August 2019
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Month August 2019

A Brief Note on the Anti-extradition Movement of Hong Kong

1. The anti-extradition movement has gone beyond protests against the bill. It is more associated with a struggle for social and democratic rights than with a fight against the bill. Protesters have not come up with a name for it. That’s why the term “the anti-extradition movement” is widely used in the Chinese-speaking world.

2. It would be wrong to equate this movement with one of separatism. Participants do not see separatism to be feasible. Nor do they support it. Only a tiny section of participants (e.g., Hong Kong Indigenous) are secessionists.

3. Some participants of the movement vented their anger and provoked the police by waving uk, us, and Republic of China flags along with flags of Hong Kong (1959–1997). Flags of hk were utilized primarily because the former was the emblem of hk. Protesters have not come up with a different symbol of hk.

4. It makes little sense for anti-government protesters to wave prc flags or hksar (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) flags. However, the foreign flag waving thing plays into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (ccp). The ccp depicts the movement as being backed and bankrolled by foreign powers. Participants who are no fans of separatism, the uk and the us have refrained from waving foreign flags.

5. A tiny section of protesters are xenophobes who liken the Chinese people to a swarm of locusts. Similarly, the police of hk liken protestors to a swarm of cockroaches.

6. It is difficult to communicate with Chinese migrant workers residing in hk about what’s going on, let alone making appeals to them. Many of the migrant workers who speak little Cantonese very much rely on official news to get information. Accurate portrayals of the movement are filtered out by the ccp-run media.

7. Consumed by Chinese nationalism and buying into the propaganda churned out by the ccp regarding matters such as riots, separatism, foreign interference, etc., many migrant workers are not sympathetic about protesters who faced police brutality and state oppression. For them, separatism is what this movement is all about.

8. Mainstream media outlets of Taiwan gave the movement their own twists such as the identification of communism with authoritarianism, “Today’s Hong Kong, Tomorrow’s Taiwan,” the glorification of colonialism, etc.

9. The movement could hardly appeal to those workers who face severe economic hardship and hence cannot afford to strike. Finance capital has dominated Hong Kong for more than half a century and has widened income and wealth disparity in hk. On August 5, 2019, more than 350,000 people launched a political strike. Hundreds of thousands of precarious workers relied on getting a meagre daily wage to get by. Consequently, they begged protesters to lift the pickets.

10. Protesters need solidarity to take the movement forward, and the question is how to go about it. Even the most class-conscious activists have not figured out how to launch a working-class struggle while simultaneously meeting low-income workers’ basic needs. Nor have they figured out how to reach out to the Chinese working people who face the imposition of state censorship.

11. Under the “one country, two systems” arrangement, the rule of finance capital leaves a legacy. The latter can be seen in the city’s gross inequality, the unavailability of affordable housing and the rising costs of living. However, in the absence of the “one country, two systems” formula, it entails the dictatorship of the ccp that criminalizes dissent. Put differently, the people of Hong Kong fight for the preservation of this formula not because they are ignorant about the longstanding ties between the Chinese ruling class (including the hk ruling elite) and finance capital, but because they are fully aware of fact that if they lose their very limited social and political rights, they will lose them forever.

12. Due to the handover of hk, the people of Hong Kong are wary of the ccp dictatorship. The ccp denies social and democratic rights to Chinese workers and then tightens its grip on Hong Kong. The people of Hong Kong fight police brutality and repression with bravery because the movement may well represent the last fight for their political freedom.

13. Unless protesters come up with a feasible alternative to the “one country, two systems” arrangement, the future of the movement is invariably tied to the preservation of the hk being the most significant financial entrepot of China (e.g., foreign exchange trading and foreign direct investment going into China).

14. Many middle class protestors pin their hopes on international financial capital coming to their rescue.

15. Despite the intensification of the us–China trade war, the Trump administration and the ccp share common interests in characterizing the protests as “riots” and in solving the so-called “Hong Kong problem” through force. When it comes to guarding the interests of capital against the proletariat the bourgeois governments (be they far-right or Stalinist) are brothers in arms.

16. The movement has thus far been spontaneous with participants coming from diverse backgrounds. The movement has neither spokespersons, nor leaders, nor public faces. Participants make discussions and organize demonstrations through telegram. Cops and agents provocateurs can get involved with the conversations about tactics and with direct action anytime.

—An East Asian Correspondent