Hong Kong – its relevance to the rest of us…

…its resistance to the science & technology of social control

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The almost universally-held discourse that the movement in Hong Kong concerns only the people of Hong Kong, China and the Chinese diaspora conveniently ignores the essential: its more general implications for the rest of the masses of individuals throughout the world. Whilst factors specific to Hong Kong are the inevitable catalyst for this movement, implicitly central to it is a resistance to modern forms of science & technology in the service of intensified totalitarian social control – certainly not something that only concerns the Chinese.

我们自己奋斗吧

(see also this interesting Crimethinc interview with  Hong Kong anarchists about  current events and some of Hong Kong’s  history)

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On Wednesday 12th June, when someone shouted out that  drones had started flying above them, everyone opened up their umbrellas almost simultaneously

The current opposition to Hong Kong’s proposed extradition law i (temporarily suspended) is also an implicit opposition to the obvious intensification of totalitarian control that is central to China’s current method of maintaining class power, primarily involving the application of science to vastly intensify hierarchical power. An underlying thread running throughout this movement is a resistance to the development of technologically-equipped social control, though in a confused and contradictory manner. This is no tenuous link – opposition to the looming technologically-equipped terror is at the back of the minds of many of the protesters and is at the semi-conscious root of much of its motivation, even though this is not always clear or explicit. This is certainly implied by this report from June 14th“…a recirculated South China Morning Post report from last December has sparked concern that a visit to Xinjiang [Muslim Uighur region where at least 10% of the population are in education camps] by Hong Kong anti-terror police, ostensibly to learn rapid incident response methods, may be a sign that HK authorities may have been importing ultra-repressive security measures from the region.” And these fears are explicitly stated by some of those involved in the Hong Kong movement: “Hong Kong’s tech-savvy protesters are going digitally dark as they try to avoid surveillance and potential future prosecutions, disabling location tracking on their phones…Who knows if it would become like Xinjiang the day after tomorrow, because things can change so quickly”.

One can see an aspect of this also in the use of umbrellas to hide from drones ii. Another has been the avoidance of electronically traceable railcards by those going to the demonstrations: “Many of the protesters …took pains to keep from being photographed or digitally tracked. To go to and from the protests, many stood in lines to buy single-ride subway tickets instead of using their digital payment cards, which can be tracked…” (here). And here: “Local Hong Kong residents almost never use these ticketing machines these days to buy single-journey tickets. For starters, everyone has a rechargeable smart card, called the Octopus card, that is widely used across the city to pay for everything from transport to meals and groceries. Purchasing a physical ticket not only takes time, it also costs more than the equivalent trip paid for with the Octopus card. The protesters’ deliberate decision to use cash, despite its seeming inconvenience, also shows how increasingly cashless societies can present dire privacy concerns.”

Nevertheless, many used the supposedly encrypted mobile chat app Telegram, oblivious to the fact that the state (both that of mainland China and Hong Kong) have long ago hacked this app (see this). “Telegram is not more secure than Whatsapp. In many circumstances, it’s worse….its encryption features, were highlighted by tech media as one of its big selling points. Despite its reputation, many conversations on Telegram are not end-to-end encrypted — in other words, not secure. And to make matters worse, the company has developed a reputation for problems with its technology that have led some users to have their information and messages exposed, in some cases to other users. Over the past year, Global Voices has reported on multiple instances of Telegram users running into serious trouble with the app’s security. Telegram users in Russia — some of them journalists and activists — have reported that their accounts were hacked. Another user in Ukraine reported receiving private group messages through her Telegram app for a group that she was not part of. And there has been concern in Iran about the company’s compliance with government requests for certain material — bots mainly — to be blocked on the platform.”

An underlying fear of the movement in HK is the totalitarian nature of China and its use of surveillance technology to repress dissidence before it hits the streets, schools, universities or workplaces. Such technology is already being used to a lesser degree in Hong Kong: people have been arrested merely for discussing organising the protests on their smartphones (for just one example, see this).  Surveillance technology is the constant fear – “Even if we’re not doing anything drastic — as simple as saying something online about China — because of such surveillance they might catch us”…Many said they turned off their location tracking on their phones and beefed up their digital privacy settings before joining protests, or deleted conversations and photos on social media and messaging apps after they left the demonstrations…Anxieties have been symbolised in a profile picture that was being used by many opponents of the bill: a wilting depiction of Hong Kong’s black-and-white bauhinia flower. But protesters have become increasingly nervous that using the picture online could attract  attention from authorities and have taken it down” (here)

Some of the confusions and limitations of this movement are obvious. For example, there’s an illusion that the extradition law will stop foreign investment in Hong Kong – “We’re afraid that in the future we won’t have jobs to go to”, some teenagers have said. Nonsense, of course. Whilst some individuals working for  businesses may feel reluctant to go there, companies as a whole nowadays have no compunction about complying with mainland China (and, of course, this is independent of any basic critique of jobs, of the misery of wage labour).  And sadly, this illusion detracts and distracts from the main reason for this movement – their resistance to impending totalitarianism. This resistance can certainly not be won if they somehow believe that they can rely on the wafer-thin margin of freedom  expressed in the lesser forms of totalitarianism implicit in current bourgeois democracy. iii Whatever obviously totalitarian countries pursue  is merely one step ahead of the ‘democracies’, which slowly but surely also develop similar methods of social control, constantly obscured, however, by the language of « rights ».

Joshua Wong, one of the leaders of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, who was recently released from prison, possibly to calm things down, has written “As American security and business interests are also jeopardized by possible extradition arrangements with China, I believe the time is ripe for Washington to re-evaluate the U.S.–Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, which governs relations between the two places. I also urge Congress to consider the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The rest of the international community should make similar efforts. A victory for Beijing is a victory for authoritarianism everywhere. Keeping an eye on this place sends an important message to Chinese authorities that democracy, not authoritarianism, is the way of the future. It also keeps our hopes alive knowing that we are not fighting alone.”  This is the kind of rubbish one would expect from a politician, however apparently ‘dissident’ (he’s secretary-general of the pro-democracy party Demosistō).  Apart from the fact that it takes sides in the cold  (and potentially hot – check out tensions around Taiwan)  war between China and the USA, it’s a typical example of the current colonisation by dominant language – phrases such as “international community” which merely means the international “community” of capitalists, whether state capitalists or individual capitalists. This is the “community” of the commodity which Wong clearly hopes to have a political niche in. And of course, his contrast between ‘democracy’ and ‘authoritarianism’ nowadays makes little sense – democracies everywhere are becoming increasingly authoritarian and we hear of so many new examples almost every day that this text would run to 1000s of pages if I were to list every one of them over the last few years  – it’s sufficient to note the ones mentioned here and there throughout this text. But so far there’s a difference between authoritarianism and  totalitarianism, even though  it’s also vital to realise that totalitarianism grows out of the polluted soil of authoritarianism.

The ideology of self-determination put forward by his party is an ideology that’s been around since President Wilson advocated it as a tactic in the US’s struggle for imperialist  hegemony at the end of WWI, an ideology where the vast majority of “selves” determine nothing. And besides, no rulers of any state can determine their country independently of the pressures of the global market. Wong’s appeal to the US state contradicts this ideology of  ‘self-determination’.  The constant shifts, between the various capitalist states, from  rivalry to complicity, from competition to alliance, and back again, the inevitable product of the different states’ balance between mutual dependence and rival economic interests,  means that the US can’t be relied on even as an ally of those aiming to mobilise (some of whom want to eventually rule) Hong Kong  against the rulers of China. After Tiananmen Square, the US imposed sanctions on China, which however, did not stop George Bush snr. from secretly doing deals with the Chinese bureaucracy immediately after the massacre of at least 10,000 Chinese workers and students. And at the end of May this year, just a few weeks ago, the Belgian state, through its Beijing embassy, in an unprecedented move, called on the Chinese police to arrest and disappear a family of Muslim Uighurs seeking visas to enable them to reunite with the father of the family in Belgium“Belgian officials say their small country can’t risk offending China“. When Wong refers to the “international community” and “knowing that we are not fighting alone” he’s encouraging illusions in so-called allies who will, if convenient, stab such ‘friends’ in the back.

“Not fighting alone”  can only be developed by striving to recognise and act on the connections between different struggles amongst those who are fighting their own states and bosses and the market system not only in mainland China but also throughout the world.

The front façade of the Hong Kong Police HQ in Wan Chai,after being splattered with eggs on the evening of Fryday (my eggscuses for the rotten yolk) June 21. Hundreds of protesters sealed the entrance, demanding the unconditional release of every person that has been arrested in relation to the struggle thus far. The banner below reads “Never Surrender.” Photo by KWBB from Tak Cheong Lane Collective.

Do Chinese Bureaucrats Dream Of Electric Sheep? – 

China as world leader in the development of technological social control

Despite providing interesting information, it should be obvious that the democratic discourse of the above video is as much a problem for those who seriously want to change the world as the developing totalitarianism of mainland China.

The fear of Hong Kong becoming more like the mainland is also engendered by knowledge of the advances there towards the most totalitarian use of social control technology in history. For the few reading this who don’t know – in a year’s time the state there will have completed its database of the whole of the population, a database intended to standardise the assessment of everyone’s economic and social reputation, or ‘Social Credit’: a database of every individual’s recorded incident from the cradle to the grave. Some aspects of this ‘social credit’ system are already being used ‘voluntarily’ in apps in China by a combination of both the state and private industry, called « new forms of behavioral incentivisation. » .

Already, in the Muslim Uighur area, one of the areas that in the past that has had significant revolts against the Chinese authorities, the Chinese bureaucracy is  collecting  the DNA of most of the Uighur population (see also “the myths of dna”). The state is also demanding that all neighborhood households’ cutting tools with blades exceeding 10 centimeters …have QR codes embossed on them“, and enforcing this demand by the use of spot ‘security checks’ (perhaps even by China’s new Dalek-cops).

Xinjiang knives could clearly be used to slit the throats of China’s new cops (below)

China is universally recognised as the world’s no.1 country in the production of the technological means of social control. The cops there now have sunglasses with in-built facial recognition technology to facilitate the rulers’ law enforcement. Not only is  facial recognition surveillance capable of picking out a wanted individual amongst a crowd of 60,000, but their facial recognition cameras are now starting to be used in school classrooms because they can also recognise a person’s mood : anxious, furtive, scared, happy, disgusted, sad, surprised, angry, neutral, discombobulated or desperate-for-a-piss. “The system has been touted as a way to ensure students are attentive and happy, learning quickly and, ultimately, scoring well on tests.”  In addition, schoolkids are obliged to consult an app on their phones mixing information with Xi Jinping Thought“Schools are shaming students with low app scores. Government offices are holding study sessions and forcing workers who fall behind to write reports criticizing themselves. Private companies, hoping to curry favor with party officials, are ranking employees based on their use of the app and awarding top performers the title of “star learner.” Many employers now require workers to submit daily screenshots documenting how many points they have earned.” (here).

Fortunately, some Chinese people have not been so intimidated as to avoid speaking out against this suffocating development – ”This technology is so twisted. It’s anti-human,” said Zhang Jing, a 23-year-old photographer who spoke out online about the Hangzhou classroom. He envisioned a future where teachers demand students to smile in class and “then there’s no difference between students and robots, right?” (same article).

China now has school uniforms that, along with the ubiquitous facial recognition, track students’ comings-and-goings, which  make truancy almost impossible. Whilst facial recognition cameras in the classroom inform teachers if a student has fallen asleep in class in case they hadn’t noticed (but this is very unlikely considering how thrilling their studies areprimary school textbooks may soon include definitions for terms like “price-to-earnings ratio” or “buy and hold”).  And in certain areas, sanitation workers are being required to wear GPS-tracking smart bracelets to not only monitor their location at all times, but audibly prod them if they stop moving for more than 20 minutes. And just in case you think that this is merely an example of the development of totalitarianism in China alone, take a look at this development in Canada, only in its initial stages: “Researchers at UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering have developed a low-cost sensor that can be interlaced into textiles and composite materials. While the research is still new, the sensor may pave the way for smart clothing that can monitor human movement. The embedded microscopic sensor is able to recognize local motion through the stretching of the woven yarns that are treated with graphene nanoplatelets that can read the body’s activity”.

Moreover, China’s voice recognition technology as a means of social control is certainly going to be developed way beyond its borders. And whilst voice recognition is paraded as simply a tool for ‘writing’ without using one’s fingers, its use for the police is obvious (though so far, it’s a rather haphazard tool, since disguised accents can fool it, and also voices can be scrambled). And there are also certain areas where you can only get toilet paper if you’re on the facial recognition database, apparently aimed at preventing toilet paper theft and rationing toilet paper use. If Orwell’s 1984 had envisaged a world where Big Brother restricted how much paper you used to wipe your arse and knew how often you took a shit he would have been thought of as deliriously absurd.

In parts of the country, facial recognition is used to shame the horrific crime of jaywalking: “The public shaming has very visible effects …being publicly shamed could impact a person’s credit rating, as well as their insurance and pension premiums. “.

China’s state even uses “Minority Report”-type predictive policing for those they believe will commit what they have designated as a crime.

Orwells That Ends Well:

From China to the rest of the world

This is not just about Xinjiang or even China — it’s about the world beyond and whether we human beings can continue to have freedom in a world of connected devices…It’s a wake-up call, not just about China but about every one of us.’’ – quote from this article about the horrendous affects of predictive policing in China’s Uighur areas

So don’t delude yourself into thinking that these developments will remain purely within China’s borders. Predictive policing technology, for example, is being taken up by police departments throughout the world. Moreover, China’s social credit system “could interfere in other nations’ sovereignty(ignore the ridiculous title – the notion of national  sovereignty has always been dubious, even within its own bourgeois terms).  On top of all this, China’s renowned use of internet censorship is being increasingly adopted throughout the world. And just the other day, on 19th June, Google rejected attempts by many of its shareholders to close down its “Project Dragonfly”, a censorship- and surveillance-enabled search engine designed to facilitate the company’s return to the Chinese market. ivIn Germany,  the state closed down Indymedia in August 2017, saying that they were intent on destroying the German Constitution iv2. And now the UK could well be bringing in a law allowing for “North Korean-style censorship” . Sure – they often overkill with excessive suggestions to test the water before a bill is debated so that when they finally re-phrase some of the more obviously draconian features they can show they’ve “listened”, but bit by bloody bit internet  – and other – censorship is very obviously on the increase in the demockracies. v

Countries and institutions outside of China constantly and hypocritically condemn the move towards  totalitarian social control in China in order to make a show of differentiating their ‘freedoms’ from more overtly repressive conditions. And to more insidiously develop similar repressive controls hidden behind this show of contrast. Behind this show, in practice capital outside China needs China’s vast mutual trade and investment – e.g. the Belt & Road/Silk Road initiative, embraced especially by the far-right Italian government and France’s neoliberal onevi, though it also involves infrastructure development and investments in 152 countries and international organizations in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa. Meanwhile sections of capital outside China are eager to develop similar surveillance technologies and are both supplying much of them to China as well as buying them  from there (see, for example this and this).  At the same time, Chinese internet censorship methods are being exported throughout the world (for some of their methods, see this about censorship of the protests in Hong Kong and  this about censorship there generally), and increasingly it’s being acknowledged that its surveillance techniques are also being exported everywhere.

‘Mood recognition’ camera technology is not in any way confined to China but is being developed elsewhere, though not always directly in the form of forms of legal or state-initiated repression but  as a method of market research and consumer manipulation. “A supermarket might use it in the aisles, not to identify people, but to analyse who came in in terms of age and gender as well as their basic mood. It can help with targeted marketing and product placement.” (here). But there are, outside of China,  the usual ‘law enforcement’ uses for such Big Brother technology: “UK firm WeSee, for example, claims its AI tech can actually spot suspicious behaviour by reading facial cues imperceptible to the untrained eye. Emotions, such as doubt and anger, might be hidden under the surface in contrast to the language a person is using. WeSee says it has been working with a “high profile” organisation in law enforcement to analyse people who are being interviewed.” (same article). As if this wasn’t enough to maintain repressive social control, the Chinese state is now developing ‘gait recognition’: “…the system can identify people from up to 50 meters away, even with their back turned and their face covered. “Gait analysis cannot be fooled by simple limping, walking with splayed feet or hunching over, because we are analyzing all the features of an entire body”.  In the meantime, before such technology is fully developed, “the police can use hand-held devices to search smartphones for encrypted chat apps, politically charged videos and other suspect content” (here). And in Xinjiang residents are forced to install surveillance apps on their mobile phones.

Of course in the ‘democracies’  such crude coercion is not used to force smartphones onto people in the same way. Nevertheless, for increasing kinds of means of survival, smartphones are as “compulsory” as cars have become for many in this society no Deliveroo rider or Uber taxi driver or care worker would hold onto their jobs for longer than 10 minutes without one, and there are certainly many other forms of wage labour that require them. And they surveille all movement, to the point where it’s impossible, if you want to hold down your job, to not conform to a kind of modern form of utterly isolated individualised time and motion control where the smartphone polices your speed, your time of arrival and departure and probably more.  Of course, in democracies such wage labour is “voluntary” – wage slavery is not like slavery but allows you “freedom”, to use a word  favoured by  liberal ideologists, evasively contemptuous of the condition of those who have no other way to survive but to sell their labour power. Sure, you can try to avoid using smartphones for anything that might draw the attention of the state, but if the state already has you in its crosshairs, it still has your phones at home and at work to tap.

At the same time, the smartphone is not just a means for the most obvious forms of social control such as police surveillance. It’s also  a mediation of immediate relations and is thus also a way of being sucked by specialised effects and other artistic forms into a distraction from non-virtual human contact. In the democracies, smartphones are not compulsory yet. But people get hooked on them – seduced by the attraction of endless applications of narrow aesthetic ‘subjectivity’ – and then, like all drugs, are finally controlled by and through them. Whilst with the more normal notion of what constitutes a drug habit, being controlled by drugs is subjective and can, with effort and a sense of purposeful perspective, be resisted and eventually kicked, in the case of addiction to technological toys, the control is not just subjective, voluntary, not just dependent on will. It’s not just you watching Big Brother but Big Brother Watching You 24/7.

There’s been, in the UK,  in the development of electronic tagging (the ‘nice’ alternative to the totalitarian panopticon of prisons) a device that can monitor adrenalin, alcohol and anger levels, and heightened tension (see this: Prison Technologies STOA Report). And I’ve heard, in the US, that there’s a personal yoga meditation program available which monitors your moods – priceless data about someone that would be easy for the state to hack into. How much more invasive is it possible to get? These technologically-based elements are clearly pieces constituting an enormously enhanced system of social nano-control, one that was always embedded in capitalism’s project of what Castoriadis referred to as “pseudo-rational pseudo-control”, but which, as the world falls increasingly into ecological collapse, wars and crisis, can and will – insufficiently contested – be justified as a means of “maintaining order”.

Of course, the powers-that-be invariably present themselves as far more omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient  than they in fact are in order to induce a soul-destroying resignation amongst those who might be tempted to revolt against their power. It should be made clear that one of the strategies of the state – for a long time – has been  to make people think that the state is like a materialist God – it knows and controls everything. Its presentation of itself is intended to instil absolute resignation: “You can’t beat the system”, as a widely-distributed ad warning against fare-dodging on the tube put it – in London as far back as the 1980s! Although the means available to it now is far vaster, petrification –  terror and submission –  in the face of it all is what the rulers want above all, as if the technological means of absolute control at the disposal of the state is perfect, regardless of how much, in fact, it is. As this article says about America’s accumulation of data by the NSA: “…while capturing and storing data is easy, data by itself is not information. The NSA’s enormous capability to intercept data has not been matched by any corresponding ability to analyze it, much less to act on whatever information is extracted. Data mining has shown some promise in keeping track of known suspects, but has been nearly useless at uncovering new ones. The forces of order are therefore left to wrestle with unmanageable masses of data on people who are little threat to them, while those harboring nefarious intent can slip beneath the radar merely by taking some basic precautions”.

So, in relation to facial recognition cameras, awareness of how social control technology works can help you consciously alter your image and behaviour. Actors know full well that gait can  be disguised by imitation of others  and  not  just something you can disguise by the far-too-simple use of limping, walking with splayed feet or hunching. Actors know full well that mood can be consciously repressed, for example by recalling situations one has lived other than the real life actually being lived, or imagining and empathising other people’s situations. Such professional techniques can be used outside any professional career, in daily life, by those who have developed a certain distance from their own habitual facial expressions and body language, though of course, this reduces the element of spontaneity in resistance to external authority: one has to always calculate a risk well beforehand, though some aspects of calculation can become easy routine habits with constant repetition. As for facial recognition’s  ability to see a discrepancy between one’s words and one’s micro-expressions,  in certain circumstances/countries one can still refuse to talk to law enforcement agencies. And refusing to be sucked into the dead-end of consumerism, and to predictable consumer habits, can enable people to avoid being seduced by “targeted marketing and product placement”. Nevertheless, this remains a purely individual solution under siege to the watchful eye of the state constantly looking at every breath you take, every move you make, every step you take, every single day, every word you say, every game you play,  every vow you break, every smile you fake, every claim you stake. Despite the danger of over-estimating such technologies, there’s also a danger in under-estimating them: it’s well-known that the thought of being constantly surveilled causes an enormous amount of stress, which wears and tears at each person (there are even some people who cover the camera on their mobile phones for fear of having their every activity monitored, even though they don’t even do anything or discuss anything illegal). As previously  said, totalitarianism, any more than any other ism, is never a completed goal – there were even revolts in the Nazi’s concentration camps and in Stalin’s gulags (e.g. this). But it certainly is a process constantly capable of extension and intensification.

Holidays in your own misery:

Totalitarian leisure

It has to be made clear that the development of totalitarian technology is also already pervasive in areas of life considered to be ‘free’. As a compensation for being robbed of the freedom to change your world and your life, you are granted the freedom to change compensations. Such compensations turn communication into its opposite with those “feeds” or supposedly personalized “suggestions” and “recommendations” pushed on you by Smartphone apps, Youtube, Facebook vii et al. or disguised as articles (those “Around the Web” and “Recommended For You” boxes at the bottom of many online news articles, created by advertising companies such as Taboola etc.), who ask you over and over again and without your initiative, to pick and choose from what they have “for you”, creating by this the habit of staying within the comfort of their clickable bosoms. What was once a personal and passionate exploration of thoughts and knowledge that began by your own initiative, of which an important part was the social exchange of recommendations and ideas between people who actually know and communicate with each other – a direct experience that could lead to discussion and to a mutual development of the people engaged – has, for the obedient spectator who’s only inquisitive about what this society deems acceptable to be inquisitive about, been eliminated and replaced by an isolated and unilateral absorption of material intentionally designed to serve itself and to be consumed repeatedly: easy-to-access (directly available at any moment, especially those moments of void, when boredom or anxiety kick in), easy-to-process, having a harmless, purely entertainment/educational/commercial value, as well as leaving no room for surprises, chance and the unpredictable. What we have here is a vertical edification, identical to all, of which the form guarantees that the content remains confined to the limits of the form. These platforms (and the capital and exploitation behind them) derive their full power precisely from isolation and passivity, and they create isolation and passivity in return. This may not seem like direct censorship, but its effects on mental capacities and social relations are often even worse.

