Posts Tagged ‘Hong Kong’

Curbs on Hong Kong’s freedoms could suck the lifeblood out of the city

October 13, 2018

The city thrives on a free flow of information and ideas, on discussions and even dissent: without these elements it may not survive as a financial and business centre

The inability to tolerate debate reflects poorly on Beijing

South China Morning Post

Image result for Hong Kong, Flag, photos

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 October, 2018, 8:38pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 October, 2018, 9:11pm

After kicking off negotiations in Beijing for the Hong Kong handover in September 1982, Margaret Thatcher visited the colony, where Jittery businessmen peppered her with ideas for extending British rule beyond 1997.

Li & Fung’s Victor Fung argued for “the continuation of the status quo indefinitely, with 25 or 50 years notice of termination”, according to a secret British document that has now been declassified. Fung worried that China didn’t understand capitalism and “without the free market system, Hong Kong would not work”.

The decision to deny Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet a visa extension is the latest reminder that the long-running fears about the return of the colony had a solid foundation. Other recent moves have narrowed the range of political expression, including the banning of the Hong Kong National Party and loyalty tests for election candidates. The business community’s worries that Beijing didn’t understand what made Hong Kong tick now look prescient.

Back in 1982, Fung warned Thatcher that China and Britain might not mean the same thing when they talked about maintaining the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong. Hopewell’s Gordon Wu meanwhile told Thatcher: “Chinese leaders might say that they wanted to maintain the status quo in Hong Kong but how good was their word? Their track record was terrible.”

After 1982, Beijing largely proved the doubters wrong. It waged a successful campaign to win over the city’s business community. Hong Kong businesses played a big role in the success of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, which jump-started market reforms in China.

Today’s business community largely seems at ease with the expansion of political no-go areas. It might be time to rethink that. It’s short-sighted to think that Hong Kong business just needs low taxes and good infrastructure. The city thrives on a free flow of information, and the end of free speech will be the end of Hong Kong as an international financial hub. Setting aside the value of freedom and human liberty, no financial centre can thrive without a free flow of information. It is telling that no official will comment for the record on Mallet’s case, but let’s take it for granted he was punished for his role as an officer of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in hosting Hong Kong National Party leader Andy Chan. This inability to tolerate debate reflects poorly on Beijing and suggests the fears Fung and Wu had expressed long ago were well-founded.

The last four decades have been good ones in mainland China, and Hong Kong has prospered as a result. But Hong Kong only thrives when it is different from the mainland. We need China to be open, but not too open, for a China that was as free as Hong Kong would leave no room for our city. There’s no immediate danger of that. Hong Kong in turn needs to keep upping its game. Our world-class infrastructure is part of it, but Hong Kong thrives above all on being an air-lock of free currency flows, of people, and of ideas between China and the world.

In 1982, Thatcher said she thought the Chinese genuinely wished to retain stability and prosperity in Hong Kong but they did not understand what those things meant. As the noose tightens on political expression in the city, her words seem prophetic. It is unfortunate that China, the world’s second-largest economy and one that has always been of great importance to Hong Kong, cannot have the confidence to understand that part of Hong Kong’s role is as a marketplace for ideas and discussion, for legal decisions that go against government desires, and, yes, even for obnoxious voices of dissent.

Chinese leaders have a reputation for being long-term strategic thinkers. It would be encouraging if we saw more evidence of this. The response to Hong Kong’s opposition has created a thriving pro-independence movement where there was none five years ago, and is a short-sighted attempt to hammer down dissent instead of nurturing what makes Hong Kong succeed.

Mark Clifford is executive director of the Asia Business Council


Hong Kong visa for Victor Mallet is a ‘one country’ issue — In China and Hong Kong, free speech can mean treason

October 10, 2018
 As for Mr Victor Mallet of the Financial Times being denied renewal of his work visa, this is not about freedom of speech (“Hong Kong government must clarify its decision not to grant visa to journalist”).
Agitating for independence is a treasonous act, and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, in providing a platform for it, was aiding and abetting a treasonous act. This is a “one country”, not a “two systems”, issue. Aiding and abetting a treasonous act is not freedom.
Wednesday, 10 October, 2018, 12:58pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2018, 12:58pm
South China Morning Post
By Peter Lok, Heng Fa Chuen

I refer to the letter from Lawrence Choi (“British right to remind China of ‘two systems’ promise”, October 9). Most of us in Hong Kong consider it beneath our dignity to seek refuge in a foreign country, and choose to continue living here. As for Mr Victor Mallet of the Financial Times being denied renewal of his work visa, this is not about freedom of speech (“Hong Kong government must clarify its decision not to grant visa to journalist”).

