Once upon a time the people of Hong Kong were proud of the airline they thought of as their own, Cathay Pacific. When you boarded the green and white aircraft with the attractive stewardesses in Manila or Bangkok you felt you were already at home. Then along came the accountants. They chopped everything. Economy class […]
Tag: Hong Kong
Originally posted at CX Secrets. Edited for clarity.
Your Reasons for staying with Cathay Pacific – Cabin Crew
I would like to mention a few things that maybe many people never really thought about when they are working at CX (Cathay Pacific).
#1 Reminder: You are Working for Someone Else.
#1 Reminder: You are working for someone else. You are not your own boss at anything as long as you’re bound to him/her.
There is no such thing as “the ‘company’ changed this” or “the ‘company’ changed the policy”. We have to understand and avoid using “COMPANY” and “CX” because we cannot define it as a “group” and must understand that any decision is made by a single person.
What is your reason to stay with Cathay Pacific?
Ever ask yourself what is your reason to stay with Cathay Pacific?
Let’s break it down and review these details one at a time.
“I’m in it solely for the travel benefits”
Let’s define the company definition of “travel benefit”. We can all agree that discounted ticket prices are a major plus when compared to a normal passenger paying “full fare” for a ticket. However, we need to look at this in a more selective way.
As a Cathay Pacific cabin crew, the ticket price is reduced but the trade-off is the ticket is only available on “standby”. Being on standby defeats the purpose of a discounted ticket and therefore makes the travel benefit largely useless. Although getting a seat on a single flight with travel benefit is somewhat likely, it still will not be confirmed until the last-minute.
A good example to compare the standby ticket is when you see something you really want online for a very cheap price. Then, you add it to your online shopping cart only to find out that is “Out of Stock” on the checkout page at the very last-minute because you do not have any actual knowledge of its availability.
If you only desire “travel benefit”, then Cathay Pacific may not be for you. If you are wealthy, average income, or even below average income, you shouldn’t allow this “travel benefit” to lure you into joining Cathay Pacific cabin crew for the long run.
“I want to travel and see the world!”
Yes, we all want to travel and see the world! However, do not become a Cathay Pacific cabin crew as a way to do this. If you truly want to travel the world, buy full fare tickets, skip the standby tickets, don’t waste your time in the air, and stay grounded instead.
“I have a family or other expenses to take care of and need to stay in this job”
Sorry, but you are about to run out of luck with Cathay Pacific. Would you say Cathay Pacific started out as a solopreneur (a business owner who works and runs his or her business alone) or as an entrepreneur (a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit)? If money important in your daily life, then please try to do something else besides working in CX.
Cathay Pacific does not pay you well and will not pay you any better as the years go by unless the law changes. We hear that “competition is tough”, but Cathay Pacific always has a positive profit (profit does not mean losing money).
However, a new set of estimated earnings or growth rate is set at a higher rate every year, which always leads to a “loss” when really the numbers are just a goal. I encourage all you Cathay Pacific employees to leave CX especially if you have a family because this is not the job for you if you have that kind of responsibility. Find something else, don’t be afraid that it’s too late. If you need help, just ask, but don’t stay silent.
“CX is my dream airline to work for”
“I like to be in the service industry and what better way to do it than in the air!”
It’s true that it’s pretty cool to gain the title of “Cabin Crew” or “Flight Attendant”, but let’s be honest here, depending on your reason, there are way too many other service industry jobs to do besides being an airline cabin crew.
Lately, there have been many discussions about Hong Kong cabin crews facing the problem with “retirement age” limitations. I just want to say vote for whatever proposals raises the highest retirement age.
The company newsletter says there will be a big “reduction in promotion” if the retirement age is raised. However, you are not going to receive a promotion anyways regardless of whether the retirement age is raised or unchanged, so just vote to raise the maximum retirement age.
Your service to Cathay Pacific
Your service to Cathay Pacific should not exceed anything between 1 day to 20 years. We can agree that most of the cabin crews are female. It has been said that girls are generally the “softer” part of the two main genders and I want to remind all female crew to take care of yourselves and never allow Cathay Pacific to interfere with your health.
The sky is beautiful but unless you are cockpit crew, you don’t even really get to enjoy any views and being in an aircraft all the time will both physically and mentally stress you out.
The average human lifespan is around 70-85 years. If you spend more than 20 years with Cathay Pacific, then you are literally reducing your lifespan by 25-30%+ from doing this job and it really is not worth it if you think about it.
Don’t serve others, be your own boss and make a dent in society.
The article goes on to describe a lawsuit accusing DealDash.com of the following:
- The lawsuit claims that expensive, supposedly high-end products, produced by Galton Voysey, auctioned off on DealDash are not what they seem.
- Several of these brands, such as Bolvaint, Kamikoto, Aava, appear to only be available on DealDash, the brand’s website or on Amazon directly from the brand.
- Most of the brands’ websites are registered in the same way to hide their actual ownership.
- Trademark applications for these brands lists DealDash founder William Wolfram as the chairman of Galton Voysey, the company registering the marks.