“If I have only an historical knowledge of thought, truths, and facts, they are outside my spirit; i.e. for me they are dead; my thinking and my spirit is not in them; in them my thought is not present, and my inmost being is not there either. The possession of purely historical facts is like the legal possession of things I do not know what to do with. If someone stops at the mere knowledge of what this or that man has thought, of what has been handed down, then he has just handed himself over and renounced what has made him a man, namely his thinking. In that event he is preoccupied solely with the thinking and the spirit of others; he investigates only what has been true for others.” Hegel, Introduction to the Lectures on the History of Philosophy.

An endless amount of pieces of information are streamed, uploaded, broadcasted or talked about in Youtube-channels, Facebook-live and similar platforms – but on the condition that they remain pieces of information or entertainment, that they remain details. They then (or while you’re watching them) immediately recommend you to continue and click on other sources of the same kind, so that you will never be out of the loop. Only what is telegenic is allowed, that which can represent or sell an already existing object or concept that can be regurgitated by specialists, stars or “influencers” (be it a news-event, a commodity, a type of personality, an ideology, a moral attitude, fascism: yes or no, anti-fascism: yes or no, leftism, veganism, a new and “correct” way to say something, a lifestyle, a “real-life story” to be watched alone at home as a compensation for your lack of real life…); only then can this information be given a fixed and official rank of quantitative importance in the spectacle, creating mini-worlds of bits-and-pieces with which you have to be familiar; information-things or culture-things separated from each-other or with only one fixed and official relation to each-other, with the result that you would never be able to think dialectically about anything around you, including yourself and your life, to develop a subjective understanding of your world, of the causes of, the need for or the use of what is shown to you, of what is really desirable for you or not.

What is now called thinking is not really thinking at all; it has long ceased to be the process of thinking for yourself – a creative, passionate and at times frightening, conflicting and difficult activity – and has been replaced with merely having consequence-less opinions about what goes on in an existing and unchangeable reality, to which you are only coincidently related (usually when the need arises to make you feel guilty about something or to mobilize you for or against a person or a group). This type of “censorship” works in a circular way: it informs you about a supposed reality about which you are only supposed to have an opinion, in which you are only supposed to take a passive part, and by this effect strengthening that same forced passivity and ensuring the past’s domination over the future. [my thanks to T. for most of the previous 4 paragraphs, very slightly re-written by me]

Will we rage against the machine…

 …or does everyone love Big Brother ?

« A report by Ant Financial’s much-maligned social credit system (SCS), Sesame Credit, indicates that 96% of Chinese users born between 1990-1994, and 94% of those born between 1995-1999 have chosen to opt in to the social credit system. » – here

“I couldn’t tell which terrified me more: China’s all-encompassing network of facial recognition surveillance cameras, or that my countrymen were proudly cheering them onMany people in China seem to be happy about the physical security promised by the surveillance network. Our mind-set, long ago, was wired to see safety and freedom as an either-or choice. Huawei’s Hong-Eng Ko put the public safety argument more bluntly this week, arguing that “if privacy wins, criminals win.” The acceptance Qian describes is mirrored in widespread public support for China’s various emerging social credit systems as mechanisms of accountability for untrustworthy behavior, as found by Genia Kostka through surveys and Manya Koetse through analysis of social media discussion.” – here 

The final subhuman product of the system: docile spectators hoping to eradicate everything in themselves and in others that doesn’t reduce them more and more to the level of a predictable machine, who are nervous if they don’t think they are being supervised, deludedly dreaming of being defended by the very world that destroys all security. One of the first orders of any revolutionary movement is to make this type of subhuman impossible and to spare no instance in which they can be denounced, demeaned, denigrated, and subjected to condescending pity, while taking every pain to praise and encourage them at whatever acts of rebellion they may belatedly engage in, and understanding that this is something that regularly happens to all of us because it is embedded in the civilization that we must destroy. The first revolutionary act is disobedience.

“The universe is simply a great machine…Man, like the universe, is a machine”

– Nikola Tesla (scientist, developer of the Alternating Current)

« …a scientist is …above all, a choice utterly submissive to the dominant reification of human beings, their reduction to a machine, to their role within the commodity economy which demands the repression of subjective desire, which demands their reduction to a functional machine within the overall process of exploitation and capital accumulation. Trial and error reduced to the fetishism of examining cells or natural elements, separating them, re-combining them, comparing and contrasting them, outside of their usual (natural or social) context, in a lab, narrowed such experiments to what is acceptable to quantifiable capitalist social relations. » –Frankenstein’s Monster”

It’s not for nothing that scientists are helping China’s apartheid system in the Uighur region– science has always been an essential weapon of the ruling class.

Science has become the new religion, a materialised religion that creates the illusion of ‘order’, the order of machines, of ‘rationality’, of people too terrified to give their lives meaning by affirming themselves against an ‘objectivity’ and ‘order’ which   escapes their grasp,  which reduces them to commodities.

With the development of large industry, scientists were almost invariably loyal servants to their capitalist masters and to the commodity economy as a whole.  Science in the early years of capitalist development invented for its bourgeois masters  machines that gave them the spur to brutally expropriate the peasantry of its means of survival and force them to be wage slaves to the owners of these machines. Now this is being extended in more subtle, less blatantly crude, ways which further reduce the modern proletariat to a docility that no longer needs such openly horrendous methods to satisfy the rulers’ rabid thirst for capital accumulation. Today, in parallel to the development of  Artificial Intelligence which hopes to make robots more ‘human’ and ’emotional’  (at least within the notion of ‘human’ and ’emotion’ created by a world aiming to repress the unpredictably uncontrollable and the negative) – human beings become more machine-like (though, unlike machines, they become depressed and mentally ill). In the past one might be forgiven for believing that science, in reaction to superstition and religion, had a liberatory potential – its progressive nature more linked to dreamt-of future possibilities than the immediately lived grim reality. Today, as science continues its logic of  contributing even further to our “progress”, the progress of alienation, the progress towards the abyss, its ice-cold tentacles aim to strangle subjectivity at birth or even at conception.  Science and capital  aim to short-cut the conditioning process of family rearing, schooling and media manipulation and just stifle revolt when it’s only a twinkle in its creators’ eyes.

In July 2018, scientists endorsed the use of genome editing to engineer the traits of future children and generations. In August 2018 there was a report about scientists having discovered how to suppress the part of the brain that experiences anger and the desire for revenge.  More recently (at the end of March 2019),  scientists discovered the DNA of a genetic mutation that suppresses pain and anxiety. It also conveniently  induces forgetfulness.  Now imagine how the rulers of this society could use combinations of such insights and methods (assuming that these scientists, hoping to entice vast vault-loads of moolah,   aren’t excessively exaggerating developments that are hardly beyond a wishful-thinking fantasy). Given their record of repressing anything that might threaten, even a little bit, their race to accumulate capital there’ll be nothing to stop them investing their surplus value in applying these discoveries to vastly intensify the passivity of those they govern. If it’s in their toy cupboard, it’s unlikely that they won’t eventually play with them. When ideological manipulation and technologically-induced fear proves inadequate, genetic and other forms of biologically-applied manipulation may well come to their rescue.  No pain, no anxiety, no anger, no desire for revenge and no sense of life, because those surviving the ecological apocalypse will have forgotten why it all happened and who was to blame, having been genetically modified at conception. A Brave New Night of the pain-free Living Dead: chase all your cares away, Sing Hallelujah …get happy,  get ready for the judgment day….Don’t worry – be happy.

Now, of course, these worst-case-scenarios seem like really over-the-top sci-fi, and doubtless reinforcing the separations inherent in class society and indoctrinating people with the ideological justifications that would support such a project would take a bit of time. However, the majority of human beings most of the time do not need to be genetically manipulated to be imbued with the values of the commodity economy. A report from February 2019 about people being prepared to sacrifice other human beings so that robots are not endangered shows how, as Artificial Intelligence develops, so too does reification, entailing, amongst other things, treating electronic  objects as more important than human beings, and human beings as lesser objects.  Which has long been the case amongst the rulers and their head-cracking cops, but is now being intensified amongst the increasingly atomised novelty-technology-obsessed masses. Thoroughly alienated humans, not content to get angry with people outside pubs for leaning against their precious cars,  are now increasingly prepared to feed their robots and let people starve. And in future owners of the cars leant on will have no need to get angry – the cars themselves will get angry on their behalf, because machines can out-do people anyday.

Scientists may act all concerned and moralistic about certain developments  (e.g. this), but the mercenary logic of scientists is not merely “indifferent” to such ‘moral’ questions (which they intermittently roll out to defend themselves against accusations of cold-heartedness), but, given that he who pays the piper calls the tune, the abstract ideology of knowledge-for-knowledge’s sake (and to hell with the consequences, other than the effect on their bank accounts) means in practice that most are prepared to sell themselves to absolutely anybody and any state.

And already totalitarian ecologists are waiting in the wings ready to harness all these marvelous new  methods and inventions. And doubtless the world’s ruling class are ready to set up home in the South Pole in the lush countryside, whilst creating the mirage of a Green Earth for the rest of us. They will surely justify an ‘orderly’ totalitarian control as the only way to protect the planet, even though the result would be protecting a world of people reduced to machines and machines imitating such thoroughly predictable people so that machines and people become indistinguishable, with the result of further reducing the survivors to increasingly anxious survival sickness. 

Sam Fanto, June 23rd 2019

how to make a cold cop station warm and friendly

(5th August 2019)

My thanks to G for much of the input for this text

The aim of this text is to provoke discussion and, consequently, hopefully,  practice. It’s by no means perfect, certainly not an attempt to be « definitive » long after the fact. Genuinely-motivated (ie not just point-scoring) critiques and elaborations welcome. These will mostly appear in the comments boxes at the end of this text.

For more on China see this

This academic  Report on Current Situation Facing Chinese Youth Activists on the mainland is also worth looking at. Some quotes:

“The challenges Chinese youth activists face stem primarily from the escalation of political pressure in recent years. The unfavorable political reality has lead to a lack of resources…curbing their progress and preventing youth activists from advancing their careers and earning a living; the unfavorable political environment and work conditions have left youth activists with acutely poor economic, familial, and public support. In this vulnerable state, the proportion of activists suffering from clinical depression is fairly large”…”Many interview subjects feel pessimistic about the future of Chinese society… One said, “For the mainland, if you don’t take any violent action, if you don’t make any sacrifice of blood, then you can’t really accomplish anything”…”The extinction level crackdown on all sorts of activist groups has given the majority of activists personal experience of just how little possibility there is for civil society in China right now.”

Also worth looking at is Geremie R. Barmé’s site, despite its academicism. Barmé is often seen as the 21st century’s successor to Simon Leys/Pierre Ryckmans in terms of his knowledge of China.

For information on an anarchist group operating in Hong Kong during the 1970s and 1980s , see this (and for a sympathetic but critical take on them, see this )

See also this interesting Crimethinc interview with  Hong Kong anarchists about  current events and some of Hong Kong’s  history

HK be realistic

Hong Kong students with May ’68 slogan, from 29th April 2014

我们自己奋斗吧

Chronology of some of the events in Hong Kong

(updates in the comments boxes at the bottom of this page)

1/7/19:

China, Hong Kong: new clashes as masked youths barricade 3 main roadsLegislative council stormed and tagged. Sad to see such faith in Brutish democracy in the form of the old colonial flaglive streaming of what’s going on

26/6/19:

China, Hong Kong: miserable development (fortunately only involving “hundreds”).

24/6/19:

China, Hong Kong: 100s sit-in at city’s tax offices More here

“Don’t forget our arrested comrades”

22/6/19:

China, Hong Kong: blockade of main road and cop HQ ends

21/6/19:

China, Hong Kong: anti-extradition protesters block main road“Protestors in Hong Kong have blocked a key road through the city centre and massed outside police headquarters to demand the total withdrawal of a controversial extradition law, the release of detained activists and apologies for police brutality.”

16/6/19:

China, Hong Kong: protesters bed in for a night around government HQ as over 25% of the population demonstrate  Doubtless some ultra-leftists will point out the obvious – the ideological illusions in bourgeois democracy. However, this is a movement against things getting considerably worse, rather than a clearly positive pro-democracy movement. Apart from the fact that HK is hardly a bourgeois democracy insofar as only half of the deputies are elected, fantasies that  the West are in any way on their side other than with their vapid words are not that prominent as far as I can see. Hopefully the masses in Hong Kong will eventually realise that the bourgeois democracies are only too happy to collaborate with China (see this, about George Bush snr. collaborating with China shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre, or this recent report on the Belgian state’s collaboration with the Chinese state’s repression of Muslims). The main danger now is that the release from prison of one of the 2014 Umbrella Movement leaders could well mean he’ll be used to pacify the most radical section of youth, which so far has rejected leadership.

12/6/19:

China, Hong Kong: demonstrations persist as extradition bill is delayedcops use rubber bullets, bean bag rounds, tear gas, pepper spray & batons to stop protesters storming city’s parliament“Treated like prey” – account of person shot at and badly injured by cops

Video showing cops forced, at one time, to retreat

More here“Riot police turned downtown Hong Kong into a tear-gas covered battlefield as they pushed back against protesters who tried to storm Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. The protesters, angry at an extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial, hurled bricks, bottles and umbrellas as they clashed with the police, as the demonstrations intensified on Wednesday afternoon.”  More here “Protesters were seen wearing helmets, goggles and heavy-duty workman’s gloves, and pulling bricks from the sidewalks…dear my hong kong, you’re particularly beautiful today….a young person on the frontline: “We can’t lose again, because if we do, we lose everything!” And then he charged forwards….When protesters stormed the barricades outside the LegCo building, police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, leading to at least 72 hospitalizations….Tear gas grenades extinguished almost immediately with water….Angry auntie shout at the police…Cops tried to pacify her with some snacks but she refused to take it…she’s asking if the police want to send her back to china, and when he tried to offer her a snack cos she’s “tired” she said “i don’t take things from running dogs”

Bus driver risking his job (and maybe worse) to barricade road

For greater details about what’s happening see:

“Why Hong Kong is protesting” “At the Hong Kong literary festival in November, a friend accompanied me at all times, for fear I’d be secretly kidnapped and smuggled to China. If the extradition law passes, any critic of Xi’s regime could be legally, openly abducted….It’s not only “Hong Kong people” whose fate is at stake here. Anyone passing through Hong Kong airport could be detained and sent to China (compare the Huawei Vancouver extradition case). Even people who have been extradited by a third jurisdiction to Hong Kong could be subject to re-extradition to China…Some alleged offenders are never brought to trial in China. Think former Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, detained without any legal process for the last 16 years of his life!!…The feeling in is that the police have “gone crazy”, are “out of control”….In Hong Kong’s hybrid political system — a result of British colonial tradition as much as Communist control — only half the seats in the legislature are filled by popular elections. Most of the other half of the seats are filled by industry and business groups, and China’s booming economy means Beijing enjoys greater leverage over the Hong Kong economy now than it did even a decade ago, especially in finance.

Young, leaderless demonstrators learn lessons from the past “…unlike five years ago, the protesters – a majority of whom seem to be in their early 20s – were noticeably more leery of cameras, either of police officers or journalists. They repeatedly reminded each other to put on face masks “to protect themselves”, reluctant to have their pictures taken, even less their identity revealed while being interviewed. Over the past week in the lead-up to the protests, tens of thousands of Hongkongers exchanged tactics on how to block lawmakersfrom scrutinising the embattled extradition bill on Wednesday through several encrypted channels on Telegram….a 31-year-old freelancer…said the lack of a clear leader or organiser this time actually allowed people from a broader swathe of society to make common cause again….”Unlike the Occupy days when there was a lot of finger-pointing, we have now come to respect each other more.”” More here “…people were reluctant to reveal their identity to reporters, refusing to be photographed and mostly declining to give their names and ages. When a Guardian reporter was interviewing a teenager in an underground station on Wednesday, his friends swiftly pulled him away…. knowing that the government often ignored peaceful expressions, the youngsters increasingly believed they had no choice but to resort to radical actions.”

Surveillance Fears Shadow Hong Kong Protests Hong Kong’s protesters had mobilized on Wednesday as if they’d been trained for years. Anyone who needed a helmet, mask, or umbrella would yell to the sky. Those around them would stop, passing the message instantly through the crowds with unified chants and matching hand motions: patting their heads for a helmet, cupping their eyes for goggles, rolling their arms for cling wrap, which they were using to protect exposed skin from tear gas and pepper spray….Many of the protesters are college-aged and digitally savvy. They took pains to keep from being photographed or digitally tracked. To go to and from the protests, many stood in lines to buy single-ride subway tickets instead of using their digital payment cards, which can be tracked. Some confronting the police covered their faces with hats and masks, giving them anonymity as well as some protection from tear gas….On Wednesday, several protesters shouted at bystanders taking photos and selfies, asking those who were not wearing press passes to take pictures only of people wearing masks. Later, a scuffle broke out between protesters and bystanders who were taking photos on a bridge over the main protest area….At some point people called for drones being on the air. Everybody opened their umbrellas. I’m amazed by the level of organisation… Having been in hundreds of protests myself, this is the first time I felt protestors know what they’re doing….“Those who did 2014 know that peaceful methods are not working”

10/6/19:

China, Hong Kong: clashes with cops as 100s of thousands demonstrate against extradition law  See also entries for 9/6/19 & 7/6/19 here

9/6/19:

Massive demo against extradition law “…suspicions that the initiative for the law had come from Beijing were bolstered last month when Politburo member Han Zheng voiced his support for it and revealed that its targets included foreigners who had committed crimes against Chinese national security outside China and who had passed through Hong Kong.”

7/6/19:

New repressive developments in Hong Kong “…the city’s legislators are pushing ahead with the controversial extradition law that will give mainland China the right to request the transfer of alleged criminals….”

30/3/19:

Hong Kong: sad sacrificial notion of Occupy Hong Kong as city awaits result of trial of activists

23/1/19:

Hong Kong: insulting China’s national anthem to be made a crime with maximum  3 years’  imprisonment

6/1/19:

Report on one of the founders of Hong Kong’s 79-day Occupy movement before he went on trial  X writes: “This allows us a somewhat lengthy look into the mind of a Chinese democrat, and a reminder that the Chinese intelligentsia still has a tendency to succumb to Confucian behavioral norms.”

3/11/18:

Anti-China art exhibition in Hong Kong closed following threats from Beijing  This is certainly not to defend the ideology and practice  of “art”, but to illustrate how the bureaucracy’s hierarchical censorship is extending itself to the supposedly more ‘open’ Hong Kong area.

31/10/18:

Closure of last Hong Kong bookshop selling books banned on mainland

25/9/18:

Hong Kong Bans Pro-independence Party  More here…and here . X writes: Right after the fuckers opened the high-speed rail line from the mainland so they can run heaps of pigs into the city at a moments notice – the same way they sent (some of the) soldiers into Beijing in 1989. More on the high speed railway line opening ceremony

9/9/15:

China, Hong Kong: new “Occupy” as minibus drivers block traffic protesting driving ticket fines

hong kong minbus drivers

1/12/14:

China, Hong Kong: clashes with cops escalate

25/11/14:
18/10/14:
China, Hong Kong: heavy cop tactics used against protestors“…the latest clashes came after activists had issued calls on social media for protesters to expand barricades and take over another intersection in Mong Kok. “This is a worrying trend for authorities, where protesters are almost using a flashmob tactic,” he said. “It is very difficult for them to control.” Pictures from the scene of the scuffles showed some protesters wearing helmets, masks and foam pads.”
15/10/14:

China, Hong Kong: protesters barricade harbour-front road, cops strive to make the world safe for commodity-trafficking

10/10/14:
6/10/14:
China, Hong Kong: as the movement prepares (possbily) for a massive repression, various scum show up valid contradictions in the movement“Charles Powell, who served as private secretary to then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when Britain agreed to return Hong Kong to China, said … “The position about elections has been clear since the law was published in 1991 and I don’t believe for one moment that Chinese are going to change that basic position …Hong Kong has always been part of China…We rented for a while and we didn’t introduce democracy,” …Singapore’s Foreign Minister Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam said …They have intentionally ignored a fact that Hong Kong had never implemented a democratic system under the British rule for some 150 years, he said, adding that Beijing’s plan has granted Hong Kong much more democratic space than what Hong Kongers got in the times of British-ruled Hong Kong….Jeff Bader, who ran Obama’s first term White House East Asia policy, told the Washington Post that for Beijing, there is no room for compromise on issues such as Chinese stability and the leadership of the Communist Party of China. He also mentioned that millions of Hong Kongers will not support or tolerate the protest that grinds the city to halt for days.The negative impact of Occupy Central includes a bit of a brain drain, Bader predicted.” All of which is another way of saying that unless movements to change things make links with other proletarians and develop an expliciltly global anti-capitalist class war perspective, they will be defeated anyway and will have hardly learn much from such a defeat. Undoubtedly movements that do  make links with other proletarians and develop an expliciltly global anti-capitalist class war perspective will also be crushed, but they will find out a lot more, and develop a great deal more possibilities of global solidarity, both of which could help future movements. Sadly, over the next 5 or 10 years people are going to have to learn from the strengths and weakenesses of previous social movements  to change the world spanning 200 years, and to develop the networks of solidarity increasingly repressed by the post WWll development of the spectacle, merely to arrive at banality. Playing the good citizen, as in the censorship of basic proletarian slogans shown below, will hardly endear these protesters to their potential allies.
fuck-the-police-or-not hkprotesters erasing graffiti, because they think sex with cops is perverse
3/10/14:

China, Hong Kong: as the movement seems, though maybe only temporarily, to be moving backwards into a reliance on negotiations between leaders and would-be leadersthis long interesting text from people who seem to  know their stuff appears(though, I admit, I’ve read less than half of it so far)whilst the state-manipulated attacks on demonstrators has lead to the end of the talks with the government, on the level of ideas and critiques, people seem to be more disarmed than 200 years ago, ideologies of “democracy” colonising their brains

29/9/14:

China, Hong Kong: more secondary schools go out on strike as vale of tear gas envelops citystudents accuse “occupy central” of hijacking their movementHK be realisticSo nice to see such a neatly and correctly handwritten version of this old slogan from 46 years ago – sadly, only 1 of these women looks enthusiastic about it. No surprise –  so far  this is no May ’68. The old slogan is pertinent – but not yet pertinent to the current ideologies in Hong Kong.  The slogan used there (and, I must emphathise again – so neatly and correctly written!) is clearly  contradicted by a boringly possible demand submissive to our masters’ notion of what’s realistic – a demand for something capitalism could grant. A more “democratic” form of bourgeois election than that proposed by the current alliance of the Hong Kong elite with the mainland CP bureaucracy might feasibly be granted if it suited the various interests as well as helped suppress any independent elements developing within the movement there. Sure, this might  admittedly also involve  a potentially explosive  resolution of the conflicts of interest going on within and between the different capitalist camps: some are even talking of potentially changing the situation to what happened in Ukraine, even though the histories and ideologies are relatively very different…Clearly the conflict between pro-US and pro-Communist Party bureaucratic interests involves them assessing the danger of things getting out of control. Insofar as what goes on there is of concern to those wanting some global independent opposition, it’s obviously worth attempting to look behind the spectacular facade of opposing interests and try to work out what’s going on. For instance, check out this contemptuous pro-bureaucracy report here, which nevertheless mentions some pertinent contradictions.

