Protests in Hong Kong causing recession and how this affects their chances of success

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Lucky Black Cat's picture
Lucky Black Cat
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Oct 30 2019 10:37
Protests in Hong Kong causing recession and how this affects their chances of success

Hong Kong has entered a recession as a result of the protests.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hongkong-protests/hong-kong-enters-re...

My initial thoughts were that this makes the protest movement more likely to succeed. After all, governments tend not to grant people's demands for change unless those in charge believe that the costs caused by the protests (or strikes or whatever form of action is being taken) are higher than the costs of granting the demands. And causing economic losses to the point of recession is definitely a high cost.

We recognize that general strikes are such a powerful tool for winning political demands because they can grind an economy to a halt. So if a protest movement can have a similar economic impact, then it seems to me to be more likely to succeed.

I recently made this comment to other people and everyone seemed to think I was talking nonsense. Which may be true! I don't have a great understanding of these things.

The counter argument I heard was that this does not hurt China's economy so it doesn't matter. And also that companies are moving out of Hong Kong which weakens the leverage that Hong Kong has (in terms of being economically important). In my view the second point (Hong Kong is economically important to China) kind of contradicts the first (a Hong Kong recession doesn't hurt China), but maybe I'm missing something.

Anyways, what do you lovely and learned people of libcom think?

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darren p
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Oct 30 2019 13:08
Lucky Black Cat wrote:
Hong Kong has entered a recession as a result of the protests.

I don't think that article says the protests have *caused* the recession. In any case it's never as simplistic as this...

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Oct 31 2019 10:12
darren p wrote:
I don't think that article says the protests have *caused* the recession.

Seems to me the article says that the protests are at least a major cause:

Quote:
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong has fallen into recession, hit by five months of anti-government protests that erupted in flames at the weekend, and is unlikely to achieve any growth this year, the city’s Financial Secretary said.

...

Quote:
“The blow (from the protests) to our economy is comprehensive,” Paul Chan said in a blog post, adding that a preliminary estimate for third-quarter GDP on Thursday would show two successive quarters of contraction - the technical definition of a recession.

darren p wrote:
In any case it's never as simplistic as this...

What's not as simplistic, the cause of the recession? Or the cause of what makes governments grant demands? Can you elaborate?

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darren p
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Oct 31 2019 10:24
Lucky Black Cat wrote:
What's not as simplistic, the cause of the recession? Or the cause of what makes governments grant demands? Can you elaborate?

I was talking about the economic cycle. There's always a multitude of things going on.

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Nov 2 2019 21:26

Although Hong Kong is important financially, I don't think that China can afford to back down and ultimately I think the PRC will be willing to use force to break the protests. To be honest I am surprised it hasn't already. The PRC has an undetermined number of Uighurs in re-education camps. It would be a lot harder to do that to the Hong Kong Population and avoid the same level of scrutiny, but I think it could still be done. The use of electronic surveillance will also allow much more targeted actions.

I do think protests like these ones are more likely to lead to change though, as long as the government is capable of realising the economic effects and is willing to negotiate.

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Nov 5 2019 01:51

I think you're right, Jef, that the chances of success are unlikely. I haven't been expecting any victory, just thought that the economic impact would boost their chances somewhat. We shall see.

My curiosity on this issue is not so much about Hong Kong specifically, but a broader tactical question, which you addressed in your second paragraph.

Thanks for chiming in!

As for the Uighur situation, it's highly disturbing, especially when combined with reports of organ harvesting from young, healthy people, extracted while they're still alive and conscious. Just horrifying.

I've always been critical of China, as I am of any state, but I used to think the Western media was perhaps overly and unwarrantedly focused on criticizing China, in a sort of "Our shit don't stink!" kind of way, that was more about opposition to an increasingly powerful rival than it was about genuine concern for human rights, since other regimes equally bad or worse don't get nearly as much attention.

But now with the concentration camps and the organ harvesting I'm starting to feel like the Chinese government is only a few steps away from being as horrible as the Nazis. (Sorry to use a cliche, lazy comparison.) The social credit thing is really disturbing, too, in a dystopic Black Mirror kind of way.

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Nov 10 2019 09:06

If you haven't seen it already, I would very much recommend this article (it is long as hell though, does take quite a while to get through).
Your comment above specifically made me think of this bit:

Quote:
All this points to an intuitive understanding of a reality that the blog Dialectical Delinquents has outlined very well over a number of years (and we thank them for their continued painstaking efforts to sketch the rapidly emerging contours of this reality): Hong Kong is poised at the forefront of a struggle against the Sinification of the world. That is, it appears to us that, with neoliberalism dying a drawn-out, protracted death under the weight of mass revolts that all advocate secession from neoliberal global arrangements, the Chinese variant of the authoritarian surveillance state, complete with a panoply of carceral camps and quasi-legal institutions, is the only means by which the world as we know it can be held together by coercive force. We are not the only ones who perceive this; not so long ago, Dialectical Delinquents featured an interview with a Huawei executive that is illuminating in its frankness.

As we described in our previous interview, Xinjiang is at the back of everyone’s minds, and the horror of Xinjiang, coupled with the rapid introduction of surveillance apparatuses across the city, gives the struggle a pronounced apocalyptic flavor: it is reiterated time and again that if we do not win, we will find ourselves in internment camps. We are in general agreement with this, but it is imperative that we recognize that we are waging the same “hand to hand fight” [Agamben, What Is An Apparatus?] against these apparatuses as countless other insurgents across the world—that China is not the great Satan that “the free world” can deliver us from, the Antichrist that we have to slay at all costs, but a shadow from the future, a shadow looming over a disintegrating planet.

It goes without saying that China serves as a welcome distraction for Western audiences as well, offering Western governments the opportunity to decry Chinese excesses in order to parade their commitment to “human rights” while killing and jailing their own populations.

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Nov 10 2019 23:21

Thanks for the article recommendation.

crimethinc wrote:
China is not the great Satan that “the free world” can deliver us from, the Antichrist that we have to slay at all costs, but a shadow from the future, a shadow looming over a disintegrating planet.

I've had this thought, myself. sad