Agitating for independence is a treasonous act, and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, in providing a platform for it, was aiding and abetting a treasonous act. This is a “one country”, not a “two systems”, issue. Aiding and abetting a treasonous act is not freedom.

Demonstrators hold a banner that reads "freedom of the press, not allowed to be trampled" out7

Press freedom protesters outside Hong Kong’s immigration department after Mr Mallet’s visa denial. Getty Images

Foreign investors will not be scared to come here, no more than they are apprehensive about going to mainland China, I guarantee. But it is more than likely that more important Britons than Mr Mallet may also become personae non gratae. Locals taking part in separatist activities should not take their resident status for granted. It is they who have gone too far.

Peter Lok, Heng Fa Chuen



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See also:

The FCC has behaved like a rude guest, but Hong Kong didn’t need to evict journalist Victor Mallet

Hong Kong lawmakers walkout over media freedoms at city leader’s policy address

October 10, 2018

Hong Kong lawmakers protested in support of media freedoms on Wednesday ahead of city leader Carrie Lam’s annual policy address laying out policy priorities for the coming year.

Image result for carrie lam, photos

Carrie Lam — FILE photo

Hong Kong last week denied a work visa renewal for a British journalist working for the Financial Times newspaper, in an unprecedented case that has tarnished the city’s image and stoked diplomatic outrage.

Chanting “Protect media freedoms” and holding placards that said “Free Press. Not Persecution”, more than a dozen pro-democracy lawmakers staged a walkout from the city’s legislative council.


Reporting by James Pomfret, Clare Jim, Donny Kwok; Editing by Darren Schuettler


See also:

From artificial islands to maternity leave: five things to watch out for in Carrie Lam’s 2018 policy address

Hong Kong leader refuses to explain journalist visa denial

October 9, 2018

Hong Kong’s leader Tuesday refused to say why the city had denied a visa to a leading Financial Times journalist, despite escalating demands for an explanation of the unprecedented challenge to freedom of the press.

Victor Mallet, the FT’s Asia news editor and a British national, angered authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong by hosting a speech at the city’s press club by Andy Chan, the leader of a tiny pro-independence political party, in August.

Chan’s party was later banned as Beijing cracks down on any pro-independence sentiment in the semi-autonomous city.

An application to renew Mallet’s work visa has been refused and on Sunday he was given seven days to leave Hong Kong.

© AFP | Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the decision not to renew Victor Mallet’s work visa was handed down by immigration authorities

Facing questions for the first time since the visa denial emerged last week, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the decision had been handed down by immigration authorities.

She said linking it to the Chan talk was “pure speculation”.

“As a rule — not only locally, but internationally — we will never disclose, the immigration department will not disclose, the individual circumstances of the case or the considerations of this decision,” Lam told reporters.

She refused to directly acknowledge the specifics of the speculation over why Mallet was denied the visa, admitting only that she had “noticed there has been some talk on the street”.

However Lam said the government “will not tolerate any advocacy of Hong Kong independence and things that harm national security, territorial integrity and developmental interests”.

She refused to comment on how Mallet could be linked to any of those potential threats when it was pointed out that he was not an independence advocate but had simply chaired a talk by Chan at the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, which has also hosted talks by Chinese officials.

Asked whether journalists could now be punished for interviewing independence activists or writing about independence, Lam said she could give no guidance but insisted that freedom of reporting and expression were “still core values”.

Britain and the United States have expressed concern over the visa refusal and its impact on press freedom.

On Monday, a group of the city’s most influential lawyers also demanded an explanation, while the American Chamber of Commerce warned that curtailing press freedom could damage the city’s competitiveness.

A journalists’ alliance handed over petitions with more than 15,000 signatures to the government Monday calling for an explanation of its visa rejection.



Everyone’s Fleeing China Stocks as Foreigners Dump $1.4 Billion

October 8, 2018

Image result for shanghai stock exchange, photos

Chinese stocks’ worst October start in a decade has scared off the last remaining bulls.

