TEXT BY JN CHIEN (LAUSAN COLLECTIVE)
After creating a podcast episode with Lausan collective around the question of solidarity from Hong Kong to Black Lives Matter, we commissioned them a text on the capacity and the necessity to fight multiple imperialisms at the same time.
On October 4, 2019, four months into the largest mass uprising in Hong Kong history, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam invoked the Emergency Regulations Ordinance (ERO) for the first time in 50 years. The British colonial era law is functionally equivalent to martial law, granting the Chief Executive unlimited power to contain “serious public danger,” and gave police broad powers to, among other acts, arrest protesters who concealed their identities with a face covering at will. The British colonial government initially passed the ERO in a single day to crackdown on the wildcat 52-day Seamen’s Strike. It was used again by the British regime during the 1967 Riots to put down city-wide protests stemming from a labor struggle at a plastic flower factory. The significance of the law, therefore, is its primary use as a tool of labor repression against colonized people. In the case of 2019, Lam deployed the strong arm of the British past to halt the protests’ economic impact, crystallizing the continued supremacy of the imperative to protect mechanisms of capitalist accumulation, across colonial regimes.
In the face of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) official program of “decolonization” (去殖民化) in Hong Kong, the government has, in fact, eagerly retained the material colonial tools, practices, and institutions of colonial governance, such as the legislature made up largely of Beijing loyalists and corporate seats, making for a tacit endorsement of their usefulness in protecting Hong Kong’s primary role as a center for unfettered accumulation. The CPC’s betrayal of its own decolonizing promise epitomizes the fundamental disconnect between material conditions today and socialist strategy and dogma that continues to draw from the situated conditions of the Cold War. The United States’ rapprochement with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) throughout the 1970s, and the PRC’s transition to capitalism in the 1990s, has come at the cost of the accelerated labor exploitation of millions of mainland Chinese. If opposing a “New Cold War” is to mean anything today, it cannot refer to the fantasy of a vanguard Communist state defending itself and the Third World but, instead, must see the situation as the rising tension of inter-capitalist competition dangerously underwritten by two of the largest militaries on Earth.