Protests in Hong Kong have moved into their second day in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. Approximately 951 cities around the world have organised protests against corporate greed.
Around 500 protesters gathered outside the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Saturday 15th October in solidarity with the worldwide Occupy movement. Some later moved off to another site in the financial district, where they camped out overnight. Most of the participants were young, carrying home-made posters attacking the role of the banks and corporations and using the global ‘We are the 99%’ slogan.
The event was called by a group called Left21, which was set up last year in Hong Kong (it also exists in South Korea) as a platform for discussing anti-capitalist and pro-democracy ideas and strengthening the working class movement, including in mainland China, as well as supporting and linking other movements (students, women’s movement, green movement). Other socialist and pro-democracy groups were also represented by stalls and speakers at the protest.
Hong Kong has traditionally been seen as a city state interested principally in making money and spending it rather than as the site of social and political unrest. However, in common with other advanced economies, the territory has experienced growing inequality, insecurity and poverty in recent decades, affecting the educated middle class as well and threatening the ‘Hong Kong Dream’ of increasing prosperity.
In fact, according to the UN Development Programme, Hong Kong has the greatest income inequality of any country in the world.
There is a serious lack of affordable housing, with many households spending more than half their disposable income on rent or mortgage payments. People are also being crammed by landlords into unsuitable empty industrial buildings with hardly any living space and poor facilities.
Property developers set on creating luxury houses and apartments are also continually encroaching on country parks and wetland areas. High levels of air pollution both from traffic and from the industrial areas in South China and concerns over nuclear power – Hong Kong gets an increasing amount of its energy from nuclear plants in China – in the wake of the Fukushima disaster are also important issues for people in Hong Kong.