An Introduction to Globalization Monitor
Globalization Monitor is a non-profit organization based in Hong Kong. It was founded shortly before the big Seattle protest against the WTO in l999. Its editorial board members are activists from trade unions, the green movement, regional groups and grassroots organizations. It has been the chief organization in HK to dedicate itself to promoting awareness of the negative effects of globalization.
In the past five years, GM has put out 18 issues of its journal, also called Globalization Monitor. These issues subjected ‘free trade ‘, privatization, liberalization of capital flow and other bedrocks of neo liberal policies to critical analysis and have been a valuable resource tool for the HK social movement.
2. Public Education
We have given numerous talks and held many workshops among college students and grassroots organizations.
In 2000, we worked with the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions on a year-long educational project on globalization among union members
In 2001, we initiated a coalition of more than 20 local groups and launched a campaign against the World Economic Forum and its conference in HK.
In 2004, Globalization Monitor, along with local trade unions and NGOs, founded the Hong Kong People’s Alliance on the WTO to (HKPA) to prepare for the campaign against the Sixth Ministerial Meeting of the WTO in December 2005.
4. Solidarity with Chinese labor actions
In the middle of 2004, news emerged that the Gold Peak Group, a Hong Kong based Asian TNC with several battery-making factories in Huizhou, China, had poisoned several hundred workers with the chemical cadmium, used in the production process. Workers reacted with strikes. With the support of local trade unions and NGOs GM has organised an ongoing solidarity campaign in HK supporting the workers’ demands for fair compensation. In August 2005, the GP group announced the founding of a HK$10 million medical fund for the victims. However the victims have not been benefited by this fund. Therefore they have not called off their struggle for justice and GM is continuing its work to support them.
What we do:
- Promote public awareness of the adverse effects of globalization, neo-liberalism and corporate monopolies;
- Lobby for legislation that will restrain the behaviour of Corporations and protect the rights of workers, women, consumers, marginal groups and also the environment;
- Promote an autonomous social movement in the fight for political and economic democracy and the just distribution of social resources.
The Hong Kong Context
In HK the struggle for market regulation and control over free trade and free capital flows faces immense difficulties. Historically HK has a reputation as a prosperous free port that nurtures a pro-market and pro-free trade mentality which has pulled in both middle classes and working people along its wake. The mainland economic reforms and gradual opening of China’s market over the last 25 years have boosted HK’s status as a bastion of free trade and minimal government intervention in the market place. However, the Asian crisis of 1998 presented a serious challenge to the myth of just and fair development based on free trade. The economic recession that heralded the new century saw the budget deficit rise considerably. Even when recovery came, it came with a very limited growth in jobs. The government and the corporations have been quick to shift the burden of both the crisis and the slow recovery on to working people, the unemployed and elderly by implementing budget cuts and large-scale privatization that in turn have led to further job losses and a lowering of living standards among large sections of the population. Political and economic power has remained firmly in the hands of the wealthy making a nonsense of both trickledown economics and the government’s gradual path towards universal suffrage.
The crisis and the hardship have heralded a period of reflection and renewed commitment among social activists in HK. Globalization Monitor will continue to vigourously pursue our public education efforts in order to promote alternative thinking for the social movement.
China has fully integrated into the global market and transformed itself into a powerful exporting machine. However, the comparative advantages of Chinese products rest on the high level of exploitation of both working people and the environment. Workers and farmers are denied the basic political freedoms, and crucially, the right of association. Rural migrant workers are further denied full freedom of residence and of movement in the cities. Lacking the basic tools for self defence, workers have to endure extremely low wages and high intensity of work. The lack of genuine democratic and independent trade unions are a major reason why China is the most popular destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the world, and why half of all workers working in Export Processing Zones (EPZs) are found in China.
China’s membership of the WTO is also beginning to have a negative impact on farmers, which in turn is feeding the migration to off farm jobs in towns and cities. This migration is further depressing actual wages as workers are not permitted to organize in defence of their collective interests. State-owned enterprise (SOE) restructuring has also deepened with WTO membership and 40 million workers have been laid off in recent years as SOEs attempt to increase ‘efficiency’ in order to meet foreign competition.
The gross exploitation of Chinese workers and our environment should be a concern not only to the working people of HK but also of global civil society. China has become a major player in the race to the bottom for working people, not only among Asian countries but also across the world. Globalization Monitor is keen to cooperate with other organizations in monitoring the impact of globalization on working people in China and promote alternatives to profit-centered development in China and everywhere.