Hong Kong: an anatomy of the revolt

[The Hong Kong revolt is a reform movement, not a revolution, and it has been sustained by its unmistakeable mass character.  Those who claim, disingenuously, that it is triggered by foreign forces a la “Orange Revolution” or even some kind of revanchist reassertion of British colonialism are inventing a false picture while denying the class character of the revolt, the class character of Chinese capitalist-imperialism, and the class character of Hong Kong.  The people have legitimate grievances, which are currently shaped and constrained by reformist leaders and by the lack of revolutionary leadership. This revolt will not be the trigger, today, for China-wide revolts against the capitalist regime in Beijing, though those revolts, especially by displaced peasants and massively exploited workers, are widespread and continuously growing against the counter-revolutionary post-Mao capitalist rule.  The people of Hong Kong should be supported by internationalists, anti-imperialists, revolutionary proletarians, and democratic activists.  The following detailed and lengthy reformist-focused article by Lawrence Wong examines the HK revolt and the conditions which gave rise to it — and its chances for “successful reform”.  What the article does not address are the ways the struggles of today will congeal into revolutionary forces and strategies in the future.  —  Frontlines ed.]

October 6, 2014

by Lawrence Wong | Counterfire | Opinion

Protestor

A protester (centre) raises his umbrellas in front of tear gas which was fired by riot police to disperse protesters blocking the main street to the financial Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, on Sept 28, 2014. — PHOTO: REUTERS

Lawrence Wong looks at the background, and prospects, for Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Revolution’

The scale, the size, and the vitality of the ‘umbrella’ revolution took every person, including the Hong Kong people themselves, by surprise. However, this does not mean that the protests and campaigns of civil disobedience were without precedent in the territory of Hong Kong.

The previous Chief Executive Tung Chee Wah was deposed through a mass campaign in 2003.There have been strikes, a notable docker’s strike, a threat to strike by Cathay Pacific cabin crew, a successful campaign against the change in the secondary school curriculum, and the recent mock plebiscite where 800,00 Hong Kong people voted for genuine democracy.

Every year, Hong Kong people come out, sometimes in tens of thousands and sometimes in hundreds of thousands, around June 4th to commemorate and to remember the fallen when Chinese people last stormed the gates of heaven twenty five years ago. Most of these protests have been successful, and have taken place in the ‘consultative’ period, prior to decisions being made. The mobilisations of Occupy Central, the mock plebiscite, the magnificent 500,000 demonstration on June 1 which was the closest Sunday to June 4th, took place within this by and large successful experience of struggle by Hong Kong people since 1997. Continue reading

Hong Kong’s Leader: “Poor People Would Ruin Elections”

[The ongoing protests in Hong Kong continue in waves of intensity, as the protest struggles for greater organized strength and programmatic unity, and as supporters of the Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y.Leung (a wealthy capitalist closely supported by the restored-capitalist/imperialist Beijing regime) continue to denounce the protests as a US/British plot.  How it will develop, what changes it may bring, is yet to be seen.  But in the meantime, C.Y. Leung who opposes the protester’s demand for more inclusive electoral reform, has let an underlying and unspoken issue come to the surface:  the question of class, of bourgeois rule, and the role of the poor.  While elections cannot solve the problem of capitalist ownership of the state, classes and class struggle cannot be hidden from any major political dispute between state powers and the resistance of the masses.. —  Frontlines ed.]

As protests continue in the crowded city of Hong Kong, thousands of immigrants and low-income families live in tiny subdivided units, unable to afford sky-high rents. Meanwhile, leader Leung Chun-ying lives a lavish lifestyle in an upscale community.

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Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung, as police march past

Leung proved today that he is not a “man of the people”. Instead, he came off as an elitist out of touch with the realities of living in Hong Kong.

He said that open elections shouldn’t happen because “many poor” might end up dominating politics.

Leung gave the interview to the Financial Times, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal and reiterated his position that free elections were impossible:

“If it’s entirely a numbers game—numeric representation—then obviously you’d be talking to half the people in Hong Kong [that] earn less than US$1,800 a month. You would end up with that kind of politics and policies.”

