From International Socialism, No.73, December 1974, p.30.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Hong Kong: A Case to Answer
Spokesman Pamphlets, 36p.
IMPERIALISM only shows its true ferocity fully in wars and coups, as in Vietnam and Chile. Rarely do we hear much about Hong Kong and other parts of the world where super-exploitation and repression operate daily. This Spokesman pamphlet breaks the silence.
Hong Kong was first seized from China after the Opium War of 1840, when the British forced the lethal narcotic on the mainland ports in the name of free trade. Its key importance to the imperialist powers came, however, after the Chinese Revolution. Hong Kong became a US depot during the Korean War; a pool of cheap immigrant labour; an outpost for China-watching. Today it is a colony whose people produce massive surplus value with little material benefit and few rights.
‘Hong Kong is one of the world’s top 20 trading nations with little over 4 million inhabitants. It exports more than India, which has 140 times the population ... The percentage of the total active population involved in manufacturing is the highest in the world.’
This wealth, though, is generated in conditions like those in Britain in the last century: no minimum wage, no maximum hours for over 18s, no sickness or unemployment benefits, no free medical treatment, no compulsory education. Not surprisingly, 15 times as much money is spent on the police and military as on educatioa
The only official democratic body, the Urban Council, was elected in 1973 by a quarter of one per cent of the population – and anyway only manages the sewage system. Power resides in the Executive Council, which represents interests like Hong Kong Land (a property company valued at £2,000 million), and Dow Chemicals Pacific Ltd. They rule through laws administered in English over a population 90 per cent of which is Chinese. If necessary, as in 1966-67, the RAF and Navy are called in to maintain curfews and break up demonstrations.
The Chinese workers have fought against this set-up. Back in 1925-26, their General Strike lasted 15 months. But their comrades in Britain and China have either not heard or have ignored their calls for help. So Judith Hart could say, in April 1967, ‘... because of Hong Kong’s special position it is not possible to think of normal self-government ...’ While the Chinese delegate to the UN declared in 1972, ‘the settlement of Hong Kong should be in the appropriate way, when the time is ripe ...’ The Hong Kong people demand our support against British capitalists.
Last updated on 2.7.2008