It is translated version of - 홍콩 ‘송환법 반대 시위’에 대한 입장 by a web AI translator. Therefore there may be some unclear expression, even though we proofread after that. Any question should be welcomed.
Our Position on 'the Protest Against the Transmittal Act' in Hong Kong
Let's build a revolutionary leadership of the working class!
For a real workers’ government all over Hong Kong and China!
Protests Against 'Criminal extradition'
The last June of Hong Kong was unusually hot. The tumult, ignited by a strange issue of "opposition to the extradition bill" , had reached its peak on June 16 when two million people, a quarter of Hong Kong's population, participated. Hong Kong's recalcitrant administrative minister, Carrie Lam, apologized again and postponed the bill indefinitely. By July 9th, she declared the final death of a bill that had already lost its life in the face of strong resistance from the Hong Kong people.
On July 1, when the extradition law was certain to be doomed, protesters violently occupied the legislature. The next morning, it lifted its occupation and disbanded, but the protest itself and the meaning of the day, the 22nd anniversary of Britain's return of Hong Kong to China, indicated a change in the nature of the protests. Some radical protesters broke through the glass walls of the legislative building with steel pipes, hauled the Chinese flag down and hung the flag of colonial Hong Kong and the Union Jack . They spray-painted separatist slogans such as 'Hong Kong is not China' on the wall of the main chamber.
Although ostensibly triggered by opposition to the extradition bill, it was an incident shows that the sentiment and orientation, such as “opposition to mergers with China, independence of Hong Kong and nostalgia for the British colonial era” is underlying in this protest.
The general meaning of the ‘criminal extradition bill’
In fact, the 'criminal extradition bill' is not very special. Many countries, including South Korea, have extradition agreements with each other that hand over suspected criminals who fled to other countries. The bill was introduced in Hong Kong last February, at least ostensibly because of a recognized need. A Hong Kong man named Chan Tong-kai, 20, killed his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan and fled to Hong Kong. For murder in Taiwan, Chan Tong-kai was only charged with theft and violation of the anti-money laundering law committed in Hong Kong. As a result, he was sentenced to only 29 months in prison. Taiwan has asked Hong Kong to extradite the murder suspect, Chan Tong-kai. However, because there was no extradition treaty between the two regions, it was not easy for Chan Tong-kai to deliver, and the Hong Kong administration then introduced this "criminal extradition bill" to expand the country concerned.
The case of Hanbo Group Chairman Chung Tae-soo and his third son Han Jung-geun, who was recently captured in Ecuador, was also an incident that highlighted the meaning of the extradition law. Hanbo Group Chairman Chung Tae-soo was sentenced to prison in 1997 for a massive corruption scandal and was pardoned in 2002 after serving a sentence. He fled the country while on trial for new charges again and has so far avoided punishment by hiding in nearby Kyrgyzstan, where it did not sign an extradition agreement. Meanwhile, his third son, Han Jung-geun, fled the country while being investigated for a massive embezzlement charge, was arrested 21 years later in Ecuador and finally repatriated to South Korea on June 23. There was no extradition treaty with Ecuador, which led to many difficulties.
The five causes behind the protests
So why has the criminal extradition bill, which in itself seems to have no particular political implications and would rather have been recognized for its considerable necessity, caused so much resistance in Hong Kong?
First, because of the intense distrust on the Hong Kong authorities and the Chinese government's judicial process.
The 2015 disappearance of five Tong Luowan bookstore officials is a typical case involving it. This bookstore was famous for selling books, which are prohibited to publish in mainland because of its contents dealing with power struggles and leadership scandals in CCP, to tourists from mainland. It had became a target of the Chinese government, and five people involved in the bookstore were gone missing in turn since October 2015. One of them, Lin Rongji, revealed the fact on June 16, 2016. According to him, 'He was arrested while traveling from Hong Kong to Shenzhen and was taken to mainland China for questioning. Then he was forced to bring a list of bookstore customers and returned to Hong Kong.' Three others, who also went missing but returned, remained silent, while the other, Guiminhai, hasn't returned yet. Lin Rongji, who revealed the case, moved to Taiwan on April 25 after Hong Kong authorities pushed for the extradition law. It was out of fear that if the law was passed, he would be sent to China. More than 130,000 people took part in the protest, which took place three days after Lin Rongji's evacuation from Taiwan.
Second, because of the horrendous life of Hong Kong's working people who are cornered to the brink.
