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Posts Tagged ‘Hong Kong

A run on Chinese Banks

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My co-blogger Nick K had already flagged one of the first signals of a China bubble bursting when he wrote about the problems of one of their giant property developers, China Evergrande, in September of last year, all $US 300 billion worth of it.

Where’s there’s one there’s bound to be more if the underlying problem is not fixed, and so…:

Multiple sources contacted by Asia Markets, have confirmed deposits at the following six banks have been frozen since mid-April.

  • Yuzhou Xinminsheng Village Bank (located in Xuchang City, Henan Province)
  • Zhecheng Huanghuai Bank (City of Shangqui, Henan Province)
  • Shangcai Huimin Rural Bank (Zhumadian City, Henan Province)
  • New Oriental Village Bank (City of Kaifeng, Henan Province)
  • Huaihe River Village Bank (Bengbu City, Anhui Province)
  • Yixian County Village Bank (Huangshan City, Anhui Province)

It’s understood the banks with branches across the Henan and Anhui Provinces successively issued announcements in April, stating they would suspend online banking and mobile banking services due to a system upgrade.

At the same time, clients reported their electronic deposits in online accounts, mobile apps and third-party platforms could not be withdrawn.

This led to depositors rushing to local bank branches, only to be told they were unable to withdraw funds.

The report includes various videos of long lines at banks and protests so it appears to be a real thing and not just a rumour. The real question is whether the authorities can stop it, and that comes down to two questions to be answered: the degree of authority that can be exerted and the trust people have in the system. Nobody should doubt the power of the central Chinese State but when a people’s faith in institutions begins to waver there’s no force that can impose it:

Some depositors such as Xu have already lost trust in the system. The 39-year-old said he had withdrawn all of his deposits from 10 other small banks that had promised him an annualised yield of more than 4 per cent.

The Chinese Communist Party probably does not accept that last point, as can be seen in this sad article, The Dismantling of Hong Kong, by one Karen Cheung, who is approaching the tipping point of escape:

After the national security law passed in June 2020, friends began leaving Hong Kong every few weeks. One by one, they disappeared from the camera reel on my phone, leaving me with things they couldn’t take with them: an oven, a Sodastream, a sous-vide machine, a stone diffuser, and five bottles of ground cinnamon. From 2020 through 2021, it was reported that 116,000 residents had left, often departing for countries like Britain and Canada…

This has been coming for a long time; certainly since the first mass protests in 2014 but only really since the Great Chinese Sinus AIDS Pandemic hit:

Under the guise of pandemic social-distancing, public gatherings were banned, and protests disappeared from the streets. Later in 2020, a teacher had his license revoked after showing his class a documentary featuring a pro-independence activist; in the years since, prominent commentators, including Apple Daily writer Fung Wai-kong and academic Hui Po Keung, have been arrested at the airport while attempting to leave the city. New election rules implemented in 2021 now dictate that only “patriots” can administer Hong Kong. By early 2022, at least 50 civil organizations have disbanded in the ongoing crackdown, including a pro-democracy trade-union coalition and an activist group that commemorates the Tiananmen massacre.

My, how convenient is the claim of Public Health for tinpot dictators to exert minute control over the lives of their subjects. And as she outlines, the end result was a massive increase in cases and deaths anyway, plus the usual scenes of empty supermarket shelves and a failing public health care system:

Health officers would sometimes appear on your doorstep to inform you that your building had been locked down for mandatory testing; should you test positive, you would have to undergo quarantine at an isolation facility, which Hong Kong residents have described as a “madhouse.” A Hong Kong woman told a local news outlet that despite two negative rapid tests, she was not told when she could leave; some in quarantine attempted suicide inside the facilities, according to local media reports. The uncertainty and severity of the measures made me feel like the city was collectively being punished.

I’m absolutely sure it was. In that world it’s hard to tell the difference between political prisoners arrested for leading protests or writing articles and people who failed the dreaded C-19 test, since there seems little difference in treatment between the two.