- The plaintiff alleges this is all a ruse to sell auction bids for overpriced products supplied by DealDash’s founder
Galton Voysey Background
According to their website:
Galton Voysey is a platform for building, buying and developing consumer product brands. We are home to 28 iconic brands that we have developed or acquired, and extend our professional expertise to a portfolio of global brands. We believe it makes more sense to test early to validate ideas that work and ones that don’t. This gives our operation and design teams a way to experiment with something tangible, gain experience in the process and reapply their learnings in the next iteration. With a proven network of over 140 factories, Galton Voysey builds brands across a broad range of consumer, lifestyle and home goods segments across Europe, US and the world.
Sounds like a normal private company developing and selling private label goods online leveraging manufacturing resources in the Asia-Pacific region with a startup mentality.
However, what is interesting is the background and the involvement of William Wolfram, the owner of DealDash.com and principle investor of Galton Voysey according to InsideRetail Hong Kong:
As it marks its third anniversary, Hong Kong-headquartered online luxury goods retailer Galton Voysey is recruiting more staff and expanding its presence in Mainland China.
Galton Voysey was founded by 28-year-old French woman Marine Aubrée Antikainen and its biggest investor is William Wolfram, 24, who believed the biggest brands of the next 50 years have not yet been built…
…Galton Voysey believes it is disrupting the global luxury goods market with new and fresh thinking, in many cases helping brands go direct from factory to consumer through their own brand websites.
According to LinkedIn, Marine Antikainen is listed as a co-founder while William Wolfram is both chairman and investor of Galton Voysey. Oddly enough, William Wolfram is not listed on the website and the majority of Galton’s partners are mostly law firms. These are the other companies listed as partners
- The Loft Studio, – The Loft Studio does not cite Galton Voysey or its brands as clients. However, it is likely this company produced the photos seem on the company website and for its brands under NDAs.
- Vistra – Vistra is a company providing “tailored trust, fiduciary, fund and corporate services”. It is likely they are supporting Galton with various offshore financing and related services.
- A partner with a magnifying glass and letters “AI” as its brand logo.
The rest of the website is somewhat vague on their actual work aside from a sizzle reel about the office culture and a press release announcing the company’s 3rd year of existence.
Galton Voysey Brands & DealDash.com
According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, Galton Voysey filed trademarks for its brands: Schultz, Wilson & Miller, Verdict, New Haven, The Barrel Shack, Kamikoto in 2016. However, Galton brands such as Bolvaint was trademarked by IPIF Limited, which was formed last July, while brands such as Ashlynn Avenue, Aava, Cate & Chloe, Bardenshire do not appear to have any trademarks.
According to TINA.org:
DealDash.com positively describes and endorses products that are auctioned on its
website. Some of these products are sold by companies that DealDash founder William Wolfram is the Chairman of, a fact that is not disclosed to consumers in any DealDash marketing materials. For example, during any 24-hour period, at least 40% of DealDash auctions are for products made and sold by:
There is a clear conflict of interest when a major investor and chairman of Galton Voysey is also selling the company’s brands on DealDash.com, which is also owned by the same person. It is even more questionable when this strong connection is not disclosed to the public.
The Brands Examined
While the brands appear to have quality products when examined at face value, things are not what they seem. Galton Voysey’s marketing team and growth hackers have done a great job promoting these brands with a combination of paid Facebook likes, reviews by vloggers and blogs that are either paid or provided based on free products, compelling brand videos and standard SEO.
Although these brands appear to be private label brands one would expect to find online or at a premium retailer such as Macy’s, the pricing strategy for the various products suggests they should be treated as premium or luxury items, despite the relatively new brand development and limited brand history. What is even more interesting is that these brand have products that have pages of positive reviews without really describing much about the products.
I’ve had three major Galton Voysey brands, Kamikoto, Bolvaint, and The Barrel Shack, submitted to FakeSpot.com, which scans for unreliable or fake product reviews. Below are the general results:
Fakespot has analyzed 6 products and 267 reviews for Kamikoto products.The Fakespot algorithm considers 60.0% of those reviews to be unreliable.
The Fakespot grade is based on reviews of products listed on Amazon with Kamikoto as the company name.
Fakespot has analyzed 5 products and 21 reviews forBolvaint products.The Fakespot algorithm considers 20.0% of those reviews to be unreliable.
The Fakespot grade is based on reviews of products listed on Amazon with Bolvaint as the company name.
Fakespot has analyzed 8 products and 148 reviews forThe Barrel Shack products.The Fakespot algorithm considers 60.0%of those reviews to be unreliable.
The Fakespot grade is based on reviews of products listed on Amazon with The Barrel Shack as the company name.
When reviewing the websites, it appears nearly all the Galton Voysey brands have the same website layout from Shopify, and relatively limited contact information. The Bolvaint website claims to have an office that is occupied by Patek Phillipe, while the Kamikoto brand doesn’t have a Japanese website, its return address is in a residential area, the brand site is hosted in the USA, and apparently the knives are made in China (which is unheard of for artisanal Japanese knives). The lack of real information behind the brands and brand history is a recurring pattern among the Galton Voysey brands.
