpopular in modern America. And as is so often the case, a bad American idea rarely stays within American borders, instead bursting out and becoming the norm everywhere else. So the idea has spread that you cannot give business to people who do not precisely share 100 per cent of your own views. A trend exacerbated by the fact that whereas it used to be quite hard to find out whether a particular business was entirely aligned with your own ideological world view, today the necessary shaming can be done by absolutely anyone. In August it was discovered that Stephen Ross, the chairman of the parent company of the high-end Equinox Fitness gyms, had held a fundraiser for Donald Trump. Of course Trump is the President of the United States and one of only two people likely to be running in the next American presidential election. Meaning that quite a lot of people must like him, vote for him and raise money for his campaigns.  But accepting that this may be the case offers no opportunity for grand-standing or bullying. So after the Equinox revelation, a range of celebrities and others announced that they could not possibly push weights or fall off a yoga ball in a gym whose parent company was chaired by someone not in alignment with their own political positions. That episode once again showed how vulnerable even the smallest form of intimidation makes companies in an age whose interconnection was meant to make us more free... As though it could appease anyone, Chick-fil-A tried a little of this over the past decade. It never said it had been wrong all along and actually loved gay marriage. So far as I know it never gave a donation to any minority ethnic transgendered dance community. But it did regularly and generously donate not just to the usual foodbanks and other charities but to LGBT film festivals and a ‘Pride picnic’ in Iowa. It didn’t exactly beg for its corporate life, but it did suggest that it would be nice if it could have one.  Well, in Britain at any rate it was not to be... tolerance is becoming a one-way street and the street is global."
Amusingly a lot of liberals online claimed that this was the free market in action, showing that boycotts worked - i.e. they were utterly ignorant of why Chick fil-A was not going to continue operating in the UK
Of course, if the free market boycotts a gay charity... good luck to it

Escape The Echo Chamber - Posts - "1969: Stonewall - We're fighting for our liberty
2019: We're unfriending anyone who likes Chick-Fil-A
On the "myth" of the slippery slope and that it's all about tolerance

Chick-fil-A Makes More Per Restaurant Than McDonald's, Starbucks and Subway Combined … and It's Closed on Sundays - "Chick-fil-A only operates 2,225 restaurants. That’s less than one-sixth as many as the top-three earning restaurants -- less than half as many as the rest of the franchises ahead of it. Of the top-50 earning restaurants, Chick-fil-A ranked 21st in the number of units...
Could it be that closing its doors one day a week actually helps Chick-fil-A make more money, not less? Here are three reasons why that might be the case.
    Closing creates a craving. It’s like the old saying: “You never know what you have until it’s gone,” and sometimes, when you want Chick-fil-A on a Sunday and can’t have it, it only makes you more likely to get it on Monday.
    It helps attract better employees. When S. Truett Cathy founded Chick-fil-A, he wanted employees who would stick around for the long haul. According to a piece in The Washington Post, Cathy used to tell applicants, "If you don't intend to be here for life, you needn't apply." By allowing employees to have a day off -- to go to church or an NFL game or simply live their lives -- Chick-fil-A can create a healthier environment and provide better service to its customers.
    Its customers appreciate the mindfulness. While many customers find Chick-fil-A problematic due to Chairman Dan Cathy’s stance on same-sex marriage, many others also appreciate that the company gives its workers a break. As S. Truett Cathy once said, “We aren't really in the chicken business, we are in the people's business.”"
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