The Pleasures of Flying to Hong Kong, Covid Version

“A PPE-covered worker sent me to a series of stations. First, I pulled my mask down for a nurse to swab my nose and throat for a PCR test. Then I presented my documents — preflight negative COVID-19 test, proof of hotel booking, Hong Kong resident ID and vaccination card — to an officer who scrutinized them before declaring me up to par. The worker at the next station checked for a functioning phone, test-dialing my U.S. number. Then I was presented with a sandwich and water bottle and directed to a waiting area with chairs and desks placed in a grid as though ready for an exam. I checked my lanyard to find my seat: G205.”

Welcome to Hong Kong, Covid time. It gets better. Wait till you get to the 21 day quarantine part. Read all about it right here.

Fits and Starts

Here it comes in fits and starts, the return of travel. Beginning in late June a British cruise line will send out a ship capable of holding 3,647 passengers  and … just sail around, not stopping anywhere. More wandering than cruising.

China says it is processing visa requests from vaccinated individuals, but only from those who have been vaccinated with a Chinese-made vaccine, which are not available or approved in much of the world.

And the Icelandic government announced today that from tomorrow, visitors who can prove vaccination will be welcomed into the country with no test or quarantine. If you time it right, just before the coming big volcanic eruption, maybe you can trade where you’re stuck now for being stuck in Iceland.

The Future of Flying?

“A requirement forcing all air passengers arriving at Hong Kong to be tested for the coronavirus will remain in place going forward, a leading city health official said, with experts predicting the practice will become standard at airports around the world as the aviation industry adapts to a new normal once the pandemic recedes.”

From the South China Morning Post. Read the rest here.

Optimism

Having just returned from a couple days in Russia, it’s interesting to see the headline In Russian Cities, Mock Gravestones Are Sounding Putin’s Death Knell. Add that to this, and go ahead, take a moment to be an optimist.

There are a lot of people at this protest, aimed against a proposed law allowing extradition of Hong Kong citizens to Beijing.

Chinese media blamed “collusion with the West”.

Arctic Route

Travel Time, two posts back, had it about right. Regulatory confidence in Boeing’s abilities to fly on two jet engines over the pole produced this flight path for us on Tuesday/Wednesday. The flight was Air China CA818 Dulles to Beijing, fourteen hours in a Boeing 777.

Never having seen Hudson Bay in mid-April, I’m here to testify that there’s not a thing down there, no sign of Churchill and polar bears, just icy patches with streams to the bay and snow fields beyond.

Washington Dulles to Beijing was followed by Beijing to HCMC where everybody is wilting after several 97 degree days.

Xinhua Tweet-Claims Chinese Democracy

Xhinua (@XHNews) has found an American willing to associate his credibility with this quote: “It is widely acknowledged that a key to China’s success is its system of democracy.”

Quotes: Life in Xinjiang

Many of us are generally aware there is a minority of mostly Muslim ethnic Turkic in far western China known as Uighurs (pronounced “Wee-gurs”), people more closely related to the population of the Central Asian ‘Stans than to the ruling Han Chinese.

Some will have read about recent and apparently massive, largely arbitrary incarceration of Uighurs in “re-education camps” under local Party Secretary Chen Quanguo. Chen’s previous post was the Tibetan capital Lhasa, where he presided over a spate of Tibetan Buddihst self-immolations under his remit to tame the Tibetan population.

I’ve only just now read some alarming reporting from Ruth Ingram about what life is like among the Xinjiang Uighurs. Some quotes:

“Uyghurs have to keep a notebook detailing visits by not only their friends and relatives, but those of neighbors in their street, the content of the conversations, and the time and date of arrival and departure.”

“They are forced to install satellite navigation in their cars and to install the special Jingwang Weishi app on their phones, which sends the police an identification number for the device, its model, and the telephone number of its owner before monitoring all the information that passes through the telephone, warning the user when it finds content that the government deems dangerous. Failure to carry your phone, refusal to use a smart phone, turning it off completely for long periods, or even restoring your phone to its factory settings can be deemed suspicious.”

“Children who have had both parents taken away are being brought up in state orphanages hurriedly being built for the purpose.”

“‘It’s impossible to tear out weeds one by one,’ said one party official in Kashgar. ‘We need chemicals that can deal with all of them at once.'”

Read the whole article in The Diplomat.

(Note: This post has been corrected to substitute the word ‘Turkic’ for the previously published ‘Turkmen’ in the first sentence.)