I last visited Hong Kong in 1990 and it was great: a vast, teaming, lively city with beautiful views, whether from the waterfront or The Peak. But when the British handed back control to China in 1997 I knew the place was doomed, even if it might take years to show it. The CCP and their One Country: Two Systems always smelled like propaganda to me, but I relied on the CCP’s self-interest in hanging on to a rich crown jewel, especially as Communism became more honoured in the breach in China itself, hence more than two decades of peace, relative freedoms and prosperity. But I always knew that if a clash between the “Two Systems” ever occurred then the system of Chinese Communism would prevail and be imposed, whatever the cost.

Between the rise of Xi Jinping and the return of his cult of personality as well as the re-empowering of the Central State, the myriad little Cultural Revolution touches appearing again, the Hong Kong protests and finally the C-19 disease, it’s obvious that Hong Kong will soon be no more than another grim Chinese metropolis.

Something was fundamentally broken: If Hong Kong could botch the handling of a pandemic outbreak it had two years to prepare for, what does that say about future governance? Hong Kong used to be a city that understood its capitalism depended upon appearances; ever since the national security law was enacted, however, it no longer cared about the mask slipping.

Survivors guilt and all, it is time for Ms Cheung to get the hell out – and time for us to cut as many cords with China as we can afford.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 16, 2022 at 4:14 pm

MORE EVIDENCE THAT YOU BUCK THE PARTY LINE IN CHINA AT YOUR PERIL

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With the news that Beijing is intensifying its crackdown on basic human rights and freedoms in Hongkong with the arrest of four trustees of the now defunct 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund for ‘collusion with foreign forces’. Included in the four are Margaret Ng, an internationally respected barrister and 90 year old Cardinal Cardinal Joseph Zen.

Commenting on the arrest of Cardinal Zen in particular, the last Governor of Hong Kong, Lord Patten of Barnes, said “The arrest of Cardinal Zen, one of the most important figures in the Catholic Church in Asia and in the Catholic Church’s advocacy for human rights in China and elsewhere, is yet another outrageous example of how the Chinese Communist Party is hellbent on turning Hong Kong into a police state”.

And our response … well, I guess you need to go no further than this comment from Foreign Minister Mahuta made following her meeting with her Australian counterpart when she suggested that “New Zealand needed to maintain and respect China’s particular customs, traditions and values”.

Clearly China has nothing to fear from the NZL government.

Written by The Veteran

May 14, 2022 at 2:15 pm

Posted in China

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CLEARLY LABOUR AND WAYNE BROWN ARE AS OF ONE

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reference the Government’s refusal to join with our Five Eyes partners in calling out China over the arrest and detention of 55 politicians and activists in Hongkong for violating the new security laws forced on the supposedly autonomous region by their CCVP masters.

Ardern and Mahuta are walking a diplomatic tightrope in not wishing to offend a major trading partner. They may just find that sitting on the fence can lead to a lose, lose situation particularly if Australia, the United States, the UK and Canada tire of New Zealand being seen as placing a bet both ways.

Our ‘independent’ foreign policy (so called) appears to be predicated on us not upsetting China. Right now China seems to be calling the shots with New Zealand reduced to saying ‘how high sir’. An independent foreign policy in name only dictated by China.

New Zealand the way you’ve got it.

Written by The Veteran

January 13, 2021 at 1:35 pm

NZL-CHINA RELATIONS

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The Chinese have long been a part of New Zealand society stretching back to the ‘Gold-rush’ days. In the latter half of last century and through to his death in 1987 our own Rewi Alley (known in China as 路易•艾黎, Lùyì Àilía) achieved almost legendary status as one of the few foreigners to enjoy the confidence of the Chinese government … OK, he was a fellow communist but still … But it was the Clark Labour government that forged a close relationship with China following the signing of the NZL-China FTA. That relationship continued under the Key/English government. You can argue that the relationship has benefited NZL more than it has China (certainly from a purely economic standpoint) but that positive can also be a negative in the sense that when China coughs, accidentally or deliberately, we tend to catch a cold.

Since Labour regained power the relationship has cooled somewhat. Ardern has made only a fleeting visit to China while her ever so slightly xenophobic Foreign Minister (never knew a WASP he didn’t like and an Asian/African he did) was far more interested in trying to forge a new relationship with the ‘evil empire’ (Russian Orthodox accorded honorary WASP status) on the basis that Stoli elit tastes better than Maotai.