  • CSI 300 has worst day following October holiday since 2008
  • Yuan slumps beyond key level as onshore trading resumes

Chinese stocks’ worst October start in a decade has scared off the last remaining bulls.

Foreigners dumped 9.7 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) of A shares through exchange links with Hong Kong on Monday, just short of a record hit eight months ago, as mainland markets reopened after a week-long break. The FTSE China A50 Index of large caps, which includes stocks most favored by overseas investors, sank almost 5 percent for its biggest selloff since January 2016.

The yuan slumped 0.73 percent onshore to 6.9222 per dollar amid speculation the central bank will give up defending the 6.9 per dollar level, further hurting the outlook for A shares.

Some traders said the apparent absence of the national team, as China’s state-backed funds are known, helped accelerate declines in the afternoon. Supportive measures from the People’s Bank of China didn’t ease the pain, following a recent barrage of negative news, including weak manufacturing data and accusations of election meddling. The slump followed losses of a similar magnitude by Chinese shares in Hong Kong over last week.

“Foreign investors turned bearish, unlike their previous optimistic buying of Chinese A shares,” said Steven Leung, executive director at Uob Kay Hian (Hong Kong) Ltd. “The massive northbound selling is a sign of growing concern over the relationship between the U.S. and China.”

Testing Demand

International investors had started to load up on Chinese shares as global index compilers increased weightings of yuan-denominated shares on their benchmarks and a slump made valuations more compelling relative to global peers. The nation’s equity market had already lost $2.4 trillion in value since January before Monday amid signs that deleveraging and a trade spat with the U.S. is hurting economic growth.

Foreign demand for another type of Chinese assets will be tested later this week, when the nation markets a sale of dollar bonds.

Bulls Turn

Brokerages are giving up their bullish calls on China’s equities. JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s cautious turn last week followed similar moves by Morgan StanleyNomura Holdings Inc. and Jefferies Group earlier in the year. Contrarians include HSBC Holdings Plc, whose strategists are sticking to the overweight rating they’ve had on China throughout 2018. It’s been a “painful” call though, they said in a note Monday.

The selloff has spread to stocks in Hong Kong, among the world’s worst performers.

Mainland markets may struggle to find a floor if foreigners continue fleeing, as domestic investors are unlikely to jump back in after being battered in this year’s selloff. Policy makers’ previous attempts this year to stem declines in stocks haven’t lasted.

“The reserve requirement cut was within expectations and far from sufficient to counter the negatives on all fronts during the China holiday,” said Zhang Gang, Shanghai-based strategist with Central China Securities Co.

“Even China’s state funds won’t be able to prop up the market until the systemic risks are all factored in.”

— With assistance by Amanda Wang



Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet allowed back into Hong Kong for seven days — “Associated with the wrong people”

October 8, 2018

Mallet returned from Bangkok on Sunday night and was understood to have been questioned at immigration

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 October, 2018, 12:51pm
UPDATED : Monday, 08 October, 2018, 2:17pm

A British journalist who had his work visa renewal denied by the Hong Kong government was allowed to enter the city for seven days only when he returned on Sunday night, even though tourists can visit for up to six months.

“The Financial Times’ Asia news editor Victor Mallet was permitted entry into Hong Kong on a seven-day visitor visa as he returned from an international trip on October 7. This follows the rejection to renew his routine work visa,” a statement issued on Monday by the newspaper headquartered in London said.

“Immigration officials did not provide an explanation for the shortened visitor visa and we continue to seek clarification from the authorities about the rejection of his work visa renewal.”

Mallet, who was away from Hong Kong last week and returned from Bangkok on Sunday night, was understood to have been questioned at immigration and entered the city as a tourist since his work visa was no longer valid.

Andy Chan, founder of the Hong Kong National Party, (left) talks to Financial Times Asia news editor, Victor Mallet during a lunch at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong. Photo: AP

British tourists are allowed to visit Hong Kong for up to six months without a visa.

Mallet’s visa renewal rejection – which came to light on Friday – was linked to his role as the Foreign Correspondents’ Club’s (FCC) first vice-president, where he chaired a talk by Hong Kong National Party convenor Andy Chan Ho-tin in August despite strong objections from the city’s government and Beijing.

The Post has approached the Immigration Department for comment.

About a dozen representatives from journalist groups – including the Hong Kong Journalists Association and the International Federation of Journalists – held a rally outside government headquarters at Admiralty at 1pm on Monday, urging the government to give a full explanation for the denial of Mallet’s working visa renewal.

