back to article Hong Kong ISPs beg Chinese govt not to impose Great Firewall on them

The Hong Kong ISP Association (HKISPA) reckons any moves by China to shut off the semi-autonomous territory's uncensored internet connection, African dictator-style, "would immediately and permanently deter international businesses" from staying in the one-time British colony. Amid ongoing months of protests against the …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "increasingly violent Chinese security forces"

    It is a sad fact that this evolution was clearly foreseeable from the start. China is not a country that encourages free thinking, and Hong Kong is now part of China after being literally raised on free thinking.

    China does not make concessions it does not have to. The question now is : is Hong Kong revenue more important than Hong Kong freedom of speech ?

    I fear we all know the answer to that.

    1. JLV Silver badge

      Re: "increasingly violent Chinese security forces"

      Is muzzling HK more important than seducing Taiwan back into the fold? Because this ain’t helping much in the 1-country/2-systems department.

      1. James 51

        Re: "increasingly violent Chinese security forces"

        The Chinese Communist Party would happily do a Tibet and send in the army to capture it if it wouldn't risk a US conter-strike (and fighitng all the US sold weaponary). It doesn't care about sweet talking them back into the fold. Sometimes it seems like they'd prefer the force option.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "increasingly violent Chinese security forces"

          The chance of a US counter-strike on what is effectively Chinese soil is close to zero. The benefits of any action against China will likely result in an unwinnable conflict given the relative sizes of the two forces and the associated logistics. The best Honk Kong could hope for from a military perspective would be UN troops in a peace keeping role and that is only likely in the event of Chinese forces failing to suppress protesters and the Chinese military committing criminal actions and the current Hong Kong regime either requesting assistance or the regime being replaced and subsequently asking for assistance.

          The real risk for China is taking Hong Kong assets and significantly devaluing them - if Hong Kong is just another Chinese city abiding by Chinese laws and regulations, with the challenges this would present for existing businesses, I suspect you would see significant emigration, particularly among the business community and in all likelihood companies. The winner would be Singapore and I suspect another large Asian city as companies looked to retain a presence but choose alternative homes. Given China gets Hong Kong by default in ~20 years, I would suggest the people/companies/economics would result in a significant loss and change in power dynamics in Asia.

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: "increasingly violent Chinese security forces"

            The long-term aim *is* for Hong Kong to be just another Chinese city. The blunder is in trying to accelerate that and impose it instead of letting it evolve.

            And, yes, this kills off any reunification support in Taiwan.

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: "increasingly violent Chinese security forces"

          "and send in the army to capture it"

          By "it" are you talking about Hong Kong or Taiwan?

      2. MrName

        Re: "increasingly violent Chinese security forces"

        It is true that what is going on right now in Hong Kong, and Beijing's reaction to it is only making their case harder in Taiwan, and indeed everywhere. Since the protests starting Tsai Ing-Wen the current president of Taiwan has seen her poll numbers climb and that of the Pro-Beijing National party fall. That said most of what Beijing does in the South China Sea also makes their case harder in Taiwan.

        But, (1) the Chinese Communist Party isn't exactly an organization that is accustomed to caring what other people think; and (2) who in the party would ever tell Xi Jinping (now ruler for life!) that he is wrong?

    2. crayon

      Re: "increasingly violent Chinese security forces"

      It's deplorable that the level of violence (from all sides) have reached the level that they have. However it had taken more than 2 months of protests and gradual escalation of violence on all sides before the police rolled out the water cannons. Compare that with the recent G7 protests in France where water cannons and tear gas were used from the get go.

  2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Question

    Does this show anyone actually on the council, or is a stock photo that happens to show persons of Chinese descent, one a) fetching and b) apparently distressed?

    1. localgeek

      Re: Question

      Judging from the alt text, I'd say it's almost certainly a stock photo.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Question

      If you look up, you maybe able to see the point going over your head

  3. EricM

    The Chinese Government not used to handling an informed population ...

    It's easy to control a population if you completely control the News and all Internet activity - and the chinese government semms to have been gotten dependant on that level of control.

    You can manipulate their perception, can blatantly lie to them whenever it suits you and can make them love the heroes of their government and the KP- even though these organizations roughly have the same percentage of corrupt bastards as in every other government.

    Together with the social scoring system that enforces citizen's compliance and curbs any critic to zero - even by people you just happen to know - Mainland China has become a full-fledged police- and surveillance state that basically knows what people think and punishes them for thinking the "wrong" things or holding "wrong" opinions.

    It must feel really alien to the chinese KP to not have that level of manipulation and control over Hong-Kong's population.

    Must be like driving a bycicle hands-free.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Chinese Government not used to handling an informed population ...

      I mean who wants to see Winnie the Pooh anyway...

      1. Paul Herber Silver badge

        Re: The Chinese Government not used to handling an informed population ...

        You'll Roo the day you said that!

    2. Diogenes

      Re: The Chinese Government not used to handling an informed population ...

