Hong Kong to Ferguson: corporate police state

Student leaders Lester Shum and Joshua Wong were among 116 people detained late Nov. 26 as police cleared protest sites in Hong Kong's Mong Kok commercial district. Skirmishes between police and protesters broke out when a group refused to leave the site. (China Digital Times) The pepper spray used by Hong Kong police against the protesters (which won the movement its umbrella icon) was likely made by the Sabre company—its headquarters just oustide Ferguson, Mo., now exploding into protest over the failure of a grand jury to indict the police officer who killed Black youth Mike Brown. Sabre (slogan: "Making grown men cry since 1975") is owned by Security Equipment Corp of Fenton. Mo., and claims to be the world's top police supplier of pepper spray. Sabre supplies police forces from Hong Kong to Uruguay, as well as the St. Louis city and county. (Quartz) In appealing to the police to refrain from brutality, Hong Kong protesters have adopted the slogan from the Ferguson protest movement, "Hands up, don't shoot!" (Vox, Sept. 28)

Hong Kong: main protest camp cleared

More than 200 activists have been arrested in Hong Kong after police cleared the main pro-democracy protest camp at Admiralty. Among those arrested were opposition Democratic Party founder Martin Lee, student leader Nathan Law, media tycoon Jimmy Lai and singer Denise Ho. But as police approached the last remaining protesters, Alex Chow, head of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, rallied the crowds, saying the fight was not over. A dozen people who opposed the protests turned up to cheer on the police. (BBC News)

Hong Kong writers 'disappear'?

One year after the end of the Occupy Central protests, a very ominous story from Hong Kong. South China Morning Post reports Nov. 12 that mystery surrounds the whereabouts of four men working for a Hong Kong company publishing books on sensitive mainland political issues—amid fears they may have been detained by mainland authorities. The four include Gui Minhai, a mainland-born Swedish national and co-owner of Mighty Current publishing company, which has published about 80 books on China since its establishment in 2012. The company also runs Hong Kong's Causeway Bay Bookstore. The four have been missing for a month now. BBC News reports that Gui had written via e-mail on Oct. 15 from his vacation home in Thailand to tell printers to prepare for a new book and that he would send the material shortly. He has not been heard from since.

Another 'disappearances' of Hong Kong book-dealer

Hong Kong opposition lawmakers protested Jan. 3 at the office of Beijing's representative in the Chinese-ruled city over the disappearance of a bookseller who specializes in publications critical of the Communist Party. Lee Bo, 65, a major shareholder of Causeway Bay Books, "vanished" Dec. 30 after he went to fetch books from his warehouse in the city, Lee's wife told Hong Kong media. She said her husband had called her from a mainland Chinese number to tell her he was safe but would not reveal his location. She said Lee spoke to her in Mandarin although the pair usually talk in Cantonese. Lee is the fifth person linked to the bookstore to have gone missing in the past two months. Others include Gui Minhai, owner of Mighty Current, the publishing house that owns the bookstore. Missing person reports were filed for three others. (Reuters, Jan. 3)

Creepy televised 'confession' for Hong Kong desaparecido

The Washington Post reporst that Gui Minhai appeared on Chinese state TV Jan. 17 with a tearful "confession," saying he had returned to China to hand himself in on a decade-old drunk-driving charge that apparently resulted in a fatality. "I do not want anyone or any institution to get involved or get in the way of my returning, nor do I want any malicious media hype," he told the cameras.

This feels like something out of a Stainist purge trial, but is it possible that the guilt of the traffic fatality was weighiing on him and he freely returned to China to face justice? Unlikely in view of the disappearance of his comrades from Mighty Current...

Murkier and murkier in Hong Kong book-seller case

At least two of the missing Hong Kong book-sellers whp had been held in mainland China are now home. One, Lam Wing-kee, gave a harrowing account of how he was held five months in solitary confinement and under close surveillance. (NYT, June 17) But Lee Bo (also rendered Lee Po) denies Lam's account that the both of them had been adbucted there, saying he went voluntarily to cooperate in an investigation by authorities in Ningbo, Zhejiang province. (SCMP, Radio Australia, June 17)

'Fishball Revolution' in Hong Kong

In what the local press is already calling the "Fishball Revolution," clashes have broken out in Hong Kong's Mong Kok commercial district during a police operation to clear illegal food stalls. The raids apparently came as revelrers were showing down at the stalls during Lunar New Year celebrations. Revelers reportedly joined in to defend the stalls and the street-fighting went on for hours. Police fired "warning shots and scores are reported injured. (New Bloom, BBC News

The riots follow new student protests Jan. 26 at the University of Hong Kong.  The protests were held outside a regular meeting of the university's council, now being chaired by the new administrator, former Education Secretary Arthur Li—recently appointed by Hong Kong's pro-Beijing chief executive, CY Leung. (UCA, Feb. 4; RFA, Jan. 28)

Another Hong Kong activist "disappears"?

