Fri. May 20th, 2022

Since China passed an expansive national security law Hong Kong last year, the mainland government steadily tightened its hold on the city, effectively quashing any pro-democracy movements.

Officials stated that they would censor Hong Kong films they considered to be a threat to Beijing’s sovereignty. This was a devastating blow to the city’s artistic spirit. Pro-Beijing legislator in March demanded that Ai Weiwei, a dissident painter, be expelled from a museum. Pro-democracy activists have been sentenced by courts to prison. Last week, Apple Daily, which is the largest openly pro democracy newspaper in the area, was raided and its top editors were detained by police. The bank accounts of the officers were also frozen. Today, it stated that it would close this week.

Vivian Wang is the Hong Kong correspondent for The Times and keeps us informed about the current situation.

Claire: Claire, the last time we spoke to you about Hong Kong was March. What has changed since then?

Vivian: Much has changed but it all fits with a larger trend: an increasing harsh and overt suppression of rights that made Hong Kong unique from mainland China. An annual Vigil on June 4 was prohibited to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing.

Please tell us about China’s participation in the elections in Hong Kong.

China has restructured Hong Kong’s Election System. Beijing has established a screening committee to ensure that anyone is eligible to run for office. The central government was worried that prodemocracy residents might try to sweep the upcoming legislative election. Beijing, as with the security legislation, also passed another topdown order.

There are a few significant changes. Only “patriots”, as defined through a screening committee will be allowed to run.

Also, the past saw half of the legislative seats being directly elected. Half of the other were reserved for representatives representing industry groups. This was often dominated in part by pro-Beijing candidates. Now, less that a quarter of the seats will be directly voted for.

Many leaders in the cause of democracy are currently behind bars. What does that mean for the movement?

They include many of the most respected pro-democracy leaders and people in their twenties who were considered the next generation. The government is telling everyone who is too prominent or too vocal that they are at risk. These figures were definitely important in boosting public morale and giving people someone to rally around.

This may not change much on a logistics level. In the last year, there have not been any organized protests or organized pro democracy events. Furthermore, the capabilities of the pro-democracy party parties, especially in light of the new election system, are very limited.

You also mentioned the censorship. What does this mean for Hong Kong’s pop culture?

Hong Kong has had a strong film industry for many years. It is now trying to become an arts hub. The new rules surrounding movie censorship and recent attempts at getting artwork out of museums banned make it difficult to see how the city can maintain its good name.

There are still some efforts to preserve Hong Kong’s culture world, particularly through independent books. However, the market in mainland China is so large that many creators don’t want it to be lost. This will result in less room for any important items.

What’s the mood inside the pro-democracy movement?

It’s still grim. Some believe that protestors will return to the streets once the pandemic is over and social distancing rules are no longer in place to ban public assembly. However, many of those I spoke to said they were really afraid.

For more information: A 23year-old protester has been charged under security law. He will be tried. He could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

  • Eric Adams was the leader after almost all in person ballots were counted. Maya Wiley placed second.

  • Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate conceded.

  • These results are not final, and we may not know the winner for weeks. The city still needs to count absentee voting ballots as well as ranked-choice votes. New Yorkers can rank up to five candidates according to their preference.

  • Find out more: A detailed map of votes cast, takeaways Latest vote count.

Amazon refers to its annual Prime Day as “holiday” and many workers find it miserable. Alex Press writes Jacobin.

The case surrounding Britney Spears’s conservatorship is back in court today, and The Times has obtained court records that provide a rare view of her perspective. Spears will address the court directly. However, it’s not known if she will speak publicly.

Spears is restricted by the conservatorship that she started in 2008. It prohibits her from making all decisions. Her father Jamie Spears is the steward for her $60 million fortune. The records reveal that Spears is now 39 and could not make friends with anyone or fix her kitchen cabinets without his approval.

Conservatorships are supposed to be a last resort for people who cannot take care of themselves, such as older people with dementia. Spears’s case has drawn public scrutiny in part because she has regularly performed over the past decade.

Spears’s dad and other people involved in the conservatorship maintain that it is a smoothly-running machine that saved her from mental illness and public struggle. However, court records reveal that Spears fought for years to end conservatorship. She explained that the conservatorship “comes with lots of fear.”

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