      Yet Chinese students in Australian Universities are cointer protesting pro HK protests. They also came out in force to try to stop pro Tibet protests diring an Olympic torch relay

      1. MrName

        Re: The Chinese Government not used to handling an informed population ...

        Well yes but keep in mind that those students were raised to believe that those forces are determined to destroy China the nation, rather than the CCP. So they view it in a more nationalist and less political light than non-PRC residents do. Whether Hong Kongers want to fracture China, or just resist Communism is a nuance that not everyone draws.

  4. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Trollface

    Two points

    1) Whatabout something something The West

    2) Something something protestors, so the Chinese crackdown is justifiable

    1. trindflo
      Trollface

      Re: Two points

      Your 50 cents is in the mail.

    2. llaryllama

      Re: Two points

      3) Something something with Chinese Characteristics

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stay rich my friends

    Hong Kong is only as valued as its money.

    China already has all the people and approved opinions it thinks it needs.

    1. MrName

      Re: Stay rich my friends

      Beijing has also made clear that they plan to supplant Hong Kong as the gateway for Shanghai and Shenzhen. They have stepped up efforts to physically integrate the regions and have announced plans to incorporate both Hong Kong and Macau into a "Greater Bay Area" dominated by Shenzhen. The goal being to both reduce Hong Kong and Macau's uniqueness, both are governed as separate entities, and expand the economic base to more loyal people. At the same time they have increased efforts to move Mandarin speakers into Hong Kong which is seen by locals as an effort to dilute their uniqueness.

      In theory at some point Beijing thinks they won't need Hong Kong and by that time, it won't be unique.

  6. Chris the bean counter Bronze badge

    China very vulnerable

    China's IT systems have poor security as GCHQ pointed out to Huawei.

    China systems are very centralised...including Great Firewall of China. Makes control easy but also makes them vulnerable.

    Highly motivated Hong Kong hackers and script kiddies will no doubt soon learn they can do far more damage to China from there PCs than from the streets.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “Hong Kong now contains around 100 data centres "operated by local and international companies" and handles around 80 per cent of international internet traffic destined for the Chinese mainland”

    ...and this is supposed to be an argument NOT to set up the great firewall in Hong Kong right?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Yes, it is such an argument. If Hong Kong's internet is cut off, all the data centers will become less popular. Nobody will set up new ones, and people wishing to have servers in a place that can be accessed in China but aren't controlled by China will leave for other locations, probably South Korea for the main Eastern connections and eastern India for overflow. The investment in Hong Kong's data lines will have been wasted, and access to approved data inside China will be made slower because fewer lines will have to take the traffic. That's without considering the loss in business when all the people who used to use those datacenters look at all the datacenters in Singapore and figure that those will work just fine.

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Evidently the "Great Firewall" currently stands between Hong Kong and the mainland of China. What could be done instead, I don't want to comment and give anyone nasty ideas about.

  8. Nick Kew

    Freedom

    HK still has not merely internet, but the full suite of social meeja. As in, what Western governments are very keen to exercise control over and possibly cut in the event of civil unrest.

    Contrast what happens in a proper democracy. Like cutting off all communications in Indian Kashmir (and without even the provocation of rioting)!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Freedom

      "Contrast what happens in a proper democracy. Like cutting off all communications in Indian Kashmir (and without even the provocation of rioting)!"

      Who needs the provocation of rioting when the government can create provocation in other ways?

    2. David Shaw

      Re: Freedom

      The mainland Chinese media are claiming that these long term highly visible protests against Chinese administration of this special region by groups of students in HK are an externally funded and 'nudged' color revolution! Hilarious!

      As if. I'm mildly certain that they all decided spontaneously to choose a yellow umbrella, write slogans in English on placards and annoy the world's biggest up-and-coming economy just as the worlds-biggest-trumpton-economy is slowly declining, in the middle of a hot trade-war. Total coincidence!

      read more at http://www.cfic.org.uk/media/From%20dictatorship%20to%20democracy.pdf (1MB pdf)

      (US 4th edition, not one of the 31 other languages incl Cantonese or the super secret Brexit edition)

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Freedom

        A recent BBC radio report about the reappearance of the umbrella protesters was very quickly amended in repeats to mention another explanation: it was raining.

        Don't expect that to be accepted as an excuse though... you know Christopher Robin had an umbrella...

  9. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    If the Great Firewall comes to HK...

    You'll have to do without my witty and incisive comments!

    Though, now that I've written that, I realise this might not be considered a tragedy for the forum.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Danger

    China is trying to swallow the poison pill (HK).

    It would have been fine one grain at a time, but they’re not being patient.

    Expect severe indigestion.

  11. Jonjonz

    As If anything else would happen here...

    These poor fools in HK who did not leave the instant Great Britain sold them out, still don't get who their new overlords are and how they operate.

    1. Pier Reviewer

      Re: As If anything else would happen here...

