One Week and Three Weaknesses of the Hong Kong Protests

by Ralf Ruckus


Mid-November saw encouraging events during the days of “three strikes ” or “Saam Baa” – see this report on the workers’ strikes, students’ class boycotts, and stop the city actions. This week, three events stand out and each represents a political weakness of the movement.

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The hope to gain more “democracy” through elections while ignoring capitalist relations.

After the escalation of street clashes in mid-November, the situation calmed down before the district council elections on November 24, partly because the movement did not want to give the city government a reason to call them off. The result of the elections was clear: the pan-democratic parties close to the protest movement celebrated a landslide victory, those parties close to the city government and the CCP suffered large losses. The council elections are the only “free” elections with universal suffrage in Hong Kong and therefore the results reflect the large support for the protest movement and its demands. The city government had claimed for months that the “silent majority” of the population backs it up and opposes the movement, but that claim proved wrong. What these elections and the pan-democratic control over the district councils actually mean for the protest movement has to be seen as the district councils have little political weight. The focus on parliamentarian democracy without any questioning of the capitalist relations remains one of the most obvious political limitations of the movement.

The naive attitude towards the U.S. government’s “support” for the Hong Kong movement and the lack of connections to protest movements elsewhere.

After the U.S. congress had passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, U.S. president Trump signed it on November 28. The law allows the U.S. government to
suspend Hong Kong’s special trading status if it thinks Hong Kong does not retain a sufficient degree of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” framework and to punish officials from China who undermine that autonomy. The U.S. government is, obviously, using this legislation in its imperialist confrontation with China and its wrangling with the CCP regime over a trade agreement, and it is not interested in any “democracy” whether in Hong Kong, in Saudi Arabia, or in other parts of the world. However, many in the Hong Kong protest movement simply ignore that and still welcome the new legislation as they read it as a form of powerful support needed to fight back CCP rule in the city. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong movement makes few references to the many other protest movements currently going on in other parts of the world: Chile, Irak, Iran, Lebanon, and more.

Protesters inside the besieged PolyU were unable to reorganize and prevent politicians, teachers, and others to persuade most of them to surrender.

The occupation and siege of PolyU in Hung Hom came to an end on November 28. After intense clashes between the police and the “black bloc” on November 17 and 18, the university was under siege for more than a week. The police blocked all entrances to the campus, asked the protesters to surrender and announced it would charge everyone coming out with rioting. Only a minority of the protesters managed to escape, others were arrested while trying to do so. Eventually, it was politicians, teachers, parents, and others who went in and persuaded most of the more than one thousand protesters to surrender. Why were the protesters inside PolyU unable to gather, reorganize, and prevent a surrender in this fashion? This interview with a protester inside the besieged PolyU sheds some light on the development of the clashes, the siege, the escapes, and the surrender.

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