- Global Voices - https://globalvoices.org -

Report from the WTO Demonstrations in Hong Kong

Categories: East Asia, Hong Kong (China), South Korea

The Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference [1] was held in Hong Kong, 13-18 December 2005. Thousands of anti-globalization campaigners, especially South Korean farmers who has been opposing the opening of their rice market by an agreement South Korean government made with WTO, had protested across central Hong Kong, carrying huge banners, chanting, banging drums, and fighting with policemen of Hong Kong.

Most of the bloggers in Hong Kong who joined the demonstration against WTO personally were supporting the South Korean farmers’ appeals from the bottom of heart, which is similar to the demonstration for universal suffrage on Dec.4. HK bloggers played the role of not only civic reporters, but the practitioners of grass root power.

Majority of bloggers in the inmediahk [2] (ZH) are strongly against WTO, and support South Korean farmers staunchly. They reported the daily demonstration using their first hand source. When the riot [3] took place on Dec. 17, some of them were shot by water cannon, and nearly suffocated by tear gas and pepper spray. They condemned what HK police did against protesters, and described it was the shame of HK. Interestingly, if there was one person who expressed the different view with them, they besieged and censured him.

The Journalism and Media Studies Centre [4] at the University of Hong Kong [5] joined by HK’s reputable English newspaper, The Standard [6] and the well-known EastSouthWestNorth [7] blogger, Roland Soong established a dedicated blog style website for this WTO ministerial meeting named Curbside @ WTO [8] .Curbside reported the daily meeting formally, and post personal feelings in the item of web log [9] by its tens of master students in the journalism school. One of them, Jonathan Lee [10] thinks Hong Kong Police's motto of “We serve with pride and care” is being exercised to the fullest, and he also believed that the unsung heroes of Hong Kong [11] during the demonstrations are those street cleaners in HK.

The eloquent HK blogger, Glutter [12] also joined the demonstration against WTO, and talked a lot about her observations and feelings in her rants during the meeting. She expressed deep disappointment to the protest in the WTO Diary: Genuine Concerns Turns First World Violent Entertainment [13]. She said,

“the reason I left was I felt really disappointed by a lot of Hong Kong people who turned up were just standing around blocking the protesters and the police… The reason that really made me totally embarrassed and made me want to leave the whole thing was reading the “Declarations” of the Hong Kong hunger strikers. It was total bullshit, what they were demanding they wanted the negotiation on agriculture and fisheries removed from the WTO table meaning everything remains status quo and it doesn't help the cause at all”.

In her another post named Globalize Trade, Globalized Violence, Violence of poverty, and Having the Strength of Convictions to Deal with Consequences [14], she said,

“the police has my respect for being completely restraint. I have never seen such a lack of forward attack happen between police and protesters considering how violent it was. The South Korean farmers have my respect for having the strength of conviction with following up with what their threats were and dealing with the consequences with honor and respect. They put their bodies and lives at risk, they willingly put themselves out there because they feel they are being hurt by globalization and danced for hours and chanted for hours while surrounded by police in defiance and belief.”

Finally, she said, “all I can say is no matter what, how I feel is a complete failure of the Anti-WTO movement in being unable to express themselves in any logical way”.

Yahoo Hong Kong conducted a survey which 9594 people participate in as of Dec. 19. Responding to the question that if you agree with what anti-WTO protesters did, tremendously 68% of participants recognize, only 26% of them don’t. And yet 65% of the respondents think the action that HK police’s took against protesters are proper, even 14% of them consider it too tolerant. This is the public opinion of HK people. They love freedom and fairness, as well as rule of law.