Editor’s note for Tuesday, June 2, 2020


Dear Access member,

Irony is dead, hypocrisy is alive and well. Less than 24 hours after Donald Trump tear-gassed a peaceful protest and threatened to crack down on protests in American cities using “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers,” his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, tweeted:

For the first time in 30 years, Hong Kong authorities denied permission to hold the Tiananmen Vigil. If there is any doubt about Beijing’s intent, it is to deny Hong Kongers a voice and a choice, making them the same as mainlanders. So much for two systems.

Pompeo also promised to meet “Tiananmen Square survivors.” Journalist Mark Dittli commented: “What will he tell them? That only overwhelming force and domination of the battle field will do the job? That the free media is the enemy of the people?”

Meanwhile, Beijing continues to spin its new security law for Hong Kong, and publish editorials condemning racism and inequality in America (in Chinese).

New reporting that suggests China delayed releasing COVID-19 information to the World Health Organization in the early days of the pandemic is our top story today. At the top of the newsletter, we’ve also got a piece explaining what Hong Kong’s “special status” with the U.S. actually means.

One other story that caught my eye today: “TikTok’s new CEO Kevin Mayer faced a major test on his very first day on the job — assuring Americans the platform isn’t suppressing the visibility of videos linked to the police brutality protests across the U.S.,” reported Quartz.

This is only a taste of the challenges ahead of Mayer. You may recall me asking, when it was announced that Mayer would join TikTok: “The question is: will an all-American frat boy from Disney cut it at a Chinese company like TikTok?” He has had his baptism of fire. It’s not likely to get easier.

Our word of the day is open, transparent and responsible: 公开、透明、负责任 gōngkāi, tòumíng, fù zérèn. This is how the Chinese government characterizes its information sharing about COVID-19 (See for example this Chinese Xinhua story from April 8).

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief