In this week’s first story, we cover the disbanding of yet another Trade Union in Hong Kong deemed to be part of the left-wing ‘democratic’ movement.
The Professional Teachers Union has decided to dissolve. The 31-year movement came to an end, mainly because it was not fighting for workers’ rights and interests, but because of its role in political activities. During the protests, the union responded with strikes, and was recently questioned for violating the Hong Kong National Security Law. The authorities stressed that the dissolution of the union under pressure did not mean that everything was over. Its original intention was to promote the independent trade union movement and fight for labour rights and interests. Its dissolution has inevitably lost the industrial movement an important voice.
Founded in 1990, the Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU) actively promoted the independent trade union movement. During its heyday, there were more than 80 affiliated associations covering many industries, such as transportation, construction, retail, cleaning. The Teachers’ union took part in many large-scale local industrial actions to demand severance pay. In addition, they set up professional training centres to jointly organize hundreds of courses with the Employees Retraining Bureau of Government to support labour education and retraining. Tens of thousands of people applied every year.
The focus of this union was labour, but it is undeniable that it was also very political. Its purpose was to strengthen trade unions and strive for labour rights and interests and to safeguard human rights and promote democracy. Just like the dissolution of the Teachers’ Union month, the dissolution of the CTU mainly involves political factors.
From the protests in 2019 to the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law last year, the political situation in Hong Kong has changed dramatically. During the anti-amendment storm, the teachers did not clearly cut off violence or high-profile opposition to the strike, and the CTU actively responded to the call for a strike. After the implementation of the National Security Law in the Hong Kong District, the trade unions holding high the political banner were disbanded one after another. Organizations such as the Teachers’ Union and the CTU also faced great pressure. The role of the CTU in the protests, its ties with foreign organizations, and its relationship with some radical new trade unions have all been examined. Members of the organization found it difficult to operate anymore. Dissolution was an inevitable decision. The Security Bureau reiterated that. given the criminal responsibility of an organization, its members will not be forgiven even If it is dissolved. The police will continue to make every effort to prosecute those suspected of violating the law. The CTU stressed that there was no violation of the law but admitted that it did not know whether political risks would be eliminated after dissolution.
The original intention of the organization was to safeguard the rights and interests of workers. This does not mean that they cannot have political orientation, but clear priorities should always be established. Many organizations have put political demands first. Both the Teachers’ Union and the CTU are on the road to dissolution under this political background. Yet it is not easy to fill the gap left by their hasty dissolution.
Hong Kong has promoted laissez-faire capitalism for a long time. Labour security is seriously inadequate. The statutory minimum wage system was only implemented 10 years ago. Standard working hours have been discussed for a long time, but there is no follow-up so far. The current government gave up in the face of business pressure.
The central government requires that Hong Kong government be down-to-earth and close to the grassroots. The SAR government has the responsibility to strengthen the protection of labour rights and interests. This is not only to correct the pressure on labour by Hong Kong-style capitalism, but also related to social stability and the stability of one country, two systems. The authorities should listen to the opinions of labour and demand that the business community be more socially responsible.
About democracy again – we cover some views on Chinese democracy from a few international thinkers. Their view is that democracy has many varieties not just the classic western model.
General Secretary Xi Jinping recently delivered an important speech emphasizing that “developing people’s democracy is a whole process”. International people interviewed by our reporter believe that the people in China democratically practise people-centred development, and truly embody the people’s ownership of the country in the realization and development of their own interests.
Dr Yukteshwar Kumar, deputy mayor of Bath City in the United Kingdom, once conducted research in Changle Village, Hunan Province, and saw the significance of the Chinese people’s full participation in governance practices.
Some local farmers who had worn “poverty hats” for many years, told me that in the past, poverty alleviation policies were abandoned and some extremely poor people did not receive effective help. After the implementation of targeted poverty alleviation, the village committee organized villagers’ representatives to formulate poverty alleviation measures. This solved their problems and fully carried forward grassroots democracy.
Néstor Restivo, a member of the China Research Group of the Argentine Commission on International Relations, believes that socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics is consistent with people-centred development.
The enthusiasm of the Chinese people for political participation and execution amazes me. From the formulation of national legislation, the outline of national economic and social development plans, to property management, household garbage classification, etc., the people can effectively participate in it.
Restivo noted that, in the process of compiling the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan, the Committee solicited opinions and suggestions from the whole of society through the Internet, received more than 100,000 suggestions from the people, and thus reflected the voice of the people in the document.
In my opinion, such success can only be achieved by effectively combining democracy with the needs of the people. The ideas of the Communist Party of China and the will of the people have been unified, mobilizing the enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity of all people.
Dai Ruo Gubi, chairman of the Northern Territory Branch of the Australian-China Industry and Commerce Commission, said that China has continuously expanded channels of consultation and democracy and promoted democratic systems and practices.
China’s democratic practice ensures the unity of formal democracy and substantive democracy, and truly solves the problems that the people need to solve.
Statistics show that a total of 193 draft laws have recently solicited opinions from the public; about 110 million people have put forward more than 300,000 opinions and suggestions many of which have been adopted. The road to happiness varies, and people of all countries have the right to choose their own development path and institutional model, which is the proper meaning of people’s happiness. It is up to the people of that country to judge whether a country is democratic or not.
The distinctive feature of socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics that distinguishes Western democracy is the entire process of democracy. China’s is a people-centred participatory democracy, which has great innovation value and practical significance. Eduardo Roldan, former Consul General of Mexico in Hong Kong, said that in China’s major policies, the participation of the people in the process has become indispensable.
The compilation of the civil code is a vivid example of democratic participation.
In the process of compiling the civil code, the public was consulted ten times. After receiving more than 10 million opinions and suggestions from 42.5 million people, the National People’s Congress of China listens to grassroots opinions, to maximize the interests of the Chinese people and closely meet their democratic needs.
Evandro Carvalho, a law professor at the Vargas Foundation in Brazil, was a visiting scholar at Fudan University to observe China’s democratic practices. He believes that China’s democracy is not only procedural democracy, but also substantive democracy. It is not limited to the democratic decision-making process but pays attention to its results. “China’s democratic channels aim to constantly understand what the people want and what the government needs to do. The Chinese government listens to the opinions of the people. Compared with many Western countries, China’s democratic model allows more people to participate and is closer to the reality and interests of the people.”
An interesting Chinese strategic assessment of the continuing dispute between the UK and Spain over Gibraltar.
According to media reports, British naval vessels recently clashed with Spanish patrol ships on the Strait of Gibraltar. Britain’s practice is to show Spain that the ownership of the Strait of Gibraltar belongs to Britain, which deepens the dispute between Britain and Spain.
Since Britain left the European Union, it has not given EU countries support. Once a good ally of Europe, Britain seems to have become an enemy. Recently, Britain and the United States insert a knife into France and stole hundreds of billions of military contracts from France, causing France to suffer heavy losses. France, the backbone of the EU, has been cheated, which greatly reduces the EU’s global influence.
In this way, Britain’s approach is also testing the EU’s response. After all, Spain’s position in the EU is not very important. If the EU does not react much, Britain may take other measures. The location of the Strait of Gibraltar is critical and very important to Britain. It is the most important outlet to the sea from the continent Europe and is of great strategic value.
The Strait of Gibraltar.
If the United Kingdom controls here, it can put great pressure on the rest of Europe. If the EU does not stand up for Spain this time, maybe the weak countries in the EU may have to act like Britain in the future. Although Britain’s approach is a little shameless, it kills many birds with one stone. So, will the EU stand up for Spain?
In fact, if Britain dares to do this, the United States will stand behind it. To put it bluntly, Britain and the United States are just using each other. The shameless behaviour of Britain will one day rebound on it.