Trade union leader Lee Cheuk Yan, socialist Leung Kwok Hung (“Long Hair”), and media mogul Jimmy Lai were given prison sentences of 14 months, 18 months and 14 months respectively, on 16 April, from their trial as leaders of the broad-based Civil and Human Rights Front.
Some other defendants, including 82-year-old former barrister and moderate democrat Martin Lee, were given suspended sentences.
Another trial started on 19 April, again on the charge of organising unauthorised assemblies, with three socialists, Avery Ng and Figo Chan from the League of Social Democrats, and Cyd Ho from the Labour Party, in the dock alongside (again) Lee Cheuk Yan and “Long Hair”.
A bigger trial in which 47 democracy activists, including trade unionists Carol Ng and Winnie Yu, are charged with subversion, is expected to begin in June.
The Labour Movement Solidarity with Hong Kong campaign protested in London and Nottingham on 16 April, and will go forward to organise against the UK corporate allies of the repression in Hong Kong.
Many in Hong Kong, as in Myanmar, hope for action by Western governments to end the repression. To restart political action within Hong Kong after a long period of Covid passivity and in face of state surveillance and the National Security Law is difficult. And the international labour movement has too often been silent.
But trust in “western democracies” and “the Free World” is a blind alley. Many Hong Kongers have been fooled into thinking that bellicose and dishonest rhetoric from the likes of Trump and right wing Tories like Iain Duncan Smith shows genuine concern for democracy in Hong Kong.
This is nothing new in such tokenistic action or rhetoric. Ever since the “ping-pong” diplomacy of Nixon-Mao in 1972, cold war rhetoric has gone hand-in-hand with gleeful collaboration on capitalist trade and investment. A few “Magnitsky” sanctions on an inconsequential number of Chinese government representatives are not going to scare the Chinese regime.
Some now argue that the repression of the Chinese ruling class cannot be opposed because we need their assistance in combatting climate change. This is potentially a recipe to betray many needed struggles for democracy and workers’ rights.
The battle to avert a climate catastrophe will not be advanced one iota by selling out the Hong Kong or Chinese people in their struggles for democracy. We defeat anti-working-class governments, whether on democratic rights or to stop a climate catastrophe, by building common struggles with the workers in all countries.
There are ways of targeting sections of the Chinese ruling class as well as their collaborators in the City of London, such as HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Swire, and Jardine Matheson. That won’t be done on the initiative of a Tory Party and a ruling class that is awash with profits from Chinese operations.