Hong Kong's per capita GDP stood at 48,829US$ in 2018, ranking 19th in the world (Korea's 29th place at 32,775US$). But 1.3 million people, one-fifth of Hong Kong's people, live below the poverty line. This is due to the extreme gap between the rich and the poor. In particular, housing costs are murderous. One of the reasons behind Hong Kong's soaring housing prices was that the so-called "market socialism" of the Chinese bureaucracy has pushed the rich into Hong Kong's housing market. Hong Kong's housing prices have risen more than 400 percent since 2003, and the average price per ‘pyeong’ (3.3 square meters) of apartments is over 100 million won. Given that the average price per pyeong of apartments in Gang-nam Seoul, which has reportedly soared in the past year or two, is less than 50 million won (May 19), one can guess how frightening housing prices in Hong Kong are. Amid the gap between the rich and poor and living conditions, Hong Kong's labor youth is in despair. This feeling of despair is being expressed in anger against Hong Kong authorities and mainland Chinese governments responsible for this reality in the wake of the ‘ extradition law’ opposition.
Third, it is because of the pro-capital policies the Chinese government has been taking since the return of Hong Kong from Britain.
In 1997, China returned Hong Kong from Britain. It was 100 years after the British expanded Hong Kong, a flesh that was cut off in a fierce Opium War with the Qing Dynasty, to the New Territories in 1898. Britain had been falling down after World War II, handing over most of its former colonies to the U.S., while China was at a cross-strait time, with its status rising after the 1949 revolution.
The problem was the difference in the ownership of means of production between the two regions. The Communist Party of China, which won a civil war with Kuomintang in 1949, abolished private ownership and established a state ownership system. Hong Kong, on the other hand, has been a spearhead area of imperialism that has been and is now aimed at the entire Chinese continent. It was a highly privatized, zone ruled by British imperialism, one of the leaders of the world's capitalist order.
In the name of easing anxiety among capitalists in Hong Kong, China has adopted a so-called ‘one country, two systems’ policy of maintaining Hong Kong’s capitalist system for 50 years after its return. It was the result of being more concerned of the relationship between the imperialist powers and the capitalist class in Hong Kong than the understanding of the Hong Kong working class.
With this policy, the capitalist class, the ruling class in Hong Kong, relieved ‘ temporarily.’ But it was a very disappointing move for Hong Kong’s working class, who were suffering from extreme rich-poor gap and racial discrimination under British imperialism. Moreover, China's so-called ‘market socialism’ policy has made its pro-capital policy in Hong Kong seems like a permanent measure, not just a temporary concession.
Historically the Hong Kong working class had a significant sense of class and anti-imperialism. In 1967, the "Hong Kong leftist riot" that took place for months under the slogan of overthrowing British imperialism proves it. British imperialism savagely suppressed the uprising by slaughtering hundreds of workers , but it took eight months to put out the once- ignited flame. At the time of the 1967 workers’ uprising, Hong Kong workers and the Chinese Communist government were in step. Trade unions were led by supporters of the Communist Party of China, which led the protests. Protesters calling for the overthrow of British colonial rule had so much political expectations and confidence on the Chinese government that they staged street protests with portraits of Mao Zedong.
The very Hong Kong working class that fought the uprising must have dreamed of returning Hong Kong to nationalized system of China, freeing it from imperialism, and ending racism, labor oppression, poverty and unemployment. Therefore, China's anti-Soviet, pro-U.S. diplomacy and "market opening" in the 1970s must have been viewed with anxiety . Then, they must have been surprised by the the crackdown on "Tiananmen uprising" in 1989. Now, Hong Kong's working class has been going through a pro-capital policy , symbolized by the CCP‘s hospitality on Hong Kong’s billionaire Li Ka-shing, which is far beyond the "one country, two systems" policy, for more than 20 years. In 2018, Marxist study clubs at various Chinese universities were arrested and suppressed for their involvement in workers struggle. In this process, expectations of Hong Kong's working class for the Chinese government, which is ruled by a Stalinist bureaucracy, cooled down. The cynicism has become the dominant sentiment toward the Chinese government.
Fourth, because of anti-Chinese sentiment in the capitalist class.
Hong Kong's capitalists were temporarily relieved by the one country, two systems when they returned to China. But it has a deadline of 50 years. It's already been 22 years. In 2047, at the end of the policy , the safety of its assets cannot be guaranteed. An asset which future is uncertain is of no value. This is the key cause of anti-Chinese sentiment. At the root of the global abhorrence of China and the North Korea is the question of ownership.