While Galton Voysey initially appears to be a private company developing and selling private label brands, it is merely a tool for DealDash.com to promote overpriced products to unsuspecting customers. The fact the William Wolfram is involved in both companies without full disclosure, the limited information available for Galton Voysey, the strange trademarking process for the Galton brands, and irregular product reviews make the entire arrangement extremely questionable if not an outright scam.
Despite some glowing reviews by unsuspecting vloggers and blogs, none of the brands promoted by Galton Voysey can actually justify their prices due to their lack of history, actual reputation, or product quality in certain cases. I would have no issues with their brands if they were actually being produced and sold as private label brands to leading retailers as implied in their mission statement and official interviews. However, the reality is that they are primarily pushed through DealDash.com at inflated prices and placed on Amazon.com and their own brand websites to create the perception they are actual products.
For more details on the lawsuit – see https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/dealdash.pdf
For latest updates from TruthinAdvertising.org – see https://www.truthinadvertising.org/dealdash-status-updates/
Do you believe Hong Kong needs a new English language news source? Launching in June, Hong Kong Free Press is an independent news outlet seeking to unite critical voices at a vital time in the city’s constitutional development.
Through our links with Chinese media partners, HKFP strives to bridge the language barrier and raise local and global understanding of Hong Kong issues in the post-Occupy era. Our launch is well-timed, coming amid rising concerns over the decline of press freedom in the territory.
A much-needed voice:
With a fast, visual, multimedia design, HKFP will launch with a focus on local breaking news, showcasing translated and viral content while providing a direct platform to expert progressive voices, citizen contributors and advocacy groups.
As a not-for-profit business, HKFP will become more sustainable over time with multiple revenue streams. As we grow, we aim to offer more comment and analysis, investigative journalism, regional coverage and explainers.
Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists, Hong Kong Journalists Association and Pen America have all reported on the recent decline of press freedom in Hong Kong. With attacks on journalists, advertisers withdrawing from media critical of the establishment along with the existential pressures facing the wider industry, it is ever more vital that the territory has an independent platform for critical voices to be heard.
In addition to highlighting the lack of plurality in the local media landscape, the Umbrella Movement protests exposed a gap between the Chinese and English media. Some stories, themes and angles featured in the Chinese media were missed or ignored by the English press – other stories took days to be reported on.
Purpose of crowdfunding and how will the funds be used:
We are seeking to raise HK$150,000 to
- Complete our website and populate it with content ready for launch.
- Create a mobile news app for iPhone and Android.
- Sustain two frontline reporters for two months to oversee our launch period.
Every HK$50,000 over our target will help sustain us for one extra month.
May-June : Crowdfunding
Late June : Official launch of Hong Kong Free Press
Background of project owner
Tom Grundy is the founder and co-director of Hong Kong Free Press. His team consists of:
In two days, Americans will unite and celebrate July 4th, full of pride, with parades. Across the ocean, Hong Kongers commemorated July 1st – the city’s Establishment Day since the 1997 handover – in an entirely different fashion: divided, and for many, filled with anger and shame.
On one end, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying stared onto the flags of China and Hong Kong, as the Chinese national anthem is played in the background, and will sure enjoy an extravagant firework display across the Victoria Harbour later that evening.
For Leung, his bureaucrats, and (no doubt) many patriots, July 1st is of as great significance as the Independence Day to Americans. But for all that, Leung has distanced himself further away from people across the aisle, who took the streets of the city under an uncanny storm to show their discontent towards, amongst all things, China’s vision for the city’s political future.
A resolute march
Tens of thousands of citizens went on a protest to support the pro-democracy call to make the next Chief Executive election in 2017 to meet international standards for democracy. The protest, in the form of a march through Hong Kong’s Central district, is an annual event to voice citizens’ mixed demands of democracy, universal suffrage, rights of racial and sexual minorities as well as to show resentment towards the administration in Hong Kong and it’s puppet masters in China.
The number of participants is expected to match or exceed the benchmark set in 2003 when a crowd of 500,000 marched in light of a proposed anti-subversion law, Article 23, combined with the fact that the government handled SARS poorly. Prior to that, 1.5 million gathered sympathising the victims of 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in China during its immediate aftermath.
Turnout this year is proliferated by a recent white paper from China which said that Hong Kong’s autonomy under ‘one country, two systems’ is restricted and comes solely from the authorisation of the leadership in Beijing. This document exacerbated the effects of the city official’s misplaced economic priorities (which are, themselves, shortcoming) and repeated, bureaucratic call for ‘stability’ coupled by words (but not action) of ‘trying hard to forge consensus’.
Change is desperate
Many citizens also feel misrepresented by the parliament of Hong Kong which, because nearly half its seats are only open to a small number of voters belonging to an assigned professional or special interest group, is largely occupied by pro-Beijing legislator. Though even the most outspoken patriot amongst these legislators silent this night and refused to defend Leung’s unhurried political reform on television amidst strong opposition voice.
Leung’s legitimacy is no better than the parliament’s because he was elected by a 1200-small council which makes up for a pitiful 0.017% of Hong Kong’s population. This council is also largely occupied by special interest groups and thus, unlike the rest of Hong Kong, has a strong Beijing-bias; in the most recent 2012 vote Leung received a mere 689 votes because of infighting within the pro-Beijing representatives combined with infidelity reports of his opponent, not because there was genuine competition.
