Civil societies in China and Hong Kong unite to resist subjugation

Civil society organizations in China and Hong Kong have been undergoing ever-growing suppression since Xi Jinping, the Chinese President, and Leung Chun-ying, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, took office. In Hong Kong, ongoing social struggles have continued to take place since the Umbrella Movement. Yet the Hong Kong Government refuses to acknowledge the opposition and keeps pushing for policies and measures which are violating the people’s will. In China, since March 2015, women’s rights activists, human rights lawyers and recently labour activists have been detained. This appears to be the largest wave of suppression in Chinese civil society since the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre. In an unusual move to raise their concerns regarding the legislation of the Foreign NGO Management Law, the governments of the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Japan submitted a joint appeal to Chinese Government in early January 2016, while the European Union followed suit one day later. This Law aims to strengthen the government’s control over the foreign NGOs in China.

The importance of a united front

We have to be aware that we are facing an autocracy and capitalists who control most of the resources in our society. Thus, a united front of civil society is particularly crucial. In fact, there are numerous examples to demonstrate such a united front between civil society in China and Hong Kong. During the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, some activists from China risked their liberty and spoke out for the Hong Kong activists. Some even came to Hong Kong to show their support. As a result, a number of activists have been detained and some have not been allowed to walk free since then. Similarly, the Hong Kong dockworkers’ strike in April 2013 inspired fellow dockworkers in Shenzhen Yantian Port, who also worked under Hutchison Whampoa Group to launch a strike the following September. The strike led to Hutchison Whampoa Group improving their poor working conditions.

In December 2015, the Chinese Government accused labour activists in Guangzhou of severely disturbing social order by accepting foreign support over a prolonged period and detained seven of them. Besides support from Chinese workers, labour unions and organizations in Hong Kong also exercised their freedom of association and expression, to mobilize the international community and media. The pressure finally caused the Chinese Government to release five of them. These cases indicate that regardless of geographic boundaries, united force between different classes can effectively push for development, as civil society organizations in China and Hong Kong can influence and learn from each other’s experience. The governments’ recent suppression might be a sign that they are worried about the united force of civil society.

The reason for stirring up the Sino-Hong Kong conflicts

However, the current challenge in Hong Kong is due to the government’s inability to address public discontent, some Hong Kong people are more inclined to vent their anger through protectionism and nativism, which reject all connections between Hong Kong and China. But such a phenomenon will only undermine the solidarity between civil societies in China and Hong Kong and it will only make us wonder, “Who is the actual beneficiary from such disintegration?