Fast forward to yesterday and the suspension by NZL of our extradition treaty with Hong Kong in response to the new security laws forced upon the SAR by their Beijing masters. That elicited a swift response by the Chinese warning the government that they viewed our action as intolerable interference in Chinese internal affairs. China doesn’t like to be prodded and it can be expected that she will bite back. I fully expect that in the next little while a ship load or two of our exports to China will encounter unexpected difficulties at the Chinese border. We walk the high wire in our relationship with China.

It’s the game you play when you mess with the big boys ergo the tariffs placed on our steel and aluminum exports to the USA following Jacinda’s somewhat injudicious comments regarding President Trump. Compare that with Oz whose exports were exempt from the tariff impost.

I see Peters was dismissive of Bridges’ suggestion that NZL might care to follow the lead of the UK in offering a limited number of Hong Kong Chinese wishing to exit the SAR residence in NZL … well he would do that wouldn’t he …. they’re not WASPs.

Written by The Veteran

July 29, 2020 at 4:00 pm

HONG KONG

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I see that Cuba speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council has, on behalf of 53 countries, welcomed China’s imposition of draconian security laws in Hong Kong in clear abrogation of the ‘one China, two systems’ agreement between China and the United Kingdom which was supposed to guarantee basic freedoms through until at least 2047.

More evidence, if any was needed, that the UNHRC is joke and a sad joke at that.

The move has been widely condemned by the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia with the UK  offering residency and possible citizenship for up to 3 million Hong Kongers and Australia also considering safe haven residency.    New Zealand not so much.

Why?

Written by The Veteran

July 3, 2020 at 11:29 pm

Posted in New Zealand

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I can hear the people sing now!

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This is a truly great scene: a huge crowd of Hong Kong protesters gathered on the day of US Thanksgiving….

… singing The Star Spangled Banner.

At the end they even threw in a few good chants of “USA, USA, USA…”

This is absolutely beautiful to watch. It even beats the HK school kids version of “Can You Hear The People Sing” that I wrote about a few months ago.

It’s always great to see people reaching out to a real beacon of liberty. Funny how truly oppressed people always know the sources of actual freedom.


The reason for this outburst of thanks is down to two bills signed into law by President Trump last Wednesday, both of which have overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress.

The first is the The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which requires the State Department to certify once a year that Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous to retain its special U.S. trading rights.

A second bill makes it illegal to sell munitions like tear gas and rubber bullets to the Hong Kong police.

Nobody – not least the people of Hong Kong – is under any illusions that either bill will stop the crushing of the protesters by the Chinese Communists if they get desperate. If the choice is between the survival of the CCP and permanently damaging the economic jewel of Hong Kong, the Communist leaders of China will not hesitate in choosing the former option.

But both Acts will at least give them pause for thought, and it certainly got under their skins enough that they issued this statement:

“We are officially telling the U.S. and the handful of opposition politicians in Hong Kong who follow America’s lead to not underestimate our determination to protect Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, don’t underestimate our belief to protect the ‘one country, two systems policy’ and don’t underestimate our capabilities and strategies in protecting our country’s sovereignty, safety, growth and rights.

This so-called bill will only make the Chinese people, including our compatriots in Hong Kong, further understand the sinister intentions and hegemonic nature of the United States. It will only make the Chinese people more united and make the American plot doomed to fail”

Heh, heh, heh. It’s as if they’ve learned nothing over the decades about the boilerplate bullshit nature of their Communist language.

Yes, this is “angering” China but they’re going to be pricks anyway. Take a gander at just some of the Tweets from some lickspittle toady named Lijian Zhao from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as he went apeshit on the USA:

To be fair those could all be from the editorial pages of The New York Times, Washington Post, the Democrat Party, or any member of the global Left. Most of these talking points are cribbed from them anyway, the CCP propaganda departments apparently thinking it sways Americans to have the bullshit of their own Left-Wing ladled back to them. The USSR tried the same moral equivalence tactics in the 1970’s and 1980’s and failed. But it continues to this day with Putin also always pushing the whole “You’re no better than us, and probably worse” line.