See also here“Occupy Central and the pan-Democrats have intervened in a bid to ensure that the protests remain limited to the narrow demand for open chief executive elections. They represent layers of the corporate elite and upper middle classes who fear that Hong Kong’s position as a major Asian financial center and their own interests will be undermined by Beijing’s control over the former British colony….As part of its “pivot to Asia”, the Obama administration signaled that it intended to step up the pressure on “human rights” in Hong Kong with the appointment last year of veteran diplomatic Clifford Hart as the new US consul. In his first public statements,…There are undoubtedly close links between the US and sections of the Occupy Movement and the pan-Democrats…. leaked emails between prominent media tycoon Jimmy Lai and his top aide Mark Simon revealed that he had supplied funds to the Occupy Movement and several pan-Democrats. Simon, a former US naval analyst, had been the head of the Hong Kong branch of Republicans Abroad and organized meetings with leading US figures. In May, Lai reportedly met with prominent neo-con and former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz. At the same time, the Occupy Movement and pan-Democrats are concerned that the protests not become the focus for the broader social demands of the working class. The social gulf between rich and poor in Hong Kong is particularly marked. A small wealthy elite of billionaires and multi-millionaires lives in luxury while a fifth of Hong Kong’s population is below the poverty line. Income tax and corporate tax rates are among the lowest in the world. Welfare measures are virtually non-existent…. a tearful Occupy Movement founder Benny Tai had expressed concerns that “the situation was getting out of control.” It is a concern that all sections of Hong Kong’s ruling elite share — both pro-Beijing and “pro-democratic.””

And thisabout the Big Four audit accountancy firms is interesting: “The audit firms, who between them had global revenues last year of £66.3bn and employ more than 700,000 people worldwide, joined the fray by placing adverts in three Chinese-language newspapers criticising Occupy Central, which has suggested it will stage a sit-in to block traffic in Hong Kong’s business district as part of its campaign. The advert said: “We hereby announce that we are opposed to this movement, and are concerned that ‘Occupy Central’ would have negative and long-lasting impact on the rule of law, the society and the economy of Hong Kong. We hope that the disagreements could be resolved through negotiation and dialogue instead.””

Whilst thisexpression of business interest implies a fear that the state could provoke excessive opposition by being too heavy-handed: “WHAT is worse for big business in Hong Kong: street protests, or the tear gas fired to disperse the protesters? That is the uncomfortable question now confronting Hong Kong’s button-down business community, which has co-existed relatively peacefully with the city’s Communist Party overlords since the handover to Chinese rule in 1997…. For now, the protests are an inconvenience, but they are surely not enough to force a major Western company – or even a Chinese state-owned company – to seek a new headquarters, especially in an age when most employees can probably operate from home indefinitely. Hong Kong’s political and financial advantages are too great to be overshadowed by barricaded subway stops and college students blocking downtown arteries. But the same cannot be said of a city that responds to peaceful student protests with tear gas….Hong Kong’s handling of the protests…suggests a government that lacks the competence to do what other world cities do regularly: peacefully manage a student protest.If Hong Kong’s business community hopes to preserve what is unique about their city….they need to be just as vocal about the negative consequences of assaulting unarmed students as they have been about threats to shut down the central business district. It’s time for them to reaffirm how a world-class business city should behave under duress.”

But of course, the main thing is to write our slogans neatly and correctly!!! “Be realistic – demand impeccable handwriting!”

28/9/14:

China, Hong Kong: “If today I don’t stand out, I will hate myself in future…Even if I get a criminal record, it will be a glorious one.”

HK police van

27/9/14:

China, Hong Kong: “Occupy Central” reschedulesThe implicit aim of this movement, regardless of it’s ideology of “demockracy”, is dictatorship of the bourgeoisie (local and multinational) as against dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party bureaucracy. Whether the momentum goes beyond these false (externally defined) choices is, for the moment, largely futile speculation. But there are signs that things are – at least a bit –  getting out of control of the professional activists of “Occupy Central” (e.g. the latest intensification of conflict, with the breaking into the main government compound, and the boycott of secondary school classes, has forced “Occupy Central” to re-schedule their long-planned occupation). Nevertheless, if there’s to be no sell-out or re-organisation of current misery or worse, independent forms of action have to also develop independent content, independent ideas that contest the ideologies that make such movements “respectable”. See also This Riot Is Not In Ferguson, It Is In Hong Kong“The police have used disproportionate force to stop the legitimate actions of the students and that should be condemned,” said Benny Tai, one of the three main organizers of the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement.” – implying that proportionate force would be fine,  being the force this guy would probably claim he’d use if developments were to see him in charge of the filth.

26/9/14:

China, Hong Kong: interesting development, boring demand, as 12 year old pupils boycott classes(more here and here

2/7/14:

China, Hong Kong: 500 arrested after sit-in

1/7/14:

China, Hong Kong: clashes with cops on demo demanding “real democracy” (whatever that means)

18/4/13:

China, Hong Kong: port strike widens as strikers pitch tents outside company’s 70-storey building (more here)

31/3/13:

China, Hong Kong: contractor’s office stormed during dock strike, as strikers do a sleep-in at the docks

 28/3/13:

China, Hong Kong: clash with guards as dockers start sit-in strike demanding 20% wage increase

11/4/11:

Clashes with cops over transport fare increases

Footnotes

i For details see this : https://qz.com/1636663/the-37-crimes-included-in-hong-kongs-proposed-extradition-law/ .  It’s worth pointing out that illegal extradition – termed “Extraordinary Rendition” has long been used by “the free world”. And China already operates similar things in Taiwan.  And not just there: Kidnappings beyond its jurisdiction have brought the PRC no major negative consequences, opening the door to more cases like that of Gui Minhai (桂民海), the Swedish editor abducted in 2015 in Thailand.” (here) The snatching of citizens of other putatively “sovereign” countries is something that the PRC has made a habit of for some time – it has arrogated to itself complete command over every individual of Chinese “nationality” that resides in China or anywhere else. The contentious law of extradition now being used to undermine the remaining bourgeois rights of HK civil society is merely the imprimatur of official “legality” by the local colonial office to sanitize an already routine arbitrary seizure of troublesome people at the will of the CCP.  Even Australian kids – though not through extradition – are trapped within China with no complaint from the Australian state. And many Chinese Uighurs who have permanent residency in Australia are fearful of ‘rendition’ also. And  here’s a report on a vile little shit who hoped to cash in on extraditing a Chinese dissident from US (impalement is too good for him: he’s beyond the pale).

ii It’s worth pointing out a development in drone technology that so far has not been used (as far as I know) : http://www.siliconrepublic.com/digital-life/item/37317-airborne-riot-control-pepp? “The drone features four high-powered gas propelled chambers, each of which is capable of firing 20 pellets per second. It is also capable of firing other similar-sized pellets, including paintballs and solid plastic balls with an ammunition capacity of 4,000 pellets. While the company has not disclosed the recipients of these mobile projectile dispensers, Desert Wolf’s managing director Hennie Kieser told the BBC that many of them are based in South Africa. “Some (are) mines in South Africa, some security companies in South Africa and outside South Africa, some police units outside South Africa, and a number of other industrial customers.” …but even drones are not immune from  a crowd’s desire to enjoy themselves (more here) “After a light tap from an unidentified object on its left side, a black Kings T-shirt knocked the drone on the right and sent it careening down within arm’s reach of the fans. Video footage shows the drone getting pulled into the mass, where it was smashed to bits by a skateboard”. However, attacking drones or sheltering from them by using umbrellas necessitates that one recognises a drone when you see one.  China can now get round this by using drones that look like doves for surveillance (and in France, the state is training eagles to bring down hostile drones ).

iii More than just ‘sad’ are the ideological expressions of how wonderful this margin of freedom is. Whilst no-one wants their lives to get worse, which given this catastrophic epoch is almost inevitable outside of a growing social movement to fundamentally change the world, articles by this French admirer of the neoliberal Macron (see, for instance this) praising the Hong Kong movement whilst parading the ‘universalism’ of republican values, just contribute to illusions in ‘democracy’, the very ideological manipulations  that were used by the French ruling class to justify going to war with Germany in 1914, leading to the massacre of over 1,500,000 soldiers on the French side. She talks of “the right to speak freely”, which conveniently ignores the very obvious fact that if you exercise your “right” to free speech to a teacher, to a boss, to a cop, etc.  you find your speech is not so free at all. Besides, speech is colonised by the monologuers of the media, and inculcation by the official educators and of all the dominant forces of pseudo-communication. Originally, in the 18th century in France and beyond, the demand  for “free speech” had something radical about it, insofar as it opposed the monopoly of ideological expression spouted by the monarchy, the aristocracy  and priesthood. But the ruling class are the only section of society who have the power to put their free speech into effect, whose ideas have the most obviously concrete consequences; for the rest of us, it’s a constant battle to express ourselves freely, and we do it at risk of being imprisoned or crushed in other ways. An example of this in France at the present are the arrests for the crime of ‘outrage’ of some people I know a bit, who have been accused of chanting “A cop who commits suicide is half-forgiven” – the prosecution is calling for the maximum sentence of 2 years in prison (meanwhile, the killing in Marseille of an 80-year-old woman closing the shutters of her flat by cops firing teargas grenades on a ‘yellow vest’ demo last December has led to no prosecutions whatsoever).

Democracy or Totalitarianism?

Democracianism or Totalitairiacy?

To quote T: “Democracy, like all other tools for the false unification of antagonistic forces, is based on abstract concepts: “rights”, “justice”, “equality before the law” “rule of the majority” etc. Their abstract nature conceals (and meant to conceal) their concrete use. “Rights” are an historical product of a violent war between owners and non-owners which produced and reproduces capitalism and its classes, its money and wage-slavery, their inherent misery and contradictions. Rights were created at a certain point when the bourgeoisie and its copy-writers were forced to come up with a way to reform its exploitation and abuse, to refine their methods of enslavement. As subordinates of a hierarchical power, we are “granted” rights after-the-fact, after that same power had already taken by force our freedom to create and decide about our so-called lives. One of the biggest lies is the “right” to be a slave and to exchange the life that is stolen from you every day for crumbs of survival and alienation. You now have judicial rights that (only technically) guarantee some level of this survival, abstract equality and a “just” legal procedure only because the owners of society were forced to grant those rights when the fierce resistance of the slaves (traditional slaves and wage-laborers) became a real threat to the entire system of production and its hierarchy. The revolts and insurrections that forced the owners to abolish the traditional forms of slavery have not yet brought about the total abolition of slavery, only its modernization and its accompanied rebranding, an official equality for everyone in the powerlessness over their own lives.

Everyone in a democracy is “equal” before the laws of governance and the justice systems that are perhaps dictated and ministered by democratically elected bureaucrats, but are inherently designed in such a way so that not only they cannot change the established order of alienated life, private property, owners and non-owners, of those who decide and those who take orders – they also reproduce and anchor in our minds a mystical belief in the absolute rightness of those systems and the order they protect. But everybody knows, even those who are still under the mystique of this alleged “lesser of evils of all forms of government”, that even the rights and the “welfare” that are given to us under the law are corrupted daily and in secrecy, without possibility of redress. Judicial law will always be subordinate to the more fundamental laws of this society.”

iv  Due to technical problems, this footnote is divided into 2 parts, firstly about Google, then about Germany.

On 18/12/18 Google stepped back from its Big Brother collaboration with the Chinese bureaucracy. This was essentially because  principled individuals within the company exposed the machinations of the Google techno-authoritarians, but it seems like it was only a temporary retreat. Developments of this kind are expressions of core capitalist values and should be expected by all those who have an inkling of how the system works. The other half of the subject matter covered in this article illustrates the degree to which capital has become entangled with the business of legitimizing authoritarianism – openly, on a contractual basis. In Ocotber 2018, Google’s CEO defended helping the Chinese bureaucracy’s censorship plans,  a reversal of a decision from about eight years ago, when Google pulled its search engine, which was also censored, from the Chinese market. The CEO said the time had come to reevaluate that choice. “It’s a wonderful, innovative market.”, he enthused so as to justify the logic of capital accumulation by working for the genocidal Chinese police state. Also notable was the opposition  within the company. In September 2018 Google’s upper management forced employees to delete a confidential memo detailing the censored search engine the company was planning to launch in China, indicating a certain similarity between the surveillance the Chinese state imposes on its citizens and that which Google imposes on its workers. In August 2018 , there’d been some resistance to Google’s collaboration with the  totalitarian state in the form of a petition against  this project, but it’s indicative of the climate of fear in the company that one of the employees who helped organise it wished to stay anonymous (see also this).

iv2: Germany: And in May this year the German state allowed for detention without trial for up to 35 days for those who the state thinks might commit a crime. This law is called the “Polizeiaufgabengesetze” (police tasks laws), which were first introduced in several German “Länder” (regions) last year. These laws give the police the right to arrest suspects in certain cases to prevent them from committing a crime,  to imprison them, BEFORE they have done anything against the law. There is no trial but the person would just be released after the event the “suspected threat”  refers  to is over – e.g. a football match or a political summit.
There was a lot of public outrage against these laws last year and large mobilizations by a broad spectrum from liberals to Leninists to more radical factions. In the end, the politicians made some minor changes (specifically, reducing the detention period from 74 to 35 days) which preserved the essence of the laws and passed them. True to current Kafkaesquisms, those arrested are not informed of any offense they are suspected of  being about to commit.  [altered on 26/6/19 from original 23/6/19 version]

v Democracies’ interaction with more fascistic forms is not confined to censorship of course. For instance, read  this report about a Hong Kong-based American security company, whose head was  responsible, under the aegis of the US state, for killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians, helping the Chinese ruling class to set up a training centre in Xinjiang.

Education Macht Frei – Vocational Education Centre, Dabancheng, Xinjiang

And there was a recent report showing British cops training Sri Lankan war criminals in riot practice.

vi As an example of how totalitarianism is beginning to develop also in a country widely believed to be resisting neoliberal forms of this totalitarianism, it’s worth noting this : a social network site in France set up a collection at the beginning of January this year for an ex-boxer, Christophe Dettinger, who punched a cop during a ‘yellow vest’ demo and later got a 30 month jail sentence. The state not only blocked the bank account of this collection (they’d accumulated over 100,000 euros in just 2 or 3 days) but also officially summoned 56 of the people who’d donated money to this site – apparently anonymously – to explain themselves at their local police station.

vii A few people only see in Facebook the epitome of a narcissistic culture whereby people voluntarily expose their intimate moments and personal life to strangers in order to get attention. They only see it as the playground for a pseudo-communication organized in the form of “likes” and a self-promotion on their own page, on their own media. Which, even if partially true, is a very narrow, reductionist, take on it. Elements that are putatively “personal” are part of an integrated order of generalized social control, as well as artifacts of the contemporary conditions of class struggle. Naive and vulnerable youth, growing up in a culture where Facebook is as banal a part of social life as TV used to be, write whatever comes into their heads and then find their innocent writings being used against them or to pressurise them at some later date.For instance, in August 2011 a young guy (in Wolverhampton, if my memory serves me well) wrote “Let’s have a riot in the town centre!” (or something like that) on his Facebook page. Despite taking it off Facebook after 20 minutes, he was arrested, tried and sent to jail for at least a year – for inciting a riot that never took place!

In addition, the idea that the kind of self-promotion one sees routinely in social media (esp. ones utilized for seeking work like Linked-In) are simply individual psychological aberrations caused by a purely voluntary engagement with Capital, fails to take into account the extent to which people are forced to market themselves in order to secure employment (and are thus another symptom of precarity) as a consequence of, amongst other things, the destruction and marginalization of the more traditional expressions of class struggle.

Also, an increasing minority of people use it for political discussion. And in France at least, it’s often been used – and this since 2010 – to gather people together for political reasons (in 2010 high school students used Facebook to organise strikes to support the anti-pension reform movement; in 2018 the yellow vest movement was initially started by Facebook discussions). And not just in France – Facebook contributed to the Arab Spring in Egypt (though, admittedly, this was much exaggerated by the Egyptian middle class, since the majority of participants didn’t have internet access).

Even amongst non-political teenagers, it’s been used for genuinely social self-organised events: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/articles/daily-life/france-facebook-festivals-may-2010/ .

Whilst the critique of narcissism is partly pertinent – it’s certainly worth critiquing the shallowness of individuals’ lives and communication partly resulting from what they ‘choose’ (within their ever-narrowing margins of choice) – it’s important to also look at what is not chosen and what is not narrowing, what is objective and partly and increasingly determinant the widespread use of this information by businesses and the state, who gather this data for obvious manipulative purposes as well as to check for deviant tendencies (see, for instance, this recent new requirement for a US visa: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-48486672 ).

98 Responses to Hong Kong – its relevance to the rest of us…
  1. Neil F says:

    Notices about other articles given only in hyperlinks from highlighted words or phrases – so typical on the internet – are annoying when I want to print the main article out so as to read it properly and also so as to have a record of the linked articles with their titles. Traditional footnotes, hyperlinked where possible, can stimulate a more active reflection, a proper reading rather than a hectic web browse. They aren’t necessarily a “Recommended for You” list. Hyperlinked highlighted phrases can themselves be a “form (that) guarantees that the content remains confined to the limits of the form”, or maybe they don’t “guarantee” it but I feel that they push towards “in one ear, out the other”.

    • I do this for 2 technical reasons.
      If they’re not put in bold (“highlighted words or phrases”) they’re not very clearly hyperlinks – the difference in colour on my WordPress site is slight, so you’d have to be following the text with your mouse to see it become underlined in red or highlighted in red (whether they’re highlighted in red or underlined in red seems arbitrary; I’ve never worked out why it’s one or the other).
      Another reason is that I’ve not mastered footnotes. If I wrote the whole text in a Word format before then copying it and putting it online I could do that. But much of what I’ve written is also written online because I keep on adding to the original text and online it’s very very fiddly to put in footnotes – there doesn’t seem to be an automatic way to do them on my version of WordPress, so you have to go into hypertext and put them in – which , if you know hypertext, is a pain, sometimes like looking for a needle in a haystack because the text is all so compact and small.
      I would have thought you could copy the whole thing into a printable form and then press Ctrl and A and then click on the bold and then click it off again at least for readability. Of course that would get rid of the bits that maybe you’d want in bold – but those are for the most part headings.It would also get rid of the hyperlink references but then those references are only useful if you’re online anyway: I never bother to type in a whole hyperlink that I’ve seen in print. And they’re only “in one ear and out the other” if you’re not interested in further researching what’s been written by reading the link, which of course you can’t do on your printed version.
      I can’t see how in any slightest way that this makes the content confined to the limits of the form.
      I hope this answers your points.

  2. Neil F says:

    I was just trying to give you some constructive feedback on the format of the article – okay, while also making a vicious dig at much of the internet because that’s what I felt like and I thought you might appreciate it too 🙂 The content of your piece is much more interesting and important than its format. I will respond at greater length later about what you actually say. I’ve emailed you.

    But while we’re here… you write

    “And (the references) are only ‘in one ear and out the other’ if you’re not interested in further researching what’s been written by reading the link, which of course you can’t do on your printed version.”

    Don’t worry – I’m not asking to be spoonfed. I disagree with what you say here. It’s not a simple distinction between “interested in further researching” and “not interested in further researching”. (Also if someone’s interested enough, they’ll get hold of an article they’ve seen referenced without a link or in a link that’s in a printout and therefore can’t be clicked. Not that that says it all. It doesn’t. In these times where most people spend hours staring at screens, the relationship between encouraging people to think for themselves, which requires attentiveness, and making it easy for them to read stuff, which often doesn’t require very much at all, is highly problematic.) Just as a large proportion of advertising offers idiotic services and products with a promise of “convenience”, many blogs and blog-type websites give “convenient” links from phrases. No distinction is apparent between links that go to really important critical articles that are perhaps as useful to the reader as the one he’s reading, or more useful, and links to articles that are intended as a good place for finding out more about a peripheral topic and why the received opinion about it is wrong, and why the author is factually right about what he says even though the reader is probably surprised. Etc. In the old days that was often made clear not just by a little bit of explanatory text in a footnote, but also by the way the main text was written. So for example if the text says “For some good points about Facebook made by Richard Stallman, who comes from a position different from mine and has no criticism of the market, but you can find out for yourself, click here”, that’s kind of more useful even to a highly unpassive reader than hyperlinking “Facebook” to an article by Stallman. I don’t know whether you will respond by saying that’s a way to diminish a reader’s motivation to think for themselves, but clickety-clickety-click around the houses is a plague of our times, often appears as a lucky dip, and the cynical bastards who teach “User Experience” are knowlegeable about Skinner’s “variable reward schemes”.

    That the links are in bold or otherwise marked is not what I find annoying; it’s more that some important references ONLY appear as links from phrases, so when I go back to your article I can’t see right away “Ah, here’s where he refers to that interesting piece by X”.

    Lastly, that you don’t have control over choosing betweeb underlining and highlighting may be a problem with the Pilot Fish theme and could probably be sorted out in CSS, if necessary with a child theme. I usually get good answers about that kind of thing at either the WordPress.org support forum or on Stack Exchange.