Several journalist groups hold a rally outside Hong Kong government headquarters in Admiralty on Monday to call for a full explanation for the refusal to renew a work visa for Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet. Photo: Edward Wong

Asked whether the FCC would change the way it hosted events in the future, the club’s president Florence de Changy said: “I don’t see why.”

De Changy also said she had no concerns regarding her own visa: “I’m not worried, it is useless to be worried.”

Meanwhile, 30 lawyers who represent the legal sector in the Election Committee that picks the city’s chief executive also issued a joint statement on Monday expressing concerns over the rejection of Mallet’s visa renewal.

The group of lawyers, which included Bar Association chairman Philip Dykes and Senior Counsel Edward Chan King-sang, Graham Harris and Alan Leong Kah-kit, said the rejection needed an explanation given its unprecedented nature and profound impact on Hong Kong’s press freedom.

They said the freedom of press was an important facet of the right to freedom of expression and a fundamental right enshrined in Article 16 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, which mirrors Article 19 of the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Hong Kong’s sole delegate to China’s top legislative body, Tam Yiu-chung, said the government’s refusal of a visa renewal for Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet was reasonable. Photo: Winson Wong

“We urge the Hong Kong government to seriously reconsider the rejection of Victor Mallet’s visa renewal application and, in the unfortunate event the government decides to maintain such rejection, adequate reasons should be given,” the group said.

But Tam Yiu-chung, the city’s sole delegate to China’s top legislative body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said it was “reasonable” for the Hong Kong government to deny Mallet’s visa renewal after he hosted the talk featuring Chan.

“If [the refusal] is related to the recent event … the government’s actions are reasonable,” Tam said on Monday. “You have provided a platform for a person who belonged to a party the government was about to ban.”

Tam said the Hong Kong government and China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had called for the club to scrap the lunch talk in advance.

“When people have expressed their opinions and you went ahead [with the talk], what can be done?”

Is this any way to demonstrate the tolerance of Hong Kong as an international city?

Chairman of the Hong Kong Immigration Assistants Union Daniel Lau Yuk-fai said the duration of a visitor permit was subjected to change under immigration control policy.

“[British tourists] can stay for up to six months without a visa in general cases, but the duration can be shortened to two to three days,” Lau said.

He believed the department had questioned Mallet’s identity as a visitor.

“[Mallet’s] application for a working visa was rejected and he was not allowed to work [as a journalist], whether paid or unpaid, under his stay as a visitor,” he said.

Lau said the decision, in most cases, was made by a member of senior management after a dialogue with the person concerned.

A source with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed Mallet had been questioned at immigration when he returned to Hong Kong on Sunday night.

Lawmaker Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, leader of the Civic Party, called it an exceptional arrangement.

“The government first denied his working visa, then drastically shortened his stay from six months to a week … Is this any way to demonstrate the tolerance of Hong Kong as an international city?” he said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Hong Kong, one day after hinting at health problems

October 7, 2018

Photos posted on Facebook by his special assistant showed the leader and his family shopping and having a meal in Causeway Bay

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 October, 2018, 12:23am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 October, 2018, 1:52pm

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is in Hong Kong, and spent Saturday night shopping and having a meal in Causeway Bay with his family and security detail, according to photos posted by his special assistant on Facebook.

Before his unannounced trip, Duterte revealed to military generals that he had another endoscopy and colonoscopy on Wednesday in order to obtain “samples”.

In the televised speech on Thursday night, he added: “I will tell you if it’s cancer”.

A senior Hong Kong government source told the Post that Duterte and his party arrived on Friday night and the 73-year-old president was staying at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Wan Chai. Police had stepped up patrols around the area.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Hong Kong on Saturday night with his family and special assistant. Photo: Christopher Bong Go

“He and his family members will leave the city by Sunday evening. They came here for a holiday and will have no official events,” the source said.

Another person with knowledge of the matter said Duterte had no meetings with Hong Kong officials scheduled.

Duterte’s special assistant Christopher “Bong” Go posted photos on Facebook just after 10pm on Saturday night, showing himself posing with the leader, his long-time partner Honeylet Avancena, the couple’s daughter Veronica and security escorts.

Go included a line saying he was posting the photos to be ahead of fake news.

The group looked to be in the Causeway Bay area.

