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March 10, 2023


Could it be the former cop, John Lee, who replaced Carrie Lam as the Chief Executive of Hong Kong last year, will be the one who turns off the air conditioners?  Carrie Lam, shown below, was reviled by demonstrators as she followed the instructions from Beijing to dispense with the personal liberties that existed in the “good old days of Hong Kong.” That period need not go all the way back to the days of the British Raj control but only to June 2020 when the government in Beijing issued a draconian national security law that was structured to crush dissent.  Demonstrators were trying to ensure that qualified individuals underwent an unofficial primary vote prior to facing the hurdle of winning a majority in the legislature.  Carrie introduced the “new rules” but chose not to hang around for the consequences that would follow.

The Economist has been tracking this issue for several years and recently published Hong Kong Starts its Largest National-Security Trial.  The trial is being conducted under the watchful eye of John Lee, shown below, and the careful monitoring of many stern observers in Beijing.  Who is more qualified than a former police officer to maintain calm and eradicate all dissent?  It is unlikely any smile has ever appeared on that man’s face. 

Apparently Xi Jinping, self-proclaimed “Emperor for life” of China, believes it is a threat to a country’s security if opposition politicians try hard to win at the ballot box.  Accordingly, the trial of 47 activists and former lawmakers has begun in Hong Kong for their alleged efforts to pick suitable candidates for the Chief Executive position rather than have the “Emperor” choose the appropriate person.  There was no surprise that the new security law was enacted shortly before the primary.  That law resulted in 227 arrests with the “alleged” crimes including the serious act of wearing a forbidden T-shirt which followed massive demonstrations like that shown below. For those who were incarcerated almost three years ago, there is little hope that the trial will result in freedom.

The security law does not prohibit trial by jury but allows courts to dispense with that tradition.  It now is the practice whereby a panel of National Security judges are picked by Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, John Lee, to reach verdicts.  Accordingly, take no chances that anything might go against “The Emperor’s” wishes.  He did not fare so well with Covid-19 by jabbing everyone with an ineffective vaccine while stronger Covid strains developed.  The people spoke and isolation ended, resulting in never-ending “Covid Tsunami waves of deaths” among the elderly.  The foreign media is beginning to disclose those results while returning Chinese friends have confirmed it with me.   


“Will the last person to leave…turn out the lights” which was a Sun headline describing the United Kingdom. It has now been modified to reflect the need in Hong Kong to turn off the air conditioners.  Despite the fanfare and assurances being made while I was in Hong Kong for “The Handover,” I could not imagine that life would be the same under Chinese rule as compared to that of the British.  Many wealthy residents of Hong Kong had the same concern and took British passports and bought properties in London.  In fact, the population of Hong Kong experienced its third year of decline in 2022.  That trend combined with the fact that the population of mainland China declined last year, highlights the obvious fact that “cheap labor” and “easy money,” – the historic mantras in both Hong Kong and China -- may become things of a past era. We may be seeing more sails in to the sunset in the future.

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