    I’m looking forward to some good exchange of thoughts about capitalism’s technological dynamic and the internet and science…
    N

  3. http://chuangcn.org/2019/06/winter-is-coming/
    ” It is precisely the mad surveillance with video cameras in public places, in buses, even in classrooms, facial recognition at the subway entrance, voice identification, obligatory real-time monitoring of electric cars, etc., that is making the trade in personal data flourish. You can buy the geographical location or the personal data of a mobile phone number on the Internet for less than one euro. Every year the personal data of several hundred million Chinese people are published on the Internet, often they come from public institutions and official databases. These data breaches fuel many cases of fraud, which only make the headlines when a victim dies. “

  4. Latest relevant information: Chinese border guards put secret surveillance app on tourists’ phones – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/02/chinese-border-guards-surveillance-app-tourists-phones

  5. V says:

    Interesting piece, thanks.

    It has to be made clear that the development of totalitarian technology is also already pervasive in areas of life considered to be ‘free’. As a compensation for being robbed of the freedom to change your world and your life, you are granted the freedom to change compensations.

    All the problem is here, I think. A compensation can be perceived as such only if you wished something else first. Most people don’t see the market as a threat, because they are still free to accept or refuse everything it will propose to them. And they know it is industry, which considers them only as a mass, not really caring about their very intimacy, what would actually make each of them unique. Therefore this “Nothing to hide, no need to hide” wide-spreaded mentality, where each one feels secure as a little insignificant pilchard, just waving its own way in the big moving shoal, which is the only target of the prospective big data thing. See this apathy as a compensation effect would suppose at least to be able to strike people’s imagination with something else. But it seems the best one can do is to show how much the capitalism development is a no-go, and to which extent the world will go worse. This eventually just leads to more “Right, all is lost, let’s wait and see if science will however succeed in selling to us its promised new green-augmented world” apathy. I don’t know how to spark a desire of something else, nowadays “Revolution”, when it means a way to wreck once for all the capitalist machine, seems to sound as exciting as “Socialism”, looking as seducing as a concrete. As long as one can’t take the words out of the theorical/intellectual sphere — nevermind how accurate they are —, it will be like promoting to replace boringness you can easily dig under the infinite bunch of stimulations the capitalist devices provide, with… boringness — maybe plain, authentic, but still. The merchandise rule is set on a tangible lie (always refreshed), that’s why it’s so powerful. As much as its statistical scale allows it to be very gross while its negation has per se to be very careful (as J.-L. Godard once said. “Mr. Spielberg’s movies talk to 5% of the person everybody has, my films talk to 95% of the person”).

    BTW, the two non-enthusiastic “Soyez réalistes…” women seem in fact to look at their phones. The one at the right has probably just noticed the photograph, maybe warned by the smiling one.

  6. Re. “let’s wait and see if science will however succeed in selling to us its promised new green-augmented world”, I’ve just seen this article about “a completely new kind of food, a new kind of protein, different to all the food on the market today in how it is produced as it does not need agriculture or aquaculture…described as the world’s most environmentally friendly protein” – a kind of space-food made of microbes, water, air and electricity. So when climate catastrophe partly caused by vastly excessive use of various forms of electricity-run machines (including cars) causes the collapse of agriculture in large areas of the world people will be “saving the planet” by eating food produced by….electricity! [Added 12/10/19] – and now meat can be grown in outer space, so we’re all saved! (or at least those who can afford the oh-so-cheap tickets to travel on a spacecraft ) – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/07/wheres-the-beef-248-miles-up-as-first-meat-is-grown-in-a-space-lab
    As for your other point, which if I’ve understood correctly, is about people’s passivity in relation to words such as “Revolution” being seen within a marketing perspective – like you’re selling an idea in the same way others might sell washing powder: the point, however, is to combine words and intellect with practice and words that imply a practical demand on those reading or listening. In other words, you can’t shake people out of their apathy – you have to firstly shake yourself out of apathy, and then get angry with others who remain asleep. What they do with this anger is entirely up to them – they may just think you’re ridiculous to get angry (which is the case most of the time) or they may decide to get angry themselves.

  7. According to a correspondent, “… the writings of Herbert Spencer were very influential among the Chinese elite? Also in the 1950s and 1960s whereas Khrushchev’s USSR had the US as its reference country, China had Britain. ” Which is ironic, considering the draping of the old British colonial flag in Legco by the rioting youth of Hong Kong.

  8. HONG KONG EFFECT?

    Two recent events on the mainland which could well be indicative of how, despite the Chinese Communist bureaucracy’s censorship of what’s been going on, news is leaking out that’s encouraging revolt (it’s also indicative of how essential it is for the protesters in HK to drop their sad HK patriotism and see how vital it is to connect to struggles on the mainland):

    4/7/19:

    China, Shanghai: brave young woman sprays ink on poster of Xi Jinping The woman, surnamed Dong, stood in front of a Shanghai building on the morning of July 4, local time, to protest against Xi’s “autocratic rule and tyranny.” She then splashed ink on the president’s “Chinese Dream” poster which was installed on the opposite side of the HNA Building in Lujiazui. “I oppose Xi Jinping’s autocratic rule and tyranny!” Shanghaiist quoted Dong, who livestreamed the act”. This reminds me of the attack on Mao’s portrait in Tiananmen Square, 30 years ago, an action that was betrayed by the official student movement, who handed those who did it over to the state, one of whom spent 20 years inside.

    3/7/19:

    China, Wuhan: about 10,000 protest waste incinerator “Authorities in the central Chinese city of Wuhan have detained around 20 people in a crackdown this week on a mass street protest at plans to build a new waste incineration plant…Amid chants of “Give us back our clean environment!”, an estimated 10,000 residents from apartments near the Yangluo industrial development area in Wuhan’s Xinzhou district turned out against the plan on Tuesday and Wednesday…The local government dispatched around 1,000 riot police to disperse the crowd, with large numbers of injuries reported…Many of the arrests were of social media users for posting or forwarding information about the protests via the closely controlled platform WeChat. A Xinzhou resident surnamed Xu said the protest was a spontaneous action by local people, who are angry that local officials are ignoring their health concerns. “The site was originally a landfill,” Xu said. “The air quality is already very poor in Yangluo and the groundwater has been polluted for more than a decade.” “Now they say they have to build a waste incineration power plant, which is a threat to our lives,” he said. The waste incinerator plan comes after the Chenjiachong landfill site in Xinzhou exceeded its capacity just five years after its opening in 2007. Local residents… first learned of the renewed incinerator plan in mid-June, and immediately organized a petition against it. The government responded by having around 20 of the petitioners detained. This week, the authorities blocked the mobile phone signal, as well as sending in police to beat up and detain protesters. According to Xu, the government feared the Wuhan protesters would communicate with anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong. A local resident surnamed Zhang said the Xinzhou district government had responded to the protests by saying that it would consult more widely with local people, and that the project won’t go ahead without the consent of the local community. But Zhang said many local residents simply don’t believe this. “They tried to start a project like this here before, and the people kicked up a huge fuss, and it was shelved,” Zhang said. “But less than six months later, the old district governor was transferred away, and the new one reapplied for the project as soon as he took up his post.” A resident who declined to be named said it was unacceptable to build a waste incinerator in a densely populated residential area. “There are many ways in which this will have an impact on people’s lives: the air pollution, the harm to health, all of that,” the resident said. “But what government really speaks up for the people? None of them do. If they did, then no garbage incinerators would be built in residential areas,” he said. Last month, tens of thousands of residents of Yunfu city in the southern province of Guangdong also took to the streets to protest against plans for a waste incinerator in Mintang village. Three days later, the government announced the project would be canceled at the selected site. And on June 26, authorities in Xiantao city in the central province of Hubei announced they would initially shelve, and then cancel altogether, a similar project following mass protests by local residents. Decades of breakneck economic growth have left China with a seriously degraded environment, with regular environmental protests emerging among the country’s middle class. Previous attempts to build similar plants elsewhere across China have drawn widespread criticism over local government access to the huge potential profits linked to waste disposal projects.” [SF note: emphases in bold are mine]

  9. More on the use of modern technology to manipulate people’s consumption habits, hyped up as also conducive to making a cleaner safer environment in lots of different ways:
    China’s Big Brother buildings are watching how people shop and live

    “Dalian Wanda Group upgraded its property management platforms at two Wanda Plazas by installing cameras that use behaviour-recognition technology to track shoppers’ movements inside the mall, such as how long a person lingers in a store and whether they walk out with a bag in their hand. The technology, from Wanda’s Huiyun management system, allows the group to capture and analyse a person’s age, gender and shopping patterns, letting the landlord better optimise merchant layouts. Shoppers don’t know it, but they’re also assigned a computerised ID so they’re recognised upon their next visit. Sensitive information, including people’s facial images, isn’t stored to prevent the risk of personal privacy infringement issues and potential legal disputes, the company says….the system has trimmed labour costs on facilities maintenance by as much as 62 per cent….What does Longfor do with the employees its technology has put out of work? The company uses them to provide next-level service for residents. An executive who travels a lot can ask these newly trained butlers to feed her fish while she’s away, or elderly people can be walked outside in their wheelchairs every morning. Residents can even rate these stewards, as Longfor calls them, using an app….First-time visitors can enter their mobile number at a fourth-floor screen to link to their WeChat account, giving Shui On access to their buying habits on Tencent Holdings, WeChat’s parent company. Immediately, discount coupons are sent direct to a person’s WeChat Pay wallet, making a cup of coffee cheaper or car parking free. The screen also offers brand suggestions based on previous shopping habits. The whole process is pared with facial recognition technology, so second-time visitors need only to stand still in front of the screen….video surveillance cameras capture footage three times a minute, gathering real-time pictures ranging from what guards are doing to whether non-residents are intruding upon private property….”

  10. Some more bits of recent information:
    9/7/19:
    Hong Kong: city inundated with post-it notes – https://qz.com/1660649/post-it-notes-spread-protest-message-on-hong-kongs-lennon-walls/?utm_source=HRIC+Updates&utm_campaign=7005d0f670-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_12_04_11_54_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b537d30fde-7005d0f670-259226909 “All across the city’s districts—from its financial hub to the suburbs neighboring mainland China and outlying islands—walls big and small covered with colorful pieces of paper with the thoughts and wishes of Hong Kong people are sprouting up. Their inscriptions range from inspiring quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr. to expletive-laden calls for death to police. It’s the latest in a strategy protesters are calling “flowers blossoming everywhere,” a Chinese saying appropriated to signify that the recent protest movement in Hong Kong has now spread far from its downtown epicenter to neighborhoods everywhere…”

    8/7/19:

    Hong Kong: movement uses AirDrop app to breach China’s Great Firewall – https://qz.com/1660460/hong-kong-protesters-use-airdrop-to-breach-chinas-firewall/?utm_source=HRIC+Updates&utm_campaign=40cc82ea7c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_12_04_11_54_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b537d30fde-40cc82ea7c-259226909 “Hong Kong’s protesters are using AirDrop, a file-sharing feature that allows Apple devices to send photos and videos over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, to breach China’s Great Firewall in order to spread information to mainland Chinese visitors in the city. Leaving AirDrop settings open allows anyone in the vicinity to send files to your device. A protest held yesterday (July 7) in Tsim Sha Tsui, one of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist districts, had a clear aim: to tell people from mainland China about the city’s opposition to a hated extradition bill…news of the protest has been heavily censored in mainland China, with any mention of the mass movement wiped off the Chinese internet. Even songs alluding to the city have been scrubbed. As such, many Chinese tourists were visibly confused by the large march, which organizers say drew an estimated 230,000 people. Hong Kong’s protesters have therefore turned to Apple’s AirDrop feature to get their message across to their mainland Chinese compatriots. That the messages are written in simplified Chinese—Hong Kongers use traditional Chinese—confirm that the intended audience is Chinese tourists…“…protesters make connection with Wuhan anti-incinerator protests – https://www.wsj.com/articles/latest-hong-kong-protest-plays-to-a-different-crowd-mainland-chinese-11562491308 – “The Chinese police are beating protesters and blocking information” in Wuhan, said Gladis Au, a 28-year-old executive who attended the Hong Kong march. “I think we need to come out today, otherwise we will become Wuhan someday.” And here – https://twitter.com/suelinwong?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1147781569169334273&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fchinadigitaltimes.net%2F2019%2F07%2Fhk-protests-show-shifting-focus-sustained-momentum%2F – – “Hong Kong protesters focused on spreading the word to mainland Chinese today. Just got off the subway in Kowloon & within 1 min was airdropped 3 times abt the extradition law, recent protests in Wuhan & detentions of human rights lawyers/Marxist students/Uighur activists in China”… More here – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/07/free-hong-kong-protesters-demands-widen-as-rallies-continue – “Late into the evening, protesters continued to march down Nathan Road, the main thoroughfare in Kowloon, occupying half a street. They chanted slogans as they marched northwards, passing Yau Ma Tei and heading towards Mong Kok. After reaching Mongkok, police in riot gear formed into a line to stop protesters from advancing and demanded that they left. “Cruel police! Cruel police!” chanted protesters, wearing goggles, masks and holding up umbrellas to shield themselves in case police shot tear gas. ” This is the first demo in Kowloon, the city’s most densely populated area, since the protests began a month ago. For a breakdown of the miserable cost of “living” there see this – https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/kowloon – for prices, and this – http://www.salaryexplorer.com/salary-survey.php?loc=1114&loctype=3 – for income. Example: 50% of the population earn HK$34,622 or less per month, of whom 25% earn HK$17647 or less per month, whilst the minimum wage is HK$4594; monthly rent in a “normal” area averages at HK$14,376 for 45M2.

    Documents revealing more about Bush senior’s complicity with the mass murderers of Tiananmen Square: http://www.chinafile.com/conversation/other-tiananmen-papers?utm_source=HRIC+Updates&utm_campaign=7005d0f670-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_12_04_11_54_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b537d30fde-7005d0f670-259226909

  11. ” President Donald Trump told Xi Jinping that the US would mute its support for the anti-China protest movement in Hong Kong in exchange for re-opening US-China trade talks, according to a report by the Financial Times (FT). “http://www.businessinsider.fr/us/trump-xi-jinping-soften-hong-kong-criticism-trade-talks-report-2019-7
    In case you were naive, or just moronic, not to have anticipated this possibility already – Trump shows whose side he’s on – the side of capital whatever its colour: the side that tries to seduce people into taking sides rather than making sides, that tries to entice you into participating in the complicity-rivalry games that turn you into a victim whatever form of submission to an externally-defined side you succumb to.

  12. More information:

    14/7/19:

    China, Hong Kong (Sha Tin): more clashes (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/14/police-and-protesters-clash-in-second-hong-kong-town)“Some protesters placed traffic cones on the street, dismantled roadside metal barriers and set up makeshift barricades to separate themselves from police, who formed into a line. Protesters then became locked in a standoff with police officers in riot gear. Those standing near the police line put on goggles, face masks and helmets and armed themselves with umbrellas in case police used pepper spray.”

    13/7/19:

    China, Hong Kong: more clashes this time in Sheung Shui and with mainland traders (https://www.trtworld.com/asia/clashes-break-out-at-hong-kong-border-town-protest-28211) “…the focus again turned away from downtown Hong Kong to Sheung Shui, a town close to the border where so-called “parallel traders” from the mainland buy bulk quantities of duty free goods which they then carry into China to sell. The small-time mainland traders have long been a source of anger among some in Hong Kong who argue that they have fuelled inflation, dodged taxes, diluted the town’s identity and caused a spike in property prices.” Of course dodging taxes and diluting a town’s identity are typical hypocritical petty petit-bourgeois concerns (at least when it’s others who are doing the tax dodging and identity-diluting), whereas fuelling inflation and causing a spike in property prices are not just petit-bourgeois issues. This article also refers to a protest a week ago ” against middle-aged mainland women …accused of brashly singing and dancing to pop songs in Mandarin, which many locals considered a nuisance”, whereas another article I’ve seen refers only to the very noisy level of these diva performances, a fair enough target in my opinion, though I imagine there’s an HK nationalist element to this, as I’ve not heard of protests against other ear-deafening concerts. The HK movement, like many movements throughout history, seems to have unleashed a pent-up anger which hits out in any direction, sometimes pretty petty. More here about protests spreading. “Such frequent protests are rare in Hong Kong, where people are known for their stoical work ethic in a city that has some of the highest property prices in the world and little social welfare provision. Many interviewed by the Observer in the Sheung Shui protest on Saturday said the millions-strong anti-extradition protests last month had become a lightning rod for them. Many have been accumulating pent-up anger against the government for policies they felt they had endured long enough….“The anti-extradition protests have heightened our awareness over community issues. Instead of waiting for the government to do something, we may as well take it into our own hands,” said Vincent Yeung, a man in his 20s.”

  13. Some further examples of developing totalitarianism – this time in a ‘democracy’:

    The Mysterious Israeli Startup That Boasts Its Technology Can Predict Behavior:

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/.premium-the-mysterious-israeli-startup-that-boasts-its-technology-can-predict-behavior-1.7215195?v=875996DD59780AAE14817D085B58AE18

    ““A revolutionary, empathetic artificial intelligence driven by sophisticated, intimate psychology and supercharged with powerful predictive algorithms, creating the artificial ideal version of you…Infi understands and predicts your behavior, processing external traits as well as inner feelings, needs and psychological triggers to know what really matters and what every individual really needs right now. Infi will be an integral part of every aspect of our lives − from health to happiness, finance to fashion, education to entertainment, and beyond….the company says that it “uses technological capabilities to ‘cure’ the shortcomings of technology itself. That ranges from bureaucratic tasks it performs instead of the user, such as paying bills, making calls with insurance agents, to advice on making decisions, interpersonal relationships and overcoming the blindness — technological, physical and emotional — that each of us has.” …The idea is that in the distant future, in another 20 years, based on the information shared in the network, the company will be able to develop virtual personalities (avatars) using AI that act just like you. For example, your children, who may have never met their grandmother, will be able to talk to her Avatar in a natural way” . “

    Though this company may well be a con, it also may just be secretive for other reasons. As with all these technological developments it would be easy to fall into an impotent paranoid attitude towards their potential or “go with the flow” and positively embrace all the crap. But if one can avoid the frying pan of an overwhelming pessimism and the fire of false celebratory optimism, and take a critical distance, it’s possible to imagine how the ruling world will use these to reinforce the tendency towards a fictive relation to reality (eg through these virtual personalities… that act just like you…in a natural way”) at the same time as finding ways to subvert their insidious plans.

    ***

    Israel’s memory hole:
    Burying the Nakba: How Israel Systematically Hides Evidence of 1948 Expulsion of Arabs

    Since early last decade, Defense Ministry teams have scoured local archives and removed troves of historic documents to conceal proof of the Nakba:

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-how-israel-systematically-hides-evidence-of-1948-expulsion-of-arabs-1.7435103

    ***
    Scary developments 3:
    Israel’s Cyber-spy Industry Helps World Dictators Hunt Dissidents and Gays

    Haaretz investigation spanning 100 sources in 15 countries reveals Israel has become a leading exporter of tools for spying on civilians. Dictators around the world – even in countries with no formal ties to Israel – use them eavesdrop on human rights activists, monitor emails, hack into apps and record conversations:

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-israel-s-cyber-spy-industry-aids-dictators-hunt-dissidents-and-gays-1.6573027

  14. How U.S. Tech Giants Are Helping to Build China’s Surveillance State:

    https://theintercept.com/2019/07/11/china-surveillance-google-ibm-semptian/?utm_source=HRIC+Updates&utm_campaign=c08d88dfb3-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_12_04_11_54_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b537d30fde-c08d88dfb3-259226909

    X writes: Corporate complicity, complicity of major US politicians – the human rights show is definitively over, except for increasingly marginalized NGOs etc.

    Meanwhile, ideologists of ‘democracy’ claim that “The United States is leading by example, including the recent decision to sell military equipment worth more than $2bn to Taipei.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/16/hong-kong-china-democracy-europe-taiwan-beijing-eu

  15. Jason says:

    I’m unfortunately in a chinese uni now (again. Mostly to assist my partner with her own dreams). Anyway, these topics have filtered into my own daily life this week. I was asked by a chinese co-teacher minion to provide a photograph. When i asked her why she responded that it was for facial recognition to enter and exit the gates. ‘For easy identification’. Well, i don’t think there are many blonde, blue eyed white guys circulating the city, let alone the campus. I asked my fellow foreign comrades and they had also been requested and had provided photos previously. I thought of sending a picture of the drummer from Supertramp since i have been told i look a bit like him, but in the end i ignored the minion and nothing has been asked of since. Two weeks prior to this i had been made to write my (second) apology letter to the Dean for apparently turning up late multiple times. They had been surveying me not with cameras but with various people; one of whom apparently have reported that i had been seen running to class (a sure sign of aiming to be ‘on time’ surely!). Of course i denied all this. But whilst universities are typically by-products of state and market ideologies i just wanted to add that such people surveillance points out that surveillance culture as social control is nothing new in China; from eyes to the camera lense. In addition, first hand experience would highlight the very obvious fact that any surveillance can easily be omitted when it potentially threatens the authoritarians. (i won’t go into the story but let it be said my apartment was broken into by a person working for the police yet no security footage was made available to me when i requested it). Anyway, it is a general consensus among those i ask that freedom of speech and human rights are irrelevent when the word ‘terrorism’ comes up in china. As one woman put it “we dont want terrorism like in the west. We are a developing country, we need stability and balance, not everyone is educated to know better”. This woman was the only one among 20 that knew more about the Hong Kong protests because she uses VPN. As for social credit, it’s similar too. The vast majority have sold out for middle class comfortability. Any one black listed is just someone who ‘isnt well educated’. The rest either have no opinion or are hoping to get the fuck out. Can such extremities occur in the decaying western country that i come from? I doubt it. We are less abruptly honest in our forms of control. But whilst the argument holds true that this is a major concern for the wider world, a bigger concern comes back to how even well educated people with VPN’s can lay down willingly to this. Perhaps its not ao much socual control as social political darwinism of the authoritarian kind.

    • Jason says:

      Facial recognition. I had seen examples of avoiding facial recognition a few years back on some culture vulture site. I think it was basically face paint. It all seemed a little distasteful to me though. Presented as stylised, fashionable, impractical and edgy rather than effecting the root of the problem. I’m guessing these examples are posted with tongue fimly in cheek. Which leads onto the proposal of a facial recognition scanner for determining someone’s age when buying an Old Speckled Hen from Tesco. This can only offer a myriad of problems in the face of typical British tom foolery and unforseen errors. It seems inevitable that such technology would emerge in british supermarkets, if it does go ahead, which are increasingly cultured like airports.

