Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ming Chun Tang — Hong Kong’s Fight Against Neoliberalism

As protesters flood the streets of Hong Kong demanding free elections in 2017, the international media puts on its usual spin, characterizing the struggle as one between an authoritarian state and citizens who want to be free.… 
But regardless of what the BBC wants the world to believe, Occupy Central isn’t so much a fight for democracy as a fight for social justice.… 
The list of people who have spoken out against Occupy Central is particularly revealing – oligarch Li Ka-shing, HSBC, the world’s four largest accounting firms, among others in business circles. The main issue with CY Leung’s administration isn’t the fact that it wasn’t democratically elected, but that it serves two main groups: Beijing on one hand, and local elites on the other – in other words, far from democratic in its representation. It’s not hard to see why big business and the oligarchs are terrified of Occupy Central: any movement towards real democracy would see them losing power and losing their grip over the territory. The status quo, on the other hand, serves them well.
Hong Kong’s Fight Against Neoliberalism
Ming Chun Tang | Hong Kong-born writer and a student at Hamilton College (New York), currently at the London School of Economics


Dan Lynch said...

I wondered if there were economic issues behind the protests -- there usually are.

But .... the protesters have not made one single economic demand that I am aware of ?

It's important to be know that the HK protests have been encouraged and funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which in turn is funded largely by the US government in addition to some conservative 1%'ers. This is the same NED that funded the neo-Nazi Maiden protests in Ukraine, and the right wing anti-Chavez protests in Venezuela.

I don't doubt that Hong Kong residents have legitimate economic grievances -- we all do -- but it appears that the protesters are being manipulated for the benefit of the West.

Moon of Alabama has covered the NED angle, at the link: http://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/09/the-ned-hong-kong-riots.html

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that Occupy Central is only one of many groups participating, and is not universally welcomed by other major factions.

Tom Hickey said...

Dan they want free elections so they can elect people that would favor the interests of the people rather than the neoliberal oligarchs. Chinese leaders supports the oligarchs because HK is a cash cow for them. It's the same kind of alliance that keeps the oligarchs in power in so-called liberal democracies.

HK is an oligarchic democracy in that China leaders control who gets to be on the ballot. Same in the US where the oligarchs who control the political process get to choose the viable candidates, where viability is determined by the ability to raise funds.

The people get to vote, but TPTB get to select who they vote for. Wherever, it's pretty much the same scam. The difference is that in the West, there is a conflict among oligarchs with different interests. In China that conflict is intra-party. But it amounts to the same thing in the end. The people don't get a choice in elections that favors them other than in a token way.

Dan Lynch said...

I'm sure there are some protesters who are in it because they want a socialist utopia or some such thing, just as some of the Maiden protesters were sincere lefties. But ... that is NOT the main thrust of the HK protest, just as it was not the main thrust of the Maiden protest.

Do you really think the US would spend millions instigating the HK protests in order to boot neoliberal oligarchs? Of course not, the US merely wants to replace the pro-China oligarchs with pro-US oligarchs, just as they did in Ukraine.

The only demand the protesters have made so far is to do away with the pro-China vetting process. How would that benefit the 99% of HK? It's not clear that it would.

What elimination of the pro-China vetting would do is allow NED to prop up some pro-West puppet candidates, then once the pro-West puppets are in office have them declare independence from China, have HK join NATO, and put some US missiles in HK pointing at China. There's your "pivot to Asia."

I would be more sympathetic with the protesters if they were demanding a socialist utopia and Swiss-style direct democracy or some such thing, but they're not.

Tom Hickey said...

The US is funding a segment of the HK protest for many reasons, but one is to get "our" oligarchs in power instead of their oligarchs. Same goes for Ukraine and Russia, and.… It's behind the neocon push to fund pro-democracy groups and NGO's.

The leaders of other countries know this, of course. Putin took down many of the neoliberal oligarchs ad just picked another one off.

For these other regimes it's fight to the death since the US objective is to have regimes in all countries that are its vassals through neoliberal oligarchs. This is the objective of neoliberal globalization.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I support their goal of holding free elections, and electing whomever they want independently of pre-election "vetting" by Beijing. I'm just saying that based on what I have read, Occupy Central is only one of several groups involved in these protests, and that some of the other groups are not on board with the goals of Occupy Central.

Tom Hickey said...

Who are they?

[Richard] Bush [the director of the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution] described three factions wrangling for clout within the protests.

First, there is the student wing, which carried out a week-long strike that culminated in the weekend’s demonstrations. This group is more radical than its counterparts, both in its tactics — like Occupy Wall Street, students have occupied public spaces — and its objectives: students have shown no interest in compromising with Beijing, Bush said, and have instead argued for “a wide open” electoral system. “If you get signatures, you’d be allowed to run,” he said.