Hong Kong has traditionally been an area dominated by pro-imperialist and anti-labor sentiment in modern and contemporary history. From the time of British imperial occupation, the area has been dominated by pro-British stooges who cooperated in the establishment of colonial state and comprador capitalists who had benefited from the imperialist relationship. Then some of the capitalists who fled mainland after the victory of CCP and some of the capitalists who fled Vietnam had settled in Hong Kong. This history and demographic composition has deepened anti-Communist, anti-labor and racist hatred sentiment on mainlanders in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong capitalist class, those who will never yield their own private property, have three options. First the continuation of the "one country, two systems", Second Hong Kong's capitalist independence and Third China's full-scale capitalization. The first choice is disturbing. They'll hope for a second or third one. So they are making all-out efforts to utilize everything―the media, education and social networks―through the powerful means of capital so that anti-China protests can move to that direction. Their interest at this point is fully in line with the imperialist powers centered around Britain and the United States.
Fifth, it is because of the world's imperialist powers that seek China's capitalist counter-revolution.
The 1949 revolution established a state ownership system by confiscating the means of production from the imperialists, the comprador capitalists and the landowners. This has led to marked progress, including women's liberation, socialization of "medical, housing, education, etc." the eradication of illiteracy and the radical increase in life expectancy. Though considerably damaged by decades of "market opening," China is still a country where state ownership is central, with 80 percent of the top 20 companies still state-owned, and state-owned enterprises accounting for 82 percent of GDP, according to the Korean Energy Economics Institute 2015 report.
The imperialist camp’s attitude toward China, represented by the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Japan, is united. be uniformly hostile. The fundamental cause is the difference in ownership systems. And the difference in the ownership system is the essence of class antagonism. The imperialist camp longs for full-scale capitalization in China, a ‘deformed workers’ state’ If that wish comes true, as the results of the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1990s showed, it will bring a bonanza to the global financial capital, the super exploitation in the colonized region will be downhill, and the anxiously creaking capitalist world system will stabilize for some time.
It is well known that the target of THAAD deployment in South Korea is China, not North Korea. Recently, the U.S. has been putting extreme trade pressure on China.
The covert or blatant intervention of imperialism
Britain and the United States are almost blatantly involved in this Hong Kong protest, which is rife with anti-Chinese sentiment. In mid-June, when Hong Kong protests were rising, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives proposed the Hong Kong Democracy and Human Rights Act, which would deprive Hong Kong of its special status if the ‘ extradition Law’ was passed. After the July 1 protests, British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt promised to “support” Hong Kong citizens who took part in the protests. On the same day, Trump said, “I think most of them want democracy.…Unfortunately, some governments don’t want democracy.” Regarding the unrest that led to the forced dissolution of the police, he said, “It’s a shame.”
The Democracy which the imperialists say is quite different from ours. The British imperialists brutally trampled on Hong Kong’s legitimate workers’ protests in 1967 that demanded better labor conditions. They have destroyed the ‘democracy’ of the new-colonies, regardless of means, which is against their own interests. The U.S. was behind the massacre of Gwangju citizens in 1980 and 5.16 coup d’etat in 1961. The failed or succeeded attempts to overthrow the governments of Honduras, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Egypt over the past decades are the examples. The coup attempt in Venezuela conducted by the US puppet Guaido is the newest example of this year .
The U.S. has already actively intervened in the Hong Kong protests since the 2014 protests. The BBC article on October 21, 2014 (Oslo Freedom Forum: Activists gather to share secrets of successful protest) says:
“However, far from being impromptu demonstrations, it is an open secret at this meeting in Norway that plans were hatched in Hong Kong for the demonstrations nearly two years ago./ The ideas was to use non-violent action as a "weapon of mass destruction" to challenge the Chinese government./ Organisers prepared a plan to persuade 10,000 people on to the streets, to occupy roads in central Hong Kong, back in January 2013./ They believed that China's moves to control the Hong Kong election would provide a flashpoint where civil disobedience could be effective, and planned accordingly./ Their strategies were not just to plan the timing and nature of the demonstrations, but also how they would be run./ BBC Newsnight has been told that some leading protestors received advice and materials from Western activists to help them train as many as 1,000 of those who would later be involved in the demonstrations.”
The National Endowment for Democracy(NED) is the main tool that U.S. imperialism uses for its agendas. It is an international organization created by the U.S. State Department. Under the leadership of the CIA, the U.S. supports personnel and organizations that follow the interest of the U.S. imperialism in the name of "democratic support." It's not just financial support. Like the example of the Oslo Freedom Forum, it is a very active task, including the training of activists. The group has already been reported to have supported several groups in the 2014 Hong Kong protests, which this year appear to have expanded its support further. The Jacobin's discussion "Everything You Need to Know About the Hong Kong Protests" with "Socialist, Civic Activist, University Professor" , who participated in the Hong Kong protests, share the following facts:
“The Beijing and Hong Kong governments have said that the protests are funded by the American NED [National Endowment for Democracy]. It is true that most pan-democrat [pro-democracy] parties have received funding from the NED.”
