We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Xinjiang: where lives don’t matter

Twenty prisoners live in one small room. They are handcuffed, their heads shaved, every move is monitored by ceiling cameras. A bucket in the corner of the room is their toilet. The daily routine begins at 6 A.M. They are learning Chinese, memorizing propaganda songs and confessing to invented sins. They range in age from teenagers to elderly. Their meals are meager: cloudy soup and a slice of bread.

Torture – metal nails, fingernails pulled out, electric shocks – takes place in the “black room.” Punishment is a constant. The prisoners are forced to take pills and get injections. It’s for disease prevention, the staff tell them, but in reality they are the human subjects of medical experiments. Many of the inmates suffer from cognitive decline. Some of the men become sterile. Women are routinely raped.

Such is life in China’s reeducation camps, as reported in rare testimony provided by Sayragul Sauytbay (pronounced: Say-ra-gul Saut-bay, as in “bye”), a teacher who escaped from China and was granted asylum in Sweden. Few prisoners have succeeded in getting out of the camps and telling their story. Sauytbay’s testimony is even more extraordinary, because during her incarceration she was compelled to be a teacher in the camp. China wants to market its camps to the world as places of educational programs and vocational retraining, but Sauytbay is one of the few people who can offer credible, firsthand testimony about what really goes on in the camps.

That’s only the beginning of her long, detailed account. It’s a distressing read – but to anyone familiar with survivor testimony from Stalin’s camps, it’s not a surprising read. I noticed just one significant ugly addition to what the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics did back in the day: “every move is monitored by ceiling cameras”. The Chinese communist guards can’t monitor everything in real-time, any more than the NKVD guards could back then, but they can replay it. No longer do they have to rely on the ubiquitous informers that for a crust of bread would sell their cellmates out in the Gulag. No longer does recognising and avoiding them offer hope of a brief safe conversation.

Now, as then, powerful media political interests would rather the story got ignored – so I encourage people to spread it around. (And h/t instapundit from whom I got the link.)

Samizdata quote of the day

“It is high time we stopped talking about the Chinese Government as if it were presiding over just “another way of doing things”. For all its economic progress, it is hell-bent on control, not just at home but abroad too. For decades, Hong Kong has been the exception to the rule. It is a hub that has plugged China into the world and the world into China. It was the place where Chinese intellectuals could publish books that couldn’t get through the mainland’s censors. It was the place readers went to buy books or use Facebook. It was where mainlanders went to buy formula milk that wouldn’t poison their babies when it turned out China’s most popular brand was tainted. It was the gateway through which Western capital flooded in to build factories and it is the escape hatch through which the Chinese try to get their wealth out, away from the CCP. But the Chinese Communist Party does not want its citizens to be plugged into the world. All it wants from the world is technology, money and obedience. The least we can do is refuse to grant the CCP any of them.”

Juliet Samuel.

Britain should open her doors to Hong Kongers looking to flee China’s overreach

Hong Kongers are some of the most educated and entrepreneurial people in the world, so even folk who depreciate immigration from the Third World should be able to get behind this idea, given Hong Kong is very much First World.

I rather doubt Hong Kongers (Hong Kong GDP/capita = $49,334, UK GDP/capita = $42,976) are not going to be competing with poor British people for council houses.

Security against what?

“China proposes controversial Hong Kong security law”, reports the BBC:

China is proposing to introduce a new security law in Hong Kong that could ban sedition, secession and subversion.

And:

Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, which provides the territory certain freedoms not available on the mainland, does require its government to bring in a security law. It had tried to enact the so-called “sedition law” in 2003 but more than 500,000 people took to the streets and it was dropped.

I would have welcomed more information on this mysterious clause in the Basic Law that requires Hong Kong’s government “to bring in a security law”. On what timescale? Who is the judge as to whether a security law does or does not meet this mysterious requirement? Oh yes, and SECURITY FROM WHAT?