Protesters are numbed by the state’s failure to deliver change which had momentum back in 2012 but fell quickly on its feet due to officials’ successful delaying tactics. Many feel that the government is unable to deliver and consequently their altitude has been radicalised despite the fact that Hong Kong is by tradition a socially conservative city and intolerant towards change, particularly among its large elder population.
Young student groups are among those which are radicalised. Scholarism, led by 17-year-old Joshua Wong, has emerged in 2011 when the group opposed a proposed scheme of ‘Moral and National Education’ which aimed to elevate patriotism amongst youngsters but in its textbooks included bias and often fictitious language that favoured the Communist Party of China.
An uncertain future
This frightened the public and brought politically inexperienced students to the front stage of opposition through speeches and silent protests. Three years has passed that even but when Beijing insisted that the next Chief Executive to be ‘patriotic’ recently, fear of a Communist crackdown reignited. Only this time it is met with an increasingly aggressive crowd.
Growing in number and strength, strong believers of democracy such as professor Benny Tai sponsored a plan of civil disobedience as their last resort if they fail to achieve their goals. Some 10,000 citizens are organising sit-in protest in Central which will cripple Hong Kong’s financial district. The student group Scholarism has planned for a trial run of such occupy movement after today’s protest and they fully expect to be arrested.
It will be a shame if government’s neglect is met with violence and violence is met with arrests in order for progress to be made. The first of its kind, Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ promised 50 years of autonomy and is designed to make the city flourish economically as well as socially and politically, and act as a shining example for Taiwan – which China wants to overpower under a similar system but has gotten nowhere – and to the world.
America will mark their 238th anniversary of independence on Friday; Hong Kong’s political system is only 17 years old. Yet the city is already exceedingly divided and politicised, and a gloomy future seems set for the three decades ahead.
Could anybody out there give me a quick introduction to the Hong Kong government and its political landscape? I’ve always had the impression it had a democracy and there are like dozens of political parties in the city.
Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous city that is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) within China under the Basic Law (HK’s mini-constitution). In essence, Hong Kong SAR is semi-democratic since it does not have universal suffrage, a basic tenet of a democracy.
The Chief Executive, currently CY Leung, is the head of the government in Hong Kong SAR and is answerable directly to Beijing.
According to the Basic Law, the Chief Executive (CE) must be a Chinese citizen who is a permanent resident of the HKSAR with no right of abode in any foreign country. The person must be at least 40 years old, and has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of no less than 20 years
The Chief Executive is elected by 1200 members drawn from functional constituencies and government officials. There are no direct elections for the CE post as explained below:
However, because so many of the functional constituency parties are instructed by Beijing for whom to vote, the outcome was already known regardless of televised debates and campaigning.
Hong Kong also has a unicameral legislature popularly called the LegCo, or Legislative Council. The LegCo consists of 70 elected members with a fixed 4-year term. Lawmakers in the LegCo, are either elected by direct elections for the 35 seats representing geographical constituencies (districts) or by functional constituencies representing professional or special interest groups (numbering around 230000) for the other 35 seats in the 70-seat LegCo.
The major functions of the LegCo are to enact, amend or repeal laws, check and approve budgets, approve taxation and public expenditure, and review the work of the government. Due to the design of the Legislative Council, the majority of elected officials tend to be from pro-Beijing political parties or groupings, which often work together for corporate-government interests.
Currently, two groups are fighting for influence in the Hong Kong SAR government:
Pro-Beijing coalition: political parties united by the political ideology of being closer to Beijing government, but differ on other issues. Since the handover, the Pro-Beijing camp have never lost being the majority in the LegCo, thanks to support from functional constituents and collaboration among the Pro-Beijing parties. Notable parties include the DAB (Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong), Liberal Party, and FTU (Federation of Trade Unions).
Pan-Democrats: political parties united by calls for democratic reform, universal suffrage and human rights. Pan-Democrats are often labelled an “opposition camp” by various groups and media aligned with the mainland Chinese government, since the Pan-Democrats goal run counter to values promoted by the Chinese Communist Party. Recently, 27 democratic legislators formed the Alliance for True Democracy, a formal coalition to show solidarity for genuine democracy. Notable parties include the Democratic Party, Civic Party, and People Power.
Question: What’s the deal with the Northeast New Territories (#NENT) Development Plan? I heard that some companies (or few people) are going to get a lot of money from the land? And something was passed a few days ago in 立法㑹 under questionable circumstances? What happened?
Answer: The North East New Territories (NENT) Development Project would allow Mainland Chinese to enter Hong Kong without a visa, which effectively removes the border between Hong Kong SAR and China.
However, this is against the Basic Law (HK’s mini-constitution), which stresses “one country, two systems”, where Hong Kong enjoys autonomy despite being part of China.
June 27th, 2014 – Members of the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee voted 29-2 to move forward with the NENT Development Project, despite irregularities with rushed voting procedures.
8 Reasons Why the Northeast New Territories (NENT) Development Plan is Wrong for Hong Kong
1. Doesn’t resolve Hong Kong’s Housing Issues
North-East New Territories Development Plan (NENT Plan) involves 614 hectares of land. Of this, 400 hectares of the plan requires the government to buy from landowners.
