Hong kong

Letters: Bully XL owners are deluding themselves

Bed and breakfast Sir: Cindy Yu asks, in her ‘Leaving Hong Kong’ piece (23 September): ‘Where are they?’ I can help with that one. I live near Epsom, Surrey, and there has been a huge influx of people from Hong Kong here over the past 18 months. The area is attractive because housing is affordable in south-east terms compared, price-wise, with where they have come from. There are half a dozen very good schools in Epsom, Sutton and Cheam – and the area has very low crime rates. If anybody wants to seek positives from controlled immigration then it is here. The influx of the Hong Kongers (as Yu described

The high and lows of a Hong Kong jockey

You can take a jockey who has ridden there out of Hong Kong; it’s a lot harder, I reflected, after a chat at Newbury with Neil Callan, taking Hong Kong out of the jockey. Even though this is his second season back on home territory after spending ten years in that racing pressure cooker, Neil still watches every one of the 18 races a week at Sha Tin and Happy Valley and remains grateful for what Hong Kong did for him. He went out there as a good jockey – you don’t get invited to take up a Hong Kong contract unless you are in the top echelons elsewhere –

Dominic Cummings understands Singapore. The Tories still don’t

I’ve read Kwasi Kwarteng’s surprisingly positive review of my book, Crack-Up Capitalism. Although it was unexpected to see someone from the libertarian corner being so enthusiastic about what is clearly a critical book, the experience was not new. After my previous book, Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism, was published in 2018, I was startled to find Deirdre McCloskey, a leading classical liberal historian, praising the book as a manual for ‘keeping a liberalism which has made us rich and free.’ Globalists explained how neoliberals wanted to keep decision-making from democratic electorates. I took McCloskey’s praise as a validation of my core thesis. If it’s bracing to see a neoliberal academic

The price of courage: On Java Road, by Lawrence Osborne, reviewed

Lawrence Osborne’s novels are easy to admire. They tend to deal with characters trapped in morally questionable situations and their backdrops, from Macau to Greece, are often glamorous and exotic. Like any British novelist who deals with morality in foreign places, he gets compared with Graham Greene, but On Java Road, his sixth novel, owes much to Patricia Highsmith too. At its heart is a crime – the disappearance of a young woman in contemporary Hong Kong – but this, as much as anything, is a structural device on which to hang an examination of moral courage. What, Osborne asks, is required to protect democracy when doing so comes with

China’s ‘useful idiots’ keep their honours

Ministers like to talk a good game on China. But, as the Commons witnessed just two weeks ago, all too often there’s a very different reality when it comes to calling out Beijing’s abuses. After the Foreign Office declined to describe China’s atrocities in Xinjiang as ‘genocide,’ now it’s time for the Department for Education to turn the other cheek. For universities minister Michelle Donelan has ducked the chance to call on Britain’s seats of learning to cut their ties with apparatchiks of the communist regime. Steerpike spotted last week that Tory grandee Sir Iain Duncan Smith had tabled a question, inviting universities minister Michelle Donelan to tell the House what representations to UK universities have been made

The Pillar of Shame and the erasure of Hong Kong

In the dead of night one of the most prominent memorials to the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Pillar of Shame, was removed from Hong Kong University this week. The eight-metre high statue – commemorating the thousands killed in Beijing’s brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in June 1989 – was filmed being loaded into a container late on Wednesday night. It is not the only piece of public art to have been targeted. At dawn on Christmas Eve a bronze ‘Goddess of Democracy’ – a replica of a statue built by students on Tiananmen square – was dismantled by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. And at Lingnan University a wall

Don’t let China’s climate sins cloak its crushing of Hong Kong

China’s failure to bring anything new to COP26 surprised no one. The world’s worst carbon emitter offered no advance on President Xi Jinping’s earlier promise to reduce coal use after 2025 and bring overall emissions to a peak in 2030 — thereby negating for at least a decade much of the rest of the world’s efforts to clean up the planet. But spotlighting China as a climate sinner should not be allowed to cloak its other villainhood, as an abuser of human rights: so let’s not forget Hong Kong. The fate of the once-British enclave and its future as an international business centre have been much on my mind lately.

