By Jeffrey Moyo, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 15 October 2014
By Jeffrey Moyo, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 15 October 2014
Over the past week, the protesters in Hong Kong have focused on well-defined political demands, with full democratic elections and the resignation of Chief Executive C.Y. Leung at the top of the list. But protesters have also been driven to the streets by a variety of longstanding grievances, many of which stem from the economic inequality which has built up in Hong Kong society, putting the city at the top of The Economist’s “crony-capitalism index,” or list of “countries where politically connected businessmen are most likely to prosper.” The gini coefficient, which measures the gap between rich and poor, is at the highest levels ever for Hong Kong, according to a 2013 report from Bloomberg:
Hong Kong’s Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, rose to 0.537 in 2011 from 0.525 in 2001, the government said last June. The score, a high for the city since records began in 1971, is above the 0.4 level used by analysts as a gauge of the potential for social unrest.
Hong Kong’s close business ties to mainland China, especially since the handover in 1997, have exacerbated these inequalities. But as the recent protests show, economic issues are quickly becoming political for residents of Hong Kong who are missing out on the boom. Neil Gough reports for the New York Times:
China is grappling with a political problem in part because Hong Kong is dealing with an economic one. Underlying the current unrest in Hong Kong, an affluent city of 7.2 million that was a British colony for 155 years before it was returned to China in 1997, is a widening wealth gap. Continue reading
[Since the rise of capitalism, it has been common for capitalist powers and allied-capitalist partners to blame internal protests, rebellions, and class struggles on external forces, always seeking to turn attention away from the miserable conditions created in those societies. And in more recent times, imperialists (and "anti-imperialists" who only oppose one side of competing imperialists) blame the instability in opposing camps on external meddling by the opposite number, whereas the meddlers usually come from all sides in proxy wars today, trying to exploit the ever-emerging resistance of oppressed and exploited people.
Today, the popular opposition in Hong Kong, which has never experienced "self-determination" (since their emergence from British colonial rule was at a time when only the arms of restored and exploitive Chinese capitalism were waiting to greet, and restrain, them--in a kind of formally-internal but neo-colonial comprador-relation) has brought unprecedented numbers into the streets.
Russia's Putin, aligned with the Chinese capitalist-imperialist regime, is blaming the Hong Kong opposition on US meddling. Now various confused "left" forces will quote each other and support Putin's view, and will try to make it appear that Chinese capitalist-imperialists are the victims of the US. And these new anti-US conspiratorial spinners have even claimed that the use of umbrellas in defense from pepper spray, and the use of cellphone social networking, are beyond the skills and imagination of Hong Kong youth, so they must have been instructed by the CIA! And while the US is undoubtedly encouraging its friends in Hong Kong, there is no evidence that they started this popular rebellion, or are shaping, leading, or controlling it in any way. See the following article by Dave Lindorff for another view on these rebellions.
Today, it is said that the protests are winding down. Perhaps, but it may be just getting a second wind, or summing things up in preparation for the next round of struggle. But the bottom line is, as Mao (whom China's current rulers have worked to censor and turn into an empty icon) has said, "Wherever there is oppression, there follows resistance." Support the struggles of the people of Hong Kong! -- Frontlines ed.]
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As a progressive, Chinese-fluent journalist who has spent years working in China and especially Hong Kong, and who has spent decades exposing the secret workings of US agencies and their network of fake NGOs in support of US empire, as well as their anti-democratic activities here in the US, I can understand why people might be suspicious, but I want to explain that Hong Kong is not Ukraine or even Venezuela or Brazil.
At least 27 villagers in Shantou, Guangdong were detained by police on Saturday for allegedly inciting a two-day protest over the sale of their land and corruption.
Thousands of villagers from Liantang village clashed with hundreds of police and government officials on Friday and Saturday in front of the Shantou municipal government building.
They said village officials had sold their collective land and never shared the profits with villagers. The demonstrations ended on Saturday night and local public security officers took away 27 people on suspicion of spreading rumours or disturbing public order and causing trouble.
Tue Sep 23, 2014
The allegation is contained in a report published by Amnesty International. More than 130 Chinese companies produce and sell “intrinsically cruel” instruments in Asia and Africa. These would include spiked batons, electric batons and rigid restraint chairs.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – Electric-shock stun batons, metal-spiked truncheons and rigid restraint chairs. These are just some of the products sold by more than 130 Chinese companies in several Asian and African nations, “in intrinsically cruel” tools of torture that represent a good chunk of the exports of the sector. The complaint comes from Amnesty International, in a report published today which charges Beijing with helping the torture trade to prosper worldwide.
Some tools sold by Chinese industries, says the group, “while some of the exports are no doubt used in legitimate law enforcement operations, China has also exported equipment that has inhumane effects, or poses a substantial risk of fuelling human rights violations by foreign law enforcement agencies”. The largest importers are countries such as Senegal, Egypt, Ghana, Cambodia and Nepal; one company that sells restraint chairs and batons has business relations with more than 40 African nations. Continue reading
[Before the capitalist coup and restoration in China in the late 70's, when the working class was in command and struggling to transform every aspect of society, one important goal of Chinese people was the re-unification of Hong Kong with China, and to end British colonial rule. And in that time, there were massive protests in Hong Kong against British rule. But when the British were forced out in 1997, it was not in the direction of a working-class, unified-with-China Hong Kong. No, it was captured by the rising capitalist-imperialist rulers of China, and the suffering of the workers and people of Hong Kong continued under the new set of bosses. Rebellion has continued and grown in recent years, against what people in Hong Kong have come to see as Chinese neo-colonialism. The rebellion is now reaching new levels, hampered by the lack of serious working class revolutionary organization, but growing nonetheless. -- Frontlines ed.]
Alan Wong, zerohedge.com, 27 September 2014
No, this is not Ferguson: it is, according to many, the world’s most capitalist city, Hong Kong, where over the past few hours, around 50,000 students are said to have massed on late Saturday, demanding more democracy, as tensions grew over Beijing’s decision to rule out free elections in the former British colony.
According to Reuters, the crowds swelled less than 24 hours after riot police used pepper spray to disperse protesters around government headquarters, arresting more than 60 people opposed to the Chinese government’s tightening grip on the city. The unrest underscores the obstacles China faces in Hong Kong as a restive younger generation challenges its influence over the densely-populated financial hub.
Tempers flared and there were scenes of chaos before dawn on Saturday when protesters used umbrellas to shield themselves from the pepper spray. Those who got hit used water to rinse their eyes. “I paid my highest respect to every soldier who defends till the last moment… Civil disobedience – it continues to happen,” said student leader Lester Shum on his Facebook page. Continue reading