Friday, February 26, 2021

Pandemic and political musings on the 15th day of Chinese New Year for the second year in a row

 May everyone be energetic as dragon horse deer
in the year of the ox/cow!
Today is the 15th day of the lunar new year.  Long before the celebrations of the new Chinese year of the ox/cow draw to a close (on Chap Goh Meh) though, the Communist Chinese government and its Hong Kong acolytes have already given those of us hoping for a better year -- or plain tomorrow -- for Hong Kong plenty to worry and be upset about.  Put another way: I wish I could be confident that the year of the ox/cow will be better than that of the rat was; but, alas, I'm not.     
As a general aside: it has long bugged me that there are people who will go to work despite obviously being unwell and infectious (be it with a cold, flu or worse).  And my feelings about people who go and socialize even while possessing symptoms associated with the coronavirus are unprintable.  Ditto those who decided to stop wearing masks (period or "just" properly) -- despite a mask wearing protocol being in place -- because they see the number of daily new cases going down.  (I've seen more people doing that this week than combined for the entire months of December and January.) 
And while Hong Kong's vaccination program has finally begun, the only vaccines available are questionable Sinovac ones since the arrival of the BioNTech vaccines (which have far greater efficacy than the Sinovac ones) has been delayed.  Hopefully, it won't be a permanent delay -- and there will be enough of the BioNTech for everyone for whom it will be their choice of vaccine; which probably will be a lot of people, especially after it is more widely realized that the so-called Fosun-BioNTech vaccine is actually the same as the much heralded Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine!     
In any case, as has been so for a good part of the lunar year of the rat, greater political clouds than pandemic ones have been darkening my mood as well as loom on the horizon.  Earlier today, United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet stated her concerns that China is restricting basic civil and political freedoms – including in Hong Kong – in the name of national security and Covid-19 measures.  This follows her decrying Hong Kong's rapidly shrinking civic and democratic space in December last year.
But until political leaders like her actually do more than "state their concerns" and "decry" what is happening in Hong Kong (along with the likes of Xinjiang), the fact of the matter is that the Communist Chinese regime and the government it put in place in Hong Kong are going to keep doing what they are doing -- including destroying the Hong Kong many of us knew and love.  And then there are the multinationals that feel that they "cannot afford to ignore the Chinese market if they want a better growth prospect" and are enabling China (far more, really, than it is enabling them).  
It is truly very painful for those of us who love Hong Kong, democracy and freedom to see what it is happening in our beloved city.  The "unauthorized assembly" trial involving Martin Lee, Margaret Ng, Jimmy Lai and six other veteran pro-democracy figures is not going well, according to a friend who has been in attendance every since it began back on February 16th.  (And the signs that a campaign is being mounted to plead for (clemency for) Martin Lee in the international media point to the expectation that guilty verdicts will be pronounced for him and his fellow defendants.)     
And even as this high profile trial drags on in court, there are signs that the authorities are getting ready to re-arrest other pro-democracy personalities and possibly not let them out on bail this time around.  More specifically, the 55 democratic politicians and activists arrested in January under the security law but then not charged have been told to report back to the police this Sunday, five weeks earlier than scheduled, and the fear is that this time, they will be charged and immediately put behind bars.   

Oh, and belated Happy Chinese New Year greetings to this blog's readers, and Kung Hei Fatt Choi!

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