Anti-labor character in the leadership of Hong Kong protest
The organized participation of the working class in the protest is quite lukewarm. Business and shop owners showed an active attitude toward the protest, staging a strike on June 12 when the second round of deliberation on the extradition bill is scheduled. But there has been no strike by trade unions yet. The Civil Human Rights Front, which organizes the protests, had warned of a June 17 strike by workers. But two days before the strike, it was announced that the strike had been called off for unknown reasons .
The current status of Hong Kong workers is miserable. Therefore, discontents have accumulated considerably. Nevertheless, the low level of organized participation by labor unions and others may be due to the nature of this demonstration on labor issues. Despite the large-scale demonstration involving more than a million people, there are little demands for better labor/life conditions, such as the questions on wage and housing. It's similar to the fact that, unlike in New York, there was little question about the "1%" of financial capitals, although the September 2014 "Umbrella protest" took over Hong Kong's financial center in imitation of the U.S. "Occupy Wall Street movement." Meanwhile, some say that the leaders of the protest are trying to use the workers' strike only as a tool of showing their own power.
“Many people are now calling for workers to go on strike, but this has not been successful. They simply treat workers as a kind of instant noodle — all you need is to make an order for it and the waiter will deliver it right away.”―Jacobin, ibid.
In the meantime, the influence of the racist and anti-labor extreme rights, who have the ultimate goal of Hong Kong's 'capitalist secession' is growing. They are racist not only against the Chinese government but also against the entire Chinese population, and have little interest in improving labor rights and social safety nets for minorities and underprivileged people. They are growing under the financial and personnel support of Anglo-American imperialism and the protection of the press. Some even take part in demonstrations with the Union Jack or Taiwan's national flag. But they are not restrained. Some of them even appeal to Trump for Hong Kong's liberation.
“The former wing uses a lot of racist and xenophobic language, not just against the CCP but against all Chinese people. Youngspiration’s program explicitly demands those who cannot speak either Cantonese or English be excluded from citizenship. (This is especially ridiculous, as many senior Hong Kong residents cannot speak either of the two languages but rather speak Hakka or Chaochou dialects.) They also aim at excluding mainland Chinese immigrants from enjoying basic benefits in Hong Kong. Civic Passion is well known for inciting violence against Chinese people. It is no accident that they have little interest in promoting labor rights and social security for marginalized groups and minorities.”―Jacobin, ibid.
Of course, as someone would say, they do not represent all of the participants in the protest. However, it should be restrained by standing up for the right demands. Otherwise, it cannot be avoided that reactionary tendencies represents the entire protest. It is already flowing in that direction. The correct demand for the Hong Kong working people can only be submitted by the working class, and it is only possible when it is united as a revolutionary vanguard.
Hong Kong and the Lefts
As analyzed earlier, the Hong Kong question is a complex one in which various participants with different material bases are intervening with their own diverse orientations. So, as the Workers’ Solidarity(International Socialists in South Korea) said, “Most leftists are silent about Hong Kong's campaign against the revision of the ‘Criminal extradition law.’” It’s unclear if the reason, as the Workers’ Solidarity thinks, is because it wants to “virtually avoid supporting this struggle,” but from a Stalinist perspective of “translating and reporting the claims of China’s state-run media,” it will be hard to understand the incident taking place in Hong Kong.
Thus, the left-wing groups, which have made a clear position on the issue, are mostly based on the theory of ‘state capitalism’, Struggle for Workers’ Liberation and Solidarity, which regards China as a capitalist and imperialist country. Their view is simple. ‘Since China is a capitalist and imperialist state, anti-Chinese protests calling for democracy is fully justified and must be supported.’ Thus, these groups treat Hong Kong and China as if there is no conflict over the ownership system, which is behind the Hong Kong protests. It only goes by saying that the intervention of British and U.S. imperialism is insignificant, as China is also viewed as imperialism.
At the heart of defining class conflict and social character is the question of ‘ownership of means of production.’ And the best form of socialization that has been removed from private ownership is ‘state ownership,’ until communist society. State capitalism, however, simply ignores it and says that Marx taught us that “the key is the question of attitude, whether it is active or passive toward ideal society.”
“Some of the leftists see China as some sort of socialist society, while claiming to be Marxist. The main reason is that a key part of China’s economy is still nationalized./ But that’s the view Marx vehemently opposed. Marx criticized the anarchist Proudhon for defining capitalism as a private ownership system and socialism as a nationalization in his Poverty of Philosophy.”