Folk music is still very much alive and kicking

As a writer who obsesses over the right title to grab a target audience, seeing a book subtitled ‘Song Collectors and the Life and Death of Folk Tradition’ I say, count me in. It’s a challenging subject, not often trodden with aplomb. I wasn’t even dissuaded when the first line on the inner jacket — ‘This is the first ever book about song collectors…’ — caused me to wonder what those multiple volumes cluttering up my groaning shelves were. Michael Church could have started with Mary Beth Hamilton’s admirable study of blues collectors, In Search of the Blues (2007), an excellent template. Instead, the five-book checklists at the end of

The Supreme Court’s shameful statement on Hong Kong

In a statement which will doubtless surprise the scores of lawyers, democratic politicians and human rights activists who are currently in jail awaiting show trials under Hong Kong’s National Security Law, the UK Supreme Court today made an announcement which is the best piece of free PR that Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has had in years. The President of the Supreme Court, Lord Reed, has issued a statement saying that UK judges will be staying on Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal and that ‘the judiciary in Hong Kong continues to act largely independently of government and their decisions continue to be consistent with the rule of law.’ Lord Reed

Why Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Square vigil will be different this year

Every year since the tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989, Hong Kongers have gathered in their thousands to remember the fallen. The annual Tiananmen Vigil, where candles light up Victoria Park, was an event laden with significance. It was a statement that Hong Kongers would not forget those who had died under the heavy boot of the totalitarian state. It was a symbol of the city’s distinctive history and its autonomy from Beijing. Even last year, despite the authorities banning the protest under the pretext of Covid-19 restrictions, thousands gathered peacefully. It’s unlikely the same will happen tomorrow. The organisers of last year’s vigil are in jail. This year’s

Why I fled Hong Kong

On 26 June 2020, I boarded a plane from Hong Kong international airport bound for the United Kingdom. Last week, after a wait of four months, I was finally granted asylum in Britain. My journey from elected legislator in Hong Kong to political refugee reflects the erosion of freedom in the city I love. The Chinese government has made considerable efforts to portray me as a violent agitator, a secessionist who wanted to separate Hong Kong and China. This is because I support democracy in Hong Kong and believe in accountability for Beijing’s despotic regime.  The Chinese government’s approach is to smear you then use that smear to justify all

Beijing’s cruel attempt to stop fleeing Hongkongers

The Chinese Communist party regime likes to portray itself as the new superpower, displaying its strength on the world stage. In reality it is an extraordinarily fragile, sensitive, fearful, petty and vindictive snowflake of a dictatorship that is so surprisingly un-self-confident that it responds to any criticism with aggression, any dissenting or disloyal idea with repression, and any perceived slight with tit-for-tat retaliation. We have seen this last week with the decision by Beijing to impose sanctions on nine British citizens — politicians, lawyers and an academic — and four entities, including the Conservative party Human Rights Commission, which I co-founded and serve as deputy chair. And we have seen this same

Boris’s China plan is a missed opportunity

From Brexit to China, ‘cakeism’ – the idea that it is possible to govern without making hard choices – appears to be the defining philosophy of Boris Johnson’s government. A hawk to the hawks and a dove to the doves; the Prime Minister wants to be all things to all men. The result is that the government have so far failed to make the hard decisions needed when it comes to China. But as with lockdown in March 2020, dither and delay is only going to increase the difficulty and trouble ahead down the road. The publication of the integrated review today makes this painfully clear. The report’s most significant passage is buried