Leung made millions in real estate and has the nickname “emperor of the working class.” Already he has been hung in effigy, depicted as Dracula, and openly told to go to hell during the protests in Hong Kong. Continue reading

Should anti-Imperialists oppose only US imperialism?

[The world imperialist system today has entered a period of crisis, internal instability and disarray, growing internal conflict and inter-imperialist contention, conflict, and the beginnings of opposing bloc formations. It is a far-from-healthy and broadly discredited system, forcing the costs of its desperate wars and troubled (and false) bourgeois “recoveries” on the masses of people worldwide. Wave upon wave of resistance and rebellion has begun, sometimes toppling old imperialist puppets, though finding the path to create liberated societies very difficult. Fantasies that the US had, since WW2, successfully formed a system of efficient and unchallengable control of world imperialist domination, have fallen on hard times. Imperialist Russia and imperialist China have grown from the defeat of socialism and the seizure of power by capitalists, and have set upon an assertion of power and authority in regional, economic, political, military, monetary and financial affairs (though each is struggling to contain growing internal discontent). Anti-imperialists and revolutionaries who only think in the framework of decades-long opposition to US hegemony in the world system will look in vain, and to their own discredit, for friends or allies among the contending imperialists. The only path forward is to build revolutionary proletarian class-conscious parties and mass-based political forces with eyes wide open, independent of ties and influence by any and all imperialists.
Revolutionary Frontlines has recently received a new study from redpath.net, which examines the shape of the imperialist system today, with special emphasis on the still-debated role of China and Chinese imperialism. The introduction to this path-breaking study and analysis is posted here below. The entire document can be viewed at the website of http://www.red-path.net, where the document (produced by an independent research and writing group) was first posted. It can also be viewed and downloaded at http://www.mlmrsg.com/79-statements/82-is-china-an-imperialist-country-considerations-and-evidence. — Revolutionary Frontlines]

IS CHINA AN IMPERIALIST COUNTRY?  by NB Turner, et al.

It has long been known and understood that the entire world has been under the control of capitalist-imperialism. For a time, a section of this world broke from it, beginning with the victory of socialism in Russia and continuing through the Chinese Revolution, constituting a socialist world. Yet, in time, the socialist countries, through internal class struggles in politics and economics, were seized by capitalist conciliators and advocates, and then by capitalists themselves, who were largely within the ruling communist parties themselves. First in Russia, and later in China, when these counter-revolutions and coups took place, there ensued a period of entry and integration into the world imperialist system. The Soviet Union, at first under the existing signboard of socialism, continued much of its established national and economic power relations into a new social-imperialist bloc (socialist in name, imperialist in reality). The Russian capitalist-imperialist attempt to maintain this bloc, or important sections of what had been part of this bloc, and its historic allies, has continued in the years since the “socialist” signboard was discarded. In China, the defeat of the proletariat and the capitalist capture of state power, after the death of the great revolutionary Mao Zedong, have also led to a period of integration into the world imperialist system. China still operates under a “socialist” signboard, but has conducted itself unambiguously as a capitalist power.
Before the last decade, especially since the demise of the “socialist bloc,” the US was commonly seen as the sole Superpower, to which all other powers had to defer. The system which the US had designed, at the end of WW2, was global in scope, and to some more “democratic” in appearance than the old colonial empires. But it was built around the elitist privilege of power and authority, meaning the US as Superpower was at the centerpiece of the controls.
But in the last decade the imperialist world system is not what it used to be. Throughout the world, corrupt and comprador regimes have faced significant and often unprecedented mass popular opposition movements which have revealed the deep instability of the old neo-colonial arrangements. Continue reading

Mao and the new Chinese leadership

In 1976, China was the most equal society in the world while today, it is led by billionaires

by Hukum B Singh, eKantipur.com (Nepal), April 11, 2013

After the successful power transition in China,  Xi Jinping is now formally in charge of the Communist Party of China, the Government of China and its formidable military wing. However, there are big challenges ahead for Xi.

