MOFA tames barbarian reporters

The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Hong Kong office summons foreign correspondents for a ‘lecture’ on putting positive energy into their coverage of the city’s Mainland extradition amendment.

The ineptness of the invitation confirms that the Ministry has little clue how overseas media work. (A more charitable theory would be that its staff are hip and aware – but are under pressure to use clunky CCP-style press-relations methods to impress dull-witted bosses back in Beijing.) Either way, it suggests that Chinese officials know Hong Kong’s extradition amendment has an image problem.

Why would they give a damn? Perhaps the Huawei/trade dispute trauma is getting to them, and they think they need to tell their story better, as best they can.

(Note the division of responsibilities here: if the local press needs prodding, the Liaison Office arranges it; the Foreign Ministry does barbarian-handling.)

On the subject of image, Michael Chugani at EJ asks whether Hong Kong is going from semi-democracy to semi-dictatorship. He also passes on a desperate-sounding line about how the extradition thing is basically Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s (inexplicable) idea – and Beijing’s people are now helping to ram it through in order to save her face and ‘ability to govern’. Since they can’t admit the amendment is a clear CCP initiative, this is presumably the best government spin-doctors can do.

Foreign Policy carried this more realistic analysis a couple of weeks ago…

…suggesting that the extradition issue represents the point at which the West starts to withdraw from recognizing Hong Kong as separate from the Mainland.

Germany’s granting of asylum to two Hongkongers – a slap in the face to the local administration – is a symbol of this. Another will be if Western countries revise their extradition arrangements with Hong Kong when the fugitive-transfer system with the Mainland goes through. Hong Kong would move from one side of a barrier to the other.

I declare the weekend open with some quick but worthy links.

The 30th anniversary of 6-4: Louisa Lim and Ilaria Maria Sala in the Guardian on how the CCP is rewriting history, and a thread with some interesting Tiananmen links. The Asia Society in New York is marking the anniversary – will the Hong Kong chapter do the same? (Answer: seems not.)

Esteemed Professor Victor Shih (to his own slight surprise) gets a full interview at New Yorker on the trade dispute, similarities between Trump and Xi (guess which is less economically illiterate?), and how likely Chinese elites are to rebel against their current leadership.

For hardcore Mainland corporate nightmare fans, Deep Throat listens to Alibaba’s earnings call so the rest of us don’t have to.

From the Jamestown Foundation, the under-reported (not easily reported, not-supposed-to-be-reported) reorganization of the United Front Work Dept.

And – better than it sounds – what Chinese millennials think.

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