On Friday, the president’s spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte would let the public know if he had a serious illness, once he got the results from doctors.

“The result of the examination, whether or not it can be made public will depend on what they find out,” Roque told a news briefing, citing a provision in the Philippine constitution on public disclosure of the president’s health conditions.

“The president is not inclined to hide anything about his health. I assure the public, the president will not hide anything. If it is serious, he will inform the nation.”

When asked whether the president was dying, Roque said: “I don’t think so”.

Duterte has had a habit of disappearing from public view without any explanation. Go would normally say he is taking “private time”.

But in mid-August, reporters noticed a dark blotch spreading on his face.

He claimed his skin condition was caused by him going up and down mountains and not using cosmetics because they tended to “melt”.

However, reporters have of late noticed he has been using a heavy skin foundation.

Roque blamed the splotches on the president “not wearing powder”, which he usually does.

When Duterte went to Israel in early September and the dark blotches on his face became more marked, the president said he had forgotten to rub ointment.

At that time, Israeli journalist Neri Zilber noticed that Duterte’s schedule had “massive holes”. Zilber said he had initially dismissed comments to him by Filipinos on Twitter.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Neri Zilber


Filipino Twitter exists & it’s AMAZING. I tweeted about Duterte visit to Israel – almost everyone believed it’s a cover for medical treatment. Dismissed conspiracy theories until I looked at official schedule again. Massive holes during the 4 days:

“Almost everyone believed it’s a cover for medical treatment. Dismissed conspiracy theories until I looked at official schedule again. Massive holes during the four days.”

Go denied this, saying: “There is no truth to it. I assure you he is in tip-top condition. He can finish his term up to 2022 and live beyond. For those who speak or think ill of him, I will just pray for you here in Jerusalem. Jesus is on our side always.”

Rumours over Duterte’s ill health persisted after he disappeared once more at the height of Typhoon Mangkhut in mid-September.

Hong Kong rejects visa for FT editor Victor Mallet

October 6, 2018

Victor Mallet

The UK government has demanded an “urgent explanation” of Victor Mallet’s visa rejection

Hong Kong has refused to renew a work visa for the Asia news editor of the Financial Times, sparking concerns from the UK government.

Victor Mallet is also vice-president of the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC), which upset local and Chinese authorities by hosting a separatist speaker in August.

Hong Kong did not explain its visa decision.

China is highly sensitive about the territory’s sovereignty.

The former British colony was handed back in 1997 on condition it would retain “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” for 50 years.

China operates a “one country, two system” agreement, with freedom of speech and press freedom among the key liberties that set Hong Kong apart from the mainland.

The UK Foreign Office says it has asked Hong Kong’s authorities for an “urgent explanation” of the visa rejection.

Demonstrators hold a banner that reads "freedom of the press, not allowed to be trampled" out7
Press freedom protesters outside Hong Kong’s immigration department after Mr Mallet’s visa denial. Getty Images

Mr Mallet was acting president at the FCC when the event featuring young independence activist Andy Chan was held.

China’s ministry of foreign affairs urged the club to cancel it and Hong Kong’s top official, Carrie Lam, criticised the talk as “regrettable and inappropriate”.

Pro-Beijing groups rallied outside the FCC, calling for the organisation to “get out of Hong Kong”.

However, the club defended its decision and the talk went ahead.

Mr Mallet has been running the Financial Times’ Asia operations for almost two years.

“This is the first time we have encountered this situation in Hong Kong. We have not been given a reason for the rejection,” the news organisation said in a statement.

The FCC said: “Hong Kong rightly prides itself on its reputation as a place where the rule of law applies and where freedom of speech is protected by law. In the absence of any reasonable explanation, the FCC calls on the Hong Kong authorities to rescind their decision.”

In August, Hong Kong’s former leader CY Leung addressed an open Facebook letter to Mr Mallet, saying the FCC talk had “nothing to do with press freedom”

“Press freedom is a core value that Hong Kong treasures so much that the government of Hong Kong leased the Club [the FFC] at a token rent the building on Ice House Street in Central,” he wrote.

He expressed concerns that after Mr Chan’s talk the club could also invite Taiwanese separatist speakers.

China regards Taiwan as part of its territory and will not accept talk about its independence.

Last month, Hong Kong banned the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), saying that it posed a threat to national security.

