1. I think @KaiserKuo asked a legitimate question about whether this constitutes “foreign election interference.” I lean strong ‘no,’ because it’s too weird to fit in a category that simple. https://twitter.com/comparativist/status/1322111329717514241
2. By all appearances, this entire story here is one American expat using his [unclear] position at a HK media org to commission another American expat in Vietnam to write a ‘dossier’ on Hunter Biden’s time in China.

Mark Simon commissioned it, Balding delivered... something
3. I have been unclear what Simon’s job at Apple Daily actually is since I first heard the name. He starts his career in US mil intel, moves to managing accounts for HK shipping companies (~5 yrs), then introduces him to Jimmy Lai in 2000 wherein he begins working for Next Media https://twitter.com/wjmcgurn/status/1321082747222396930
4. Tankies look at his background and scream “CIA!” Nah, I think Jimmy was introduced to an American who shared exactly the same thoughts about the CCP & HK. Except Simon seems more of anti-Commie Classic Edition; a John Bircher that made it into the 20th Century by landing in HK
5. Would a ‘rags to riches’ Mainland-born HK tycoon even understand what a “John Bircher” is? I doubt it. Despite this blind spot, it seems clear to me that Simon was hired to be something best described as a lobbyist.
6. How any of it worked, IDK. I also don’t know how mid-level biz exec was friendly enough with an ex-Bush speechwriter in 2000 to get introduced to Jimmy in the first place. I’m comfortable calling him a “GOP operative” b/c he could get you on a Senate or WH invite list by 2019.
7. He’s also more and less than a ‘lobbyist.’ I can’t think of examples of anyone or anything like his role, partly because it’s so unclear. Part of his job was something like “maintain connections w/ GOP China Hawks, convert more Hawks, and keep them updated on CN-HK-US probs.”
8. So something like an American lobbyist promoting (or just reminding?) powerful right-wingers in DC of America’s stated interests and goals in HK, which broadly overlap with pro-Dem camps positions. But he’s also so far John Bircher RW that he thinks US Dems are crypto-commies.
9. To wit, I think Jimmy Lai didn’t realize how nutty Simon was on the US political spectrum in 2000. But Simon is his right-hand man and portal to US politics. So Lai and Apple Daily have a guy Joe McArthy would approve of around for 20 yrs as in-house American politics expert
10. But these Bircher types are some of the first on the Trump Train b/c they were pilled decades ago. Simon and Apple Daily go Full MAGA. It is not uncommon to hear in HK these days that Biden is pro-CCP, must be defeated.
11. I have serious, perhaps unanswerable, Q’s about how much Simon pulled Apple Daily in this direction, whether they were already pre-inclined to these ideas, and how much Apple Daily influenced HK opinion vs representing the median reader’s opinions.
12. What I do know is that only Americans could have thought up something out of the 2016 Roger Stone playbook, then executed it so cartoonishly bad. It’s Balding cosplaying Chris Steele to expose the Biden’s but it’s too ridiculous to put his own name on. https://news.yahoo.com/fake-persona-laid-groundwork-hunter-213000679.html
13. Which returns us to @KaiserKuo’s OP tweet: isn’t this a foreign influence campaign? It might be if I thought Jimmy or Apple Daily writers came up with this silly plan. Yet the plan WAS hatched while Simon was ‘on the clock,’ so to speak, at Apple Daily
14. I see two Americans heavily invested in a Trump re-election. One had access to Trump WH & GOP leadership, the other wanted WH job. They were both desperate to try anything to help Trump win. https://twitter.com/comparativist/status/1322097985136717824
15. IMO, Jimmy Lai is a semi-witting partner in this because he kept Simon in a position at Apple Daily that allowed him to use the paper to pull a stunt like this, for Apple Daily to *want* anti-Biden ‘scoops’ etc. He wanted to play in US politics, through Simon, and got burned.
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