Hong Kong Free Press reports that Ray Wong Toi-yeung, leader of localist group Hong Kong Indigenous, has not been heard from since leaving a cryptic "final message" online. His Facebook account has been deactivated and his phone remains unreachable.

Wong participated in the unrest in Mong Kok this week but was not arrested.Three days after the riots, he posted a recording online saying that he was unsure what will happen to him, and it may be his "final message." Three hours after the message was posted, Hong Kong Indigenous posted on its Facebook page that many police officers had gathered around the apartment building where Wong lives.

Chinese official: Hong Kong sovereignty 'impossible'

In comments to the press in Beijing, Qiao Xiaoyang, head of China's parliamentary law committee, said it is "impossible" for Hong Kong to become a sovereign state. It comes days after an article in Undergrad, the student magazine of the University of Hong Kong, called for the UN to recognize as Hong Kong as a separate country by 2047. The article, entitled "Our 2047," also called for the establishment of a democratic government with its own constitution to replace the current "puppet" government. Since the 2014 pro-democracy protests, a small but growing number of people in Hong Kong now seek greater independence from China, giving rise to a "localist" movement. (BBC News, March 17)

Hong Kong-Tibet solidarity emerges

Hong Kong Indigenous member Edward Leung Tin-kei met with the Dalai Lama in India, along with 60 others from the Chinese mainland, Macau, Taiwan, Europe and the United States. “His main message was Hongkongers need to be determined and maintain their passion,” Leung said. Leung was in Dharmsala to attend the 11th Interethnic Interfaith Leadership Conference held at the Dalai Lama’s residence. The gathering was organized by US-based Initiatives for China. (SCMP, May 5)

Hong Kong: protests greet Beijing official visit

Scuffles brokn out between police and pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong during this week's visit of the most senior Beijing official to go there since protests of 2014. The scattered protests during the visti of Zhang Dejiang, the leader responsible for Hong Kong affairs, came despite extreme pre-emptive measures by authorities. Pavement stones were reportedly glued down to prevent them from being thrown by protesters. Hours before Zhang landed, activists unfurled a yellow banner on Hong Kong's Beacon Hill reading: "I want genuine universal suffrage". The banner was later removed, but other appeared on apartment buildings and other prominent locations.

League of Social Democrats chairman Avery Ng Man-yuen confirmed the banner was hung by his party. "Hongkongers want genuine universal suffrage and we want an end to the Chinese Communist Party dictatorship,” Ng said. “Hong Kong police have used a counterterrorism operation to paint a picture that the city is peaceful. In fact, people here are very dissatisfied with the government.” (BBC News, May 17; SCMP, May 16)

Hong Kong initiative to restore British rule

Calling itself the "Alliance to Resume British Sovereignty over Hong Kong and Independence," the "extreme localist group" is the second political party formed within three months that advocates Hong Kong’s independence, South China Morning Post reports. But "British Sovereignty" and "independence" would appear to be inimical concepts. We've noted this disturbing tendency before. Way to play into China's propaganda that the Hong Kong democracy movement is a foreign-inspired neo-colonialist enterprise...

Hong Kong bookseller gets 10-year sentence

Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai has been convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison in China for "illegally providing intelligence to foreign entities." Patrick Poon, Amnesty International's China researcher, said: "Unless China can provide concrete, credible and admissible evidence of the crimes Gui has allegedly committed, he must be released immediately and unconditionally."

To which we respond... uh, wasn't he being tried for a traffic fatality? What happened to that?

Causeway Bay Books exiled to Taiwan

Hong Kong's Causeway Bay Books has reopened in Taipei. Lam Wing-kee, the owner and manager, was one of five booksellers who were abducted by the Chinese authorities in 2015 for selling books critical of the ruling party. He was detained and spent five months in solitary confinement. (NYT)