But the key point here is that Hong Kong’s protesters at their Thanksgiving rally were not interested in debating the legal and geopolitical aspects of the US laws or even China’s “anger”.  They were thanking America for standing with them.

We know it’s a fight we have to fight on our own,” said one 50-year-old man holding up an American flag at the rally, “But it’s good to have friends who stand by us.”

“Thank you, President Trump,” said one 21-year-old Hong Kong woman, who was wearing a face mask and holding up a sign with an American flag.

“Thank you to America,” said a 25-year-old Hong Kong man, also wearing a face mask, and waving an American flag. He called it a “miracle” that America has passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, and said that whatever it amounts to in practice, he is grateful for the basic message: “It told us that we are not alone.”

Well, until the tanks start moving across the border, at which point there will be nothing kinetic that the USA or the rest of the world can do.

But in the face of that grim reality, it also seems that the protesters have a sense of trolling humour that the entire US MSM lacked, as they carted around blow-ups of Trump’s “Rocky” tweet.

They understand that it was a joke – but they also know it wasn’t only a joke.

I still don’t hold out much hope for them to retain their liberty from the Communists, but you never know: in Eastern Europe eventually,  “Das Volk Siegt“.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 1, 2019 at 5:12 am

Can You Hear The People Sing?

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While living in London in the late 80’s I went to a performance of the musical Les Miserables, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it I can’t say I was too impressed by the music. To put it bluntly, there was nothing that memorable about the songs. Every musical needs at least one stand-out tune that you might find yourself humming outside the theatre.

“Can You Hear The People Sing” is not such a song – and it’s the best known number from the musical.

Still, it’s nice to see that it has some meaning in the world, as these Hong Kong schoolkids showed the other day:

WOW.

Singing that over the top of the Chinese National Anthem at the start of the school year! Bloody brave. I hope their parents are proud of them.

The writer of the original song, 95 year-old Herbert Kretzmer, certainly is:

As I watched them on television from my home in West London, I felt a lump rise to my throat.

Not only because I admired their bravery in standing up to Communist China, which is trying to force a new extradition bill on Hong Kong that could consign anyone living in the Territory to the sham Chinese ‘justice’ system. But because the words they were singing were words I had written 33 years ago — and I knew the song in question had been banned in China.

I believed that such a protest song, sung in solidarity, could overwhelm not only the repressive 1830s French police state depicted in Les Miserables but also the mighty dictatorships of our own times, whether in the form of Soviet Communism, fascist regimes or the supporters of Apartheid in my homeland, South Africa.
….
Do you hear the people of Hong Kong? They are standing up for their rights.

At 93, I can only be with them in spirit. But my words are on their lips — and I am singing with them, too.

Wonder what CIA agent – aside from Kretzmer of course – inspired the schoolkids actions?

And of course the whole thing has an incredible parallel with one of the greatest and most famous scenes in movie history:

Still, we should not forget that straight after that performance the leader of the German contingent, Major Strasser, confronts Ilsa Lund with a blunt truth that no doubt parallels the thoughts of the Chinese Communist leadership with regard to Hong Kong.

My dear, perhaps you have already observed that in Casablanca human life is cheap“.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 6, 2019 at 10:07 pm

Posted in China

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Well that’s certainly a different take!

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Given China’s cyber warfare capabilities I suspect we will start to see a lot more of this in Western Social Media circles as the next few weeks and months pass in Hong Kong.

Probably with some help from Russia, given the theme.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 4, 2019 at 10:33 pm

If you bow at all, bow low.

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Some weeks ago I was leading an American family around the sights of Queenstown, and part of that included a day on Coronet Peak Skifield, to which we took a bus from Queenstown.

I found myself sitting next to a young woman who had an interesting story to tell. She’s a sophomore attending Yale University but was originally from Hong Kong and her parents had just moved from there to settle in Auckland.

I told her that I thought that was great because I can’t see things improving in Hong Kong, and she agreed. Her family had held out hope for twenty years that there would be a gradual liberalisation of China, with Hong Kong setting the example. But by 2018 they had finally accepted that this was not going to happen, and that in fact the reverse was occurring, with China’s authoritarian control extending over Hong Kong.