Then, there is Occupy Central with Love and Peace, which was organized by two university professors and a minister who have called on protesters to use Martin Luther King Jr.-like tactics of non-violent civil disobedience and have, Bush said, hinted at a willingness to deal with Beijing.

The third faction is composed of business people, lawyers, politicians and professionals—“moderate democrats,” Bush said. They’ve appeared at protests organized by the other factions, and they’ve argued for an electoral system that would be somewhat controlled by Bejing, but still competitive. “China refused to consider that approach,” he said.

Hong Kong has a rich protest culture, Bush said. But typically, demonstrations are planned. Protesters coordinate with the authorities and with each other. But this weekend was different. “That’s all out the window,” Bush said. The students acted, so Occupy, which had planned to begin a protest next Wednesday, did too. “Everyone’s acting on the fly,” he said.


[paragraphing increased for readability]

Dan Lynch said...

I'm not defending China or the "vetting" process, other than to note that the vetting stipulation was part of the HK return-to-China deal from day one, and all parties who were at the table agreed to it (presumably the 99% were not at the table). So China is not "reneging" on its promises as sometimes reported in the Western media.

Obviously if I were involved in Hong Kong politics I would be demanding a socialist utopia and Swiss-style direct democracy. :-)

Dan Lynch said...

Another source calls out the shady players behind the HK protests:

Behind the so-called “Occupy Central” protests, which masquerade as a “pro-democracy” movement seeking “universal suffrage” and “full democracy,” is a deep and insidious network of foreign financial, political, and media support. Prominent among them is the US State Department and its National Endowment for Democracy (NED) as well as NED’s subsidiary, the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

The NDI's agenda is to prevent Beijing from vetting candidates running for office in Hong Kong, thus opening the door to politicians openly backed, funded, and directed by the US State Department

Each and every “Occupy Central” leader is either directly linked to the US State Department, NED, and NDI, or involved in one of NDI’s many schemes.


Ignacio said...

For all practical purposes we are better with the current system in there, because at least is contrary to western oligarchy interests.

Is like when the Soviet Union used to exist, it was also a corrupt system, but was a counter balance against the West 'social democracies' which after the other block disappeared evolved to the current oligarchies. If China, Russia etc. growing power is diminished again, it favours the western elite, which does not empower the 99% by the slightness.

Unfortunately is this way, as all these movements will be captured under the facade of "social democracy" but in effect it will be an other puppet regime for the western finance elites.

Until we can root off western oligarchs from power (or at least greatly diminish their influence) at home, we can't help them there at Asia or elsewhere (Middle East, South America, Africa). The crooks will destroy everything they touch (and by everything, I mean the 99%).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments. No, the protesters haven't made a specific economic demand, but the ballot is the means towards addressing economic inequality by toppling HK's oligarchic order.

Dan Lynch: Protesters are always being manipulated by one side or the other, but that doesn't mean people are protesting only because they're being paid to. There is plenty of anger in HK against both Beijing and the HK governments that has been building for years. While they may indeed have the support of the NED, they have every reason to be acting of their own accord.

Also, I'd like a socialist utopia too - though I wouldn't support Swiss-style direct democracy unless/until independent media rather than corporate media becomes the norm. Don't forget that the Swiss recently voted against a living wage and, only just now, against single-payer health care. Just for the record, I have lived in Switzerland before.

Anonymous said...

I am the author of this piece by the way!

Matt Franko said...

" characterizing the struggle as one between an authoritarian state and citizens who want to be free.… "

Could be:

"characterizing the struggle as one between a tyranny and citizens who reject tyranny and want a different form of government..."

Matt Franko said...


The characterization there as "authoritarian state" vs. "the free" are textbook out of control libertarian 101...

iow if you see a characterization like that in the media, it should tip you off that the author is a heavy libertarian and all that baggage then comes into it...

A war against a tyranny can easily morph into rampant out of control libertarianism run amok.... see the present condition of the U.S. for instance...

Dan Lynch said...

I wouldn't support Swiss-style direct democracy unless/until independent media rather than corporate media becomes the norm. Don't forget that the Swiss recently voted against a living wage and, only just now, against single-payer health care.

@Sombranegra, I totally agree about the media problem. Getting the oligarchs out of government is only half the challenge, the other half is getting the oligarchs out of the media since most low-information voters are easily brainwashed by the media.

I am sure most of the HK protesters are sincere and have legitimate grievances. But beware of outside influences, especially if the protest leaders have sold out as seems to be the case in HK.