But that paragraph was a model of robust independent reporting compared to this one:

A mainland source told the South China Morning Post that Beijing had decided Hong Kong would not be able to pass its own security law and the NPC would have to take the responsibility.

That makes it sound as if Hong Kong’s parliamentarians were not clever enough to pass this law, or that they were dodging the “responsibility” of passing it the way a negligent father might dodge his maintenance payments. To be charitable, these are the words of a “mainland source”, that is, a man whose tongue is operated from a distance by a controller with a joystick, but why does the British Broadcasting Corporation let pass without challenge the Orwellian language of the Chinese Communist Party? We do not have to do that. We are not in the EU any more.

The lasting impact of Wuhan coronavirus will be geopolitical

The report findings come as a group of Conservative MPs in the UK have written to the Trade Secretary to say that they plan to amend the Trade Bill currently before Parliament to legally require the Government to reduce strategic dependency on China. The letter — which cites the HJS report — is signed by 21 MPs including David Davis, Iain Duncan Smith, and Owen Paterson.

Click the link, read the report, interesting stuff.

Wuhan coronavirus, in terms of foreign political fallout for the Chinese Communist Party globally, is like Chernobyl was for the Soviet Communist Party, but multiplied by twenty.

Samizdata quote of the day

Taiwan is not a Chinese province, you bat-eating, dog-beating, grave-robbing, ethnic cleansing, police state cockwomble of a stolen Nazi uniform.

Mike Fagan

Samizdata quote of the day

“China knows it is in a strategic battle with the West; it is time we realised this basic fact, too. Using their comparative advantage of getting through the virus first, Beijing is pursuing its geostrategic interests via ‘mask diplomacy’, soft power, trying to change the basic narrative by offering hard-hit countries medical supplies, both as a showy humanitarian gesture and as a sign of their system’s supposed superiority. Leaving aside that these supplies must be paid for and some are defective, the whole exercise feels like an arsonist expecting gratitude for providing their victim with a watering can.”

John C Hulsman

Nigel Farage says ‘Say No to House Arrest’ – and a perspective on Red China

A video blog from Nigel, asking questions in his usual style about the lockdown and what it is for, police behaviour, and posing some questions about the UK’s relations with China. Then a China Uncensored video giving a view on the Red China ‘cure’ for coronavirus. He also has a good word for Stephen Kinnock going to see his Dad on his Old Man’s birthday.

A British politician calling for liberty, there is one.

And from China Uncensored, (a Taiwanese-backed channel I believe), a contrast on the American media’s soft touch on China with what has been going on.

Samizdata quote of the day

Resistance to sending bad news up the chain is typical of any authoritarian regime.

Stephen Green

Who is Dr. Li Wenliang?

Seen on a wall in Prague earlier today. Powerful, because most of us do indeed know who Dr. Li Wenliang is, or rather… was.

Samizdata quote of the day

The Chinese regime has a deadly calculus put before it, weighing up between suppressing numbers to save face or stopping the epidemic and potentially more deaths. A public choice theory disaster played to the extremes.

It would be nice to say, “well let’s wait and see how they manage it” as many reporters say. But if we still do not know the whole story about how the government managed SARS there’s no guarantee we will know how they managed this epidemic. Worse still, if another epidemic arrives down the line then we will not be anywhere closer to learning from past mistakes.

It would be nice to counter the propaganda videos circulating with facts about how well the government is managing the crisis but sadly this is not possible. All this proves to demonstrate the risks of a state that plays by its own rules, and is unaccountable to the very people it is supposed to serve.

Charles Paice

Li’s anti-government behaviour

Austin Bay at Instapundit:

Li’s anti-government behavior was using a private internet chat group to tell a handful of doctors and medical students that he was seeing signs of a viral epidemic.

Rather than listening to the message and taking immediate action, the government of China instead spent crucial days suppressing that message and punishing the messenger. Dr Li Wenliang and seven other doctors were arrested for spreading rumours, rumours which turned out to be accurate observations. Li has since died of the very disease that he noticed starting to spread.

China: Don’t just get mad, get even.