Democracy dies in darkness

To date, of all the lawsuits related to the 2020 Presidential Election whose merits the courts have ruled on, Donald Trump has won two-thirds of them.

This is what a group of well-educated volunteers discovered when they scrutinized the cases that Trump and those on his side have brought before the courts. Numbering 80 in total, 34 of these suits have either been dismissed by judges on technical grounds or withdrawn by lawyers. Of the 46 cases that remain, 25 are still waiting to be heard. Of the 21 that are left – these are the ones the courts have already formally ruled on – 14 were decided in favour of Trump.

You wouldn’t read this sort of news in mainstream media.

Last December, I wrote a column expressing puzzlement over the way some local contacts who care about Hong Kong accept at face value mainstream western media’s take on the voter fraud issue: it didn’t happen, so talks of foreign interference were baseless too. My thinking was, if they are really concerned about Beijing’s tightening grip on Hong Kong, they should personally look into the material Trump’s side has offered as proof that (1) a coordinated attempt to steal votes for Biden existed, and (2) the CCP played a part in this plan. For if these claims hold water, then we have a Biden who is beholden to Beijing; if Beijing wants to remove our remaining freedoms, he may let it.

Interestingly, one way to assess reportage on voting irregularities is to borrow a trick from experts on CCP politics. To make an educated guess of what’s on the mind of Chinese leaders, they read between the lines when processing state media reports: as they, say, pore over a People’s Daily editorial, they take notice of whether there’s anything that Beijing should have mentioned but didn’t – and viola, they’ve found the matter that’s currently bothering it.

Now, we can get results just by applying this method to a USA Today’s fact-checking story on a controversial issue: whether the Chinese invested in the Dominion voting machines, which was used by almost 30 states – including nearly all the swing states – in the 2020 Presidential Election.

USA Today says no Chinese money was involved: one month before the election, Dominion was sold to UBS Securities LLC for $400 million
; this doesn’t necessarily mean UBS Securities LLC is the buyer, because it may merely be holding Dominion’s shares on behalf of clients. In any case, right-wing media that said the CCP owns Dominion got the name of the buyer wrong. They confused UBS Securities LLC, which is the US subsidiary of the Swiss investment bank, with UBS Securities CO LTD, which is 75% owned by the CCP but doesn’t own any shares in Dominion.

USA Today maintains the matter rests here. Its fact-checking, however, neglected to mention one detail that’s so important that one has to suspect the paper sidestepped it by design: three board members of the US arm of UBS – Ye Xiang, Luo Qiang and Mu Lina – were Chinese; all had ties with the CCP-owned UBS at one time or another. Ye was a board member of the Beijing UBS until Nov 30; Luo was one until 2010, while Mu once worked for Beijing Securities, the predecessor of UBS Beijing.

The coincidences don’t stop here. As rights activist Jennifer Zeng points out, after New Tang Dynasty reported on the connection between the two UBS units on Dec 5, the names of all three Chinese board members were erased from Bloomberg’s company profile (a screenshot of the page in its former form can be found here). Also, around the time pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood tweeted about the sale of Dominion to UBS Securities LLC, Ye Xiang, formerly board member of both UBS units, resigned from the CCP-owned UBS’s board.

The complete CVs of the three board members do provide a picture of what may be CCP’s designs on Dominion. I recommend reading Zeng’s investigation to get a fuller understanding of the matter

There is always the possibility that the USA Today story was deliberately sloppily written, so that attentive readers can easily poke holes in it. For those who propagate fake news not only want to deceive people. They know some of their content will be exposed as fake by savvy folks with time on their hands, and they also want this to happen, so that over time, the larger public, aware of the existence of fake news but lacking the time and ability to tell which news is fake, will end up losing the ability to believe anything. “And with such people,” Hannah Arendt once noted, speaking from the view of a dictatorship, “you can do what you please.”

I'm Michelle Ng (吳若琦), an Oxford-educated bilingual political writer and English writing coach based in Hong Kong. I'm currently an English columnist for Apple Daily and Ming Pao, and a Chinese columnist for 眾新聞. I have written for Hong Kong Free Press, The Wall Street Journal and The Vancouver Sun. 

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