HK Occupy Central Protests

Discuss popular music, TV & film, books, politics, world events and anything else here.

HK Occupy Central Protests

Postby pianoman » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:35 pm

As most people know by now, there have been large street protests in Hong Kong for over two weeks now. The issue is whether candidates for the promised general election of Hong Kong's Chief Executive in 2017 should require approval by Hong Kong's 1200-member "electoral college," where Beijing loyalists hold a clear majority.

Image
Image

The idea for the protests came from a HK law professor named Benny Tai in an article published in January of 2013. In June 2014 the Occupy Central group organized an informal poll in which participants voted on three proposals for the general election to be sent to Beijing. All three of the proposals included open nominations. A number equal to about one-fifth of registered HK voters participated in the poll, which was heavily criticized by mainland media.

The actual protests were initiated when a group called Scholarism, led by Joshua Wong (who has received a lot of media attention in the US), led a student strike at the end of September. A week later Benny Tai and the Occupy movement launched their plan for civil disobedience, which they had been threatening to do since becoming organized.

There are many strong opinions of what is going on in HK. Supporters of the Occupy movement consider Beijing's insistence that candidates for Chief Executive be vetted by them as a reneg on the promise of free and open elections. The most disciplined of the protesters will argue that representative government is a good and universally progressive cause, even though there are historical reasons they are protesting for it now as opposed to during their long history of British colonial rule. Democratic governments throughout history have been tailored to the historical conditions of the given political entity, such as the electoral college system in the US, which was implemented to give the less populous Southern states more leverage during slavery and is still in use today. But the Occupy protests are by design leaderless, and many of the factions participating in the protests are doing so for their own reasons, such as resentment or even chauvinism towards mainland Chinese, nostalgia for life under British rule, or just plain hooliganism.

There is a lot of history that the Western media has largely overlooked in their coverage. It is a fact that the people of HK accepted British colonial rule and directly-appointed governors for 150 years. Not only did HK accept these direct appointments, there was never a popular movement even suggesting universal suffrage during British rule. Also, it appears that many of the leaders of the Occupy movement have connections with the US NGO the National Endowment for Democracy, which was also involved in the Arab Spring and the Color Revolutions. NED also supports Uighur separatists in Western China.

Here is an article about NED's involvement in the Occupy Central Movement.

I am going to post the best article I have read about the Occupy Central protests, one that sidesteps the issue of the nomination process for Chief Executive in HK and looks at the larger history and social forces that have shaped HK, play a role in the character of the Occupy Central Movement, and should guide HK as it negotiates its future:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfre ... -democracy

China is Hong Kong’s future – not its enemy
Protesters cry democracy but most are driven by dislocation and resentment at mainlanders’ success
Martin Jacques
The Guardian, Tuesday 30 September 2014 14.45 EDT

The upheaval sweeping Hong Kong is more complicated than on the surface it might appear. Protests have erupted over direct elections to be held in three years’ time; democracy activists claim that China’s plans will allow it to screen out the candidates it doesn’t want.

It should be remembered, however, that for 155 years until its handover to China in 1997, Hong Kong was a British colony, forcibly taken from China at the end of the first opium war. All its 28 subsequent governors were appointed by the British government. Although Hong Kong came, over time, to enjoy the rule of law and the right to protest, under the British it never enjoyed even a semblance of democracy. It was ruled from 6,000 miles away in London. The idea of any kind of democracy was first introduced by the Chinese government. In 1990 the latter adopted the Basic Law, which included the commitment that in 2017 the territory’s chief executive would be elected by universal suffrage; it also spelt out that the nomination of candidates would be a matter for a nominating committee.

This proposal should be seen in the context of what was a highly innovative – and, to westerners, completely unfamiliar – constitutional approach by the Chinese. The idea of “one country, two systems” under which Hong Kong would maintain its distinctive legal and political system for 50 years. Hong Kong would, in these respects, remain singularly different from the rest of China, while at the same time being subject to Chinese sovereignty. In contrast, the western view has always embraced the principle of “one country, one system” – as, for example, in German unification. But China is more a civilisation-state than a nation-state: historically it would have been impossible to hold together such a vast country without allowing much greater flexibility. Its thinking – “one civilisation, many systems” – was shaped by its very different history.