It was the first time that the territory has banned a political party since Hong Kong was returned to China from the UK.

Will China Hack the U.S. Midterms?

October 6, 2018

President Trump recently accused the Chinese of interfering in American politics ahead of the midterm elections. “They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president to ever challenge China on trade,” he said, addressing the United Nations Security Council. He provided no evidence, and appeared to be complaining mostly about retaliatory tariffs by the Chinese government, which may hurt constituencies that support him, and an advertorial touting U.S.-China trade in an Iowa newspaper.

In a speech to the Hudson Institute on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence doubled down on the accusation, arguing that China “has initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections.” Neither the president nor the vice president charged China with stealing and releasing politically sensitive emails or manipulating social media, as the Russian government appears to have done to sway the 2016 presidential election.

And the Chinese government has not yet tried to use cyberspace to disrupt American elections, it seems. Yet the threat is real.

By  Adam Segal
The New York Times

Mr. Segal is the author of “The Hacked World Order.”

Credit Benjamin Currie

China has both the playbook and the capacity to interfere. Chinese entities operating with the assent of the government in Beijing already have mounted long-running cyberespionage campaigns against United States government agencies, the defense industry and American private companies. And they have conducted disruptive cyberattacks on political processes and social media campaigns in targets the Chinese government considers internal: Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

In 2012, during a wave of self-immolations by Tibetans protesting Chinese repression, online discussions using the hashtag #FreeTibet were often drowned out by bots and fake Twitter accounts. It is difficult to tie Beijing directly to the bots, but there is good reason to suspect a connection given that government-supported hackers have targeted Tibetan activists and exiles before then and since.

During the 2014 Umbrella Movement, a series of protests calling for more direct democracy in Hong Kong, Chinese hackers with suspected ties to intelligence agencies infected the devices of activists with spyware. They also conducted denial-of-service attacks on Apple Daily, a newspaper critical of Beijing, and on an academic website that was carrying out a civic referendum about expanding voting rights in Hong Kong.

Chinese hackers have often used Taiwan to test cyber espionage techniques that are later deployed against other targets, and they appear to being doing the same with online influence operations.

Beijing is suspected of being behind a disinformation campaign last year that claimed that the government of President Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan. was planning to strictly regulate Buddhist and Taoist temples and ban the burning of incense. The government denied having any such intentions, but temple owners from across the island held protests in Taipei, believing the fake policy announcement.

In July, the website of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party was hacked. Legislators from the party have complained about the proliferation of online trolling and fake news campaigns originating from China in the run-up to local elections — and ahead of Taiwan’s 2020 presidential race.

Seen from Beijing’s vantage point, these operations are responses to internal threats. And so far China doesn’t seem to have intervened in another country’s elections through online attacks.

China and the United States met to discuss cybercrime issues in Beijing, China, in 2016. Credit Jason Lee/Reuters

Perhaps this is because it has other means of influence at its disposal. Money, political and academic exchanges, the mobilization of Chinese communities overseas, the expanding reach of state media — all have been effective ways of promoting China’s interests abroad.

Compared with their Russian counterparts, Chinese intelligence officers historically have pursued their country’s foreign policy objectives by cultivating long-term relationships rather than through disinformation. Russian operations tend to heighten political divisions to drive a wedge in the target society: Russia-linked bots pushed both pro- and anti-vaccination information in the United States between 2014 and 2017, and a Russian agency with ties to the Kremlin bought Facebook ads about divisive issues such as race, abortion and gender equality ahead of the 2016 election. Chinese operations aim instead to cultivate common interests with powerful actors.

China’s and Russia’s influence techniques differ because their strategic goals do. Both governments may want to weaken the United States and its alliances, but Beijing seems more intent than Moscow on bending institutions to meet its interests: Perhaps it hopes to supplant the current international order, but not by completely disrupting it. For example, Chinese officials have proposed new rules for governing cyberspace, arguing that each country should be able to regulate its internet, free of outside intervention.

In the past, Beijing has denied claims by the United States government and American cybersecurity firms that it uses the Ministry of State Security, the People’s Liberation Army and private actors for cyber espionage. Anyway, there are no international agreements restricting such spying. Revelations by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that American government agencies have also engaged in hacking only make Washington’s complaints seem hypocritical.

