Hong Kong

Last weekend, amidst a wave of protests that has raged on for over half a year following the Extradition Bill introduced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Hong Kong held its regularly scheduled district council election. This typically low-interest, low-turnout affair was turned into an effective referendum on the Hong Kong masses’ opinion towards Beijing in light of recent events. It concluded with a landslide victory for the anti-Beijing bloc of politicians, with the highest turnout since Hong Kong’s return to China. But what is needed is a clear way forward based on class struggle politics.

China’s National Day, which marks the anniversary of Mao’s proclamation of the People’s Republic of China on 1 October, is always full of pageantry and displays of military strength. But for the 70th anniversary, Xi Jinping pulled out all the stops. The military parade was China’s biggest ever, with new, supersonic unmanned drones and nuclear missiles proudly on display. The message was loud and clear: as Xi himself said, “no force can shake the status of this great nation”.

The Sunday 8 September protest threatens to lead the movement in Hong Kong in a reactionary, openly pro-US imperialist direction. This is extremely dangerous for the movement and must be firmly and unequivocally rejected.

The mass movement in Hong Kong has just won its key demand – the withdrawal of the hated extradition bill that would allow anyone the Beijing government suspects of criminality to be extradited to the mainland. But none of the other four demands, such as for an independent investigation into police brutality, have been won.

Hong Kong’s earthshaking protest movement is entering its second month. Despite increasing pressure from Beijing and the Carrie Lam government, the movement still grows in militancy. It is graduating from bourgeois liberal methods towards the method of class struggle. In many ways, when Carrie Lam emerged from days of obscurity to respond to the general strike, she was right to say that the Hong Kong movement is heading towards a “path of no return.”

Hong Kong’s mass movement against the Chinese state’s attempt to control the territory has been spurred forward by the whip of counterrevolution. On Sunday 21 July, as protestors returned home from demonstrating, around 50 thugs dressed in all-white burst onto a subway train and indiscriminately attacked passengers with poles and other blunt objects. Although the attackers were anonymous and the assault appeared arbitrary, the message was received loud and clear – as was the intention: do not dare challenge the Hong Kong government and its masters in Beijing.

Hong Kong’s massive movement against the Beijing sponsored extradition law is showing no signs of fizzling out, after 500,000 people joined a march yesterday, the anniversary of the handover from Britain to Hong Kong. However, the movement is already at a crossroads, for it has reached a limit of what can be achieved without leadership and programme. 

On 16 June, only a week after the last, million-strong march that took place in Hong Kong, a second mass protest occurred. According to the leading organisers of the Civil Human Rights Front, as many as two million people joined the march yesterday. Judging from the images and figures available, as well as what I’ve seen, it is entirely credible that this protest is larger than that of the previous Sunday.

Today, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers marched in militant defiance of the ‘extradition bill’ that would grant China the power to take anyone in Hong Kong into custody on the mainland. Only three days earlier, Sunday 9 June, saw what may be the biggest demonstration in Hong Kong’s history. According to organisers, one million marched through the city’s humid streets, meaning one-in-seven Hong Kongers demonstrated!