Paul Gerrard, Socialist Alternative (ISA in England, Wales and Scotland)
On Sunday 16 October a peaceful protest outside the Chinese Consulate in Manchester was attacked by consulate staff, some wearing motorcycle helmets and body armour. One of the protestors was dragged onto the consulate grounds and beaten badly enough to require hospital treatment.
CCTV footage from the Consulate itself shows staff, apparently including Consul-General Zheng Xiyuan himself, coming out onto the pavement, grabbing placards and dragging a protestor into the consulate grounds. Given the imperialist conflict between China and the West, this issue can escalate into a sharp diplomatic power struggle.
Consulate staff claim that posters displayed showed “deeply offensive imagery and slogans” which they described as “threatening and insulting”. One of the posters they objected to depicted Xi Jinping as an “emperor with no clothes on”. Given that Xi Jinping is seeking an unprecedented third term of office at the 20th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress while presiding over Covid lockdowns involving millions, mortgage strikes and skyrocketing youth unemployment the poster would seem fair comment.
Many of Sunday’s protestors were Hong Kong residents who fled to the UK to escape the brutal suppression of democratic rights by the CCP after the defeat of the pro-democracy movement in 2019. Supporters of ISA in Hong Kong were active in that movement, stressing the need to “spread the struggle to mainland China”.
We argued then that the UK and the US, which many had illusions in, were no friends of democracy. Only working class struggle independent of ruling class of any countries can challenge dictatorial capitalist rule.
However, whatever our political differences with the leaders of the Hong Kong movement, many now in the UK, we defend their right to hold peaceful demonstrations outside the consulate. We ourselves have taken part in protests at the consulate against the ruthless repression of workers’ rights at the Jasic factory in 2018.
The Hong Kong protestors have targeted their anger at CCP officials. However, the real aim should be to convince the mass of the Chinese people, whether in the UK, China, or around the world, for a united struggle against the dictatorship and capitalism. Many Chinese people are furious at Xi’s policies, as shown by the response on the internet to the man holding banner calling for ‘strike against the dictator and national traitor Xi Jinping’ in Beijing.
Now the Tories have sprung hypocritically to the defence of the right to protest, calling for statements from the Chinese Ambassador, demanding arrests, expulsions etc. All this at a time when the Public Order Bill, which precisely seeks to restrict the right to protest and demonstrate, is passing through Parliament.
They even want to pass a law preventing former services personnel with aviation expertise from working in China training the People’s Liberation Army. Yet they happily provide training by current services personnel to some of the most repressive regimes in the world including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Rwanda. This is all part of the drive to consolidate a Western military alliance alongside Biden, Macron and others which can further isolate China as part of the worldwide geopolitical struggle between China and the US.
- No restrictions on the rights to public protest. Scrap the Public Order Bill
- For a trade union and community inquiry, led by Manchester Trades Council, into the attack at the Consulate
- Appeal to the mainland Chinese people for a united struggle against the CCP dictatorship and capitalist rule
- No trust in any capitalist powers to support democratic rights in China