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One of the policies that China is best known for is loosening up at the same time that Hong Kong experiences a tightened rule—and much of the world increasingly wonders if the pandemic emerged on purpose. Plus, a united front from Australia and New Zealand and censorship of American television further feeding our latest news roundup.
The case against three
For the first time since 1980, couples in China will be allowed up to three children, raising the two-child limit of five years ago that failed to increase fertility rates. But the recent census results didn’t show a great desire for the unattached to change their lifestyles. Social media chatter suggests many with one kid don’t want further stress.
A more diplomatic message was heard from Xi Jinping when China’s president gave a speech about wanting the country to revamp its image and make more friends. He’s now urging officials to create a “trustworthy, lovable and respectable” approach to communicating with the world to be achieved through a greater global media reach.
The sun sets in Hong Kong
Democratic representation is now officially diminishing in Hong Kong, as the bill that puts its political power in the hands of China is moving towards becoming law, nearing one year since national security legislation was imposed despite much protest. Known pro-democracy activists are receiving additional punishment for speaking out:
The woman nicknamed “Grandma Wong” was detained by police for holding a solitary vigil to mark the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, whose annual commemoration in Hong Kong has been banned for the second year by authorities citing coronavirus concerns. Other protesters are facing potential life sentences for subverting the security law.
Backlash against backlash
The lab leak theory has gained more legitimacy as more of the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic: Facebook will no longer remove postings that contemplate whether the virus was man-made in Wuhan. But whatever becomes of the hypothesis, it appears that Beijing will do whatever it can to fight a clear consensus on the matter:
New thunder Down Under
Scott Morrison suggested China is trying to drive a wedge between Australia and New Zealand, as he reunited with Jacinda Ardern for annual talks where the two prime ministers pledged to stay on the same page against human rights abuses in China. And some Australians are angry that Snickers chocolate bars are being produced there.
The last words, for now
China’s three biggest video streaming companies united in censoring six minutes from Friends: The Reunion: appearances from celebrities blacklisted by Beijing were removed along with references to gay fans of the sitcom. The one platform that provided the unedited version was condemned by rivals looking to appease their government:
The China Letter is produced by the Canadian Freedom Institute, a think tank based in Canada. We produce the China Letter every week to keep you informed and to press the ideas of free markets and free people not only in China but around the world. Please consider donating to keep this newsletter running!