In the 17 years since the handover, China has, whatever the gainsayers might suggest, overwhelmingly honoured its commitment to the principle of one country, two systems. The legal system remains based on English law, the rule of law prevails, and the right to demonstrate, as we have seen so vividly in recent days, is still very much intact. The Chinese meant what they offered. Indeed, it can reasonably be argued that they went to extremes in their desire to be unobtrusive: sotto voce might be an apt way of describing China’s approach to Hong Kong. At the time of the handover, and in the three years I lived in Hong Kong from 1998, it was difficult to identify any visible signs of Chinese rule: I recall seeing just one Chinese flag.

Notwithstanding this, Hong Kong – and its relationship with China – was in fact changing rapidly. Herein lies a fundamental reason for the present unrest: the growing sense of dislocation among a section of Hong Kong’s population. During the 20 years or so prior to the handover, the territory enjoyed its golden era – not because of the British but because of the Chinese. In 1978 Deng Xiaoping embarked on his reform programme, and China began to grow rapidly. It was still, however, a relatively closed society. Hong Kong was the beneficiary – it became the entry point to China, and as a result attracted scores of multinational companies and banks that wanted to gain access to the Chinese market. Hong Kong got rich because of China. It also fed an attitude of hubris and arrogance. The Hong Kong Chinese came to enjoy a much higher standard of living than the mainlanders. They looked down on the latter as poor, ignorant and uncouth peasants, as greatly their inferior. They preferred – up to a point – to identify with westerners rather than mainlanders, not because of democracy (the British had never allowed them any) but primarily because of money and the status that went with it.

Much has changed since 1997. The Chinese economy has grown many times, the standard of living of the Chinese likewise. If you want to access the Chinese market nowadays, why move to Hong Kong when you can go straight to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and a host of other major cities? Hong Kong has lost its role as the gateway to China. Where previously Hong Kong was China’s unrivalled financial centre, now it is increasingly dwarfed by Shanghai. Until recently, Hong Kong was by far China’s largest port: now it has been surpassed by Shanghai and Shenzhen, and Guangzhou will shortly overtake it.

Two decades ago westerners comprised the bulk of Hong Kong’s tourists, today mainlanders account for the overwhelming majority, many of them rather more wealthy than most Hong Kong Chinese. Likewise, an increasing number of mainlanders have moved to the territory – which is a growing source of resentment. If China needed Hong Kong in an earlier period, this is no longer nearly as true as it was. On the contrary, without China, Hong Kong would be in deep trouble.

Understandably, many Hong Kong Chinese are struggling to come to terms with these new realities. They are experiencing a crisis of identity and a sense of displacement. They know their future is inextricably bound up with China but that is very different from embracing the fact. Yet there is no alternative: China is the future of Hong Kong.

All these issues, in a most complex way, are being played out in the present arguments over universal suffrage. Hong Kong is divided. About half the population support China’s proposals on universal suffrage, either because they think they are a step forward or because they take the pragmatic view that they will happen anyway. The other half is opposed. A relatively small minority of these have never really accepted Chinese sovereignty. Anson Chan, the former head of the civil service under Chris Patten, and Jimmy Lai, a prominent businessman, fall into this category, and so do some of the Democrats. Then there is a much larger group, among them many students, who oppose Beijing’s plans for more idealistic reasons.

One scenario can be immediately discounted. China will not accept the election of a chief executive hostile to Chinese rule. If the present unrest continues, then a conceivable backstop might be to continue indefinitely with the status quo, which, from the point of view of democratic change, both in Hong Kong and China, would be a retrograde step. More likely is that the Chinese government will persist with its proposals, perhaps with minor concessions, and anticipate that the opposition will slowly abate. This remains the most likely scenario.