    • V says:

      In France too, the government bets on facial recognition (fr) : https://www.laquadrature.net/2019/07/17/la-quadrature-du-net-attaque-lapplication-alicem-contre-la-generalisation-de-la-reconnaissance-faciale/

      Maybe the real root of the problem is we go more and more technologized. Ten years ago having an internet access was a mere commodity, now you go in troubles if you don’t have one to pay your tribute to the state. The next step will be meant to have a smartphone. Fighting the technology from the inside is a dead end.

  16. China Is Drafting Urgent Plan to Resolve Hong Kong Chaos (also has video recapitulating some of the events in HK):
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-18/china-drafting-urgent-plan-to-resolve-hong-kong-chaos-scmp-says

    “Chinese officials in charge of Hong Kong affairs are working on an urgent strategy to solve the city’s political chaos and have ruled out the use of military force…They will soon present top leaders in Beijing with both an immediate plan to handle the mass protests and a longer-term strategy that could result in China overhauling its management of the former British colony…The Chinese officials also see Hong Kong’s police force as key to maintaining stability…Mainland officials want to avoid bloodshed and ensure the financial hub remains largely stable…. China’s approach will be to “lure the snake from its hole,” according to one adviser cited by the SCMP, taking a defensive position until the opposition reveals its strategy.”

    And today – on the eve of the next planned HK mass demo – this news item has appeared:
    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/20/asia/hong-kong-explosives-haul-intl-hnk/index.html

    – which may be part of the above mentioned urgent plan by China to resolve the “chaos” in Hong Kong .
    The Falklands war was a direct result of the 1981 riots in the UK, the kidnapping of Moro a direct result of the events of spring ’77. “Terrorism” or war are always methods for the state to distract & divert from (and divide) proletarian subversion. Which is not to automatically exclude the possibility that this convenient well-timed discovery, on the eve of the next mass demo against the HK elite, is indicative of a genuine attempt to subvert the plans of Hong Kong and China’s elite…

  17. Squirmishes of an untimely manipulation:
    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190723-the-ethics-of-using-nazi-science
    or:
    Untimely medications

    In this context, this song is relevant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voRB4JenjqA

  18. HONG KONG LATEST! – now moved here.

  19. 22/7/19:

    China, Hong Kong: protesters trash office of legislator who collaborated with triad thugs to beat up protesters and others on underground “Pro-Beijing legislator Junius Ho, who was filmed shaking hands with men in white shirts on Sunday night for unknown reasons, defended the mobsters on Monday saying they were “defending their home and people”. While detaching himself from the rampage, he said, “We can’t pardon the sin, but we can pardon the sinners.” On Monday, protesters trashed Ho’s office, smashing glass walls, spraying-painting profanities, and leaving notes alleging triad connections” – https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/hong-kong-masked-mob-190722183213248.html

    21/7/19:

    China, Hong Kong: only 1 bottle thrown at cops. – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/21/hong-kong-mass-china-extradition-bill-demonstrations-protestors Video here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=BRstidxjcO8. Beijing’s HK office vandalised – https://www.scmp.com/video/scmp-originals/3019518/protesters-vandalise-beijings-office-hong-kong-after-hundreds………thugs almost certainly sent by ruling class beat up people on subway – https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/hong-kong-masked-mob-190722183213248.html More here – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/24/hong-kong-protests-china-blames-black-hands-of-us-for-unrest

  20. 29/7/19:

    China, Hong Kong: state fears losing its monopoly of violence, demanding brutal ruling class vilence cracks down on anti-hierarchical violence “No civilised society or rule of law society will tolerate rampant violence,” said Yang Guang, a spokesman for the office. Yang said the violence, which he blamed on a “few radicals”, had seriously undermined Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.”https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/29/china-calls-for-hong-kong-swiftly-punish-violent-protesters

    28/7/19:

    China, Hong Kong: fighting for our future, fighting for our freedom (video) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=2IMPYYVXlfg Despite the pro-democratic ideology (and stupid journalese), this is a fight for the future & freedom of all the dispossessed globally. All or nothing. More videos & reports here: https://berthoalain.com/2019/07/29/manifestation-anti-beijing-affrontements-a-hong-kong-28-juillet-2019/

    On umbrellas:
    The word “umbrella” evolved from the Latin umbella (an umbel is a flat-topped rounded flower) or umbra, meaning shaded or shadow, which is also the origina of the word “umbrage”. The first umbrellas originated in ancient China, the country famous in that epoch for its “oriental despotism”, a despotism which has continued up until today in various forms, though often challenged by massive expressions of “umbrage” such as the ones developing today.

  21. 30/7/19:

    China, Hong Kong: further clashes outside cop shop, with protesters demanding release of those charged with riot (video) Note the use of laser beams against the cops. 5 people hospitalised by black car (amost certainly cops) firing fireworks point blank at them. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=29&v=mI8pz4-m1eA

  22. More on China’s Big Brother society: https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/2170834/chinas-sharp-eyes-surveillance-system-puts-security-focus-public
    When a resident of Anxi village in China’s southwest Sichuan province set fire to a pile of rubbish two years ago, a loudspeaker barked his name and ordered him to put the blaze out. He extinguished the flames and scuttled away. He had been caught on a surveillance camera, monitored around the clock on one of 16 screens in the village security control room. The surveillance video in Anxi is also broadcast to cellphones and some televisions – placing busybodies on the front line of local security. People know they are always being watched. Fear of shaming is the essence of Sharp Eyes – or Xue Liang – a project being tested in 50 towns as part of what will become a nationwide system.”

  23. Worth looking at this, despite a somewhat confused take on things, which is typical of someone who identifies positively with their artistic career, typical of someone with the illusion that art can seriously challenge the intensification of miserable conditions :

    https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/07/30/interview-i-hongkonger-artist-ai-weiwei-supports-citys-brave-clever-beautiful-protest-movement/?utm_source=HRIC+Updates&utm_campaign=2bb20cac7a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_12_04_11_54_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b537d30fde-2bb20cac7a-259226909

  24. On HK cop weaponry:
    https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/07/31/explainer-police-crowd-control-gear-used-hong-kongs-latest-protest-clashes/?utm_source=HRIC+Updates&utm_campaign=129befb1e2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_12_04_11_54_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b537d30fde-129befb1e2-259226909

    This mentions the use of CS gas .

    It was used in Paris, May ’68. I knew a lovely woman back in 1978 who’d been gassed 10 years earlier in Paris. She still had significant eye problems, 10 years after.

    It was extensively used in the Catholic areas of Northern Ireland in 1969 and after, and some ingenious person managed to chuck 2 cannisters into the UK’s House of Commons back in 1970 – https://www.nytimes.com/1970/07/24/archives/gas-bombs-plunge-commons-into-an-uproar.html.

    So far it has only been used on the mainland in Toxteth (Liverpool), during the summer of a thousand julys in 1981 – https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/written-answers/1981/oct/19/toxteth-use-of-cs-gas (for more on the riots in 1981 UK see this: http://www.revoltagainstplenty.com/index.php/recent/34-archivelocal/37-like-a-summer-with-a-thousand-julys )

  25. On Artificial Intelligence as the “perfect” method of rule and the obsolescence of individuals (China version): http://chinamediaproject.org/2019/07/27/ai-for-stability-in-the-new-era/?utm_source=HRIC+Updates&utm_campaign=2bb20cac7a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_12_04_11_54_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b537d30fde-2bb20cac7a-259226909

    “… “AI governance”… encompasses many of the new approaches we have seen in China to social and political control using surveillance technology and big data. The innovator and originator of this neologism is none other than Chen Yixin (陈一新), director of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, which oversees law enforcement authorities nationwide….”

    Head of military in HK warns that protests will not be tolerated -maybe implying the threat – but I suspect only the threat – of another Tiananmen Square: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/01/hong-kong-protests-china-military-breaks-silence-to-warn-unrest-will-not-be-tolerated

  26. Rare display of solidarity with HK movement on the mainland – https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3021054/hong-kong-extradition-bill-protesters-win-rare-support?utm_source=HRIC%20Updates&utm_campaign=b002c6c0db-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_12_04_11_54_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b537d30fde-b002c6c0db-259226909

    “Photos shared on LIHKG – a Reddit-like online platform that has served as a virtual main stage for the extradition bill protests – showed mainland Chinese citizen ID cards and passports along with handwritten messages.
    Taipei residents took to public spaces to show their support for Hong Kong’s anti-extradition movement. …“Support ‘no extradition to China’. Support Hong Kong people’s just fight,” one said. “For [Hong Kong], your perseverance is so touching. All your efforts will become sunshine in your future,” another said.

  27. 3/8/19:

    China, Hong Kong: shops close, major road blocked as protestors deviate from cop-prescribed route “Thousands of civil servants, medical workers and staff from the city’s finance sector rallied on Thursday and Friday, while further protests were planned through the weekend. Demonstrators have also called for a citywide strike on Monday, which has already been backed by major businesses and unions. …On Thursday, Chen Daoxiang, the head of the Chinese army garrison in Hong Kong, said the military was “determined to protect [the] national sovereignty” of Hong Kong and would help put down the “intolerable” unrest if requested. The army released a promotional video showing tanks and soldiers firing on citizens in an anti-riot drill.”https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/03/hong-kong-protesters-risk-arrest-as-beijing-steps-up-warnings

    2/8/19:

    China, Hong Kong: mass strike by civil servants defying loyalty order “Thousands of civil servants in Hong Kong have protested against the government in a rare display of defiance as the city braces for four consecutive days of mass demonstrations. The public servants, who are normally politically neutral, defied a government order to remain “totally loyal” to Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, and crowded into a public park near government offices. An hour after the event had started, people were still streaming into the park, many dressed in black and some in masks to conceal their identity….On Friday Xie Feng, the commissioner for the foreign ministry in Hong Kong, called on foreign forces to “withdraw their black hands” and stop interfering with “China’s internal affairs”. Donald Trump has abstained from commenting directly on the demonstrations, referring to them as “riots”, using language also employed by Beijing to describe the mass protests, many of which have been peaceful. “Somebody said that at some point they’re going to want to stop that,” the US president told reporters, referring to China’s potential response to the crisis. “But that’s between Hong Kong and that’s between China, because Hong Kong is a part of China.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/02/hong-kong-police-arrest-pro-independence-figure-amid-further-protests

    The civil service bureaucracy, an artifact of British colonial rule, would seem, as with bureaucracies everywhere else, a bedrock of conservatism, yet it’s defying the state in this extreme instance. Clearly very great forces within the immediate environment are exerting a massive influence. The solidarity of HK civil society across many usually unbridgable divisions, is manifest, and exhilarating, especially in contrast to the incoherence of other entities that style themselves as opposed to lawless authoritarianism (e.g. the US Democratic Party). And the adoption by Trump of the language of the Chinese state, crudely mischaracterising the demonstrations of protestors defending themselves after being attacked by the cops (and triads) as “riots”, the weasle-words of “Somebody said at some point that they’re going to want to stop that….that’s between Hong Kong and that’s between China, because Hong Kong is a part of China” indicating an eliptical approval of whatever bloodbath the CCP hopes to inflict on Hong Kong, should its people unilaterally declare its autonomy or influence proletarians on the mainland to begin to challenge class power there, in deed if not in word, is unambiguously ominous. George Bush Sr., sent a slimy little note to Deng Xiaoping, offering a resumption of relations shortly after the Tiananmen Massacre; Trump has already sent his words of endorsement before the human cost has even been filled-in.

  28. Movement starts fire outside police station: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/03/hong-kong-police-fire-teargas-in-clashes-with-protesters

    “Police fired teargas and pepper spray, and pinned protesters to the ground after tense standoffs in at least four locations throughout the city on Saturday evening, following a peaceful march earlier in the day. Thousands of protesters attending the march in Mong Kok deviated from a pre-approved route and occupied main roads in Kowloon, where they built barricades out of dismantled metal traffic barriers, handed out gas masks and helmets, and prepared to face off against police. In Tsim Sha Tsui, a popular shopping district where protesters had gathered to evade the police, authorities fired multiple rounds of teargas outside a police station after demonstrators had thrown rubbish and traffic cones into the compound. Protesters, protecting themselves with plastic traffic barriers and construction panels, eventually retreated to a nearby university. The police said in a statement that protesters had hurled bricks into the station and set fire to objects outside it. Police were also seen subduing demonstrators outside a police station in Mong Kok by forcing them on the ground…In a separate incident, hundreds of residents and demonstrators surrounded police in Wang Tai Sin, a district in New Kowloon, late into the night, where protesters threw helmets and umbrellas at police and demanded they release protesters believed held there. Residents called the police “black society”, a term to refer to gangster…As clashes continued into the early morning on Sunday, demonstrators yelled at police who pepper-sprayed and fired several rounds of teargas on the group, many of them residents who were not wearing masks or other protective equipment….Earlier in the evening, demonstrators also blocked the entrance to Hong Kong’s cross-harbour tunnel. A group removed a Chinese flag from a pier and threw it into the sea. On Saturday, thousands also attended a rival rally held in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park, in support of the police and the government. “

  29. Chinese propaganda:
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/01/hong-kong-protests-china-military-breaks-silence-to-warn-unrest-will-not-be-tolerated
    This video’s been put out to terrorise the people of HK. All those scenarios with tightly packed groups of troops firing into fleeing “citizens”, offshore bombardment with medium caliber (nobody has heavy caliber – 203mm and up – naval guns any more, unless the Americans want to turn their WWII Iowa-class monuments into warships again) naval artillery, infantry combat teams bursting into peoples’ houses and apartments with guns blazing. Clearly they are talking about the possiblity of an all-out slaughter, which Trump is condoning.

    But we should recall how it went with unsupported armor in Budapest in 1956. The kinds of vehicles vessels and aircraft we have seen in the propaganda film and on the streets of Wuhan recently (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y1ezo6m8V8 ) show that things have changed, but how much? How many helicopters, how many MICVs and special infantry combat teams would it take if the whole city put up a determined resistance? Hong Kong, structurally – ie as a city and island – would almost certainly be far harder to control than Tiananmen square.

  30. https://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/21979/hong_kong_protesters_and_militant_chinese_workers_internationalism_uighur

    This is useful for many of its facts – e.g. this – https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/meet-activists-fighting-great-chinese-firewall-180603134803816.html. However, Michelle Chen’s cautious and somewhat youthful and naïve optimism (ie naïve in relation to struggle and ideas, not in relation to China, of which she’s an expert), is still too optimistic. She relies on “the workers” and “civil society” and “the Left” and even “the economy” whilst having a confused and contradictory attitude towards these terms – which befits her career as a left-liberal journalist on “The Nation”. But despite some of the irritating ways she frames and simplifies things, the basic idea that she raises here is explosive: that a collaboration between the people of Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, and between American workers and Chinese workers is not entirely out of the bounds of possibility, at least in the long term. Whilst together enormous things could be achieved, neverthless, this is a somewhat shortcut to proletarian internationalism which looks good on paper but doesn’t seriously unravel the enormous obstacles to such togetherness. But despite all these misgivings, the fact that a journalist such as her even dares to pose the question of proletarian internationalism, and in ways that are more than just a slogan, is indicative of tremblings beneath the superficially calm surface of current resignation. It could well encourage such internationalism even if it oversimplifies this necessary essential project.

  31. More on cop station ‘siege’ –
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/clashes-hong-kong-protesters-vandalise-police-station-190803162300005.html

    “Officers with gas masks and shields on Saturday charged at hundreds of protesters who had surrounded a police station in the busy shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui. Masked demonstrators smashed the windows of cars in the police parking lot and daubed nearby walls with graffiti. One team of protesters created a large slingshot – held up by two members – to launch bricks at the building. Police fired volleys of tear gas followed by repeated baton charges. They made multiple arrests. But standoffs continued into the evening with small groups of hardcore protesters trying to hold their ground behind makeshift shields…Police said they used tear gas to disperse the crowd after protesters lit fires outside the Tsim Sha Tsui police station and “damaged multiple vehicles inside the station”.

  32. 5/8/19:

    Lots of information and videos about this day here:

    https://berthoalain.com/2019/08/06/manifestations-et-greve-anti-beijing-affrontements-a-hong-kong-5-aout-2019/

    and here:

    https://berthoalain.com/2019/08/05/manifestations-anti-beijing-affrontements-a-hong-kong-4-aout-2019/

    Sample quote:
    Lam…later referenced chants by protesters for a “revolution”, describing this as a challenge to the “one country, two systems” framework…Activists descended on subway stations during morning rush hour, deliberately keeping open doors to stop trains departing and paralysing large parts of a network that millions of people use daily.
    In the afternoon they held seven simultaneous rallies, stretching the resources of police who have become lightning rods for public anger. Tear gas was fired in four separate locations, with the most sustained volleys outside the city’s parliament, making Monday’s clashes the most geographically spread out so far…. the protesters remain unbowed. “Support for the political strike today seems strong and it has been bolstered further by the escalating violence between the police and protesters,” political analyst Dixon Wong told AFP….The strike — a rare occurrence in a freewheeling finance hub where unions traditionally have little sway — hit the vital aviation sector. More than 160 flights at the city’s airport, one of the world’s busiest, were listed as cancelled on Monday afternoon. Many of the disrupted flights were with Cathay Pacific.The carrier did not give a reason for the cancellations, but its flight attendants union confirmed some of its members had walked out. Some key roads were also blocked, causing gridlock. Many shops across the city were shuttered, including big-name fashion outlets in the central commercial district….One video, verified by AFP, showed a car smashing its way through a protester roadblock in the northern town of Yuen Long. But while some commuters were angered by the disruptions, others said they supported the action. “As long as the government doesn’t respond then for sure the movement will escalate,” a civil servant, who gave his surname as Leung, told AFP as he tried to make his way to work….The past fortnight has seen a surge in violence from both sides, with police repeatedly firing rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse increasingly hostile projectile-throwing crowds. ”

    https://www.voanews.com/east-asia-pacific/hong-kong-protest-blocks-traffic-commerce-police-respond

    “What began as a mass transit strike that halted trains and kept planes from taking off quickly morphed into street blockades, occupied tunnels, and attacks on police stations. Hong Kong police used tear gas on protesters who blocked highways and rampaged police stations. Riot police also moved against peaceful protesters who filled a major highway celebrating the city’s first mass strike in decades. Anti-government activists struck back by throwing gasoline bombs in intersections and torching parts of a few government buildings. One working class neighborhood that has battled police for days defied riot police, who fired tear gas and sponge grenades. So did protesters who persisted as police fired rubber bullets from the top floor of a police station in another suburban district….Protesters jammed the doors of commuter trains. They walked into tunnels and blocked drivers. They marched down commercial boulevards and through busy suburban neighborhoods, and filled Harcourt Road, one of the biggest highways in the city center. They jammed the commercial spine of Kowloon, Nathan Road, and highways in the city’s northwest, along with the Cross Harbor Tunnel, the major artery that ties Hong Kong Island to the rest of the city. They were joined by workers and professional groups and unions who did not report to their jobs. Air traffic controllers called in sick to Hong Kong International Airport, forcing the authority to cancel more than 200 flights. Several major banks closed branches. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, a group that favors democracy, asked its workers to strike. By evening, the actions grew more provocative and dangerous, with multiple fires lit. Police fired tear gas in dense urban areas.”

  33. 5/8/19:
    Poles apart: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/hong-kong-north-point-protesters-clash-polarisation-11786542
    6/8/19:

    Ruling class warns it’s only a matter of time – https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/china-warns-hong-kong-protesters-that-punishment-is-coming
    Which means that the initiative of the movement must not be lost, that it has to constantly surprise (say by creating a movement of occupations or something else) in order to stop time becoming frozen and to stop becoming frozen in time.

  34. Masked press conference: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/06/masked-hong-kongers-democracy-china-thugs

    And a different report on the same press con:
    https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/08/06/masked-protesters-hold-press-conference-hong-kong-ngos-condemn-alleged-police-abuses/?

    Note especially the fine spraypaint caligraphy on the column in one of the pictures included in the article (third one down), saying “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our time”.

  35. Laser wars:
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/08/no-tears-no-blood-hongkongers-stage-huge-laser-show-to-protest-police-arrests

    “Hundreds of people have staged a “laser show” in Hong Kong to protest against the arrest of a student union leader who bought a bag of laser pointers for possessing an offensive weapon.

    Police had sought to justify the arrest of Keith Fong, head of the Baptist University student union, by showing how one of the lasers could burn through newspaper.

    On Wednesday night, protesters gathered at the Space Museum’s planetarium and pretended to set the building and trees outside on fire using the lasers. They chanted “fire, fire, not on fire”, as they pointed dozens of laser beams at the outside wall of the building.

    In a trolling homage to Tuesday’s arrest, protesters also held up a pro-Beijing newspaper, pointing dozens of laser beams at it in an attempt to set it on fire, without success.”

    The Chinese state seems so far to be relying on bluster, threats and the memory of Tiananmen Square to stop this eclectic movement. From the safe distance of Europe, I’d say the state is stuck between a rock and a hard place – because if they really go in and kill masses of people this will not necessarily terrify many people into retreat but could enrage passions further. But if they do nothing they’ll risk the spread of unrest to Taiwan, and potentially the mainland (considering that news is definitely getting through the great firewall in sporadic spurts). The first is possibly the option they’ll take, but they’d have to also confuse the movement by recruiting some reformist leader with credibility amongst some sections of the movement so as to divide and rule. Everything depends on the movement maintaining the initiative and thinking up not just new innovative tactics but also deepening their critique so that those in the democracies could potentially recognise themselves in the uprising, recognise its relevance to them and to the desire to attack misery in its democratic forms as well as its totalitarian ones. Which, of course, would require a massive leap of consciousness and action, though not so massive that its mere wishful thinking on my part.

  36. This interview ( ‘Anyone Resisting Orders Will be Sent to a Concentration Camp’) should dispel any notions about the relative “privilege” being accorded Han residents of Xinjiang:

    https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/chinese-xinjiang-08022019131843.html?

    Sample quote: ” nobody dares to tell the truth if they’re being interviewed by the media, least of all people who actually live there. Nobody would dare to say a word, and every single thing they say is scripted, as if they were actors. If you were to say anything at all that departed from the official script, your entire family could get sent to a concentration camp. That wouldn’t be unusual at all…We did have someone in our neighborhood who spoke out against the persecution and treatment of Uyghurs. All he said was: Wherever there is oppression, there will be resistance. I don’t know who informed on him, but his entire family was locked up in a concentration camp for so-called vocational training. They call it vocational training, but actually there’s not much difference from a prison in appearance. But it is far more frightening than prison, because there is no legal process involved at all. These concentration camps are black jails. There is no record of detentions there, so everyone is terrified of them.
    … people who are the same age as me, who grew up with me, are pretty much still adolescents, the way they think. All they think about is what they are going to eat today, what game they are going to play. They don’t worry about their future, because they don’t even know what is going on right now. They enjoy Chinese Communist Party rule. They think that life is pretty peaceful now that they have detained all of the Uyghurs, and they never think about the sort of trouble that has brought down on their own heads. They think it’s fine just to turn a blind eye to all of that. Don’t talk about it. What’s it to us if they are rounding up Uyghurs? I don’t care about politics. That’s how they think.

