[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
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
[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.
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
Economic Inequality Underlies Hong Kong Protests
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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Has the Left Libeled a Democracy Movement?
What’s Driving the Hong Kong Protests
by DAVE LINDORFF, CounterPunch, OCTOBER 06, 2014
A number of progressive and left-leaning writers in the US have jumped on a report by Wikileaks that the neo-con dominated National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and various other US-government linked organizations with a history of subversion and sowing discord abroad are operating in Hong Kong and on that basis are making the leap of “logic” that the democracy protests in Hong Kong must therefore be a creation of US policy-makers.
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.
[As mentioned earlier, the Hong Kong protests against the Capitalist rulers of China, are focused on the semi-colonial relationship that Hong Kong has with Beijing ever since the HK break in formal colonial relations with Capitalist-Imperialist Britain. The following news article repeats the misstaken characterization of China as “Communist” even years after it restored capitalism and remained “Communist” in name only. — Frontlines ed.]
Hong Kong activists hold ‘umbrella protest’
ITV, 29 September 2014
Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong held an “umbrella protest” as police sprayed pepper spray at them.
After three days thousands of protesters would not be moved despite the Hong Kong government saying they were withdrawing riot police.
Thousands of pro-democracy protesters remain on the streets of Hong Kong after police used tear gas and batons in an attempt to disperse them yesterday.
[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
The promised to be a premiere full of fans and buyers looking to get the new iSlave6 has been brought into reality by the protest of several members of the NGO Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior, popularly known as SACOM.
Protesters of that organization have come to the premiere of the phone on the Apple store in Hong Kong to protest against the working conditions of Apple employees.
The protest has achieved its objectives as SACOM activists have hung a banner on which was written the name “iSlave 6″, referring to the working conditions endured by workers in the factories that produce the smartphone Apple. Continue reading
Wed, Jun 02, 2010
The China Post/Asia News Network
TAIPEI, TAIWAN – Scuffles erupted in Taiwan yesterday as activists alleging labor abuses by IT giant Foxconn tried to enter an exhibition centre where President Ma Ying-jeou was opening Asia’s biggest technology fair.
The protesters, who were shouting “Capitalists kill people” and holding placards and pictures of Foxconn chief Terry Gou, fought with uniformed police as they tried to deliver a letter to Ma while he launched Computex Taipei.
Five other IT tycoons, including Apple chief executive Steve Jobs and Cher Wang, chairwoman of Taiwan’s leading smartphone maker HTC Corp, were also targeted.
Foxconn, a unit of the Hon Hai group, makes a range of popular products including Apple iPhones, Dell computers and Nokia mobile phones.
“All the products on display at the exhibition inside are made with workers’ sweat and blood,” demonstration leader Liu Nien-yun told reporters. “That’s why we’re here.”
They were campaigning as 10 workers at a Foxconn plant in the Chinese city of Shenzhen have fallen to their deaths in apparent suicides this year. An 11th worker died at a factory run by the firm in northern China. Continue reading
(While 150,000 in Hong Kong rallied in remembrance of the 1989 suppression of the Tienanmen Square democracy protests, in Beijing–where such commemorations are banned–a report on a child’s cartoon broke through the suffocating climate, briefly).
Regime rattled–represses cartoon
ABC’s Mary Huang reports from Beijing:
On a day meant to celebrate China’s future, an image surrounding the country’s troubled past has captured the attention of its online community.
Just three days before the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, China’s Southern Metropolis Daily published a series of cartoons commemorating International Children’s Day. In one, a small boy draws a stick figure standing in front of a line of tanks, echoing the iconic Tank Man photograph from the Tiananmen protests.
The cartoon quickly circulated around China’s online community as citizens passed it on, attaching comments that praised the newspaper and implored future generations to remember the event. State censors quickly intervened and removed the cartoon from the newspaper’s website.
In the lead-up to this year’s anniversary, the government also cracked down on commemorative activities in Hong Kong, the only part of the country where such public events are allowed. On Saturday, city police arrested 13 activists demonstrating on the city’s sidewalks, along with a miniature version of the original Tiananmen “Goddess of Democracy” statue. Standing at 33 feet tall, the original statue was constructed by student protestors to symbolize their push for democratic reform. It stood in the square for five days before soldiers destroyed it during the government crackdown. Like the Tank Man, the sculpture has become an icon of the Tiananmen movement and a symbol of liberty and free speech. Replicas have been built around the world in commemoration. The replica seized by Hong Kong police had been constructed by New Zealander Chen Weiming for the city’s Tiananmen Square protest memorial gatherings this year.
Public outcry forced the Hong Kong police to return Chen’s statue on Tuesday. The statue was on display during the city’s June 4 memorial vigil in Victoria Park. Police also released the activists on bail within a day of their arrest. The creator, however, was not so lucky. Earlier in the week, Hong Kong authorities detained and deported Chen at the airport as he tried to enter the city to check on his statue.
Twenty-one years after Tiananmen, the Chinese government continues to label the student-led protests as a counterrevolutionary revolt and to restrict public acknowledgement of the crackdown. As Hong Kong citizens gather in memory of Tiananmen, memorial events in mainland China are out of the question. Younger generations of Chinese remain largely ignorant of the events. For a society that prides itself on remembering its 5,000-year-old history, most Chinese treat June 4 as an ordinary day.
With the exception of increased security along Beijing’s streets, the day appears to pass by quietly. Yet, as the Southern Metropolis Daily cartoon reminds us, there are still some, however few, dedicated to keeping the memory of the massacre in Tiananmen Square alive in China.
Associated Press contributed to this report.