As the struggle in Hong Kong is nearing the end of its third month, the dictatorship of the so-called Chinese ‘Communist’ Party (CCP) shows no signs of shifting from its strategy of brutal police repression and zero concessions as a ‘solution’ to the rolling political crisis.
Brutal crackdowns have already begun. Police violence rose to a new level in August when a young female protester was blinded in one eye and when police fired pepper-spray balls at close range at demonstrators inside a subway station. Police were revealed as having disguised themselves as demonstrators to provoke violence in order to create chaos and provide a pretext for police to arrest demonstrators. Such repression has not disillusioned the masses, but instead has been feeding their anger.
Hong Kong plays the role of being the financial hub for Chinese capitalist interests. It is a bottleneck of financial transactions and a magnet for capitalist investment. Unlike stories told about capitalism and its ‘trickle down’ economics, living conditions in Hong Kong are dire. Since 2003, housing costs have trebled whilst wages remain stagnant. Rent can suck up 70% of a worker’s income. Such crushing living standards are undoubtedly a driving force behind the movement.
The CCP has been pressuring big businesses in Hong Kong to condemn the movement. Cathay Pacific Airways were warned that aircrew who support illegal protests are forbidden from entering Chinese airspace. Cathay warned its staff that if they participate in demonstrations, they might be fired. So far, 14 employees have been sacked, including their trade union chairperson, Rebecca Sy On-na.
Hong Kong Chief Executive (head of the local government) Carrie Lam led a press conference of big business representatives in order to demonstrate she has won the support of the capitalists. Hong Kong’s businesses have huge commercial interests in mainland China and rely on the CCP dictatorship to maintain Hong Kong’s undemocratic political system, allowing them to exploit workers more aggressively for increased profits.
Calls for a general strike are particularly powerful, not only because they reflect an increase in the class characterisation and consciousness within the movement but because of the economic position of Hong Kong. 350,000 participated in the 5 August strike; a positive start. This is despite the fact the strike was not called or led by the official trade unions, with around 90% of those on strike not being unionised. The movement now needs to prepare for another more extensive general strike, organised through strike committees in workplaces to attract fearful workers by showing the power of organisation. The students’ strike now being prepared is also of great significance and can encourage further workers’ struggles.
The only support that the movement can rely upon is workers in China and internationally. The movement must appeal to the struggling Chinese workers and youth for a joint challenge against the CCP dictatorship and to eliminate the exploitation and oppression that the authoritarian system means for Chinese and Hong Kong workers and youth. This means fighting for a democratic socialist alternative, run by and based upon the needs of the working class, rather than the super-profits of the capitalist tycoons and CCP elite.
By Amy Ferguson