    What could they do, even if they did express dissatisfaction with such things? They still have games to be played, TV shows to be watched. “

  37. The psychopathology of everyday anti-life in China: ‘Once Their Mental State Is Healthy, They Will Be Able to Live Happily in Society’ –

    http://www.chinafile.com/reporting-opinion/viewpoint/once-their-mental-state-healthy-they-will-be-able-live-happily-society?

    Sample quote: “An unidentified young Uighur woman dressed in a red and black tracksuit spoke to a Reuters reporter as dozens of other Uighurs donning the same uniform wrote feverishly behind schoolhouse-style desks. Her eyes nervously shifted on and off camera. She recalled suffering from extremist thoughts, which had invaded her brain after she listened to several religious sermons delivered by a non-state-employed imam. Authorities in her hometown quickly intervened. They told the young woman her actions violated state law and “recommended” she enter a new government program to overcome her deviance. If her incarceration follows the pattern of others, she will remain in re-education until authorities “let her out” and grant her permission to be transferred to a factory or placed under house arrest… Their treatment reflects Chinese state practices for handling severe mental illness, addiction, and disease.

    As such, we should pause before impetuously tracing the practice of describing Islam as an illness, disease, or even cancer to “Western” politicians. While the United States-led “War on Terror” and subsequent global anxieties over Islam have undeniably emboldened the C.C.P. to act with impudence toward Turkic Muslim populations, we must also recognize a history of C.C.P. attempts to pathologize any culture that poses a political threat.

    Indeed, the Party has applied the language of pathology—and to great utility—to theorize state violence towards non-Han cultures. The application of this language in official discourse taps into a long history of what anthropologist Stevan Harrell called China’s “civilizing project,” treating people on China’s geographic and cultural periphery as inferior and therefore deserving of the colonial predation visited upon them. The pathology metaphor dwells outside the spotlights that beam down on colorful exhibits of ethnic minority cultures. “Sick” minorities cannot lure tourists or sell souvenir trinkets, so this imagery rarely appears in popular media. Yet, the C.C.P. has routinely portrayed religious and ethnic minorities as sickly patients and desperate addicts in need of the state’s salvation. As early as 1942, Mao expressed that “our object in exposing errors and criticizing shortcoming is like that of a doctor curing a disease.”
    …officials in the region have extended the lexicon of pathology to its recent efforts to incarcerate scores of Turkic Muslims, especially Uighurs and Kazakhs. The Party’s use of phrases such as “contracting illness” (ganran bingdu), “penetrate like an intravenous needle” (guanchuan diandi), and “cure” or “reform through criticism” exposes an escalation of the C.C.P.’s rhetoric: Turkic Muslims must be treated as patients….“targeted population” is a remnant of Mao’s social management apparatus that survives in the present. In 1953, the term, which was used only in tightly-knit law enforcement circles, replaced and extended the state’s blacklist system….Uighurs may be thrown into the “targeted population” category simply because of their clothing, grooming habits, and religious devotions…The first notable expansion of the “targeted population” was packaged in the region-wide “five types of people” and “Project Beauty” campaigns—a five-year, U.S.$8 million dollar multi-media initiative that promotes “modern” (i.e. secular) female fashion and educates women to discard their veils—which culminated in legislation introduced in 2015. The “five types of people” referred to women who donned hijab, lichäk, chumbäl, and jilbāb, young men who groomed “abnormally long” beards, and individuals who wore clothing featuring star and moon insignia in any public area….The criteria defining Xinjiang’s “targeted population” were broadened once again in 2017 when officials introduced a social taxonomy—referred to officially as a “social credit system”—that labels each citizen either “safe,” “normal,” or “unsafe.” These designations are based on metrics such as age, faith, religious practices, foreign contacts, and experience abroad. Freedom of movement, both physical and virtual (including the ability to freely travel, surf the Internet, and gain access to government entitlements), is determined by this point system. According to one account, each individual is initially provided a 100-point base score but is penalized points for such things as having relatives abroad, praying, criticizing the government, and even owning a compass. Individuals whose scores fall below the 60-point threshold risk detainment….In a Chinese-Uighur bilingual article entitled “Re-education Classes Are a Type of Free Hospital Stay for People with Ideological Illnesses,” the author insists:

    Being “infected” [ganran] by religious extremism and violent terrorist ideology but not receiving immediate “re-education” is similar to contracting an illness but not seeking a cure, or becoming a drug addict but refusing treatment. It is wishful thinking (jiaoxing xinli) to believe [you] will not be affected or shaken by [these thoughts].

  38. Various links:

    1,
    Western Academia Helps Build China’s Automated Racism:

    https://codastory.com/authoritarian-tech/western-academia-china-automated-racism/?

    2.
    Free speech and privacy on the wane across the world

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/aug/08/free-speech-and-privacy-on-the-wane-across-the-world

    I obviously don’t accept the liberal terms in which this is couched but it’s also obvious that what the bourgeoisie terms ‘free speech’ is being attacked even in its own capitalist terms.

    3.
    How people in China are trying to evade Beijing’s digital surveillance

    https://qz.com/1659328/chinese-people-are-pushing-back-on-beijings-digital-surveillance/?

    4.
    China’s Paramilitary Police Could Crush Hong Kong

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/06/chinas-paramilitary-police-could-crush-hong-kong/?

    5.
    Why China Won’t Deploy Its Army in Hong Kong…

    https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/deploy-08062019143335.html?

    X writes:
    This interview is with Willy Lam, well-known commentator on China issues. His most recent book addresses the conflict between Chinese civil society and the State as a fight for China’s future, and so this somewhat frames the comments supplied here, particularly the conclusions. There is more optimism than I might have expected, especially in the assertion that the “continued struggle of the people in Hong Kong over the past few weeks has inspired civil society in mainland Chinaa, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and the rest of the world. I predict that the stability maintenance regime of the Chinese Communist Party dictatorship won’t stay effective for very long.”

    Also of note is the flat assertion that “China is facing a serious financial crisis and it is basically insolvent.” This, with the news that there are 20 billion dollars worth of I.O.U.s floating around the Chinese economy right now, does somewhat underscore China’s fragility in the larger context, not just of its present condition (and therefore limited tactical options), but also its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, on whose success a considerable amount of China’s future prestige depends.

    SamFanto writes: not sure about all this, too much a tendency towards an optimistic determinism, particularly the bit about China’s financial crisis, which has been impending for almost 2 decades now…Still, I might be wrong this time – stopped clocks are sometimes right.

    6.
    Hong Kong protesters use flashmob tactics to evade police

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/04/hong-kong-protesters-return-streets-day-after-violent-clashes?

  39. Latest news:

    Hong Kong riot police fire teargas at protest groups

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/10/hong-kong-riot-police-fire-teargas-at-protest-groups

    “Hong Kong has been gripped by another night of violence after a peaceful afternoon march in Tai Po splintered into several fronts as protesters attempted to outrun the police. Riot police fired teargas at crowds in the neighbouring districts of Shatin and Tai Wai on Saturday night in an attempt to disperse black-clad protesters who had barricaded roads with nearby supplies. Several kilometres away, riot police also used teargas on crowds in the tourist district of Tsim Sha Tsui, while across the city at Hong Kong International airport a peaceful sit-in continued into its second day. The majority of protesters, however, appeared to be mobile on Saturday night, with thousands dispersing across the New Territories and Kowloon after receiving reports of police movements on messaging apps. … “The strategy is, when the police come we will leave and change to a different place,” said Michael Wong, a nursing student and volunteer medic. “When the police come to a different place they need to plan and have a reaction time, so we use [it] to just buy time.” The cat and mouse game, often referred to by the slogan “be water”, has made recent protests less predictable than at the beginning of June when anti-government demonstrations began against a legislative bill that many feared was an attack on Hong Kong’s civil and political rights. “Everyone is the frontline. You can decide what you are going to do,” said one protester who asked to not be named for fear of repercussions. “[Some] are going to Shatin or the airport, but you can decide what to do.”

    Sounds a bit like the student and high school student demos of 2010 – 2011 in the UK. Seems like somebody should write a history of tactics, or at least list the most innovative ones. Could be useful in “buying” time for any social movement; repeating past mistakes or learning too slowly from the most successful strategies could be crucial – an aspect of social contestation that could help push a movement across the fine line between defeat and success. Of course theoretical questions – a more general understanding of the immensity of what we’re up against – are also important; but those who critique movements only for their lack of theory show how they’ve reduced their own idea of struggle to the relatively safe terrain of intellectual ideas, and ignore other aspects of practice (which is not to say ideas are not an element of practice; for instance, a conversation of any significance almost invariably has some practical and emotional effect).

    Videos here:

    https://uk.reuters.com/video/2019/08/10/police-clear-barricades-and-fire-tear-ga?rpc=401&videoId=585800180&feedType=VideoRSS&feedName=LatestVideosUK&rpc=401&videoChannel=117763

    Live streaming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FU8IDsTh8F8

    More here:
    https://us.cnn.com/2019/08/09/asia/hong-kong-protests-intl-hnk/index.html

    Thousands of demonstrators continued what is intended to be a peaceful three-day sit-in at Hong Kong’s international airport on Saturday, while police used tear gas on protesters at two other sites in the city. This is the 10th straight weekend of protests throughout the financial hub. Police used tear gas to disperse a group who barricaded a roundabout in Tai Wai, according to a government press release. They used tear gas for a second time on Saturday evening after demonstrators began starting fires outside the Tsim Sha Tsui police station, which was also vandalized last weekend…Another group of demonstrators blocked the Kowloon entrance to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, which connects the Kowloon Peninsula to Hong Kong Island. The airport sit-in, in the arrivals hall of the main terminal, has not disrupted operations so far. Earlier, Hong Kong’s flagship airline Cathay Pacific said some flights to China had been canceled due to Typhoon Lekima, which prompted the evacuation of more than 1 million people in the eastern province of Zhejiang. …Chanting “Hong Kong people, add oil” — an expression used to express support and encouragement — protesters started gathering at the airport from midday Friday. The move is the latest challenge to the government’s apparent strategy of waiting out the ongoing political crisis and comes just days after a citywide strike shut down flights and trains, causing travel chaos. Protesters held signs in English and Chinese and had printed leaflets in multiple languages explaining the causes and demands of the demonstrations for arriving tourists. Hong Kong’s airport is one of the busiest in the world, handling 1,100 passenger and cargo flights daily, with services between the city and about 200 international destinations. In a statement, the city’s Airport Authority said that additional security would be deployed on site Friday to assist passengers and airport staff. In order to minimize disruption to flights, only departing passengers with valid tickets or boarding passes and travel documents would be allowed to enter to the check-in aisles at Terminal 1, said the statement. On Thursday, China issued a ban on Cathay Pacific staff who have supported and participated in the protests, according to a statement published on China’s Civil Aviation Administration’s website. It said that from midnight on Saturday, the airline “must stop all those who have participated in and those who support the illegal demonstrations, protests and violent attacks, as well as those who have had radical behaviors, from executing all flights to and from the mainland.”…China issued the ban on Thursday to any Cathay Pacific airline staff who have participated or supported the protests.
    New rules will also be implemented from Sunday that require the airline to “submit the ID information of all crew members flying to the mainland and flying over the mainland air space to the relevant mainland authorities for approval.” “Cathay flights will not be accepted without getting the approval,” the statement added. In response, Cathay told CNN in a statement that it was treating China’s directive “seriously” and was studying it very carefully. “The safety of our passengers is always the top priority of Cathay Pacific. There is zero tolerance to any inappropriate and unprofessional behavior that may affect aviation safety. We deal with these incidents very seriously,” the airline’s statement added. Cathay’s CEO, Rupert Hogg, confirmed in a message to employees Saturday that the airline would cooperate with the Chinese ban. Employees who “support or take part in illegal protests, violent actions, or overly radical behavior” will be banned from working on flights or any related activities to mainland China, Hogg said. Cathay also said in a press release Saturday that a pilot charged with rioting in Hong Kong had been removed from “flying duties,” while two airport ground staff were fired for “misconduct.”

    More on Cathay Pacific: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-hongkong-protests-cathay-pacific/cathay-pacific-suspends-pilot-arrested-in-hong-kong-protests-idUKKCN1V00JG?rpc=401&

    Video of airport sit-in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0IeZd7NVVY

    Rarely have companies involved in tourism shown their miserable function so explicitly. But it’s good to see that the movement is, unintentionally, undermining tourism. As Guru Debord said:
    “Tourism — human circulation packaged for consumption, a by-product of the circulation of commodities — is the opportunity to go and see what has been banalized. The economic organization of travel to different places already guarantees their equivalence. The modernization that has eliminated the time involved in travel has simultaneously eliminated any real space from it.”

    Video of airport sit-in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0IeZd7NVVY

    Chinese state’s propaganda video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVi6JagkT8g

  40. More on Big Brother surveillance technology:

    https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/newark-public-surveillance_n_5d4c7d5fe4b09e72974373ea?

    The shrinking of public space (physical and otherwise) outside &/or against &/or parallel to the state is, of course, the object: the elimination of such public space where a potentially free public deliberation, exchange and formulation of actions can occur. All the states and all corporations have the same objectives. It is immaterial which country or which state. The deterioration of differentiating features and the global cooperation of their directing personnel (i.e. leadership) – a result of their necessary activity against similar obstacles around the world – shows us more and more that they are uniform in ethos and telos and as part of our struggle for a free world, must be uniformly annihilated.

  41. 12/8/19:

    https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=6933f39bd9&e=8fd112807f

    Doctors and nurses rally in hospital wearing helmets and eyepatches to protest police violence; in Chinese here: https://thestandnews.com/politics/8-12-%E6%9D%B1%E5%8D%80%E9%86%AB%E9%99%A2%E9%80%BE200%E9%86%AB%E8%AD%B7%E9%9B%86%E6%9C%83-%E9%A6%99%E6%B8%AF%E8%AD%A6%E5%AF%9F%E4%BC%81%E5%9C%96%E8%AC%80%E6%AE%BA%E9%A6%99%E6%B8%AF%E5%B8%82%E6%B0%91/?

    Group of medical professionals calls for indefinite strike in response to police brutality – in Chinese here: https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=66d06c8353&e=8fd112807f

    And an interview with a socialist:

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/08/hong-kong-protest-china-carrie-lam-umbrella-movement-extradition-bill-xi-jinping

    ” The young generation is more determined than the older generation to demand the government withdraw the China extradition bill. There is strong anxiety and bitterness among them — and fear that, if they cannot win this time, they will lose forever…. Despite the violence, the young people are still widely supported by the broader yellow ribbon camp. How big is the yellow ribbon camp? The turnout on June 9, June 16, and July 1 was 1 million, 2 million, and half a million, respectively. In contrast, the pro-Beijing “blue ribbon” camp mobilized no more than 150,000. There is also growing anger among older citizens now. Not only were they duped into believing Beijing’s promise of universal suffrage, but also their children may end up with the same disappointment and face even worse social mobility…
    …Hong Kong’s union density as of 2017 is 25 percent, which isn’t low. But this level of density is accomplished through ridiculously low union dues — so low that the main trade unions do not rely on membership dues for their funding but on running retraining programs funded by the government, operating for-profit businesses, or receiving foreign funding. Few members are really active. Although there are many “industrial unions,” most of them are either very small or just in individual workplaces.”

    X writes: Three different interesting elements in this: an analysis of why the joining of the unions in the general strike was no big deal (HK unions comprise some 25% of the workforce), the emergence and tactics of the nativist “localists”, whose xenophobic and racist attacks on mainlanders have provided fodder for the propagandists in Beijing in their effort to paint the Hong Kong people as dangerous and reactionary “separatists”, and the tentative way this interviewee deployed the expression “bureaucratic capitalism” to describe the kind of society that exists in China, notwithstanding the fact that it has been used by Socialisme ou Barbarie and others thereafter since at least the late 1940s.

  42. More technologically-equipped social control in a demockracy:

    https://codastory.com/authoritarian-tech/myanmar-facebook-conflict-rakhine/

    “What has played out politically, since the 2011 announcement that the military would transition to a quasi-civilian, democratically-elected parliament, has done so concurrently with what is perhaps the fastest digital rollout in human history.

    Cell phone towers were erected as people began the countdown to the 2015 elections, the first credibly democratic ballot in decades. But the digital rollout has also prompted a new authoritarian crackdown. “Netizens are being jailed for writing criticism against the government, when some content in their criticism harms or discredits the authorities. Any online user could easily be charged with the Telecommunications Law, Electronic transition law and Law Protection the Privacy and Security of Citizens,” freedom of expression activist Maung Saungkha told Coda.”

  43. On the Hong Kong filth (there are obviously liberal ideological expressions here, such as “honest police officers” and the idea of a “truly independent” enquiry into them, but this is usefully informative) :

    https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/08/03/govt-handed-hong-kong-police-force-now-beyond-reproach/?

    “Hong Kong barely has a government these days but it most certainly has a police force. Such is the dysfunctionality of the system that the force is practically the only part of the administration responding to the burgeoning protest movement. The headless chickens occupying the government complex in Tamar have either gone into hiding or are merely clucking around hoping against all reasonable hope that somehow the protests will disappear. In the meantime, the administration has surrendered its responsibilities to the police as the last line of defence against the wrath of the people….The force is now barrelling its way into the centre of the political arena, banning marches, regularly issuing demonstration crowd size estimates to belittle their strength and allowing the police unions to make astonishingly rabid attacks on protesters without fear of repercussions. Meanwhile, the rules governing police operations are being flagrantly flouted. Officers now routinely remove their number tags when involved in crowd control, tear gas canisters that should be fired above the heads of targets are now launched at chest level, and then there’s the police response to gang thuggery in Yuen Long….Such is the power of the police these days that it is now clear that the main reason why the administration will not allow the establishment of an independent inquiry into events surrounding the extradition saga is that this is opposed by the police, fearful of what might be unearthed were the inquiry to be truly independent. Hong Kong’s police force worked long and hard to recover its tarnished reputation from a low point in 1974, when the Independent Commission Against Corruption was established. This was followed by a police riot protesting against its activities and a backdown by the colonial government authorising an amnesty for corrupt officers, who were also allowed to keep their ill-gotten gains on the understanding that a line would now be drawn under rampant corruption. Public trust in what was called the ‘best police force money can buy’ was understandably low and the police had to work hard to persuade the public of their integrity and ability to uphold the law. It took herculean efforts and the dedication of hard-working and honest police officers, to assure the public and restore the reputation of the force. But hard-won reputations can be lost much quicker than they are gained. Distrust of the police is spreading fast; they are taunted at rallies for being triads, and ordinary citizens engaging in peaceful protests increasingly regard the police as the enemy. This impression is reinforced by the stream of pro-government personalities lining up to shower gifts on policemen and offer their support. In effect, they are doing their best to assert where police political allegiance lies, regardless of the tradition of a politically neutral force. The police rank and file meanwhile remain on the front line, taking abuse and sweltering in the summer heat and humidity, regardless of how they personally feel about becoming the battering ram for a government that has ceased to govern. Even officers who might have felt sympathy for the demonstrators find it harder to do so while being abused. This, in turn, leads to a vicious circle of police officers literally hitting out and the demonstrators becoming more and more convinced that they are the enemy. At the top of the force stands the lacklustre police chief Stephen Lo, a lifelong bureaucrat who gives every impression of being more suited to sitting behind a bank clerk’s desk than performing the complex role of Police Commissioner. His credibility among the rank and file is, apparently, rather low but no one dares touch him because, as matters stand, the police are beyond reproach in official circles. Right up to two months ago it was still possible to describe the Hong Kong police force as being highly successful because it enjoyed the citizens’ respect. This respect was not earned because it had the biggest weapons. Now, as respect fades only the weapons remain.”

    And the ruling class hail the conquering hero:

    https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3021987/hong-kong-policeman-filmed-aiming-gun-protesters-hailed-hero

    And more on the filth (and on other stuff, including sompe obviously dubious ideas about the HK economy):
    https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/08/06/masked-protesters-hold-press-conference-hong-kong-ngos-condemn-alleged-police-abuses/?

    “Organisers were responding to the government’s new policy of having more frequent press briefings, which the trio said contained “malicious distortions” and “untruth.” Kim, along with two others who used the pseudonyms Mary Tsang and Jerry Chan, said they were not speaking on behalf of the movement. The “civil press conference” grew out of discussions in a Telegram group, they said, though they declined to identify its members. While the idea also gained traction on the Reddit-like LIHKG forum, the three said LIHKG was just one source of online opinion and they did not mean to only represent netizens. On Monday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam cited the popular protest slogan, “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our time.” She said the slogan was intended as a call to revolution and a challenge to Chinese sovereignty.When asked how protesters interpreted the slogan, Tsang said that the slogan was first used during localist Edward Leung’s 2016 election campaign, but it may have gained new meanings in 2019. “Different people can have different interpretations of what this slogan means, and we hope to invite people who adopted it to explain it,” Tsang said, adding that they hoped to get more ordinary citizens to speak at future press conferences…”
    What’s great about some of this is the disgust for cop violence, which is far less than the cop violence in France, where I live. In France, if the cops were as relatively restrained as this, “good (ie submissive) citizens” would be writing outraged complaints to Le Figaro.

  44. 12/8/19:

    Barbarians at the gates Part1:

    https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3022479/chinese-armed-police-truck-convoy-rolls-city-near-hong-kong?

    “… the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office released a stern statement, calling attacks on police “signs of terrorism”. Online, internet users speculated that the armed presence was a show of power to Hong Kong….“They are just waiting for an order before they’ll drive to Hong Kong to calm the riots. We hope the armed forces can enter Hong Kong and beat the hell out of these idiotic youth,” one commenter said on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform. Beijing-based military specialist Zhou Chenming said that the armed police were taking part in regular drills and that people should not feel nervous. “The central government has repeatedly stated it will only interfere if there are large-scale riots and the Hong Kong government has applied voluntarily for support,” Zhou said. …“If the situation does not reach that point, then this is only a deterrence measure, to deter these [small group of people] from stepping over the line.” Dixon Sing Ming, a political-science professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the move was a “psychological warfare tactic”.”

