French climber Alain Robert is banned from scaling Hong Kong skyscrapers for 12 months on pain of a HK$1,000 fine. The nasty-minded skeptic and cynic in me wonders whether his punishment would be tougher if, instead of promoting awareness of climate change, he had pulled off his local feats in the name of (say) Hong Kong independence.
(Vertigo fans in particular should check the video with the SCMP report. And read his autobiography, parts of which are terrifying.)
Which brings us neatly to the first item in the end-of-week reading list: a look at the Sinicization of Hong Kong via a review of Ben Bland’s book on localists and others, Generation HK. Meanwhile, Asia Sentinel reports on the Sinicization of Cambodia (perhaps the most likely location of Southeast Asia’s next anti-Chinese pogroms). Also, a shocking expose of the Sinicization of Islam in Gestapo-ized Xinjiang, and a drier piece on the Sinicization of the Catholic Church in the Mainland.
For optimists, more signs that we are reaching Peak Panda-Hubris. First, Willy Lam looks at how the Trump trade war is undermining Xi Jinping’s overall wondrousness. Minxin Pei calls it China’s summer of discontent. These are relatively light reads.
On a distinctly heavier note, Sinologist Geremie Barme translates (a week after it was published) academic Xu Zhangrun’s epic attack on the Chinese elite’s privileges, the Xi personality cult and much more – Imminent Fears, Immediate Hopes. In his intro, Barme calls it ‘a daring act of ‘remonstrance’ … an act of sacrifice on the Altar of State … [and of] conscientious objection and of martyrdom for China’. (His annotations on the essay’s literary aspects are optional.)
I declare the weekend open with an amusing little Hong Kong government website featuring a handful of ‘selected’ (random/weird but politically safe) scanned 1950s-70s official publications. Next time KMB bus drivers whine about their conditions, show them what their canteens used to look like – eeewwww…