The elections in Hong-Kong have resulted in a clear victory for youth groups. These groups were founded after the failed; Umbrella protests for democracy in the former British colony. Hong-Kong is ruled by the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It has over 70 seats, divided into two political camps. The pro-Beijing camp is made up of the Democratic Alliance, the Liberal Party and New People’s Party, all are supportive of Chinese nationalism and neoliberalism. On the other side, the so called pan-Democracy camp is led by bourgeois-democratic parties like the: Democratic Party, Civic Party and Labour Party. More radical democratic parties are the League of Social Democrats and People Power!
The youth of Hong-Kong are angry. They reject the undemocratic attempts of the People’s Republic of China to limit their democratic freedoms. 19 years after the former colony of Great Britain became part of China, a new generation of Chinese is unwilling to bow to authoritarianism. Hong-Kong is a special administrative region, meaning that special laws apply. In order to get the city to become part of the PRC, Beijing agreed on allowing capitalism and (a limited) democracy to remain in Hong-Kong. This led to the fact that the majority to capitalists and oligarchs support Beijing. Since the mainland turned towards accepting capitalism, the ruling class of the city allied itself with the former ”communist” enemy, to keep their profits save!
Beijing has build a stable coalition of loyalists around pseudo-trade unions and organisations of capitalist entrepreneurs. These main pro-Beijing parties are; the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (民主建港協進聯盟), the Liberal Party (自由黨) and the New People’s Party (新民黨). All these parties are right-wing conservative, pro-capitalist and Chinese nationalist. The Chinese ”Communist” Party itself does not participate in the elections. For revolutionary socialists the situation in Hong-Kong is truly a world upside down. Trade unions supportive of a state-capitalist regime, a communist party that allies itself with millionaires and a liberal party fully in serve of destroying democratic rights!
Yes, the Liberal Party is actively working with the pro-Beijing camp to make sure that in 2017, only loyalists of Beijing are allowed to run for the Legislative Council. This will be the final aim of the PRC and their allies, to destroy the pan-democracy camp and turn Hong-Kong into a ”people’s democratic dictatorship”. After their plan became public, it led to massive rejection by young Chinese, who rallied in 2014 against the pro-Beijing camp. Called the Umbrella Movement (雨傘運動), more then 100.000 Chinese started to demonstrate against the attempts by the pro-Beijing led council, to enforce undemocratic laws!
Although many workers, students and youth participate in the movement, their efforts failed to change the course of the government. The pro-Beijing led council refused to change anything and ordered its police forces to use brutal force. More then 1000 leaders of the Umbrella Movement were arrested. Many on the streets became frustrated and angered by the unwillingness of the pan-democracy camp to side with them. This we see returning in the 2016 election results. The Democratic Party and Civic Party together lost -8% of the pan-democracy electorate. Revolutionary socialists supported the Umbrella Movement and have called for the formation of a new workers party on a socialist program. Unfortunate, the leaders of the demonstrations were stuck in this false believe that the council would listen to them. When the opposite happened, they were disillusioned and paralyzed by the refusal of the Legislative Council. 95 wanted youth leaders choose to abandon the struggle and surrendered themselves to the police!
China has increased censorship in Hong-Kong and limited more democratic freedoms. The 2016 elections for the Legislative Council, resulted in another victory for the pro-Beijing camp. Although they lost 4 seats, the supporters of the Chinese ”Communist” Party still control 40 seats, leaving the pan-democracy with only 23 seats as the youth movements win 6 seats in the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Revolutionary socialists can understand why many choose to abandon the bourgeois-democratic parties!
Two years ago during the Umbrella demonstrations, the pan-democracy camp did little to aid the youth. It is sad however that the radical democratic parties also lost the vote of many young people in Hong-Kong. Parties like the League of Social Democrats (LSD) and People’s Power lost over 7,5% of their electorate, due to factionalism. People’s Power was formed around former LSD leader; Raymond Wong Yuk-man and Albert Chan Wai-yip. Because of personal disagreements with the League of Social Democrats, the two left the league and formed People’s Power with 200 former LSD members. Their split severely weakened the radical democratic camp!
The youth is the future and the future is socialism. This is a truthful saying. But if the youth is not mobilized for democratic socialism, then we risk losing the struggle. Working class youth need to understand that popular protest movements often do not look beyond capitalism. This was also the main weakness of the uprisings that brought down stalinism in 1989. Although the protests in the German Democratic Republic started only against the ruling Stalinist caste, the western capitalist powers soon hijacked it and turned the movement towards German reunification under capitalism. In other Eastern European nations, protests for democratic rights all led to capitalist restoration, because the leadership was influenced by western capitalist ideals. We must also not forget that many members of the former Stalinist caste, choose to work within a capitalist-democratic system. Hungarian and Bulgarian stalinists reformed themselves as ”socialists” (social democrats) and even won elections!
