File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9710, message 555

Date: Tue, 28 Oct 1997 10:54:54 +0000
Subject: M-I: Hong Kong

I would look at the peculiar nature of the emigre Chinese
capitalist class (is the term 'comprador' class). Due to the low level
of productivity in China, the capitalist class has developed in a
peculiarly external relation to Chinese society, as traders, quite
literally outside China itself. There principal activity is trading in
the agricultural surpluses generated within China itself. Throughout
East Asia you will find considerable hostility to the Chinese, who, like
the Jews in Eastern Europe, are hated for their role as traders and
money-lenders. But these emigre capitalists are a natural product of the
low level of economic development, and the inability of mainland China
to trade their own surpluses. It is this development that has led to the
satellite developments of Taiwan and Hong Kong. Capitalism thrived
outside China, at its gateways as a trading capitalism. Hong Kong is
just an island. Its status as trading post arises out of the peculiar
development of Chinese society. Most commentators would have it that it
was the Communist revolution that forced the capitalists into exile. I
would put it the other way round - it is the distance of the business
class from production in China that made the revolution likely. Today,
the great distance between China's emigre capitalist class and its
immense labour resources are closing. Slowly the Chinese elite are
moving towards re-unification, first with Hong Kong, soon with Taiwan.
Their handling of the current market crisis (read as intelligent, so
far) marks out the growing rapprochement between Chinese emigre capital
and the mainland.

Apart from that I endorse Jim B's points on the role of colonialism.

James Heartfield

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