Hong Kong youth confront class rule

November 22, 2014

From the November-December 2014 issue of News & Letters

Hundreds of people in Hong Kong marched to People’s Republic of China government offices on Nov. 9 to demand direct negotiations with the government of China and to oppose sham democratic elections planned for 2017. Marchers began from encampments of thousands of protesters who had been maintaining blockades of major thoroughfares for more than six weeks.

China’s legislative branch chose on Aug. 31 to implement elections promised for 2017 by limiting candidates to those chosen by the Legislative Council. Earlier in August, Occupy Central with Love organized demonstrations, promising resistance to any attempts to limit democracy. Students in Hong Kong observed school boycotts between Sept. 22 and 27 that student youth in Scholarism and the Hong Kong Federation of Students promoted.

Occupation in Mong Kok, Sept. 30, 2014. Photo by Alan Wat. https://www.flickr.com/photos/alanwat/15218968499

Occupation in Mong Kok, Sept. 30, 2014. Photo by Alan Wat. https://www.flickr.com/photos/alanwat/15218968499

Since then demonstrators have blockaded thoroughfares and squares in Mong Kok, Causeway Bay and the Civic Center. They have maintained their occupation into a second month. They have weathered repeated attacks by police and frequent arrests. Demonstrators’ use of umbrellas to deflect tear gas attacks led to the term “Umbrella Revolution.” As often as police cleared a road of people and barricades, the barricades were rebuilt after police moved on.


The class rule in Hong Kong that hundreds of thousands have demonstrated against is an oligarchy of financial capitalists oriented toward Beijing as key investors in the labor power of China’s workers. To confront occupiers, corporate interests organized shopkeepers and taxi drivers in counter-demonstrations. They suffered embarrassment when it was exposed that other supposedly ordinary citizens who physically attacked young demonstrators were hired thugs from organized crime’s Triad Society.

Xi Jinping’s government in Beijing has called the opposition in Hong Kong a Color Revolution, blaming U.S. and British imperialism for fomenting uprisings from outside.


Major strikes in China have doubled since last year’s waves of strikes that shut factories in auto and electronics. Workers have been stopping production over wage disputes, benefits, outsourcing and plant shutdowns; as well as over demands for worker organizing independent of the state-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions. Ominously, police arrested seven strike leaders at a shoe factory in Guangzhou, auguring more of the attacks by police and hired thugs that have frequently been used against striking workers in state-capitalist China.

In 1984—long before China had become the world’s sweatshop with the second largest private capitalist economy and billionaires were recruited to the Communist Party Central Committee—Deng Xiaoping could reach agreement with Margaret Thatcher on return of Hong Kong to Chinese control in 1997. They agreed on a “one country, two systems” policy that included some rights guaranteed to people—but primarily to protect rights for Hong Kong’s capital as Deng embarked on creating more special economic zones with foreign investment.


The border separating Hong Kong and the rest of China since British imperialists stole Hong Kong in 1842 has not halted the passage of ideas of freedom. In 1925-26, as part of anti-British agitation throughout eastern China, workers carried on a more than year-long general strike still remembered in Hong Kong.

In May 1967 Hong Kong authorities’ killing of a picketer during a strike precipitated a youth rebellion among the many jobless youth who had fled the retrogression and famine of Mao’s China.

The rebellion against British rule was a youth rebellion comparable to that of Black youth in U.S. cities like Watts and Detroit at that time. The local Communist Party leaders who had guided the strike had no influence on the youth rebellion for two days before they raced to the front to divert that movement.

Under “one country, two systems,” that border has allowed the people of Hong Kong to represent all of China in commemoration of the June 4, 1989, massacres at Tiananmen Square and Chengdu, as 180,000 renewed the annual march this June 4. The fear in Beijing, where bosses and Party are on the same side, is that uprisings against class rule in Hong Kong will spill across that border to the already rebellious workers and peasants.

—Bob McGuire

0 thoughts on “Hong Kong youth confront class rule

  1. I am constantly inspired by youth and nurses. In your November-December 2014 issue,The youth of Hong Kong agitating against class rule and for truly democratic elections just may help China become classless and democratic. The nurses, thankfully often covered in your outstanding paper, are constantly moving for quality healthcare, including, for years, truly manageable nurse:patient ratios. Classless and democratic society and quality healthcare for all may take time to achieve, but they are worth fighting for. Let us all work for these things, and all things truly human. Thank you, youth and nurses, for your inspiration and work!!!
    -inspired in Chicago

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