Residential development accounts for 96 hectares of the project, which is estimated to provide 60700 residential units: 40% public housing and 60% private housing.
Majority of private housing part for project is “low density luxury housing” (54 hectares), and only 36 hectares of the entire project is used for pubic housing – just 6% of the project!
2. Destroys Traditional Communities
Despite preserving some traditional villages, over 10,000 people are still affected by the plan. Homes inhabited by over 3 generations of families will be destroyed in the name of development.
NENT Plan also destroys quality of life for inhabitants in the affected area. Landowning villagers are being forced to leave, but unable to afford replacement homes despite government compensation.
Most of all, all inhabitants will lose their homes and traditions, under the NENT Plan.
3. Many Elderly Will Be Made Homeless
HK SAR government’s latest NENT Plan is to demolish the existing elderly home in Shek Tsai Leng in 2 phrases and replace it with a public estate for the elderly in 2023.
It sounds great on paper, but not all the elderly would qualify to live in the replacement estate, which means there will be those made homeless by the development plan.
Even if they qualify to move into the replacement estate, the first phrase of demolition will badly affect the environment and quality of life for elderly who are living in the area.
4. Major Conflicts of Interest
The Town Planning Board (TPB) has not approved the NENT Development Plan but HK SAR Government bypassed it to apply for public funding, which is against procedure.
Also, details and size of land acquisitions has not been finalised for proper review. The Financial Committee of the Legislative Council (LegCo) that approved the plan is composed of legislators with direct conflicts of interests.
Legislators with such conflicts of interest include Ng Leung-sing (Chairman of the Committee who is tied to Sun Hung Kai), James Tien Pei-chun (New World Development), Lau Wong-fat and Abraham Razack.
5. Destroys Local Farming and Agriculture
The NENT Plan will destroy 25% of active farmlands in Hong Kong SAR and what remains of locally produced vegetables and livestock along with harming the environment. The HK SAR Government has no plans for real sustainable development in Hong Kong’s rural areas.
NENT Plan will turn remaining farmlands into “to-be-developed” land, which allows developers to continue accumulating land for development into private luxury housing, shopping centres, and other commercial development catering to Mainland Chinese.
6. Doesn’t Create Jobs
The NENT Plan claims that it will “..maximise the increasingly frequent economic interactions” similar to ZAPE in Macau and the Shenzhen SEZ as in the past. Plan also claims the NENT development will provide around 37700 new job opportunities, including research and development, retail and community services.
However, other relevant necessary services including education are not specified. There is also concern whether citizens who move into the NENT development area will have the necessary skills and qualifications needed to fulfill the demand in these industries or not.
7. Ignores Public Concerns
Villagers affected by NENT Plan and activists supporting the villagers have exhausted all methods to urge the government to withdraw the plan.
They have spoken to relevant government officials, protested outside the Lands Department, collected 50,000 signatures opposing the Plan, and some elderly affected by the plan have knelt at the LegCo begging them to withdraw the Plan.
However, the government and those in power refused to change their minds.
8. An Expensive White Elephant
The HK SAR Government plans to spend USD15.5 billion to build a “new Northeast New Territories”. Around USD5.3 billion will be spent on infrastructure, and USD3.9 billion is used for land compensation.
About 95% of land qualified for government compensation is owned by major developers and indigenous villagers.
Instead of destroying local agriculture and livelihood of people living in the area, the government could have used the money on projects that are more acceptable to Hongkongers.
This NENT Plan highlights the collusion between government and big business, and the pro-Beijing camp’s domination of the LegCo.
Chief Executive CY Leung has gone on record saying he wanted the NENT as a special area where Mainland Chinese can enter visa-free. This would erase the border between China and HK.
The NENT development area also matches the land holdings of major property developers, suggesting collusion between government and big business.
The Plan fails to resolve ongoing housing and job creation issues in Hong Kong. It would also result in loss of locally farmed crops that contribute to a sustainable Hong Kong.
This USD15.5 billion White Elephant project is also a potential waste of taxpayers’ money.
Are you comfortable to bear this cost?
Question: I’ve read political forums and debates on CNN and I just can’t understand what the debates and discussions in Hong Kong, China are about. Can you please explain to me the political issues that Hong Kong is now tackling and current events?
Hong Kong was formally a British colony. On July 1st, 1997, Hong Kong entered a 50 year transition period (it will end in 2047) to Chinese rule. The Hong Kong people do not like the Chinese government (except those involved in government or business) and are terrified of becoming part of China. The idea of the transition period is that Hong Kong will still have its own government and not be fully integrated into China right away. This kind of gradual change would diffuse the anger and outrage of the Hong Kong people over time.
In the meantime, China is socially, politically, culturally, linguistically, economically and physically enveloping Hong Kong. Currently, huge numbers of mainland tourists who spend money very well are critical for Hong Kong’s economy. In the mind of these tourists, Hong Kong is a part of China. As a result, they do not change their culture, try to speak Cantonese or even English when they visit. They spit, shit in the streets, and are offensive to the local people. But because they spend so much money, locals have to speak there language. As a result, Cantonese is on the decline even in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is part of the pearl delta region. The mainland is currently rapidly developing that entire pearl delta region to create a mega city that is roughly the size of Denmark. Hong Kong will inevitably be swallowed by this city.