      Sold them out? They leased it. The lease expired. Are you saying the UK Gov could, and should have kept it unlawfully?

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: As If anything else would happen here...

        No, but as British Citizens they could have not had their British Citizenship stolen from them.

        1. crayon

          Re: As If anything else would happen here...

          Except Hong Kong Citizens weren't classified as British Citizens. So you're right "they could have not had their British Citizenship stolen from them" because they did not have "British Citizenship" in the first place.

  12. PhilipN

    Balls

    Oh dear. Seems like everybody believes Western Media nonsense and repeats unsustainable hypotheses as informed reportage. Incidentally every day I drive along the same roads in Hong Kong to go to my office, shop at the same supermarkets, eat at the same restaurants etc etc ETC as ever.

    Many protesters have been arrested for breaking the law - not for protesting pure and simple.

    The original cause of the disturbances was unilateral action on the part of the HK legislature. The Central Peoples Government had nothing to do with it. Hence withdrawal of the bill as soon as China got involved without any loss of face that side of the border.

    The Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office held an unprecedented press conference a few weeks ago and stated categorically that this is HK’s problem and HK with its own police force will have to fix it.

    I could go on, and probably will have to, since I expect the same idiotic comments as above and which follow directly from idiotic reports and comments in and on the BBC, the Times, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times (yes I read all of them online in HK every morning without Big Brother smashing the front door down).

    By the way the reference to “the tightening noose of Communist Chinese laws and customs” is unbelievably stupid.

    1. DryBones

      Re: Balls

      Which law? Is it about protesting, perhaps?

      Looting, property damage, assault are all well and good. But China and its puppets have a history of arrests for vague and arbitrary violations like "disturbing public order".

      Something being a law doesn't make it legitimate.

    2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      Re: Balls

      @PhilipN - "Seems like everybody believes Western Media nonsense"

      Let's see if there are some sources you'll accept as accurate...

      "Incidentally every day I drive along the same roads in Hong Kong..."

      Sure, same here. For one thing, the protests, especially the biggest ones, have mainly been on weekends. Secondly, they've happened in particular areas: I live and work in Southern District, where protest has been limited to a "Lennon Wall" and a hold-hands event, but a friend who lives in Shum Shui Po has had several nights of tear gas and street fights. What was your point?

      "Many protesters have been arrested for breaking the law - not for protesting pure and simple."

      Isn't that always the case with arrests? The arresting officer has to believe the suspect broke a law, and the suspect is innocent unless found guilty by the court. How many of the arrests will result in charges, and whether the charges will stand up in court remains to be seen. One trick is that, while Article 27 of the Basic Law includes freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration, it is necessary to apply for a "Letter of No Objection" from the Police... and the Police have been (unreasonably?) denying those recently, making the gatherings "illegal assemblies".

      "The original cause of the disturbances was unilateral action on the part of the HK legislature."

      Wrong, it was the Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, who introduced the controversial extradition bill. Her intransigence started and fuels these disturbances.

      "The Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office held an unprecedented press conference a few weeks ago and stated categorically that this is HK’s problem and HK with its own police force will have to fix it."

      Do you mean the press conference on 8th August, reported here https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/08/08/beijing-deems-hong-kong-protests-colour-revolution-will-not-rule-intervention/? Zhang Xiaoming said that Beijing will support Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the police force and “If the situation in Hong Kong continues to worsen into unrest that the Hong Kong SAR government cannot control, the central government will not sit back and do nothing.” This was a few days after the Global Times (is that a source you are prepared to believe?) posted a video of Mainland riot police practising in Shenzhen. Can you honestly say that that was a coincidence, and not a blatant threat?

      "By the way the reference to “the tightening noose of Communist Chinese laws and customs” is unbelievably stupid."

      Why? The phrase is a bit flowery, but it is easy to see how the extradition bill could be used to extend the reach of Mainland laws to HK: it doesn't allow extradition for political crimes, but a murder charge could be fabricated to get someone over the border, then they're under Mainland law and can be charged with anything.

      However, there is one thing to clarify: the HKISPA is reacting to a report (Chinese link, is Sing Tao Daily an acceptable source?) that Carrie Lam and her government was considering using existing emergency legislation. This is the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, a British Colonial law, last used in the 1967 riots that says, "On any occasion which the Chief Executive in Council may consider to be an occasion of emergency or public danger he may make any regulations whatsoever which he may consider desirable in the public interest." and further clarifies that includes "censorship, and the control and suppression of publications, writings, maps, plans, photographs, communications and means of communication;". This, of course, directly contradicts the Basic Law, Article 27 (mentioned above), Article 30: freedom and privacy of communication and a lot more. If it was invoked, how would you tell the difference between an Imperial Governor imposing his will on a colony by force and the current HK Government?

  13. Richard Crossley
    Big Brother

    Careful

    The last time I looked, which was July, El Reg was readable from the People's Republic of China. The BBC less so. They may have already banned you :-(

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