In Hong-Kong the protest movements have won six seats in the Legislative Council. Beijing does not like this fact. They will do anything to further their plans of slowly removing democratic rights. Trusting the pan-democracy camp is not good. Workers in the city state need a party of their own. Not a social democratic party like the Labour Party (工黨) but a party on a socialist program, that calls for the nationalization of the means of production and the full expropriation of millionaires and billionaires. This will not only scare the hell out of Beijing, but also international capitalism. Mass protests and civil disobedience will not bring down the Chinese ”Communist” Party, the events at Tiananmen Square in 1989 proof that!
Socialist Action in Hong-Kong is the Chinese section of the Committee for a Workers International. It participates in the League of Social Democrats and has called on this radical democratic party to embrace revolutionary socialism. Leung Kwok-hung, former leader of the LSD has been a voice for human rights and leftism. Called ”Long-Hair” he has been a fighter for working class people in the Legislative Council. Although he calls himself a Marxist, Leung Kwok-hung’s political agenda is moderate leftist and does not call for a socialist revolution in Hong-Kong. Despite this weakness, we supported Leung Kwok-hung reelection campaign!
Two years ago, Socialist Action participated in the Umbrella Movement against the dictatorial Hong-Kong government. We called on workers, students and youth to fight for socialism, but the protest leaders choose to rely on the pan-democracy forces in the Legislative Council. After the pro-Beijing led council rejected the demands and ordered police brutality, the Umbrella Movement collapsed. It was a victory for Beijing, despite the fact that over 100.000 workers, students and youth marched against their dictatorial politics!
Although the bodies of youth groups have won seats, there is still confusing and desperation. The voter turnout was 58%, much higher then four years ago. Many who struggled against the pro-Beijing led council are still feeling disillusioned and defeated after seeing how the supporters of the Chinese ”Communist” Party, were able to use undemocratic methods to defeat the Umbrella Movement. Some of the new groups now elected in the Legislative Council are not so radical democratic at all. Some express reactionary ideas, others call for separatism and many do not know how to behave like representatives of the people!
The call for independence under capitalism is foolish. Most capitalist groups and political parties do not want it. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong is deeply anti-separatist and would rather turn Hong-Kong into a fully Beijing controlled city. Neoliberals from the Liberal Party only care about economics ”freedoms” and argue for more deregulation and capitalist laws, they are the front party of big business. Some wonder why the Chinese ”Communist” Party itself is not participating in the Hong-Kong elections? The answer to that is relative simple. The communist party on the mainland knows how deeply unpopular they are among workers, students and youth of Hong-Kong. President Xi Jinping’s ethnic nationalism may fool some older Chinese and the ”patriotic capitalist” class. But in Hong-Kong, their nationalist poison had little effect on young people. They want freedom and liberty, which the capitalist class and Beijing wish to take away from them!
Marxists believe that self determination under capitalism is unworkable. We call for workers self-management in both politics and economics. It is also a fact that would Hong-Kong separate from the mainland, the Chinese military would intervene. The Republic of China on Taiwan is also facing this possibility. Taiwan maybe independent, but is not recognized as a sovereign nation internationally. Beijing is tolerating both Hong-Kong and Taiwan under the One China, Two Systems agreement. This means that there is only one China, but that two political and economic systems are at work. The People’s Republic agreed in 1997 not to introduce their ”socialist system” for 50 years in Hong-Kong. Should Beijing remain truthful, they will not impose their own laws on the city until 2047. But we all know that the PRC does not want to wait that long. Therefore they are slowly removing democratic rights one by one. In 2017 it is said that only pro-Beijing parties would be allowed to run for office. A very undemocratic move that could result in new protests!
As we see it now, Hong Kong is divided between three groups.
- The supporters of Beijing, represented by the Democratic Alliance, Liberal Party, pseudo-trade unions and ”patriotic” big businesses!
- The pan-democracy camp, mostly bourgeois-democratic represented by the Democratic Party, Civic Party and Labour Party
- Radical democratic groups like the League of Social Democrats, People’s Power and the new youth groups!
Socialist Action will keep up the fight for a socialist China, under democratic control of workers, students and youth. Our goal is the elimination of the CCP regime and their capitalist allies, both on the mainland and in Hong-Kong!