A staunch supporter of western democracy, Apple Daily, today, 28 October, 2014, heralded the disturbing news that, according to its way of seeing China affairs, the future of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect scheme is ‘in peril’, not looking promising, as Beijing has considered the Occupy movement as “a contradiction between ourselves and the enemy” and would be reviewing all economic policies involving Hong Kong, according to some a mainland scholar and expert on economic policies.

The scheme is seen as most important for Hong Kong’s continuing economic success.

“The enemy’ spoken of is, or are: ‘the social forces and groups which resist the socialist revolution and are hostile to or sabotage socialist construction – are all enemies of the people.

Given that China is following an unchartered path as laid down by the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping who put forward the concept of building socialism with Chinese characteristics 31 years ago; and also given that Xi Jinping, the present leader of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), who, a year ago urged efforts to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics – while alerting Party members of potential dangers and risks* – there can be no reason to think that the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect scheme is ‘in peril’.

Is the media acting as an ‘enemy’ then?

The Beijing government is not going to lay the groundwork for such a welcome-by-all-scheme then sulkily reverse that decision because a small sector on Hong Kong are being naughty.

Even the relatively conservative Hong Kong Economic Journal same day had a piece titled: ‘Funds flee trading link scheme-linked stocks’, telling that HK$15 billion has flown out of concept stocks related to the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect scheme on news that the scheme would be delayed indefinitely.’

Hong Kong’s financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said the night before that he did not think the delay of the cross-link programme was related to the Occupy protests and indeed it has been widely reported that the delay is due to lack of clarity in the tax status of capital gains resulting from the scheme over on the mainland side.

The plucky students and youth of Hong Kong with all their good intentions are slap-bang in the middle of all this and while, at the beginning, their motives and actions were clear, since then the waters have gotten muddy indeed.

It has to be recalled that Occupy Central was not a student initiative. It was an endeavour arising from the ranks of academia and business and democrats. However, with surging enthusiasm the youth rushed to the front and amazed themselves and everyone else by taking over the entirety of the movement against the backward steps of Beijing’s revamped election procedures for Hong Kong.

It became the Umbrella Movement – watered down from an Umbrella Revolution when the engaged populace noted that there was no revolution as such…

A brief timeline runs:

August 31 – Beijing issued its decision on constitutional reform – not good news for local western -style democracy demands – students started boycotting classes.

September 28 – Benny Tai & Co. declared the start of ‘Occupy Central with love and peace movement’; first use of pepper sprays against peaceful protesters; riot gear clad police shot 87 tear gas canisters into the crowds around 6pm same day and by 9.20pm unarmed citizens were taking shelter in Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.

September 29 – Occupation of Admiralty (Queensway), Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.

October 1 – Tens of thousands join the protest on this public holiday that is Communist China’s National Day.

October 2 – CY Leung, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, offers talks with the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) et al.

October 3 – Violent clashes as anti-Occupy groups raid the occupation site in Mong Kok. HKFS postpone the government’s talk offer as they accuse the police of allowing the attacks on protesters.

October 15 – protests against police assault of Civic Party member Ken Tsang Kin-chiu video taped by media.

October 26 – a planned referendum cancelled and core activists bow to their public – lack of clarity quoted and hurried organisation blamed.

October 28 – first rumours of economic penalties against Hong Kong, from Beijing – true or untrue…

Though time will tell, no way is China going to punch itself in the eye by damaging Hong Kong’s economic prospects.

Civil disobedience

Many well wishing friends want the young people of Hong Kong to plan their civil disobedience actions in a way that is in line with non-violence, to themselves as well as others.

It’s not a case on relying on one group or another, but engaging the majority, really, the people of Hong Kong. What factors are weighing most heavily on that majority? They are: high rents, an ever increasing cost of living and lagging wages for the lower ranks; incessant building of huge infrastructure projects that constantly impinge on the quality of daily life; air pollution; political infighting; designer shops ousting neighbourhood stores and Chinese tourists thronging public services and out-buying locals in items like milk powder.

For many people the election of the next chief executive is a minor matter, or was, until the issue was brought to fever pitch in some strange compensatory manner and became a target for discontent – instead of those issues mentioned before. How can the election of a person who is not even a member of a political party, thus has no legacy of a manifesto, nor the means to have that manifesto realised after he or she has left the scene, how can such person be important?

So long as big business and high-family elites rule the roost and decisions are made that only keep the locals enchained to a half-life, not only devoid of quality, but where quality human life is not even a request or demand, just so long will nothing substantially change.

Hong Kong is fortunate that it can hang on the coat-tails of a buoyant mainland economy and have the relatively low unemployment rate it has managed. Unlike Europe, to give an example from an economically developed region – and not even approaching the undeveloped countries as examples – the people in Hong Kong do not have the devastating economic downturn so evident there.

Spain, hard hit indeed for years now and not so easy to pin-point why, has been the country where real revolutionary activity has been generated as in Madrid, with its 15-M Movement, Indignants Movement, and Take the Square; Real Democracy NOW (Spanish: Democracia Real YA) or Youth Without a Future (Spanish: Juventud Sin Futuro), among others.

The common element as promulgated in Madrid and by the youth of Hong Kong holds great promise and that is the non-violent methodology of action. This is what is making the difference. If rebel rousers are allowed to call the shots everything dissolves into chaos and then there will be trouble and a clamp down and the reactionaries will have won the day and it will be business as usual.

At this very moment there is a great opportunity for real change and to grasp that the students under the HKFS need to maintain independence and achieve consensus and not be afraid to believe in the people. The students and the police (despite a few incidents) have shown how to behave in a restrained manner; the people will take that reference to heart and the entirety of the campaign for a better human life can move forward.

It’s not an anti-Beijing or anti-Communist Party movement, it’s a pro-Hong Kong movement, that’s all. All sides need to bear this in mind.