Socialist Worker

The West offers no solution to Hong Kong protesters

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2672

Some 100 days into the movement, tens of thousands of protesters are still taking to the streets

Some 100 days into the movement, tens of thousands of protesters are still taking to the streets (Pic: Studio Incendo/Flickr)


The biggest protests since the withdrawal of a hated extradition bill took place in Hong Kong last Sunday.

Tens of thousands of people joined a pro-democracy rally that had been banned by the cops.

Protester Winne Leung said, “The government wants to block us with the ban. But the people will not be afraid.”

Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam earlier this month promised to withdraw the extradition bill that sparked the protest movement in June. The bill would have allowed the extradition of suspects to ­mainland China.

But now, 100 days into the ­movement, protesters want more than just the scrapping of the bill.

They are demanding more democracy, Lam’s resignation, an investigation into police violence and the unconditional release of jailed protesters.

Protests have now taken place in Hong Kong for 15 weekends in a row.

Last Sunday cops attacked protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets and a coloured water cannon, to help identify them later for arrest.

Protesters threw bricks and petrol bombs at cops.

They set fire to a red banner ­proclaiming the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on 1 October.

Some activists started fires at MTR metro station entrances and forced the closure of Wan Chai, Admiralty and Causeway Bay stations.

Ammunition

Cops responded by ­threatening more repression. Lam Chi-wai, chair of the Junior Police Officers’ Association, said on Monday that cops might shoot protesters with “live ammunition”.

Some protesters are looking to Western governments to protect them. One banner read, “President Trump—please liberate Hong Kong.”

Others waved US and British flags, while those protesting at the British consulate sang God Save the Queen.

Some commentators have raised the idea that the US could impose sanctions on China. But looking to Western rulers to protect democracy and freedom is a mistake.

Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, having run it as a dictatorship for 150 years. Britain had grabbed Hong Kong as part of an imperialist battle with China.

Under British rule, most public protest was illegal and ordinary people lived in poverty. There was no democracy. Instead, Britain appointed ­governors to run Hong Kong, who chose executive and legislative councils.

US and British governments claim to be bastions of democracy and freedom. In reality they are ruthless backers of ruling classes that think nothing of tearing up people’s rights if it is in their interests.

The movement in Hong Kong has shown the strength of ordinary people.

Their collective action is what can win real change, not looking to do deals with ruling class hypocrites.


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