In this way, they make an extreme caricature on Marx. It prevents the working class from focusing on ‘ownership issues,’ the source of all social problems ‘such as war, massacre, unemployment, hunger, the gap between the rich and the poor, inequality, industrial accidents and environmental destruction.’ It admonishes the working class with its dreamy ideology of “active attitude toward ideal society.” Then, they leads working class to the ‘fetishism on democracy’ in which class fronts vanish, making working class serve as a sidekick of the capitalist class and the imperialists. In that way, they have either stood ambiguous neutrality in the conflict between imperialism and the workers’ states, the conflict between imperialism and colonialism, or they have been on the victory of imperialism.
Above all, the issue of ‘ownership of means of production’ is the key. We have dealt with this question several times through various documents. Here we cut down our discussion by reawakening Marx and Engels' ‘Communist Manifesto’ and Lenin's teachings.
“The obvious characteristic of communism is the abolition of bourgeois ownership, not the abolition of the general possessive. The theory of the communists in this sense... could be summed up in a single phrase, the abolition of private ownership.”―The Communist Manifesto, Marx, Engels
“How is class domination now expressed? Ownership of landowners and capitalists was abolished. The victorious working class abolished and completely destroyed this possession. At this point, the dominance of the working class is expressed and existing. The question of ownership comes first. When the question of ownership is decided in the real world, class control is secured. …When the ruling classes reversed each other, they also reversed ownership.”―Lenin’s Collection, Fourth Edition, Vol.30, page 426-427
(References: China is not capitalism, nor is it imperialism/Review on the Marxism 2015, 1: ‘China-Socialism or Capitalism?’/ Memorandum on the Chinese social character: Has China already become capitalism?/China: Towards the Brink/ Whither China?/ Q & A on the so-called ‘socialist’ states)
China’s crisis, the working class and the revolutionary leadership.
China’s state-owned system is now very dangerous. The merit of the workers’ state has been eroded by the bureaucracy represented by the Chinese Communist Party. With decades of ‘market opening,’ the capitalist network within society has increasingly expanded its power, and the working class has been on the sidelines due to the bureaucracy’s political monopoly. In the meantime, while the number of capitalist counter-revolutionaries seeking to overthrow the entire state-owned system has increased, the willingness of the working class to defend the system has become increasingly blurred due to the long-standing bureaucratic rule. This is what we saw in the 1990s when the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe collapsed.
A historical battle over ‘capitalist counter-revolution vs. expansion of socialist revolution’ will determine the China’s future. ‘Imperialism centered on the U.S. and Britain+the internal capitalist power of China+the capitalist power of Hong Kong vs. the world working class+the working class of China+Hong Kong’ are the two camps in this historical battle. The Chinese bureaucracy represented by the Communist Party of China will convulse internally under pressure from both sides, then split into two camps at the critical moment, materializing its own orientation. In the process, those who seek the capitalist counter-revolution will try to use Hong Kong as a lever stuck in the flank of China. The working class, at least, aims to defend the fruit of the revolution from 1917 to 1949, and to further expand the socialist revolution throughout Hong Kong and China.
The working class, which is not combined with the revolutionary vanguard, loses the decision-making power of its own destiny, and cannot escape from the state of wage slavery, which is swayed by the serfdom of the ruling class. The working class can only find its potential power through the revolutionary workers’ party, which has united as a revolutionary alternative. Only through the revolutionary workers’ party can it stand tall as the ruling class of the future and fulfill its historical duties.
We believe that revolutionary alternatives should be built around the following demands:
First, cut off from the anti-labor and racist extreme-rights, which schemed Hong Kong’s capitalist segregation.
Second, let’s defend the Chinese state ownership system from the imperialist capitalist counter-revolution to bring the capitalist system back to the entire China.
Third, the ‘one state, two systems’ is merely the product of compromise between Hong Kong capitalists and Chinese bureaucracy, not of the Hong Kong or Chinese working classes. Let's establish a workers’ government in Hong Kong. The workers’ government, operated through the soviet, an organization of the working class democracy , will nationalize Hong Kong’s port, finance capitals and other key industries, solve various inequalities and unemployment, and expand social welfare, including housing, medical and education.
Fourth, through the unity of workers in mainland China and Hong Kong, let’s overthrow the Stalinist bureaucracy that is gnawing the state-owned system, bloating its own stomach and suffocating workers’ democracy. The new workers’ power that emerged will carry out the following tasks: ‘establishment of workers’ democracy, defense of the state-owned industry, the re-nationalization of privatized key industries, the expansion of workers’ welfare, the support of the world’s national liberation and socialist revolution’
19, Jul, 2019