Today's Liberal News

Timothy McLaughlin

The Volunteer Movement Enraging China

In early March, Han Yang, a 50-year-old Sydney resident, was invited by a friend to join a WeChat group with other members of Australia’s Chinese diaspora that focused on Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine. Yang found that the others began posting a stream of offensive material—stories filled with vitriol toward Ukrainians, Russian-state disinformation, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories—accompanied by user comments cheering on Moscow’s violence.

The Volunteer Movement Enraging China

In early March, Han Yang, a 50-year-old Sydney resident, was invited by a friend to join a WeChat group with other members of Australia’s Chinese diaspora that focused on Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine. Yang found that the others began posting a stream of offensive material—stories filled with vitriol toward Ukrainians, Russian-state disinformation, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories—accompanied by user comments cheering on Moscow’s violence.

Escape From Hong Kong

To avoid drawing unwanted attention, Tommy and the four others dressed as if they were heading out for a leisurely day. It was July 2020, and the weather was perfect for some time on the water. The young men acted as though they knew one another well, and were excited to reconnect. But inside, Tommy felt panicked and desperate. He was about to attempt an escape from Hong Kong, where he faced a near-certain jail sentence for his role in the prodemocracy protests there.

Where the Language of Democracy Is a Cover

On Friday afternoon, supporters of John Lee gathered for what his adviser described as a preelection rally, a final push in Lee’s campaign to secure victory in the election to be Hong Kong’s next chief executive.Don’t let the vocabulary fool you. No members of the general public attended Lee’s event, a stage-managed flourish to a weeks-long show masquerading as a contest.

‘I’m Afraid That I Cannot Be a Journalist Anymore’

In the summer of 2019, Ronson Chan, then an editor for the independent news outlet Stand News, took a delayed honeymoon to Germany with his wife. The timing was terrible. Prodemocracy protests in Hong Kong were at full tilt. Chan was distracted. He checked his phone at all hours, obsessively looking for updates from his colleagues.

Can China Ever Reopen?

One day in January 2020, a team of experts from Beijing arrived in Wuhan, China, to investigate the origins and assess the scale of an outbreak of a mysterious virus. At least 60 people in Wuhan had already fallen ill. Troublingly, cases had begun to surface in Thailand and Japan.The same day, Chinese President Xi Jinping departed from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, where he had met with the country’s leaders.

The Duo Fighting to Preserve Dynastic Rule in the Philippines

The wedding ceremony held in November on a verdant farm in the Philippines was for the daughter of a senator. Most of the guests’ attention, though, was paid not to the bride and the groom but to another duo in attendance.Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the country’s late dictator, escorted Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of the current president, Rodrigo Duterte, past guests sitting in white trellis-backed chairs.

Why Authoritarian Regimes Bother With Elections

In November 2019, Nixie Lam suffered the same fate as nearly all of her pro-Beijing compatriots running in Hong Kong’s local elections. The two-term district councillor was roundly defeated by a prodemocracy candidate whose campaign had been buoyed by months of sustained protests.

The Political Obituary of Aung San Suu Kyi

As Aung San Suu Kyi climbed the steps of the gargantuan parliamentary building into her first session as an elected lawmaker, I watched along with my colleagues in the offices of The Myanmar Times, where we crowded around and turned our heads upward to the boxy televisions that hung precariously above the newsroom.This was July 2012. Suu Kyi’s arrival had been delayed by a whirlwind 17-day lap around Europe.

Beijing Keeps Trying to Rewrite History

Under the relentless crush of Beijing, the courtrooms of Hong Kong have become some of the few venues safe for protest in the city. Defendants accused or convicted of political crimes have turned otherwise banal hearings and bail applications into opportunities to voice dissent and challenge the arduous legal process.

How Asia Became a Delta Hot Spot

Shortly after Jarrett Wrisley arrived in Bangkok in 2008, the global financial crisis hit the media industry, forcing outlets to slash budgets. Wrisley, a food and travel journalist, saw his opportunities to write rapidly diminishing, so he pivoted to the only other thing he knew how to do: cooking. In September 2010, Wrisley opened Soul Food Mahanakorn, serving northern and northeastern Thai fare in the capital’s trendy Thonglor neighborhood.