In a nutshell, the outrage in Hong Kong now is their response to being gradually consumed by the mainland in almost every aspect of life. This is a misunderstanding of the 50 year transition period. Locals want it to be a 50 year extension of autonomous rule, but really it is the period of gradual takeover by the mainland.
Also, as the New Territories (the northern part of Hong Kong which borders Mainland China) are developed, the Hong Kong government (which is really just a puppet of the mainland) is planning to bring in many mainlanders as permanent residents of Hong Kong. As Hong Kongers become more and more diluted, they lose their voice. That voice is already so weak because they don’t even have suffrage and can’t vote for their political leader (who already needs to be approved by the central government anyway).
The loudest Hong Kong people, especially youngsters, want to select their own leader in the 2017 election, but Beijing wants to keep some control of Hong Kong by limiting whom Hong Kong voters can vote for.
As part of an “Occupy Central” campaign, a non-binding referendum is staged to get public endorsement for the demand of nomination by the public, as opposed to just a small group of Beijing loyalists representatives called the “nominating committee,” which is stipulated in the Basic Law (some sort of mini constitution for Hong Kong). The result of the referendum doesn’t matter that much really. It represents over 750,000 voters’ wish to have a say in who can be voted in the 2017 election.
What’s next is that, before the end of the year, Hong Kong government will have to release to the public a proposed method of selecting Hong Kong’s Chief Executive in 2017. Occupy Central threatens to blockade traffic in Central, the business district, if the proposal doesn’t fit their demand of a “universal suffrage in accordance with international standards.” Hong Kong government and Beijing officials have deplored the disruptive protest, which its organizers call “civil disobedience”. More political chaos will ensue. It might agitate Hong Kong activists and make them do more radical things, such as storming government or legislative buildings.
Another key thing to realize about the environment now is that June-July is a very sensitive time for Hong Kongers politically. The anniversary of Tienanmen Square, even though it did not take place in Hong Kong, is very important to Hong Kongers. July 1st is the anniversary of the beginning of the transition period.
Ever since Maragaret Thatcher handed Hong Kong back to China in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, Hong Kong has been going downhill.
|Hong Kong, alternatively known by its initials H.K., is a city-state and is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea.|
After 1997, it seemed like the handover wasn’t such a bad idea to the eyes of many. A good number of Hong Kongers who emigrated to Canada, Australia, the UK and even America moved back to Hong Kong to take advantage of the emerging Chinese market and the improvements in the city since they left.
Even John Stossel used the post-97 Hong Kong as an example of the wonders of “Economic Freedom” in his now-infamous “Is America Number One?” special. The late Milton Friedman claimed that he was wrong about Hong Kong going into decline in his revised introduction to his popular “Freedom and Capitalism” book. If only Milton Friedman knew what happened to Hong Kong since his passing.
Hong Kong at this time is slipping from being an international city in Asia to becoming just another Tier 2 mainland Chinese city. The economic freedom that is frequently cited by right-wing economists, libertarians, and traditional liberals is becoming obsolete. In 2013, the start-up HKTV was denied a television broadcast licence on the grounds that the company was not a division of a major corporation.
On the other hand, cable operators with friends in government were able to easily security television licences bringing the number of free-to-air networks to being run by now 4 corporations. Later attempts by HKTV to air as an online service were also blocked by the Hong Kong government. I am not sure if this is economic freedom but it sounds like a form of corporatism or socialism for the wealthy to me.
The reality is economic freedom is no longer real in Hong Kong unless you’re the head of a major HK corporation or in bed with the government. Any attempts to dream big or become massive will only be crushed by the establishment due to their need to preserve their own status quo. As far as they’re concerned, people can still continue to exist as small or medium-sized business owners but never at a corporate level.
China’s Paid Trolls: Meet the 50-Cent Party
The Chinese government hires people to distort or deflect conversations on the web. Ai Weiwei persuades an “online commentator” to tell all.
By Ai Weiwei  Published 17 October 2012
The Chinese government hires people to distort or deflect conversations on the web. Ai Weiwei persuades an “online commentator” to tell all.
In February 2011, Ai Weiwei tweeted that he would like to conduct an interview with an “online commentator”. Commentators are hired by the Chinese government or the Communist Party of China to post comments favourable towards party policies and to shape public opinion on internet message boards and forums. The commentators are known as the 50-Cent Party, as they are said to be paid 50 cents for every post that steers a discussion away from anti-party content or that advances the Communist Party line.
Below is the transcript of Ai’s interview with an online commentator. As requested, an iPad was given as compensation for the interview. To protect the interviewee, relevant personal information has been concealed in this script.
Question: What’s your name, age, city of residence and online username?
Answer: I cannot make my name public. I’m 26. I have too many usernames. If I want to use one, I just register it. I won’t mention them here.
What do you call the work you do now?
It doesn’t matter what you call it: online commentator, public opinion guide, or even “the 50-Cent Party” that everyone’s heard of.
What is your level of education and work experience? How did you begin the work of guiding public opinion?
