China

Drop charges against Hong Kong rebels!

On 16 February, the trial started of seven democracy leaders in Hong Kong. Two others pleaded guilty. They are accused of organising an unauthorised assembly on 18 August 2019, when the Civil Front called a rally of 1.7 million people. Among the accused are Hong Kong trade union leader Lee Cheuk Yan, General Secretary of the HKCTU (Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions); other left wing activists such as Leung Kwok Hung (“Long Hair”); and “pan-democratic” veterans such as the 82 year old Martin Lee. The charges, unconnected with the new National Security Law (NSL) and relying instead on old...

Activist agenda: Safe and Equal, Free Our Unions, Neurodivergent Labour, Poplar 100

Safe and Equal is pursuing its drive for full isolation pay for all with systematic phoning-round of its hundreds of contacts, demands for information from councils and from the NHS Test and Trace operators, and an appeal to other groups for a united front on the issue. Momentum Internationalists has given support; a good informal response from Don’t Leave Organise, but no formal answer yet. Free Our Unions has a Zoom meeting on anti-union laws, Tuesday 2 March, 6:30 pm. Speakers include Gerry Carroll MLA on the Trade Union Freedom Bill in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mark Porter, Unite...

China's first gay film

News of the Chinese Education Ministry’s ludicrous concern over the “feminisation” of Chinese boys brings to mind China’s first explicitly gay film, East Palace, West Palace, directed by Zhang Yuan in 1996. Homosexuality was legalised in the following year, but gays are still regularly harassed for supposed “hooliganism”. A-Lan, a gay writer, is attracted to a policeman, Xiao Shi, and intentionally gets arrested by him in a public toilet (the title refers to two toilets in Beijing where gay men meet). Xiao Shi interrogates A-Lan overnight in the police station. As he listens to the young...

Chinese state still has defender in British media

On February 4, Ofcom, the media watchdog, revoked the UK broadcast licence of China Global Television Network (CGTN), the Chinese state’s English-language television channel. The grounds were that it is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and not the licence-holder, Star China Media Limited. That the licence-holder has editorial oversight of the channel’s output is a legal requirement. Fiona Edwards, of the “No Cold War” international organising committee, responded in the Morning Star (6-7 February) that the decision was “an outrageous act of censorship which reveals that the West’s...

Hong Kong faces wave of trials

On 16 February, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions general secretary Lee Cheuk-yan went into court for his trial for alleged “unauthorised assembly” on 18 August 2019. He said: “Let’s uphold the fundamental rights, freedoms and democracy. As 2021 is the year of the Ox, I wish everyone to be as strong as an ox and persistence for democracy… “It should be the police, the Department of Justice and the Hong Kong government to be put on trial, because they deprived us of the right to assembly and demonstration, which is protected constitutionally”. The 18 August 2019 protest, against police...

The China-capitalist-Tory nexus

UK-based banks HSBC and Standard Chartered have come under attack for their collaboration with the governments of Hong Kong and China. Consider also Jardine Matheson, one of the top 200 trading companies in the world, with assets of £49 billion and a turnover of £40 billion. They own a significant proportion of Hong Kong’s very expensive real estate. Soon after the imposition of the National Security Law [NSL], Jardine Matheson put full-page advertisements in pro-Beijing Chinese newspapers Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po in support of the NSL, declaring that “the rule of law” and “One Country, Two...

Activist agenda: Asyum-seekers, Uyghur solidarity

The Labour Campaign for Free Movement is celebrating a victory: the Home Office backing down from plans to house up to 200 asylum seekers in prefab accommodation next to Yarl’s Wood detention centre. Their “official” reason is that anticipated extra demand to house asylum seekers never materialised. But... Students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) are moving a motion to their student union general meeting to campaign in solidarity with the Uyghurs: more at the Uyghur Solidarity Campaign website. • All campaign links and info, and suggested wordings for labour-movement...

China sets sexist state strategy

The Chinese state has announced a sexist strategy to stop the “feminisation” of Chinese boys. It thinks the nation’s teens are too delicate, timid and effeminate. A letter from China’s state education ministry has announced the plan to prevent the “feminisation” of young Chinese males, arguing young men can be prevented from becoming too girly by more sport and being exposed to more traditionally masculine role models. The Chinese Government has recently expressed concern over the growing popularity of movie stars and pop icons, saying widely admired role models were formerly traditional...

Demands for DVLA (John Moloney's column)

PCS held an emergency meeting with senior managers from the Department for Transport on Friday 29 January, to discuss the situation at the DVLA [Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency] complex in Swansea. Thousands of workers are still being compelled to come into the workplace even though the safety measures are totally inadequate. We’ve demanded a massive reduction in the number of staff working in the offices; we want that brought down to the bare minimum. The union will meet the department again on 2 February and we’ll put their response to a virtual members’ meeting the following day. If...

Activist agenda

Safe and Equal is producing a new leaflet soon for door-to-door distribution, and developing a call on other campaigning groups which have backed better isolation pay to organise a united front on the issue. Bell Ribiero-Addy MP has been working with the campaign to investigate the employment practices of companies working under the Track and Trace banner. Frontline workers at test centres indicate that many are employed on zero-hours contracts, without isolation pay. A number of activists are now lobbying their councils trying to ensure all care providers pay full sick pay. Unison activists...

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