When Americans accuse the Russian government of meddling, it simply refutes the charges, with little concern about being believable, or anything other than its power relative to Washington’s. Getting caught using cyberattacks to disrupt an election would seriously undermine both Beijing’s narrative that it has an alternative but cooperative model of international governance to offer and its vision of itself as a rising power committed to not interfering in other countries’ internal affairs.

China’s continued restraint, however, is not guaranteed. Beijing has invested heavily in artificial intelligencebig data and other technologies that could boost its ability to manipulate information in the future. There is a growing pushback against all forms of Chinese influence in AustraliaEuropeNew Zealand and the United States.

In addition, the Chinese leadership increasingly believes that Washington is moving away from a strategy of engaging China toward a policy designed to contain its rise. The loss of traditional means of influence and a more conflictual relationship with liberal democracies may eventually convince Beijing that it stands to gain from resorting to more aggressive methods online.

If so, the tactics it has deployed in Taiwan may provide a model for any operations in the United States. For example, Chinese hackers could steal and release documents and emails from congressional staffers or State Department officials to, say, expose and embarrass supporters of closer relations with Taiwan or critics of America’s allies.

As it watches Washington struggle to find a coherent response to Russian interference in 2016, the Chinese government is likely to think that it could avoid serious repercussions if it ever launched similar cyberattacks in the United States. Were China’s strategic calculations to change, there would be little to stop it from entering the online fray.

Adam Segal, director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, is the author of “The Hacked World Order: How Nations Fight, Trade, Maneuver and Manipulate in the Digital Age.”


Federation of Hong Kong Industries Suffering “Squeeze” of US-China Trade War

October 4, 2018

Chairman of one of the biggest local business chambers, who recently visited Washington with government delegation, says city ‘already trapped in the middle’

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2018, 9:35am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2018, 10:28am

Hong Kong businesses badly need new markets as the China-US trade war rages on, a business leader has said, urging the government to help them export.

Jimmy Kwok Chun-wah, chairman of one of the city’s largest business chambers, the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, said officials should speed up work on free-trade deals with other countries.

Since firing the first shot in the trade war in July with a series of tariffs, the United States has slapped 10 per cent tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese products. China hit back with a 5 per cent to 10 per cent levy on US$60 billion worth of American goods.

Jimmy Kwok called on the government to hurry up with free-trade deals. Photo: Dickson Lee

Almost half of the Chinese goods shipped via Hong Kong to the US will be affected by the tariffs, according to commerce minister Edward Yau Tang-wah. The US is Hong Kong’s second-largest trade partner.

Trade war aside, Asian manufacturers could find it harder to sell their products in American markets after the US, Mexico and Canada signed a new trade deal on Monday.

“The government should accelerate trade talks or enter interim arrangements for individual sectors to help ease the Hong Kong business sector’s woes,” Kwok said. “[US President Donald] Trump may change his tactics on China at any time, and Hong Kong is already trapped in the middle.”

Kwok, who travelled with Yau last week to Washington in a business delegation sent partly to lobby US officials over the trade war, said: “We expressed clearly to US counterparts that no Hong Kong manufacturers operating in China are able to absorb or share any of the tariffs.”

Yau met US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and other administration officials to discuss the trade war’s collateral damage, and promote business ties with the US.

Kwok said Hong Kong entrepreneurs operating in mainland China could consider circumventing the tariffs by setting up a factory in an industrial estate run by state-owned enterprises along the “Belt and Road Initiative” countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos. The initiative is China’s signature global trade push.

Kwok said the entrepreneurs could export materials from their mainland factories to the new factories in these countries for assembly, and process products for shipment to the US or other markets.

“These new factories can make good use of the supply chain services already put in place by state-owned enterprises,” he said. “For example, if logistics services are unavailable, this will not work.”

A government source said free-trade agreements were among key ways the administration was expanding the reach of Hong Kong businesses, together with creating more offshore trade liaison offices.

In her policy address on October 10, chambers expected Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to shore up Hong Kong businesses with relief for companies reeling from the trade war and fresh measures on IT development.

Hong Kong has signed seven free-trade agreements, the latest with Georgia in June. Others included the deal with the 10-strong Association of Southeast Asian Nations, mainland China and New Zealand.

Negotiations on a deal with Australia officially started in May last year.

Chinese Manufacturers’ Association president Dennis Ng Wang-pun said Hong Kong could consider bringing back some high-end manufacturing, such as jewellery polishing and design, and precision clocks and watches.