An underlying weakness of Chinese rule has nevertheless been revealed by these events. One of the most striking features of Hong Kong remains the relative absence of a mainland political presence. The Chinese have persisted with what can best be described as a hands-off approach. Their relationship to the administration is either indirect or behind the scenes. Strange as it may seem, the Chinese are not involved in the cut and thrust of political argument. They will need to find more effective ways of making their views clear and arguing their case – not in Beijing but in Hong Kong.
pianoman
Site Admin
 
Posts: 172
Joined: Fri May 02, 2014 7:19 pm

Re: HK Occupy Central Protests

Postby pianoman » Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:57 am

Another round of protests have been terrorizing Hong Kong for the past several months. In the US, the media coverage has been uniformly for the demonstrators and against the Chinese government, even though the mainland government has not intervened (the police you see are HK police). The US media make no distinction between the large, peaceful protests against the extradition bill that initiated this cycle and the smaller, violent mob riots that have taken place since. It is now clear that the radical core of these protests are separatists: they never suggested amending the extradition bill—which in many ways makes a lot of sense—to address their concerns and once the bill was withdrawn the protests became more violent and more hardened. The extradition bill was never the issue with these protesters.

Image
Image
Image

Since reporting in the US has been so one-sided, here are some videos that show the reality. No government in the world would allow this kind of anarchy to continue for so long:

Protesters are violent
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZroQSvY-Lh8
Protest mob beats elderly
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fh-2RrZis9I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDj0Lbgi5mU
Protesters operating a makeshift trebuchet:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZAtohEgXrY
Protesters have long argument with a man, then douse him in gasoline and set him on fire:
https://www.reddit.com/r/Hong_Kong/comm ... live_1111/


Here are some excerpts from a recent Martin Jacques interview about the situation:
http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1166377.shtml

GT: Hong Kong has witnessed violent protests. We know that after the Ukrainian revolution, many street protests in various countries turned violent. Do you think this is what democracy needs?

Jacques: No, I think that demonstrations in Hong Kong have got completely out of hand and violent. I think in many respects they can be described as nihilistic. The destruction of public property has a very bad effect on Hong Kong's economy and the viability and harmony of Hong Kong society. I think that it's quite different from the huge demonstration by 3 million people who earlier demanded the withdrawal of the Extradition Bill. I think that clearly reflected a very, very widespread view in Hong Kong society. One has to respect that. But these violent demonstrations are an entirely different matter.
GT:Many in Hong Kong are proud of the Western democratic norms and values they're upholding. Will this help them solve their current social problems? What do you think are the root causes of the current inequalities in Hong Kong?

Jacques: Well, I think there's a certain irony here, because if they champion democratic values, then Hong Kong never had democracy under the British. For 156 years, it was ruled from Britain and was a British colony. There was never universal suffrage in Hong Kong. In fact, it was only right at the end of British rule that they even began to mention these things because basically it was being handed over to China. So Hong Kong's never been democratic. It had the rule of law, it had a relatively free media, but it never had any kind of democratic system.

Hong Kong can't look back in that sense to the romantic days of democracy, because they never had any democracy. This is a complete illusion. Democracy in the sense of universal suffrage and so on, actually, what the Chinese offered was much more advanced than they had during the British period, which was universal suffrage and a limited number of approved candidates. This was opposed in 2014, and never happened. But that was certainly the most advanced proposal.

I think the demonstrators are very frustrated, very angry, very disappointed, but living under an illusion. Are they dreaming of Britain? Britons are in the midst of the country's biggest political crisis for 200 years. Indeed, democracy is under threat of serious erosion in the UK. The young demonstrators are possessed of an idealism that has little or no grasp of reality. But there are deeper causes behind this discontent, which need to be tackled by the Hong Kong government and by the Chinese government.

You see Hong Kong has not really done well economically since the handover. What are the problems? Well, first of all, income inequality. Hong Kong is one of the most unequal societies in the world and it has got worse since the handover in 1997. Inequality means there are a lot of people in Hong Kong who are doing very badly. They're earning very little. They feel very frustrated by that. And they feel, in a sense, trapped. That links to the question of property prices.