    14/8/19:

    Barbarians at the gates Part 2:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/14/satellite-photos-show-chinese-armoured-vehicles-border-hong-kong-shenzhen-sports-stadium

    “Mainland China is believed to have already dispatched officers to fortify the ranks of the Hong Kong police, and may also have planted decoys among the protesters in order to encourage more violent acts that could eventually turn ordinary Hongkongers against the protest movement.

    Such a change in sentiments does not yet appear to have happened despite rising violence surrounding protests and the shutdown of the city’s usually bustling international airport for two days after it was occupied by demonstrators.”

    Various videos of clashes on 14th August, plus some links:

    https://berthoalain.com/2019/08/15/manifestations-anti-beijing-affrontements-a-hong-kong-14-aout-2019/

  45. Flights resume at airport:

    https://www.thejournal.ie/flights-resume-hong-kong-airport-4766175-Aug2019/

    Yucky apologetics: “Protesters have now asked travellers and the general public for forgiveness after their blockade turned into chaotic and frenzied violence.

    While the movement’s supporters still have street protests planned, it’s unclear what their next move is or whether they will be able to find new rallying sites to keep the pressure on authorities.

    Protesters spread pamphlets and posters on the floor in one section of the terminal but were not impeding travellers.

    Online, they also circulated letters and promotional materials apologising for the inconveniences during the past five days of the airport occupation.

    “It is not our intention to cause delays to your travels and we do not want to cause inconvenience to you,” said an emailed statement from a group of protesters.

    We ask for your understanding and forgiveness as young people in Hong Kong continue to fight for freedom and democracy.”

    Tactical needs might demand temporary retreats. However, such retreat is self-destructive if it resorts to such false defensiveness. Not making abundantly clear that the terrorism of the state (particularly the Chinese one) and the money-terrorist system it defends is hardly equivalent to thumping a journocop and an armed cop violently assaulting a woman reduces defence to apologetic wimpishness, to image, respectable image. They may fantasise of placating the barbarian-capitalists at the gate, but the barbarians aren’t fooled. They rather would feel encouraged by such complicity with a divide-and-rule strategy they’re only too pleased to manipulate. Particularly the divide and rule between those who use more “violent” expressions of rage and those who, through choice or through inability, use other, less risky, expressions of anxiety and anger. Accepting such divisions on the basis of moral image and the hope of a reform that can be won by such a moral image is a weak display of “goodness” complicit with ruling violence, complicit in reinforcing the divide and rule…

    “In Hong Kong’s blue-collar Sham Shui Po neighbourhood, police fired tear gas today at a group of protesters rallying outside a police station.

    The protesters had gathered to burn phony currency and incense as a way to show their opposition to the police during the month-long Hungry Ghost Festival, when offerings are made to ward off the spirits of ancestors.

    Police armed with riot shields and batons marched through the neighbourhood. Officers carried warning flags and fired tear gas as they advanced, but protesters had already scrambled away.”

  46. On the state’s strategy:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/14/beijing-tactics-crush-hong-kong-protests?

    “Manipulation of public opinion and pressure on the region’s businesses, universities and judiciary are part of the strategy…the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s Communist party…drew a distinction between violent extremists who have used opposition to the extradition law amendment bill as a pretext for other goals, and the vast majority of the Hong Kong public, who were called upon to unite against unruly protesters. The gist of this line was repeated in press briefings by Lam, and by Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macau affairs office in Beijing, in a meeting with 300 members of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing elite in Shenzhen last week.
    Zhang argued that Beijing should not compromise with the opposition movement and should make no concession to its demands. He declared that Beijing should rely on Hong Kong’s chief executive and government, the “one country, two systems” principle, the Hong Kong police and judiciary, patriotic forces within Hong Kong, and what he believed to be the overwhelming majority of people living there, who desired peace and stability. Zhang’s statement laid out a multi-pronged strategy…. patriotic forces will be mobilised to reunify the extremely disunited pro-establishment camp: businesses will face disproportionate retaliation or boycotts if they do not actively oppose the protests; universities and public institutions in Hong Kong will be brought back under control through internal discipline. This will raise the cost of sympathising with and participating in the anti-government movement for ordinary protesters. Indeed, pro-establishment politicians immediately lined up behind Beijing’s wording, putting an end to calls for Lam’s resignation or an independent inquiry into police violence… Beijing has engaged in a battle to turn public opinion in Hong Kong against the movement and to isolate the “violent extremists” from the “patriotic silent majority”, especially by highlighting the economic impact of protests. Depictions of the protests as instigated by “foreign forces” were stepped up.
    Beijing continues to rely on a “strategy of attrition” – one that served them well during the 2014 unrest. But at the same time, China continues to hint at the possibility of a military crackdown, releasing videos showing troop carriers moving to the border. The Chinese government position is no doubt driven by fear of contagion to the mainland and geopolitical anxiety about Hong Kong’s loyalty. This must be balanced against the need to maintain Hong Kong’s perceived stability and prosperity, and to safeguard China’s influence in Taiwan…While the leaderless “be water” strategy has served the growth of the protest movement well, it has also emerged as a liability, because there is no forum to coordinate a return to non-violent tactics or possible negotiations with authorities. Finding an exit strategy is almost always the most difficult part of anti-government mobilisation, and it remains unclear how the spiral of violence can be halted now.”

    This was written by Sebastian Veg, professor of contemporary history of China at EHESS, Paris, author of ” Minjian: The Rise of China’s Grassroots Intellectuals”. He doesn’t really see how the inability to stop or channel the leaderless movement is due to the logic of people wanting to be ever more free as a rising expectation fostered by the development of at least a little power to contest the social terrain. Neither does he seem to have a critique of bureaucratic power, which regardless of how limited the demands of the protestors, knows that the cat is out of the bag once ordinary people discover that the bonds which held them in place can be broken. What thinking, feeling person would settle for less when the possibility of having complete autonomy shows itself? The bureaucrat in power instinctively knows that any revolt raises the spectre of a general questioning of society and the possibility of this power being seriously contested.

  47. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/15/hong-kong-protests-china-envoy-says-beijing-has-power-to-swiftly-quell-unrest

    “China has issued its most pointed threat yet to pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, warning that it has “enough solutions and enough power to swiftly quell unrest” should it deem the situation “uncontrollable”.

    Beijing says that there’ll be no Tiananmen Square:
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/hong-kong-protests-china-intervention-beijing-tiananmen-square-intervention-a9062356.html

    – which is impossible to say whether this’ll be the case or not, though I’d guess that, given that people are far more reduced to spectators and fearful than 30 years ago, won’t be necessary – maybe a few killings by cops or soldiers, but repression can take far more subtle forms than a ‘simple’ massacre. Whilst the threat of a Tiananmen Square constantly hovers in the background of this movement, more likely is martial law, a massive crackdown on the more radical elements, and the image of reform involving (long-term, probably) getting rid of Lam, replacing her with one of the official dissident leaders (or at least, involving him/her in the process of negotiations and the image of reform) and perhaps doing a “Red Brigade”-type manipulation (not that Sanguinetti’s depiction of what happened in the late 70s is really accurate, but that’s another question) to help with the marginalisation of the more radical sections, some of whom are already being classified as “terrorist”. See this, which was maybe anticipated a bit too early: HONG KONG LATEST! . Of course, speculation from a distance is a way of connecting with a movement that may not be much more than a purely subjective feeling on my part…

    Worth looking again at this, about mainland activists:

    “The challenges Chinese youth activists face stem primarily from the escalation of political pressure in recent years. The unfavorable political reality has lead to a lack of resources…curbing their progress and preventing youth activists from advancing their careers and earning a living; the unfavorable political environment and work conditions have left youth activists with acutely poor economic, familial, and public support. In this vulnerable state, the proportion of activists suffering from clinical depression is fairly large”…Many interview subjects feel pessimistic about the future of Chinese society… One said, “For the mainland, if you don’t take any violent action, if you don’t make any sacrifice of blood, then you can’t really accomplish anything”…The extinction level crackdown on all sorts of activist groups has given the majority of activists personal experience of just how little possibility there is for civil society in China right now.”
    However, one of the problems of activists is that even if they think in terms of how to connect to those who are not activists – workers, students, school students etc. – they think in terms of their role as activists, not in terms of individuals who face a horrible future even worse than the horrible present which is also the lot of workers, students, school students, etc. That is, their approach is almost invariably in terms of using their specialist role, rather than in connecting with other proletarians what they have in common with them; which strategy might reduce the “sacrifice of blood” that the activist mindset makes them feel might be necessary. It’s not a question of sacrifice to a cause, which is not only unattractive but has also revealed itself through historical experience as being a dead-end (literally). It’s a question of taking risks which could possibly end in death but which should also aim to minimise such a possibility by not only taking as many precautions as possible but also thinking in more strategic terms without compromising one’s long-term desires.

  48. Catyhay Pacific airlines’ CEO & chief commercial officer forced to resign for failoing to stop Cathay workers joining protests:
    https://www.travelpulse.com/news/airlines/cathay-pacific-ceo-resigns-as-hong-kong-protests-continue.html

    “The resignations come just a week after the Civil Aviation Administration of China banned any of the airline’s employees who supported Hong Kong’s illegal protests from entering mainland China airspace, citing safety grounds.”

  49. 16/8/19:

    Clashes between pro- and anti- Beijing demonstrators throughout Australia:
    https://www.scmp.com/print/news/asia/australasia/article/3023191/pro-hong-kong-group-clashes-rival-protesters-melbourne

    https://www.scmp.com/print/comment/opinion/article/3022791/why-do-mainland-chinese-and-hong-kong-youth-clash-universities

    https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=b53d103f0e&e=8fd112807f

    But HK protesters feel (rightly) that there’s not been enough international support:
    https://www.france24.com/en/video/20190816-hong-kong-protesters-dont-feel-like-theres-been-enough-international-support

    Reasons for this lack of support could well include the pathetic nature of a small section of Leftism which continues to see in China’s state capitalism something better than “Western” neoliberalism; but also maybe the fact that the ideology of democracy which the movement affirms would jar with genuine rebels against this world, who have long experienced “democrazy/” at first hand and have not found it something particularly endearing.

  50. Fake news as yet another form of manipulation (not that there hasn’t been fake news for over a century – eg about German soldiers raping and bayoneting Belgian nuns on the eve of WWl):

    https://www.scmp.com/print/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3023187/call-caution-over-fake-news-online-claims-emerge-pro

  51. More on the horrors of the Xinjiang Muslim region (and one article on the complicity of Turkey (!) in China’s concentration camps for mainly Muslims/Uighurs):

    Muslim women “sterilised” in China detention camps, say former detainees
    Independent, August 12, 2019 – https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=dff9ddbd59&e=8fd112807f

    China builds more secret “re-education camps” to detain Uighur Muslims despite global outcry over human suffering
    Independent, August 12, 2019 – https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=83fdc86ff5&e=8fd112807f

    探寻新疆拘禁营”关闭”真相
    China said it closed Muslim detention camps. There’s reason to doubt that.
    The New York Times, August 9, 2019 – https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=0c0d0da873&e=8fd112807f

    Uyghur mother, daughters deported to China from Turkey
    Radio Free Asia, August 9, 2019 – https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=bf8c21eae1&e=8fd112807f

  52. Versace grovels to Beijing’s bureaucracy:

    Fashion firms apologise for implying Taiwan and Hong Kong separate from China
    The Guardian, August 12, 2019 – https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=241f60c389&e=8fd112807f

    Versace in trouble for tops implying Hong Kong is not part of China, brand ambassador Yang Mi “outraged”
    South China Morning Post, August 11, 2019 – https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=4b7f24d905&e=8fd112807f

    Versace apologizes for mislabeling HK, Macau as countries on T-shirt
    Sina, August 12, 2019 – https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=90490314de&e=8fd112807f

    Why fashion brands are rushing to apologize in China –
    Quartz, August 12, 2019 – https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=2b63da8e48&e=8fd112807f

  53. Hong Kong protests take toll on city’s tourism workers as earnings slump 74 per cent on average over past two months – https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=6edd0fd5d2&e=8fd112807f

    Whether this includes toursim workers or not, I have no idea, but, despite the anti-economic effect of the protests (which is the invariable result of all social movements of any significance, and sometimes the aim of such movements), a survey has found that Hong Kong protesters increasingly sympathise with radical action after months of anti-government unrest – https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=3493b359b5&e=8fd112807f

  54. Hong Kong delegation invited by UK to attend arms fair in London
    The Guardian, August 9, 2019 – https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/09/hong-kong-delegation-invited-by-uk-to-attend-arms-fair-in-london?

    “A delegation from Hong Kong has been invited by the British government to attend a flagship arms fair in London despite a promise made by the former foreign secretary in June to halt exports of teargas to the crisis-hit territory.”

  55. Interview with protesters who threw bricks and set fire outside police stations: We are anti-authoritarian, not anti-society – Stand News, August 10, 2019 . In Chinese (Mandarin) here – https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=d416ad2ef7&e=8fd112807f

    (The abuses by the pigs are rendered even more easy to comprehend in the light of the accusation by Willy Lam that the numbers of cops are being swelled by filth brought in from the mainland itself, filth that are used to extreme measures and total impunity)

    “Corrected” Google Translate (ie since I don’t understand Mandarin, I’ve changed what I’ve understood of this translation into comprehensible English, though I may well have misunderstood):

    ” When the abuse of power over the past two months provoked “anger” towards it, everything seems to be self-evident or innocent. … the police stations in Tseung Kwan O, Kwun Tong, Ma On Shan, Tin Siu Wai and Wong Tai Sin were all surrounded by hundreds of people. …outside at least five district police stations outside there was arson. “A series of extreme acts of violence are pushing Hong Kong into a very dangerous situation.” On the morning of August 5, the chief executive Lin Zhengyue read with a gloomy face to the camera: “Four out of the main roads containing district Police stations, were attacked and there was wanton destruction of public property… A handful of extremely violent people even threw bricks…petrol bombs, home-made bombs, and possessed a large number of offensive weapons… They defiled the national flag and even removed a flag on a flagpole and threw it into the sea, threatening to engage in revolution…”…On the evening of August 5, they torched the outside of the Shatian Police Station and there was an explosion at the scene…

    …The two do not think that the direction of the movement has changed as the struggle has changed from “five major demands” to more and more police conflicts and even direct conflicts with police stations. “I feel that “turning” is the wrong word, the direction has not changed – it has only widened.” Alfred said: “Maybe when the “reaction” starts, some citizens will really only worry that the regulations [extradition law, I suppose – SF] endanger their rights and safety, or Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center, etc. But then we saw the police abuse of power and abuse of force, and the government supported it. So even if we see the suspension of the regulations, we will continue to fight and ensure that the future government cannot erode our rights.” … it is extremely important to resist the police….Ian believes that the masses may not be conscious of the police station as a target for resistance….”…the arrested demonstrators had no bail, so they went to the Kwai Chung Police Station and then went to the Kwai Chung Police Station. Ma On Shan, Wong Tai Sin, Tin Shui Wai and later Sham Shui Po all had incidents, some people were arrested… It was a spontaneous and immediate thing…”
    We have to defeat the police and have the opportunity to face the political power.”

    The question is how to “beat” the police? Although the number of demonstrators is large, its strength can never be compared with the police, and … conflicts will inevitably bring casualties…. recent protesters have made progress against the police….in recent days, demonstrators have made guerrilla warfare in various districts…
    In the eyes of many people, it seems violent to throw bricks and set fire to the police station. However, some demonstrators have determined that the damage to the police station is justified… “After the brutality of the police, one wants to kill…I can understand this kind of emotion.”…Ah San (pseudonym) said that the most violent police incident was… when a girl was humiliated….Alfred felt that many policemen had long wanted to kill demonstrators on the front line with the police…. His personal bottom line is that he will only fight back after police officers attack, without actively hurting people…Helen…believes that the chaotic conflicts at the scene of the protests are inevitable, and the prosperity and stability that… are still loved are false…Some must suffer, she thinks… “In the past, I lived in positive virtual prosperity and stability, and put a lot of problems at the bottom of my thoughts. But if I want to improve the situation, I have to know the root cause and the severity of problems…”
    . Much of this was incomprehensible in Google Translate, and the above hardly does justice to the interviews. It would be great if anybody reading this who understands Mandarin could provide a proper translation.

  56. Universities are turning a blind eye to Chinese bullies –
    Foreign Policy, August 9, 2019 – https://hrichina.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=be71fffd3e2fea33689a7d0d8&id=0f066d7f62&e=8fd112807f

  57. Chinese propaganda goes tech-savvy to reach a new generation – https://theconversation.com/chinese-propaganda-goes-tech-savvy-to-reach-a-new-generation-119642?

    Sample quote:
    “Earlier this year, a new app was launched in China to put the patriotism of Chinese citizens to the test. Named “Study Xi to Strengthen the Nation”, the app quizzes users on all things related to President Xi Jinping – his policies, activities, achievements, theories and thoughts. Users can earn points and win prizes for correct answers and compete with colleagues and friends to see who knows the most about China’s leader….Thanks to a number of developments, the old propaganda messages of previous generations can easily be repackaged for millennials. Like the rest of the world, Chinese millennials are keen adopters of the latest mobile technologies and suffer from short attention spans. They are also just as enthusiastic as their Western counterparts about posting jokes, music videos and short, sharp, attention-grabbing memes on social media. The Chinese government, meanwhile, is putting more of an emphasis on humanising its approach to leadership. Politicians are keen to be seen as relatable rather than authoritative figures.
    So, to get its messaging across in a new way, party propaganda has morphed from dry sermons to what I like to call indoctritainment. And these campaigns are often high-end productions. Increasingly, ideological messages are more effective if they are delivered using a platform that’s already been trialled and proven in marketing. In 2016, for instance, CCTV launched a promotion of the Communist Party in the form of a public awareness advertisement to mark the 95th anniversary of the founding of the party. The one-minute video, titled “I am a Chinese Communist Party member,” features heartwarming vignettes of individuals from different walks of life – teacher, cleaner, surgeon, policeman, local public servant, fisherman – who are all good Samaritans doing their bit to help others. The message is clear: the party is being re-branded as an organisation made up of unsung heroes. As the voice-over explains: I am the first one to arrive, I am the last one to leave, I’m the one who thinks of myself the least, and cares about others the most … I am the Chinese Communist Party, and I am always there with you. Another video promoting the Chinese military, “I am a Chinese soldier”, demonstrates the point. Even without the English subtitles, it’s not hard to see what the producers were going for: a patriotic Hollywood movie or romantic tear-jerker….In 2015, a video called “The 13 what” used catchy pop music, colourful animation, and American-accented English to explain China’s 13th five-year national plan. Channelling David Bowie, Monty Python and the psychedelia of the 1960s, the three-minute video was produced by a digital media production team operating under the auspices of the government’s main propaganda offices in Beijing. Two years earlier, the same studio also produced the widely circulated five-minute video clip, “How leaders are made”. Xi Jinping appears in the clip as a cartoon character, as do US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Light-hearted, zany, and (again) featuring American English, the video informs viewers that Xi has worked long and hard to move up China’s political ladder. The implication is that Xi’s power is just as legitimate as that of his Western counterparts. Within a short period after its release, the video had been viewed more than a million times on Youku, China’s version of YouTube….
    Increasingly, the Communist Party’s propaganda material goes viral only after it appears on popular video-sharing websites with “bullet screens”. This is an interactive feature that enables viewers to “shoot” text comments across the screen as the video is being streamed. It’s very popular with younger audiences. …”

  58. Hong Kong state tries to buy off movement with a HK$19 billion (2.18 billion euros) relief package that, apparently, has nothing to do with the movement:

    https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/08/15/hong-kong-reveals-multi-billion-dollar-relief-measures-subsidies-finance-chief-cites-poor-economic-outlook/

    “Tax cuts previously announced for this year’s budget will be beefed up: salaries tax, tax under personal assessment and profits tax for 2018-19 will be reduced by up to 100 per cent, with a ceiling of HK$20,000. Chan estimated that 1.43 million taxpayers will benefit from the measures, which will cost the government HK$1.84 billion. The government will also provide one extra months’ payments to social welfare recipients, as well as those receiving the Old Age Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance and the disability allowance.
    Students in kindergarten, primary school and secondary school will each receive a HK$2,500 subsidy. Households will receive a one-time HK$2,000 subsidy for their electricity bill, and lower-income tenants living in public housing will have their rents waived for one month. Chan added that the Community Care Fund was in the process of developing one-off subsidies for low-income families not currently benefiting from the government’s welfare policies – also known as the “N-nothing” demographic. The government also announced that 27 types of fees and charges would be waived, among a set of measures aimed at benefitting small and medium enterprises.”

    See our comment about this: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/hong-kong-trying-to-block-the-road-to-totalitarianism/#comment-301061

  59. US commerce secretary says Hong Kong protests are an ‘internal matter’ –
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2019/aug/14/trump-news-today-live-stacey-abrams-asap-rocky-epstein-latest-updates

    Never mind the mealy-mouthed statements of the president – he’s president of a country with a slimey history of “betraying” revolts against bureaucratic capitalism. Clearly a “sellout” before the fact, giving the green light to Beijing to do whatever it wants to do. As always, any future brutal repression by Beijing will be condemned, but it’ll still be business-as-usual, just as Beijing has condemned US cop brutality in the past, particularly racist cop brutality, but it’s made no difference other than to pretend that the 2 systems have nothing in common. Realpoltik invariably means the all-mouth cheap talk of fake outrage goes hand in hand with the thumbs-up in practice.

  60. Facial recognition:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/14/thwart-facial-recognition-cameras-invisibility-cloak-3d-mask

    “Scientists at China’s Fudan University are developing an invisibility mask that uses tiny infrared LEDs wired to the inside of a baseball cap to project dots of light on to the wearer’s face.”

    Fudan University is China’s 3rd best university, the first institution of higher education to be founded by a Chinese person, probably as elitist as Oxford or Cambridge, though not as ancient. It’s obviously financed by the state. Given that the Chinese state is the world’s no.1 country for the proliferation of facial recognition cameras, this research at Fudan University should not be presented as something that resists facial recognition, whether private or state. The chances are that, at best, it’ll be only available for use by the police, the army or other defenders of the totalitarian state, or by private security guards defending the increasing totalitarianism of the world market. No need to worry about cameras taking photos of cops or undercover cops beating the shit out of protesters. Maybe even Xi Jinping could wear one in order to avoid being recognised by potential future crowds hoping to do to him what Italians did to Mussolini on 28th April 1945. Or maybe the research is being carried out in order to anticipate methods of avoiding facial recognition so as to combat these devices in advance of their proliferation. Either way, this article curiously avoids any scepticism about the reasons for this research.

