Aug 19, 2019
This article was translated from Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the French revolutionary workers’ group of that name.
The demonstrations in Hong Kong have brought together hundreds of thousands of people for two months, and on August 5, according to the press and the unions, a layer of workers supported the movement with a strike.
According to the unions, the strike was a success in this city where worker mobilizations are rare. Present in the demonstrations on Friday, August 2, government workers also stopped work on Monday. They were joined by workers from diverse sectors, including the transit system, the movie industry, and even the Disneyland theme park. The strike was also joined by airport workers.
Hong Kong is a financial center that Chinese and Western capital flows through, with immense inequality. It has a relatively large middle class, and it is essentially this social class that has been mobilized for months to oppose a law allowing Hong Kong residents to be extradited to China.
On June 15, during the growth of these demonstrations, the government partially gave in and suspended its plans for the new law. But the mobilization continues. The demonstrators have demanded the complete abandonment of this legal project and the removal of Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is a remnant of the immense British colonial empire. It is an island of wealth in a sea of poverty. The bourgeoisie, small and large, enjoys a level of freedom and privilege, the maintenance of which is the real objective of this arm wrestling with the Chinese authorities.
The day before the strike, Dennis Ng Wang-pun, President of the Chinese Manufacturers Association of Hong Kong, threatened people not to participate: “Do you think the government will kneel down? If I was the government, I would only get tougher.” Inevitably, if the workers bring their own weapons and their own perspectives to bear, they will have to contend not only with the Chinese authorities, but also with this Hong Kong bourgeoisie.
In mainland China, the Beijing authorities have tried to minimize the size of the Hong Kong mobilization since its beginning, and to more tightly censor social media. The authorities fear that this mobilization could spread to the millions of harshly exploited Chinese workers, beginning with those found just a few dozen miles from Hong Kong, in the province of Guangdong, one of the most industrialized in the country. Their mobilization could offer entirely different perspectives, not only in China, but also in Hong Kong itself.