Property prices in Hong Kong are sky high. This is often blamed on the density of the population. This is nonsense. Parts of Hong Kong are densely populated but a lot of Hong Kong is not densely populated. The problem is that the land supply is controlled by the tycoons. This is a legacy of British rule. Their power over the supply of land needs to be ended. There needs to be a massive building program, especially of public housing for ordinary people.

What has transformed China so brilliantly since 1978? The strategy of reform and opening-up. What is the reform strategy in Hong Kong? It can't be the same, because the Hong Kong economy is different. But there are deep flaws in the Hong Kong economy which need to be addressed. One of them is the fact that it's often claimed the Hong Kong economy is very free. It's not free at all. It is an oligopolistic economy, a colonial-style economy, which is a hangover from the colonial period. It is dominated by a few tycoons. The Hong Kong economy needs to be liberated from tycoon control.

Now, if you want to understand the distress and anger in Hong Kong, you have to look at these kinds of questions. And it really is now the responsibility, I think, of the Hong Kong government to address such questions. There needs to be a major reset in Hong Kong. And I'm sure that these questions can be successfully tackled.
GT: You mentioned in your previous interviews that Hong Kong's future lies with the mainland. Can you elaborate?

Jacques: There is a widespread illusion in Hong Kong that during the very prosperous period from the late 1970s until the handover in 1997, Hong Kong somehow did it on its own. Of course, they made a contribution, but by far and away the most important reason for HK's success in this period was China. Deng Xiaoping began to open up China in 1978 with Hong Kong in effect becoming the front office of China. So a huge amount of the business that Hong Kong did during that period was a result of China's opening-up. Hong Kong got lucky because of China between 1978 and China's accession to the WTO in 2001.

In other words, Hong Kong didn't do it simply by its own efforts. It made a contribution, but really it was a function of China's reform and opening-up. The Hong Kong economy is absolutely and completely intertwined with and dependent upon the Chinese economy. So the future of Hong Kong is intimately linked with the future of the Chinese economy.

To look West in this situation is a joke. America has a declining economy, Britain is in a very bad state politically and economically. If you look at the world, where is the growth? Everyone is looking eastward. Everyone's looking to China and the countries around China and Hong Kong's future must be part of that. There is no alternative to that. There has hitherto been some hesitation on the part of Hong Kong to become part of the Southern Chinese economy, which is arguably the most dynamic economy in the world. I welcome in this context the Greater Bay Area project because this is going to be extremely important for the whole of southern China and Hong Kong.

Just over the border from Hong Kong is Shenzhen. It has been an extraordinary success in a way that Hong Kong hasn't been so successful over the last 20 years. Its GDP is now larger than that of Hong Kong. Shenzhen has gone from, relatively speaking, being a small backwater at the time of Deng Xiaoping's reforms in1978 to becoming today one of the most dynamic and attractive cities in the world, and remarkably, in a very short time, a global rival to Silicon Valley. That shows you what the possibilities are.
GT: How do you see the Western attitude toward the Hong Kong issue? Some politicians and media are trying to criticize the handling of the Hong Kong protests.

Jacques: The British media's take on Hong Kong has been disgraceful and irresponsible. It has made no attempt to distinguish between the big peaceful demonstrations and the small, very violent demonstrations. There was great sympathy for the huge demonstrations against the Extradition Bill. I understand this. They clearly reflected the view of much of Hong Kong society. That's one issue. But the small violent demonstrations, the blatant and wanton destruction of property, are absolutely inexcusable. But the British media has taken the position of indiscriminate support for all the demonstrations, peaceful or violent, which is pure hypocrisy. They would never do that in relationship to something like this in the UK.