  61. Canada:
    https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-hong-kong-solidarity-protesters-face-off-with-pro-china-group-for/

    “Tensions from continuing mass protests in Hong Kong reached Vancouver’s streets for the second day in a row, as two opposing protest groups faced off outside the Chinese consulate in the city.

    A few hundred people showed up in front of the consulate in Vancouver on Sunday afternoon, with those in solidarity with Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters condemning brutality from the territory’s police, while a pro-China group decried violence from demonstrators in Hong Kong. Similar confrontations also happened on Saturday outside of a SkyTrain station in Vancouver.

    “Love Hong Kong, love China; no secession, no violence,” people from the pro-China group chanted, many waving the Chinese national flag.

    Across the street, a huge group of pro-democracy protesters, holding Canadian flags, shouted, “Hong Kong police, shame, shame, shame” and “Freedom for Hong Kong now.”…Meanwhile, the Chinese Benevolent Association in Vancouver held a news conference on Sunday afternoon, supporting the police and the Government of Hong Kong.

    “We strongly condemn the extreme violence by the radical demonstrators and we strongly support the Hong Kong government to safeguard Hong Kong basic laws and Hong Kong police to stop the spread of the violence and the lawlessness,”

    https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2019/08/18/chrystia-freelands-condemnation-of-violence-in-hong-kong-sparks-backlash-from-china.html

    Despite the fact that Canada’s Foreign Secretary ” defended the actions of Hong Kong police, saying the protests “deteriorated and evolved into extreme violence.” Beijing has denounced her comments as “meddling” in China’s internal affairs “. Perhaps it was because she didn’t explicitly assign blame to either the government or the protestors. Or maybe the bureaucratic class were anticipating a potential criticism in the future and wanted to implicitly show the difference between her and the US commerce secretary, who said that the Hong Kong protests were an ‘internal matter’ –
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2019/aug/14/trump-news-today-live-stacey-abrams-asap-rocky-epstein-latest-updates .

    Even in Canada, Hong Kong supporters fear retaliation:

    https://theprovince.com/opinion/columnists/daphne-bramham-even-in-canada-hong-kong-supporters-fear-retaliation/wcm/f5394edf-bfd9-40f3-a319-8b163eb9f26a

    “For the first time in 30 years of fighting for human rights in China, Mabel Tung and Fenella Sung felt afraid last weekend.

    They were among the hundreds who went to rallies in Vancouver to support the Hong Kong’s peaceful protest movement. They came face to face with counter-protesters who walked up to them and took close-up photos of them on their phones.

    They were already unnerved by social media postings by some counter-protesters claiming they would bring knives, stones, bricks and even an axe and a pellet gun “

  62. 17/8/19:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/17/hong-kong-three-rallies-mark-11th-weekend-of-protests

    “One group surrounded a police station in Mong Kok and threw eggs at the building until riot police charged at the group, dispersing them. Others vandalised the offices of a pro-Beijing political party. One group left pineapples, meant to symbolise grenades, at the door of a pro-government organisation, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, which played a key role in anti-colonial government riots in 1967, when homemade bombs were planted at street corners around the city…. on Friday secondary school students pledged to boycott classes one day a week when term begins, and university students are expected to launch similar campaigns.

    18/8/19:

    1.7m people defy police to march in pouring rain

    Hard to know how much this is consciously manipulated strategy on the part of the state being played out here. It gives the appearance of defiance on the part of the demonstrators at the same time as complying with the state’s need to maintain its monopoly of class violence whilst showing that the state needn’t be violent if faced with a nice peaceful demonstration, even when it’s illegal. This – https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/hongkong-peaceful-08192019121918.html – says “Sunday’s anti-extradition march in Hong Kong, which saw some 1.7 million people flood the city’s streets in a mass protest against extradition to mainland China, was peaceful because police didn’t use violence, protesters said at a news conference on Monday.” Regardless of whether or not this is a strategically planned manipulation, which seems to me to be quite conscious on the part of the cops, this demonstration tends to divide the radical sections from those who want to maintain their image of opposition without risk. But maybe it’s just a momentary tactical retreat.

    Meanwhile, the tankies of the Morning Starlinist show their disgusting true-blue/dead-red colours: https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/rival-demonstrations-mounted-hong-kong-over-weekend

  63. Lasers in the Tear Gas: A Guide to Tactics in Hong Kong:

    https://itsgoingdown.org/lasers-in-the-tear-gas/

  64. 19/8/19:

    India, Dharamshala: Tibetans demonstrate in solidarity with Hong Kong

    http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=41687

    Twitter hosts Chinese propaganda ads attacking HK protesters –
    https://www.dailydot.com/irl/twitter-china-state-tweets-hong-kong-protesters/

    And so does Facebook –

    https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/hong-kong-protests-violent-facebook-twitter-ads-china-state

    ” Though Twitter and Facebook are banned in China, Chinese state media run several English-language accounts to present their views to the outside world. “It’s very clear that the Chinese state media is essentially buying ads on Twitter and Facebook for the purpose of reaching an international audience as part of China’s effort to ‘tell its story better,’” said Adam Ni, a China researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney. The Communist Party sees this “as critical in the battle of hearts and minds,” he added.

    Twitter forced to withdraw many of the Chinese state’s accounts:

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/19/twitter-china-hong-kong-accounts
    But, as with the more subtle manipulations by democratic states, or by various political gangs, all it would require is that the state organise apparently ‘independent’ individuals to post manipulative propaganda in the form of a more subjective or individualised style.

  65. More pro-state violence:

    https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/hongkong-attacks-08202019124116.html

    “Hong Kong was reeling on Tuesday following a knife attack by a pro-police thug on two anti-extradition protesters and a former journalist. The blue-shirted attacker slashed and stabbed three people at an anti-extradition “Lennon Wall” in a pedestrian tunnel in Tseung Kwan O district late on Monday…”Police believe that the attacker discarded his blue shirt and other clothing, before putting on a red shirt to make his escape,” the paper reported. Meanwhile, surveillance camera footage has emerged of two uniformed police officers assaulting an elderly man on a hospital gurney. In the video, which was widely shared on social media, the officers torture the man while he lies prone on the gurney, assaulting his abdomen, genital area and head with fists and batons. Family members told journalists that the victim — who is in his sixties — lost control of his bladder during the assault and was told to “drink your own piss” by one officer after they removed his clothing.”
    Meanwhile Beijing journalist compares protesters to Nazis: https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3023457/chinese-state-broadcaster-uses-holocaust-poem-liken-hong-kong

    (incidentally, Martin Niemöller, the author of this famous ‘poem’ –“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist….etc.”, had been, during the Ruhr Uprising in 1920, a battalion commander of the “III. Bataillon der Akademischen Wehr Münster” and belonged to the paramilitary Freikorps, the assassins of Luxembourg and Liebknecht, and later became a supporter of Hitler for a short while. His poem was a guilty reflection on himself and should have read “First I came for the socialists…”.)

  66. With reference to the above mentioned atempt to throw money at the movement ( http://dialectical-delinquents.com/hong-kong-trying-to-block-the-road-to-totalitarianism/#comment-300782 ) –
    Hong Kong state tries to buy off movement with a HK$19 billion (2.18 billion euros) relief package that, apparently, has nothing to do with the movement:

    https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/08/15/hong-kong-reveals-multi-billion-dollar-relief-measures-subsidies-finance-chief-cites-poor-economic-outlook/

    “Tax cuts previously announced for this year’s budget will be beefed up: salaries tax, tax under personal assessment and profits tax for 2018-19 will be reduced by up to 100 per cent, with a ceiling of HK$20,000. Chan estimated that 1.43 million taxpayers will benefit from the measures, which will cost the government HK$1.84 billion. The government will also provide one extra months’ payments to social welfare recipients, as well as those receiving the Old Age Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance and the disability allowance.
    Students in kindergarten, primary school and secondary school will each receive a HK$2,500 subsidy. Households will receive a one-time HK$2,000 subsidy for their electricity bill, and lower-income tenants living in public housing will have their rents waived for one month. Chan added that the Community Care Fund was in the process of developing one-off subsidies for low-income families not currently benefiting from the government’s welfare policies – also known as the “N-nothing” demographic. The government also announced that 27 types of fees and charges would be waived, among a set of measures aimed at benefitting small and medium enterprises.”

    Re. the above, some vague drifting meanderings, off the top of our (G’s and my) heads:

    At first we thought that this finance-based sop to the movement is not going to work at all – after all, this movement is not specifically about what are traditionally defined as “material” issues by Leftists or Marxists (as if other factors are less “material”). However, economic inequality and lack of opportunity to achieve the vaguely “middle-class” standard of living that all workers are supposed to aspire to is a component (and certainly not a negligible one) of the constellation of dissatisfactions that power the HK rebellion. The two denials of a future – denial of a decent/tolerable economic life and the denial of a tolerable public social/cultural life – condition much of the despair that animates the remarkable levels of militancy and solidarity of HK youth and their supporters. The open commitment of the most overtly parasitic classes – the tycoons, the triads, the most opportunistic strand of civil service, notably the cops – to the Beijing regime, and the outstanding commitment to what (in spite of its constituent contradictions and incoherence) is an idea of an autonomous civil society, implying a great deal of difficult complexity (to put it mildly) reconciling the elements of freedom and autonomy with the elements of “free trade”, has created a chasm that is not going to be easy to bridge.

    We began to reflect on historical precedents that have little to do with HK but which may have some element of comparison with it (after all, no situation is totally unique).

    During the 1980s, as the South African revolution overcame many of the carefully-nurtured divisions of apartheid, the state and capital threw vast amounts of money at the movement – including wage rises of 200% or more; certainly social security benefits were a great deal higher in real terms than they’ve been since that scumbag Mandela came to power. However, we’d guess (though we haven’t researched it) that these increases in the social wage gave many people hope of reform, even if they didn’t hope for it under apartheid. And gave them hope in the reformist section of white rule (de Klerk, etc.). Likewise (though this is almost certainly not a conscious strategy of the current government in HK, or at least not that section of the government totally servile to Xi ) we wonder if this will give some people an idea of an economically better life should one or two of the oppositional dissidents/reformists compromise and negotiate their way to some kind of power-sharing with sections of the Chinese bureaucracy (maybe, long-term, a Chinese de Klerk in rivalry with Xi). A vaque and somewhat nebulous prediction should this movement continue beyond the inevitable coming repression. Which it is very likely to do, in some form or
    another [“Even if the movement gradually dies down from this point on it has long-lasting impacts. Many people gained a kind of political consciousness. This is not something you can erase instantaneously,” said Wong, an academic focusing on social movements in Hong Kong, who prefers not to give his full name. “Probably you won’t see the same frequency and intensity but that doesn’t mean it’s over. Because once people have been woken up, they can’t be put back to sleep,” he said.”https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/17/hong-kong-three-rallies-mark-11th-weekend-of-protests ]. Nebulous because we have no idea about the current conflicts amongst the HK and Beijing’s ruling class in relation to this movement. And we doubt many people have much idea as such conflicts are behind firmly closed doors. But there are bound to be significant differences of opinion, however fearful the reformist wing may be of Xi’s moves towards absolute power, overly rigid moves that this current movement must surely make some of the rulers question. We know that democracy is moving closer towards totalitarianism (e.g. Modi, in India, shutting down internet access in Kashmir – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/08/kashmir-communications-blackout-is-draconian-says-un-envoy); maybe people should also look at how some sections of totalitarian power are moving towards “democracy”, at least as an image of reform necessary to placate those who find an unbending bureaucracy impossible. The structural lines along which the deepening splits are being configured indicate the seriousness and potential irreversability of the antagonisms within HK that the actions of Beijing are driving to breaking point. There are a large number of people in HK who want these splits to be bridged because if they’re not they could lead to an EXPLICITLY anti-commodity, anti-hierarchical, anti-economic revolution. Though not the case right now, the desire for economic advance within this system (however much it’s a mirage that evaporates as soon as you seem to get close to it) could be the basis for such future reform.

    All this is not being expressed for the moment, but is certainly a future possibility. Though it’s historically very very different from HK, reform in South Africa became an essential prerequisite for the return to capital accumulation-as-usual back in the beginning of the 1990s and had been encouraged, from the mid-80s onwards, by significant sectors of capital there. Such a reform certainly helped the black middle class and subsequent section of the ruling class – but was, and still is, devastating for the working class majority, worse in so many ways than apartheid. (see : http://dialectical-delinquents.com/2013-a-to-z-of-some-moments-of-international-opposition/s/south-africa-the-latest/ )

    Of course, all this is more a long-term take on the situation. More immediately a heavy crack-down is very likely, possibly shortly after the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on October 1st. How the radical sections of HK respond and how other parts of the world respond is pure conjecture for the moment. What’s sure is that the movement in HK is currently the most significant expression of resistance globally and yet very few revolutionaries seem to be trying to contribute to it beyond reiterating banalities. Which seems indicative of the petrifications inherent amongst those who claim to want an anti-capitalist revolution.

  67. 21/8/19:

    Hong Kong protesters clash with riot police at metro station

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/21/hong-kong-protesters-clash-riot-police-metro-station

    https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/transport/article/3024014/hong-kong-mtr-station-partially-closed-after-protesters

    “Two exits at a Hong Kong MTR station were closed on Friday morning after anti-government protesters had vandalised facilities there the night before…In Kwai Fong, local media footage showed people standing in front of the turnstiles and asking passengers to enter without paying…According to the rail operator, about 30 people gathered in the station at around 10am, and the number increased to roughly 200 an hour later.”

    More here: https://www.scmp.com/print/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3024210/hong-kongs-mtr-pays-price-aiding-and-abetting-protesters

    “A mob of hysterical protesters laid siege to the control room, harassing and abusing railway staff after the MTR closed the station early, expecting exactly that kind of behaviour following a previous night of protest anarchy on the premises…As if yelling expletives at traumatised frontline railway workers and spray-painting obscenities on the walls were not foul enough, one protester saw fit to express his contempt for the MTR by urinating into a beer can right there and then, in full public view, like some wild animal, while his unhinged comrades pasted sanitary pads on the glass walls of the control booth. Our reporter at the scene spotted what looked like a used pad among them…Who are these people? Is this really us? Is this what we have become in this great “revolution of our times”? I’m struggling to understand any of it; perhaps some psychiatrist can explain…tormenting and attacking fully armed police officers has replaced horse racing as Hong Kong’s favourite pastime, and citizens have the freedom to firebomb police stations with impunity… Not only has the rail operator allowed radicals to use stations as convenient safe zones they can retreat into after every bout of violence, and to rely on the network to travel to the next target, its staff have been openly hostile to police coming in after the lawbreakers. Some employees have even been accused of leaking internal plans to protesters to help them sabotage and disrupt operations…“The MTR dared to arrange special train services for the rioters and even sent them home free of charge,” an incredulous news anchor declared on state television, referring to repeated instances of protesters being ferried home for free after battling police and trashing train stations… when riot police stormed into Kwai Fong station and fired tear gas in an enclosed space for the first time as they chased after a violent mob, the MTR complained about passenger safety being put at risk by police – not a peep about what the protesters were doing in the first place. Well, just like it did with Cathay Pacific Airways, Beijing has forced the city’s government-owned railway operator to stand up and be counted, and for staff to stop biting the hand that’s feeding them. Be assured of more shocking confrontations in the days to come, and commuting chaos for nearly 5 million passengers who use the railway network daily. Things have gone completely off the rails.”

    Videos:
    Protesters Spray Water, Soap to Stop Riot Police from Advancing
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxGtK-qKuWA

    Protesters Form Barricades, Use Fire Extinguishers To Block Police
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vatqBdNtcw0

    And more:
    https://youtu.be/DqiIcqXMqC8
    https://youtu.be/EDz0s76Q4t8
    https://youtu.be/kiySjbUA8Jg
    https://youtu.be/7y_tgTxSGfg
    https://youtu.be/kPfnAwbc-lQ
    https://youtu.be/xqlDvbxrkVY

  68. Hong Kong students plan class boycott for protest demands :

    https://www.aspendailynews.com/associated_press/hong-kong-students-plan-class-boycott-for-protest-demands/article_9bbe15dc-e9d0-59b2-a11e-217198b8b663.html

    “Student union leaders from 10 universities said they want students to skip the first two weeks of classes in September. They vowed to escalate their action if the city’s Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, fails to respond by Sept. 13.”

    A human rights lawyer mysteriously disappeared and a UK consulate worker was detained for 15 days as China cracks down on Hong Kong supporters:

    https://www.insider.com/chen-qiushi-simon-cheng-china-crackdown-hong-kong-2019-8

  69. Hong Kong banks take out newspaper ads to call for order:

    https://news.sky.com/story/hong-kong-banks-call-for-restoration-of-order-11791169

    The anti-economic effect of the protests:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/23/hong-kong-businesses-fear-protests-will-push-economy-into-recession

    “The blue-blooded Standard Chartered bank, which is based in Hong Kong but also listed on the London stock market, said in Thursday’s advertisements that it supported the city’s government to uphold social order and “guard the status of Hong Kong as an international financial centre”. HSBC condemned “violence of any kind” and called for talks to resolve the dispute.

  70. YouTube blocks obvious Beijing anti-protest videos, joining Twitter and Google:

    https://www.dw.com/en/youtube-takes-action-on-campaigns-targeting-hong-kong-protests/a-50132939

    Meanwhile, the Chinese ruling class find ways round the bans from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube:

    https://www.lse.co.uk/news/rpt-all-the-forces-chinas-global-social-media-push-over-hong-kong-protests-olvgyazp8z66epv.html

    “…mainland citizens who are normally subject to strict controls on their online behaviour have been using virtual private networks to bypass the “Great Firewall” and spread anti-protest messages internationally, as well as on Chinese social media sites.

    “It’s only really the hypernationalists that are given free rein, their content isn’t censored,” said Fergus Ryan, an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) who studies Chinese social media.

    “They’re allowed to conduct campaigns, they’re able to organise online … so that happens in China within the Great Firewall, and then we see also it spill out into the wider Internet,” he said….

    Wang said she and her group of online peers, also known as ‘fan girls’ or ‘fanquan girls’, began to campaign against the protests after her idol Zhang, a member of South Korean boy band Exo, joined other Chinese celebrities last week to say that he backed the Hong Kong police and Beijing’s territorial sovereignty.

    “Since our big brother loves our country so much, we fans have to support him,” she told Reuters. “So I went on Instagram to post messages such as ‘Hong Kong is part of China,’ ‘Reject violence,’ and ‘Hong Kong police are the best!'”

    They were joined by other internet denizens such as those on ‘Di Bar,’ a discussion forum that is part of search engine giant Baidu’s platform, where calls went out to the group’s 31.3 million members asking them to flood overseas social media platforms with similar slogans and posts.”

  71. More on the effects of technology, this time about the internet in general and Google in particular:
    Is Google Making Us Stupid?

    What the Internet is doing to our brains

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/?

    Minimum speed limit: 186,282,397 miles per second

  72. T writes (via email):

    An interesting book-review:

    http://www.roughtype.com/?p=8608

    There’s obviously some bullshit there, for example when he speaks about capitalist relations before the internet age, but anyway it might be worth a read.

    “But spying on the populace is not the end game. The real prize lies in figuring out ways to use the data to shape how people think and act. “The best way to predict the future is to invent it,” the computer scientist Alan Kay once observed. And the best way to predict behavior is to script it.”

    “To Zuboff, the experiment and its aftermath carry an even broader lesson, and a grim warning. All of Facebook’s information wrangling and algorithmic fine-tuning, she writes, “is aimed at solving one problem: how and when to intervene in the state of play that is your daily life in order to modify your behavior and thus sharply increase the predictability of your actions now, soon, and later.” This goal, she suggests, is not limited to Facebook. It is coming to guide much of the economy, as financial and social power shifts to the surveillance capitalists. “The goal of everything we do is to change people’s actual behavior at scale,” a top Silicon Valley data scientist told her in an interview. “We can test how actionable our cues are for them and how profitable certain behaviors are for us.”

  73. Vietnam, Hanoi: one-woman opposition to Google and Facebook’s collaboration with state’s social control – https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/singer-raising-voice-vietnam-cyber-law-181231002449253.html

    (from January 1st 2019)

  74. Can catering robots plug labour shortfall in China with ability to juggle hundreds of orders and not complain?

    https://www.scmp.com/tech/start-ups/article/3027128/can-catering-robots-plug-labour-shortfall-china-ability-juggle

  75. […] can consult the interview here, along with many more examples of China’s extensive networks of control that the curator has […]

  76. Whilst repression in mainland China is extended to Sunni and Sufi forms of Islam – https://www.npr.org/2019/09/26/763356996/afraid-we-will-become-the-next-xinjiang-chinas-hui-muslims-face-crackdown – DNA sampling extends to China’s non-Muslim regions:

    https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/guangxi-dna-09262019110053.html?

    “Authorities in the southwestern Chinese region of Guangxi have called on local residents to present themselves for DNA collection over a three-month period lasting until the end of this year, RFA has learned.

    Police stations in Guangxi’s tourist destination of Guilin have written to local residents calling on them to undergo blood tests and DNA sampling between Sept. 20 and Dec. 31, according to a copy of the notice seen by RFA.

    The request was being made to “complete minimum data requirements for policing” and to “improve population management and control,” the notice said.

    An officer who answered the phone at Guilin’s Beimen police station on Thursday said at least one male from each family is expected to leave a DNA sample with police.

    A notice issued by the Guiqing police station in the same city titled “Regarding the collection of DNA and blood samples from male family members,” claimed that the data would “enable us to better serve the welfare of the people.”

    Meanwhile in Xinjiang, this report in Mandarin – https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/shaoshuminzu/ql2-09262019084115.html gives accounts by released Kazakhs recounting details of Xinjiang’s camps: Cages, unidentified “vaccines,” and a facility built deep underground –
    Radio Free Asia, September 26, 2019.

  77. Xinjiang surveillance technology being exported to Kashmir:
    “… In Kashmir, surveillance technology, some of it possibly sourced from the very companies enabling Chinese repression in Xinjiang, are creeping in. While the Xinjiang model is still the cutting edge of the digital authoritarian state, Kashmir may not be that far behind. Hikvision, a Chinese state-controlled company and one of the world’s largest developers of sophisticated CCTV surveillance systems, had contracts with Chinese police in Xinjiang, and is now exporting technology to India, according to a recent report from the Carnegie Endowment.” – here: https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2019/10/is-xinjiang-inspiring-modis-crackdown-in-indian-kashmir/

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