I graduated from university and studied media. I once worked for a TV channel, then in online media. I’ve always been in the news media industry, for four or five years now.Over a year ago, a friend asked me if I wanted to be an online commentator, to earn some extra money. I said I’d give it a try. Later, I discovered it was very easy.
When and from where will you receive directives for work?
Almost every morning at 9am I receive an email from my superiors – the internet publicity office of the local government – telling me about the news we’re to comment on for the day. Sometimes it specifies the website to comment on, but most of the time it’s not limited to certain websites: you just find relevant news and comment on it.
Can you describe your work in detail?
The process has three steps – receive task, search for topic, post comments to guide public opinion. Receiving a task mainly involves ensuring you open your email box every day. Usually after an event has happened, or even before the news has come out, we’ll receive an email telling us what the event is, then instructions on which direction to guide the netizens’ thoughts, to blur their focus, or to fan their enthusiasm for certain ideas. After we’ve found the relevant articles or news on a website, according to the overall direction given by our superiors we start to write articles, post or reply to comments. This requires a lot of skill. You can’t write in a very official manner, you must conceal your identity, write articles in many different styles, sometimes even have a dialogue with yourself, argue, debate. In sum, you want to create illusions to attract the attention and comments of netizens.
In a forum, there are three roles for you to play: the leader, the follower, the onlooker or unsuspecting member of the public. The leader is the relatively authoritative speaker, who usually appears after a controversy and speaks with powerful evidence. The public usually finds such users very convincing. There are two opposing groups of followers. The role they play is to continuously debate, argue, or even swear on the forum. This will attract attention from observers. At the end of the argument, the leader appears, brings out some powerful evidence, makes public opinion align with him and the objective is achieved. The third type is the onlookers, the netizens. They are our true target “clients”. We influence the third group mainly through role-playing between the other two kinds of identity. You could say we’re like directors, influencing the audience through our own writing, directing and acting. Sometimes I feel like I have a split personality.
Regarding the three roles that you play, is that a common tactic? Or are there other ways?
There are too many ways. It’s kind of psychological. Netizens nowadays are more thoughtful than before. We have many ways. You can make a bad thing sound even worse, make an elaborate account, and make people think it’s nonsense when they see it. In fact, it’s like two negatives make a positive. When it’s reached a certain degree of mediocrity, they’ll think it might not be all that bad.
What is the guiding principle of your work?
The principle is to understand the guiding thought of superiors, the direction of public opinion desired, then to start your own work.
Can you reveal the content of a “task” email?
For example, “Don’t spread rumours, don’t believe in rumours”, or “Influence public understanding of X event”, “Promote the correct direction of public opinion on XXXX”, “Explain and clarify XX event; avoid the appearance of untrue or illegal remarks”, “For the detrimental social effect created by the recent XX event, focus on guiding the thoughts of netizens in the correct direction of XXXX”.
What are the categories of information that you usually receive?
They are mainly local events. They cover over 60 to 70 per cent of local instructions – for example, people who are filing complaints or petitioning.
For countrywide events, such as the Jasmine Revolution [the pro-democracy protests that took place across the country in 2011], do you get involved?
For popular online events like the Jasmine Revolution, we have never received a related task. I also thought it was quite strange. Perhaps we aren’t senior enough.
Can you tell us the content of the commentary you usually write?
The netizens are used to seeing unskilled comments that simply say the government is great or so and so is a traitor. They know what is behind it at a glance. The principle I observe is: don’t directly praise the government or criticise negative news. Moreover, the tone of speech, identity and stance of speech must look as if it’s an unsuspecting member of public; only then can it resonate with netizens. To sum up, you want to guide netizens obliquely and let them change their focus without realising it.
Can you go off the topic?
Of course you can go off the topic. When transferring the attention of netizens and
blurring the public focus, going off the topic is very effective. For example, during the census, everyone will be talking about its truthfulness or necessity; then I’ll post jokes that appeared in the census. Or, in other instances, I would publish adverts to take up space on political news reports.
Can you tell us a specific, typical process of “guiding public opinion”?
For example, each time the oil price is about to go up, we’ll receive a notification to “stabilise the emotions of netizens and divert public attention”. The next day, when news of the rise comes out, netizens will definitely be condemning the state, CNPC and Sinopec. At this point, I register an ID and post a comment: “Rise, rise however you want, I don’t care. Best if it rises to 50 yuan per litre: it serves you right if you’re too poor to drive. Only those with money should be allowed to drive on the roads . . .”
This sounds like I’m inviting attacks but the aim is to anger netizens and divert the anger and attention on oil prices to me. I would then change my identity several times and start to condemn myself. This will attract more attention. After many people have seen it, they start to attack me directly. Slowly, the content of the whole page has also changed from oil price to what I’ve said. It is very effective.
What’s your area of work? Which websites do you comment on? Which netizens do you target?
There’s no limit on which websites I visit. I mainly deal with local websites, or work on Tencent. There are too many commentators on Sohu, Sina, etc. As far as I know, these websites have dedicated internal departments for commenting.
Can you tell which online comments are by online commentators?
