The Guangzhou-Hongkong strike, 1925-1926 : Hong Kong workers in an anti-Imperialist movement
In this thesis, I study the Guangzhou-Hongkong strike of 1925-1926. My analysis differs from past studies' suggestions that the strike was a libertarian eruption of mass protest against British imperialism and the Hongkong Government, which, according to these studies, exploited and oppressed Chinese in Guangdong and Hongkong. I argue that a political party, the CCP, led, organised, and nurtured the strike. It centralised political power in its hands and tried to impose its revolutionary visions on those under its control. First, I describe how foreign trade enriched many people outside the state. I go on to describe how Chinese-run institutions governed Hongkong's increasingly settled non-elite Chinese population. I reject ideas that Hongkong's mixed-class unions exploited workers and suggest that revolutionaries failed to transform Hongkong society either before or during the strike. My thesis shows that the strike bureaucracy was an authoritarian power structure; the strike's unprecedented political demands reflected the CCP's revolutionary political platform, which was sometimes incompatible with the interests of Hongkong's unions. I suggest that the revolutionary elite's goals were not identical to those of the unions it claimed to represent: Hongkong unions preserved their autonomy in the face of revolutionaries' attempts to control Hongkong workers. Other writers have concentrated on the actions of Chinese revolutionaries, Hongkong's Chinese elite,and the Hongkong Government during the strike; my approach is unique because I focus on Hongkong's smaller unions, who fought revolutionaries' attempts to impose their own conception of a "modern" society. Finally, I show that, although the strike leadership gained control over a strike bureaucracy and built a solid power base through alliances with union leaders, its mass support ebbed away. The strike's main policy, a boycott of Hongkong trade, created opposition to the strike from merchants, peasants, and workers, which opposition GMD politicians exploited to bring the strike to an end.