Hong Kong mass meeting banned when Chinese troops deployed in power show
August 30, 2019
Fearing growing political and social discontent across China, the Beijing Stalinist regime has stepped up its preparations to suppress the mass movement in Hong Kong for almost three months. On Thursday, the Beijing administration in Hong Kong banned a major rally scheduled for Saturday, as thousands of fresh troops were deployed to the territory.
Since June 9, protests in Hong Kong with up to two million people have demanded the complete withdrawal of extradition laws that could be used to hand political activists to Beijing. Their "five demands" also include an end to intensified police violence and accusations against protesters, and elections by universal suffrage ̵
The protracted protests, mainly involving young people people, are driven by the underlying student and working class concerns about escalating social inequality, low wages and the lack of affordable housing and decent jobs. The insurgency in Hong Kong is part of a global resurgence of the working class, which includes strikes in mainland China, overwhelming strikes from US car workers, huge demonstrations in Puerto Rico and the ongoing anti-austerity "yellow west" movement in France.  The rebel police fire tear gas against protesters during a protest in Hong Kong, Sunday, August 25, 2019. (AP Photo / Kin Cheung)
Thursday's rejection by Hong Kong police of a request by the Civil Human Rights Front to hold a rally on Saturday is the first time such a ban is applied to a full day event by that organization. Former rallies called the coalition have been large and largely peaceful. But police now claim that Saturday's protest could be violent and have threatened that anyone participating could be arrested. "If you participate in the already banned public assembly … you can be jailed for a maximum of five years," a police spokesman said.
The front has appealed the ban. The march is scheduled to end near the Chinese Central Board's contact office. Two weeks ago, an estimated 1.7 million people marched across Hong Kong after the last Front meeting. There was a lot of civil disobedience, because the police had approved the demonstration, but not the march.
The Front is an alliance of NGOs, political parties and groups affiliated with the Pandemic Group in the Hong Kong Legislative Council. The Pan Democrats represent the interests of the city's super-rich corporate elite, which seeks to protect its position from Beijing intervention. But the protest movement has threatened to develop beyond their control. It has mobilized workers and youth whose interests diametrically oppose the interests of Hong Kong billionaires, whose fortunes are based on the ruthless exploitation of Chinese workers since the restoration of capitalism by the Beijing Stalinists of the 1970s.
The role of the working class reappeared Wednesday when a group of unidentified protesters from 21 industries held a press conference asking for a two-day strike that begins next Monday. The industries include allied health, dental care, social welfare, information technology, insurance, retail, logistics, construction, engineering, aviation, banking, finance, accounting, advertising, marketing, music, art, design and culture, and hotels and tourism.  The Hong Kong Secondary Students Union also announced that students from more than 90 schools across the city would participate in a class boycott starting Tuesday.
During the last nationwide strike on August 5, seven rallies were held in different areas. Traffic in several districts was stopped, and clashes between protesters and police broke out.
Just before Thursday's protest ban was announced, China's military sent new troops to Hong Kong. Beijing authorities insisted it was a routine rotation of its Hong Kong garrisons of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). But it was clearly another threatening display of power, aimed at the dissatisfaction of the working class in mainland China, not just Hong Kong.
China Central Television showed a long convoy of armored personnel carriers and trucks crossing the Hong Kong border on Wednesday evening, and troops in formation departing from a ship. In the past, many soldiers were driving unions on trucks, something the state broadcaster said was bound to Hong Kong.
“This time the task has a brilliant mission. The responsibility is great. The job is difficult, ”a named major trooper told them before leaving. "The time for a true test has come!" The deployment of fresh troops is seen as ominous because a similar "rotation" occurred in Beijing just before the massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
The Hong Kong Garrison previously published a promotional video featuring scenes of soldiers facing people dressed as protesters. The Garrison Act, approved as part of Britain's surrender of its colony from 1997, allows troops to intervene in civil unrest at the request of the city government. The Hong Kong garrison is estimated to consist of between 8,000 and 10,000 troops, mostly in former British Army barracks.
This is the second display of military power this month. Two weeks ago, hundreds of People's Armed Police conducted exercises at a sports stadium in Shenzhen, across the border. Last weekend, Hong Kong police also ramped up the administration's violence by using water cannon vehicles, as well as tear gas and rubber bullets and for the first time pulling weapons at protesters.
Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam denied this week this week to exclude media speculation that her administration was considering invoking the British Emergency Regulations imposed by the United Kingdom to put down a general strike and associated unrest in 1922.
Police have arrested nearly 900 protesters since June 9, and pro-regime villains have attacked vicious protesters. However, this has not been able to dampen the movement, which is driven by distressing class tensions.
"Financial discontent is a primary force behind the Hong Kong turmoil," warned the South China Morning Post yesterday. It reported that many young people do not see a future because of rising property prices and living costs, while workers find it difficult to make ends meet. Between 1984 and 2018, the average annual wage growth among workers below the supervisory level was only 1.12 percent, while the wealth of the economic aristocracy rose high at their expense.
To whip up Chinese nationalism and justify repression, Beijing claims that Hong Kong protests are the work of "extremists" or US-backed elements, but the reaction from Washington and its allies has generally been sympathetic to the regime. Two weeks ago, US President Donald Trump solidified with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the "tough business" of dealing with social unrest. "He's a great leader who has a lot of respect for his people," Trump tweeted.
Trump's comments were a sign of the nervousness of the ruling class globally about the Hong Kong protest movement and its potential to inflict similar dissatisfaction internationally on deepening social inequality and attacks on fundamental democratic rights.
The great danger is that the protectionist movement has so far been politically dominated by pro-capitalist parties, groups and trade unions that have rather focused on parochial Hong Kong interests, and some who promote separatism and illusions in the United States, Britain and other imperialist powers. . Hong Kong workers must reach out to their class brothers and sisters all over the world who are fighting similar conditions, especially across China. The struggle for international unity and action requires the construction of a new revolutionary socialist leadership.
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How to fight for democratic rights in Hong Kong
[22 August 2019]
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