Because I do this, I can tell at a glance that about 10 to 20 per cent out of the tens of thousands of comments posted on a forum are made by online commentators.
Will you debate with other people online? What sorts of conflicts do you have? How do you control and disperse emotion?
Most of the time we’re debating with ourselves. I usually never debate with netizens and I’ll never say I’ve been angered by a netizen or an event. You could say that usually when I’m working, I stay rational.
When the government says, “Don’t believe in rumours, don’t spread rumours,” it achieves the opposite effect. For example, when Sars and the melamine in milk case broke out, people tended to choose not to trust the government when faced with the choices of “Don’t trust rumours” and “Don’t trust the government”.
I think this country and government have got into a rather embarrassing situation. No matter what happens – for example, if a person commits a crime, or there’s a traffic accident – as long as it’s a bad event and it’s publicised online, there will be people who condemn the government. I think this is very strange.
This is inevitable, because the government encompasses all. When all honour is attributed to you, all mistakes are also attributed to you. Apart from targeted events, are individuals targeted? Would there be this kind of directive?
There should be. I think for the Dalai Lama, there must be guidance throughout the country. All people in China hate the Dalai Lama and Falun Gong somewhat. According to my understanding, the government has truly gone a bit over the top. Before I got involved in this circle, I didn’t know anything. So I believe that wherever public opinion has been controlled relatively well, there will always have been commentators involved.
How do your superiors inspect and assess your work?
The superiors will arrange dedicated auditors who do random checks according to the links we provide. Auditors usually don’t assess, because they always make work requirements very clear. We just have to do as they say and there won’t be any mistakes.
How is your compensation decided?
It’s calculated on a monthly basis, according to quantity and quality. It’s basically calculated at 50 yuan per 100 comments. When there’s an unexpected event, the compensation might be higher. If you work together to guide public opinion on a hot topic and several dozen people are posting, the compensation for those days counts for more. Basically, the compensation is very low. I work part-time. On average, the monthly pay is about 500-600 yuan. There are people who work full-time on this. It’s possible they could earn thousands of yuan a month.
Do you like your work?
I wouldn’t say I like it or hate it. It’s just a bit more to do each day. A bit more pocket money each month, that’s all.
What’s the biggest difficulty in the work?
Perhaps it’s that you have to guess the psychology of netizens. You have to learn a lot of writing skills. You have to know how to imitate another person’s writing style. You need to understand how to gain the trust of the public and influence their thoughts.
Why can’t you reveal your identity? Why do you think it’s sensitive?
Do you want me to lose my job? Whatever form or name we use to post on any forums or blogs is absolutely confidential. We can’t reveal our identity, and I definitely wouldn’t reveal that I’m a professional online commentator.
If we do, what would be the purpose of our existence? Exposure would affect not just me, it would create an even greater negative effect on our “superiors”.
What do you mean by “superiors”?
Our superior leaders – above that should be the propaganda department.
Is your identity known to your family? Your friends?
No. I haven’t revealed it to my family or friends. If people knew I was doing this, it might have a negative effect on my reputation.
You say: “If I reveal inside information, without exaggeration this could lead to fatality.” Do you think that the consequence would be so serious?
With my identity, I’m involved in the media and also the internet. If I really reveal my identity or let something slip, it could have an incalculable effect on me.
If you say you want to quit, will there be resistance? Are there any strings attached?
Not at all. This industry is already very transparent. For me, it’s just a part-time job. It’s like any other job. It’s not as dark as you think.
How many hours do you go online each day and on which sites? Do you rest at the weekend?
I go online for six to eight hours nearly every day. I’m mainly active on our local BBS and some large mainstream internet media and microblogs. I don’t work over weekends, but I’ll sign in to my email account and see if there’s any important instruction.
In daily life, will you still be thinking about your online work?
Now and then. For example, when I see a piece of news, I’ll think about which direction the superiors will request it to be guided in and how I would go about it. It’s a bit of an occupational hazard.
Do you watch CCTV News and read the People’s Daily?
I usually follow all the news, particularly the local news. But I generally don’t watch CCTV News, because it’s too much about harmony.
Do you go on Twitter? Who do you follow?
Yes. I follow a few interesting people, including Ai Weiwei. But I don’t speak on Twitter, just read and learn.
How big a role do you think this industry plays in guiding public opinion in China?
Truthfully speaking, I think the role is quite big. The majority of netizens in China are actually very stupid. Sometimes, if you don’t guide them, they really will believe in rumours.
Because their information is limited to begin with. So, with limited information, it’s very difficult for them to express a political view.
I think they can be incited very easily. I can control them very easily. Depending on how I want them to be, I use a little bit of thought and that’s enough. It’s very easy. So I think the effect should be quite significant.
Do you think the government has the right to guide public opinion?
Personally, I think absolutely not. But in China, the government absolutely must interfere and guide public opinion. The majority of Chinese netizens are incited too easily, don’t think for themselves and are deceived and incited too easily by false news.
Do you have to believe in the viewpoints you express? Are you concerned about politics and the future?
I don’t have to believe in them. Sometimes you know well that what you say is false or untrue. But you still have to say it, because it’s your job. I’m not too concerned about Chinese politics. There’s nothing to be concerned about in Chinese politics.