Mao, the founding father of modern China and the Chinese communist party, is still popular in China but the present leadership is fast moving away from his thought. The life and work of Mao is an inspiration to the poor, oppressed people in many parts of the world, including present China. That is why capitalists in China and their followers hate the memory of Mao and do everything they can to denigrate the great revolutionary leader. In Nepal and India, millions of workers and peasants are in favour of Maoism. Mao’s conception of a people’s war is being applied by the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which is leading an armed insurrection in many parts of India.

As it becomes clearer that capitalism—the oppressive system under which we live—is in decline, capitalists and those who serve them are becoming more desperate to convince us that no alternative, especially socialism, is possible. Hence, capitalist roaders in China and rest of the world have been attacking Mao’s revolution of China.

A century ago, when Mao was young, the once great civilisation of China had been reduced by internal reactionaries and external imperialists to a state of disorder and destitution. Mao was a young Chinese determined to find a way to save China and turn it into a prosperous, modern society. It was the Communist Party of China, eventually led by Mao, which found the way forward leading to the defeat of internal and external enemies and the foundation of the People’s Republic in 1949. In China today, Mao is widely respected and revered for the leading role he played in this great revolutionary struggle. Continue reading

Chinese protesters force municipal government to back off from chemical plant plan

Living on Earth, 8 November, 2012

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[Chinese protesters, like the one pictured here, have had success recently in beating back industrial projects. (Photo by Josh Chin.)]

China’s efforts to grow its economy and its manufacturing base are meeting resistance as the country’s middle class burgeons. In Ningbo, a plan to build a petrochemical plant was beaten back by protesters in the street who say these plants are affecting their health.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Ningbo, China, recently in opposition to a petrochemical plant they feel is a danger to public health.

After three days of demonstrations, and clashes between protesters and the police, the government has called the project off — at least for now.

Ben Carlson, a journalist with the Global Post who lives in Hong Kong, said the protests started out as a series of smaller protests.

“By the time the weekend rolled around there were several thousand people in the streets,” he said. “There were reports of the protesters overturning cars, and the police arrested several of the demonstrators — that actually became one of the causes that people were demonstrating against later on.” Continue reading

China: Among protesters, “middle class” slated for ‘loyal opposition’ role

Successful pollution protest shows China takes careful line with rising middle class

GILLIAN WONG,  Associated Press
October 29, 2012

NINGBO, China — A victory by protesters against the expansion of a chemical plant proves the new rule in China: The authoritarian government is scared of middle-class rebellion and will give in if the demonstrators’ aims are limited and not openly political.

It’s far from a revolution. China’s nascent middle class, the product of the past decade’s economic boom, is looking for better government, not a different one. They’re especially concerned about issues like health, education and property values and often resist the growth-at-all-costs model Beijing has pushed.

PHOTO: Chinese police officers monitor residents gathered outside the city government office in Ningbo city in eastern China's Zhejiang province Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. After three days of protests by thousands of citizens over pollution fears, a local Chinese government relented and agreed that the petrochemical factory would not be expanded, only to see the protests persist. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

[Chinese police officers monitor residents gathered outside the city government office in Ningbo city in eastern China’s Zhejiang province Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. After three days of protests by thousands of citizens over pollution fears, a local Chinese government relented and agreed that the petrochemical factory would not be expanded, only to see the protests persist. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)]

The past week’s chemical-plant protests reached an unruly crescendo over the weekend, when thousands of people marched through prosperous Ningbo city, clashing with police at times. The city government gave in Sunday and agreed to halt the plant’s expansion.

Even so, the protesters did not back down, staying outside city government offices hours after the concession. About 200 protesters, many of them retirees, returned Monday to make sure the government keeps its word on the oil and ethylene refinery run by a subsidiary of Sinopec, the state-owned petrochemical giant.

“In yesterday’s protest, the ordinary people let their voices be heard,” a 40-year-old businessman who would give only his surname, Bao, said on the protest line Monday. Government officials, he said, “should say they are completely canceling the project. They should state clearly that they will stop doing these projects in Ningbo and the rest of China.” Continue reading