Kevin Lin on Occupy Hong Kong.
The protests have arisen out of anger toward China’s encroachment into Hong Kong politics after the latter’s return to China in 1997.
While notionally permitting a high degree of autonomy, China has impeded moves towards direct election of its Legislative Council and Chief Executive, as encoded in its Basic Law.
In particular, pro-democracy activists have been frustrated by obstruction of the election of the Chief Executive, which has been appointed by Beijing since 1997. While Beijing has said it will allow an election for the first time since Hong Kong was integrated in to China, set to take place in 2017, all candidates are to be selected by a nominating committee.
There are fears this could screen out candidates unacceptable to Beijing.
The protest last week was sparked by an announcement in late August, by the Standing Committee of China’s National Congress, which ruled out open nominations.
Keenly aware of the possibility of losing control over Hong Kong and that impact in the mainland, the Chinese government has refused to back down in the face of mounting opposition. The opposition movement included an unofficial referendum in June and a mass demonstration of 500,000 on 1 July, which is the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China. Hong Kong’s business elite has warned the democracy movement against jeopardising Hong Kong’s economy.
Protesters have made their objectives clear.
The Hong Kong Federation of Students threatened class boycotts and strikes over its demand that China’s National Congress withdraw its announcement and implement open nominations of candidates.
They have called for the resignation of the Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying. The political clarity and wide acceptance of these goals has galvanised the movement.
Other Hong Kong activist groups and trade unions are trying to include social issues, urging the government to legislate on work hours and pensions, restrict real estate speculation, protect housing rights, and implement social policy for workers, women and ethnic minorities.Read article here
Guardian Report on mass protests
Crikey background on protests
Support the Hong Kong Federation of Unions strike for democracy
The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) – the only independent union in China – has called for workers to strike in support of the democracy movement as mass civil disobedience actions come under heavy police attack. The Swire Beverages (Coca-Cola) union and the HKCTU unions of school teachers and dockers are striking and will be joined by other member unions.
Why Hong Kong’s Occupy Central movement has Beijing very very scared
Hands Up Don’t Shoot
Labour rights and OccupyCentral
Posted on October 3, 2014 by Tom Barnes
Why labour movements in Hong Kong and China are crucial to the democracy movement. In this latest post, I look at debates about labour rights and unions in mainland China.
Events in Asia have been focused on the enormous and inspiring protests against Chinese state interference in Hong Kong’s parliament. At the time of writing, the protest movement is still unfolding and, while I have no expert or insider knowledge of it, I agree with my friend Kevin Lin’s analysis that it will be more difficult to deal with the Communist Party’s intransigence unless the movement can deepen from the streets to the workplaces and communities.
As well as this informative piece, Kevin has offered an excellent analysis of the class divisions that underpin the city as a global hub of finance capital and the gateway for foreign investors into mainland China. According to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, about 10,000 workers have been involved in strike action in support of the street protests. Such actions partly reflect the low real wages and precarious employment that afflict large parts of Hong Kong’s working class population. Whether or not questions of social class or labour movements are in the minds of protest organisers, these actions, as well as the dockworkers’ strike last year, suggest that it might be possible to widen the protests from a predominantly street-based movement to one that can leverage workers’ structural power to achieve its democratic aims. Read here
For labour news on Hong Kong and China go to LabourStart