As far as the British government is concerned, I think that it's actually incumbent on the British government to adopt a supportive attitude toward "one country, two systems," and not simply to criticize the Chinese. Everyone can see that the problems of Hong Kong are quite difficult. And the causes are quite complex and they also have to do with the British legacy in Hong Kong. To reduce it to the argument that what's been happening is an erosion of "one country, two systems," in my view, is nonsense. I do not agree with that. I'm not saying the Hong Kong government hasn't made some serious mistakes, they have. But to talk about the erosion of "one country, two systems" or as some people say "one country, one and a half systems," is nonsense.

If you look at the legal system, the political system, and the media in Hong Kong, it's very different from the Chinese mainland. This is a mischief-making attitude. I'm not saying the British government should support everything that's going on. But it should be within a supportive framework. Why? Because the UK was and is a party to the Basic Law and the "one country, two systems" framework.


Here is an Indian American who lives in Hong Kong and speaks Chinese who describes the dynamic of chauvinism among the protesters. He calls it “racism”—of one group of Chinese against another.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_cont ... W54UL-izDw


There has been a strange romanticization of British colonial rule among the protesters, with many waving the British Colonial Flag of Hong Kong (here, here and here) and calling for British, American or other Western intervention into the current situation. Either Hong Kongers have a short memory or the globalist NGO psyops are actually having an effect, because this is completely divorced from the reality of Hong Kong’s colonial history. In 1997, the year of the handover, an American law professor named Richard Klein (J.D. Harvard Law, 1972) published a long, heavily annotated study of Britain’s use of the state to suppress political dissent in its former colony. In addition to the legal state suppression, Hong Kong during colonial rule was very much racially segregated, with Chinese living in the most squalid conditions, holding the most difficult jobs for the least pay, and having no political representation in the colonial government for most of its history. The study is seventy-pages long and can be found here for free:

The Empire Strikes Back: Britain's Use of the Law to Suppress Political Dissent in Hong Kong

I will post only Klein’s conclusion. Anyone supporting the Hong Kong protests must confront the fact that the current political system in Hong Kong, supported by the nominally communist one-party Chinese government, is the most liberal system the people of Hong Kong have ever had:

Hong Kong has often been referred to as the world’s “last colony.” European colonial rule of territories in Africa and Asia generally terminated in the years following the end of the Second World War. With the return of Hong Kong to China in July of 1997, it is crucial to understand the character and nature of the British domination of the Chinese people living in Hong Kong.

Over the course of colonial rule, the government used martial law, flogging, deportation, and censorship of those deemed antagonistic to British control. Newspapers were closed and publishers jailed for the crime of sedition. Union headquarters were raided and shut down, labor leaders arrested and imprisoned. When protests occurred, steel-helmeted police responded with tear gas and batons.

At times, demonstrations were completely outlawed, as was any use of “inflammatory” speech. Curfews were instituted and warrantless searches conducted. Petitioning, posters that might lead to “ill-will,” and public assemblies were forbidden. When the Government was unable to identify any specific offense that was committed by someone the British wanted to imprison, the law permitted detention for up to a year without the need to charge any crime at all.

The British were not even restricted to those laws which were on the books. The Government was empowered to make any regulations it deemed in the public interest whenever the Colony was believed to be confronted by a public danger. When it was felt that some schools were engaging in anti-British sentiment, the schools were raided and closed. Teachers, principals and students were summarily tried and imprisoned. All schools were instructed to teach that the British Colonial Government was devoted to the well-being and happiness of the Hong Kong Chinese.

As the Chinese called out for reform and change, the Colonial Government did not choose to respond by opening up the channels for representation. Instead, the state moved to suppress the dissenters. The huge, extraordinarily successful British businesses insisted on stability, the status quo of low taxation, and the corresponding absence of any welfare provisions for the destitute. There were no social security plans, no unemployment benefits, no minimum wage laws, and no health insurance for employees.

Oppression and domination are not the tools of just the lawless dictatorships. The civilized cover of “the rule of law” may be used to shield a regime that is every bit as anti-democratic as one which is more blatantly authoritarian.
pianoman
Site Admin
 
Posts: 172
Joined: Fri May 02, 2014 7:19 pm


Return to General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron