05 June 2020

exploiting a bad situation

The writing seems to be on the wall for Hong Kong. How long can a tiny but valuable quasi-state maintain any independence when the country surrounding it — and no doubt wishing to repossess it — is a hundred times bigger? The COVID pandemic seems to be providing an opportunity for some judicious encroachment.
   In a Facebook post last week, Leung Chun-ying (Hong Kong's Chief Executive from 2012 to 2017) dismissed Western criticism of the new security legislation:
The UK, Australia, and Canada — three English-speaking countries dominated by white people — followed in the footsteps of their big brother, the US, to issue a joint statement and interfere in China's internal affairs.
Leung's ambivalence towards Hong Kong's special status emerged in 2015 when he appeared to endorse Chinese assertions that he occupied a "special legal position" which overrode Hong Kong's judicial systems, and that separation of powers "is not suitable for Hong Kong".
   His sympathies in the matter of security legislation clearly lie with the Chinese government:
The national security legislation was made for Hong Kong and enacted for Hong Kong, so Hong Kong must stand by our country and truly make Hong Kong China's Hong Kong. We must clearly show these countries that Hong Kong is not their colony.
Leung put pressure on corporations that have a local presence — including the HSBC banking group — to toe the Chinese line:
It has been one week, but HSBC still hasn't taken a stance on the national security legislation. The UK government has followed the US government; whether or not HSBC will follow the UK government is something we need to be highly concerned about.
The implied threat seems to have done the trick. On Wednesday, both HSBC and multinational conglomerate Jardine Matheson publicly expressed support for the new laws that China plans to impose on Hong Kong.
   Readers with accounts at HSBC may wish to consider switching to another bank.