We talked a little further about the parallels with European refugees escaping the Nazis and the Soviets prior to WWII, and even after it started, and I asked her whether she had other relatives who had not yet left: Aunts, Uncles and so forth. At that point she turned her face away from me and I realised that I’d pushed a little too far. After a minute she turned back to me and said that they were all still there and either could not or would not move.

Another parallel and the most chilling of all.

Her family’s departure had happened months before the start of the protests that are now roiling the city-state. Those protests were against a new law that would have seen people arrested in Hong Kong extradited to China for trial, but they quickly became about much more than that. The protests did force the Hong Kong government to table the law, but nobody was under any illusion that they would not re-introduce it at a more opportune moment to be rubber-stamped. They are mere puppets controlled by China, and this is part of China’s extension of its society into Hong Kong. It’s the true meaning and the eventual goal of the farcical “One Country, Two Systems” illusion that everybody has pretended to believe ever since 1997 when China took control of the city-state.

The protestors and the rest of the world are under no illusions now.

It also should be noted that at the same time that substantive portions of the Western Left are spitting on the history and symbols of the USA and Great Britain, the Hong Kong protestors understand precisely what they mean in terms of freedom.

They’ve also been clever so far; relying on technology to self-organise their gigantic protest marches, thereby providing no leadership targets that can be picked off and arrested. As described in two excellent articles in Quillette and The New Statesman, they have borrowed from the IT world, making the protests “Open Source”.

They have adopted Bruce Lee’s fighting strategy to “be water“: flooding the streets of various districts naturally through legal means instead of permit-required marches; the focus of a protest emerging only after the protest starts; a rally can turn into a march; a march starts in one direction and suddenly goes in another; protestors suddenly occupy government buildings, wait until the authorities close them – and then immediately head for another target.

There is also the fact that several million smart-phones mean that a Tiananmen Square “solution” is going to have photos and video of the bloodshed circling the world in minutes.

China has been executing Denial-Of-Service (DOS) attacks on various apps used to organise the protests, such as Telegram, but the protestors are already using the Apps between phones via Bluetooth, avoiding possible crackdowns on the primary telecoms services.

The other thing that has held China back has been the potential economic threat. The loss of freedoms, even curtailed as they are, that have made Hong Kong such an economic prize for China, would mean a rapid decline as people with talent and brains escaped, as that young woman on the bus has. And whether formally organised by other governments or not, there will be trading kickbacks. China has made no friends in Vietnam, The Philippines and most of SE Asia, adding to its traditional enemies in Japan and India – plus the USA now. Tanks running people down in the streets of HK would hand Trump a powerful new weapon in his trade war on China. Even those who hate his guts might be able to make a June 22 decision.

But I’m sorry to say that all this bravery and brilliance and geopolitical consequences will make no difference in the end.

Anyone with even a basic knowledge of Chinese history and its Mandate from Heaven, knows that Beijing doesn’t tolerate dissent – let alone public dissent in the form of protests. Forced to choose between economic shocks, the effective destruction of an economic prize, and massive amounts of bloodshed and horror – versus a USSR-style collapse of their own system, the Chinese Communist Party will choose the former path.

As I pointed out in this Op-Ed, China is determined on “unification” by 2049: Hong Kong now; Taiwan later. What loss a few thousand Hong Kong lives for that goal? This weekend, they clearly told Hong Kong cops to step it up: tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, fists, and sticks were all used against protestors. Plus live warning shots. In the air. For now.

The following video shows Hong Kong police wading into people inside a train stopped at a station: there are sequences showing them dealing to protestors who are wearing yellow construction hard hats, but quite a few victims appear to be people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
 

This is what real fascism looks like, courtesy of the Chinese Communist Party.
 
A blind person could have seen this coming, and the way things are going, what you see in this video will soon be considered “moderate”. Beijing is willing to go much further than this.

The West may be able to do nothing to stop this, but I suggest that one thing we can do is offer refuge to hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong people – right now. Get them out and away from the coming death and oppression – and stick a finger in the eye of the Chinese Communists by depriving them of many of the best and the brightest.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 2, 2019 at 1:36 am