The End of Free Speech in Hong Kong

Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times. For 15 days this month, prosecutors and defense lawyers in a Hong Kong courtroom wrangled over the history and parsed words in this phrase. The back-and-forth included numerous forays into the obscure in an attempt to pinpoint the exact meaning of the slogan, created five years ago and popularized during 2019’s pro-democracy protests.

What a Crackdown Looks Like From Jail

Earlier this month, I stood in line alongside an aide to Tam Tak-chi, both of us readying to meet with the imprisoned political activist at the Hong Kong prison complex where he is being held. As Tam’s assistant waited her turn for supplies she brought for Tam to be inspected, a woman approached from the nearby waiting area and the two exchanged excited hellos before hugging and chatting briefly.

No One Is Saving Myanmar

Since Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup on February 1, an initial sense of shock has given way to vibrant protests, and most of the ire has been concentrated on the junta: Hundreds of thousands of people in towns and cities from the foothills of the Himalayas to the far southern border on the edges of the Andaman Sea have marched in defiance of an armed forces known for its durability and cruelty.

No One Is Saving Myanmar

Since Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup on February 1, an initial sense of shock has given way to vibrant protests, and most of the ire has been concentrated on the junta: Hundreds of thousands of people in towns and cities from the foothills of the Himalayas to the far southern border on the edges of the Andaman Sea have marched in defiance of an armed force known for its durability and cruelty.

Why Hong Kongers Are Slow to Get a Vaccine

Hong Kong’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic has put it in an enviable position. Bolstered by a public that learned difficult lessons from the 2003 SARS pandemic, and because of a relatively swift government response this time around, this city of roughly 7 million people has suffered fewer than 12,000 cases and only 205 deaths. It never underwent the large-scale, harsh lockdowns implemented elsewhere.

What the Hong Kong Protesters’ Trial Reveals About Beijing

The police report refers to it simply as “the Scheme.” It was, in law enforcement’s telling, a conspiracy aimed at overthrowing Hong Kong’s government. For seven months, an eclectic array of prodemocracy activists and political hopefuls held meetings, raised funds, and gave media interviews in preparation for an unofficial primary election. One of them, the police report states, went so far as to locate “appropriate venues for polling stations.

China Is the Myanmar Coup’s ‘Biggest Loser’

Protesters in Yangon have in recent days gathered near the imposing red doors of the Chinese embassy in the city, denouncing China for what they say is its support of this month’s military coup in Myanmar. Conspiracy theories have swirled about the arrival of Chinese technicians to help Myanmar’s new junta build its own “firewall” to control the internet.

Joe Biden’s Challenge Was Barack Obama’s Victory

When Myanmar was summoned to The Hague last year to face allegations that its armed forces had carried out a genocide against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority, no military officers attended. Instead, it was the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi lamenting that the horrific reports and photos seen by the world were “an incomplete and misleading factual picture of the situation.” Domestically, her speech was viewed as a defense of her country.

The Permanent Colony

Tam Tak-chi has spent much of the past two decades talking. First as a popular radio host, then as a prodemocracy activist, Tam had opinions, many of them, and cared little about holding them back. So it was not entirely surprising—perhaps even expected in Hong Kong’s rapidly atrophying space for dissent—that his words eventually drew the ire of authorities. Early one September morning last year, Tam was arrested at his home.

Being a Democrat on China’s Doorstep

Bundled against Mongolia’s frigid late November air, thousands clamored to see and hear the Dalai Lama four years ago, their boots crunching against a dusting of snow at the Gandantegchinlen monastery in Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia’s officials insisted then, in 2016, that the visit was strictly religious, and had nothing to do with politics: The country has connections to Tibetan Buddhism that reach back hundreds of years—the title Dalai Lama is actually of Mongolian origin.

Where the Pandemic Is Cover for Authoritarianism

This month, two young men stood outside a high-end Hong Kong shopping mall, clutching bouquets of white flowers as they held a memorial for a protester who had died nearby last year. The event, like any marking the milestones or memories of the prodemocracy movement, drew police attention; more than a dozen gathered to keep watch, one holding a video camera to record the events. When a passerby stopped to join the pair, police stepped in.

Hong Kong Is a Colony Once More

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, stood in front of reporters yesterday for the most consequential press conference of her time leading the city. Prior to Lam stepping behind the podium, news had begun to stream in that officials in Beijing had passed a national-security law to be imposed on Hong Kong, the most significant altering of the ostensibly autonomous territory’s status since it was handed back to China from Britain in 1997.