Sunday, March 27, 2011


On the same weekend as some half a million british turned out in London to demonstrate against the cuts, Hong Kong had a similar demo going too.

People in HK, if pushed, go a long way to protect the freedoms afforded them under the One Country, Two Systems of government when the UK ceded control of HK to China. The turn out every year at the candlelit vigil of the 1984 Tiananmen Square massacre is tremendous, almost 20 year after the event. When the HK government tried to enact Article 23, which effectively would have given the government the right to restrict many freedoms under a subversion law (similar laws are widely used in China to silence dissent) a million people came out onto the streets. If one bears in mind that there were only 7 million people living in HK at the time, this number seems all the more impressive.

Todays demo, however, was on a somewhat less grand scale. The demonstration was against the governments latest budget, the main point of which seems to involve giving every permanent resident a gift of HK$8,000. Despite this, there are some cuts and the local socialists and left wingers organised a demo today. I only know about this because Eve and I were on a bus adventure today and we got stuck in some light traffic. Despite the news reports of there being 10,000 people, I estimate there were about 150.

The wealth gap in HK is one of the worst in the world and there is no real social security to speak of (although medical care and schooling remains free for the poorest, which still puts HK well ahead of most countries in this region). However, it is also possibly the most capitalist country in the world as well. As I walked past the socialist party of HK banner I felt a sense of respect - it's not even an uphill struggle trying to bring socialist principals to a city like HK, it must just be akin to banging ones head against a mountain in the hope that one day you might chip just a tiny bit off!

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