Immigration is no longer a political problem

Ask voters what the most important issue facing Britain is and just 2 per cent say immigration. Even when you expand it to the most important issues, the figure only reaches 6 per cent. This is a dramatic turnaround from 2015 when 56 per cent listed immigration as one of the top issues facing the country. In my Times column today, I ask what explains this shift. The end of free movement and the resumption of border control has taken much of the heat out of the issue In part, it is Covid. Before the pandemic, net migration to Britain was running at 313,000. In the past year, though, hundreds

The Reddit rampage is a sign of market turmoil ahead

The Reddit story — in which a ragtag army of small investors have executed a spectacular short squeeze against hedge-fund goliaths — can be interpreted two ways. Some say it’s another populist citadel–storming in the spirit of the moment, but this time an admirable one because its target is ‘Wall Street’, which everyone hates: the so-called ‘stick it to the man’ version. Others see a fever of price-chasing, part-driven by lockdown despair, akin to crypto-mania and the surge in online gambling; in this version, it has nothing to do with serious investment but is a sure signal of more market turmoil ahead. To recap: several million retail investors connected via

The legal profession’s troubling relationship with China

There has been considerable agonising in legal circles over the propriety of David Perry QC, who had accepted a brief to prosecute pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. One of the defendants in the case is the 82-year-old barrister Martin Lee QC, the founder of a pro-democracy party in Hong Kong, who has been accused of taking part in an ‘illegal assembly’. It seems now that Perry, who has refused to make any public comment since the story broke, has now withdrawn from the case. If so he has made a wise decision. He is not the only lawyer who has had to wrestle with the ethical question of how close

How should Britain respond to the takeover of Hong Kong?

The veteran British diplomat the late Sir Percy Cradock said that Chinese leaders may be ‘thuggish dictators’ but ‘they were men of their word and could be trusted to do what they promised’. Well, the past year has put an end to the latter half of that statement. From coronavirus to the brutal treatment of Hong Kong, the behaviour of the Chinese Communist party has made it clear that the approach of liberal democracies to China must change. Last week, when the West’s media was distracted by the chaos in the US Capitol, police in Hong Kong arrested 55 pro-democracy activists on the charge of subversion. It is the latest

The EU must ditch its deal with China after the arrests in Hong Kong

Earlier this morning, 53 democrats from Hong Kong were arrested. Their crime? Trying to win last September’s elections. As absurd as it sounds, the new reality in Hong Kong is that it is now effectively a criminal offence, under the National Security Law, for the opposition to have the audacity to try and boost its representation in parliament. ‘The operation today targets the active elements who are suspected to be involved in the crime of overthrowing, or interfering (with)…the Hong Kong government’s legal execution of duties,’ said John Lee, Hong Kong’s security minister. But, as he later suggested, in reality this meant that those who were arrested were simply trying to win a majority

Letters: Labour’s left vs left struggle

Left vs left Sir: Your leading article (‘Comfort spending’, 28 November) makes the classic mistake about modern politics which prevents so many from grasping what is going on. You refer to Sir Keir Starmer as the leader of a battle against Labour’s left by its ‘centre’. Since Neil Kinnock’s pantomime battle with Militant in 1985, political journalists have been beguiled by a fantasy. They think that Labour leaders who attack villainous leftist factions do so in the cause of moderation. But this is in fact a battle by the sophisticated left — of post-1968 cultural revolutionaries — against the crude and embarrassing steam-powered left of Militant or Jeremy Corbyn. Each

How the UK can help Hong Kong

Those of us who spent our formative China-watching years reading Chinese Communist party publications learnt early on that the word ‘basically’ was a synonym for ‘not’. ‘The party has basically succeeded in…’ meant that there was a problem. Hong Kong is basically an autonomous region. Xi Jinping is satirised by liberal Chinese as the ‘Accelerator-in-Chief’, whose policies are hurtling the CCP’s regime towards collapse. This could be wishful thinking on their part. Certainly, he has sped up the demise of the ‘one country, two systems’ concept. Article Five of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s ‘constitution’, promises ‘50 years without change’, implying that the city would be governed differently from other