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Amazon
Apr 12th, 2017 by Gao

Working for Amazon in China, where the global giant is a dwarf (chuang)

Amazon has long been in the news – for its giant size, its rapid growth, its silly new inventions of drones and talking buttons for placing orders. Amazon’s employees have shifted the spotlight from the consumer perspective to their own working conditions. They’ve moved from quietly sweating away behind the walls of Amazon’s massive “fulfillment centers” to speaking out and eventually fighting back against the monotony of picking and packing, of being bullied around and treated like children by managers, against low wages and long hours, against changing shifts and short breaks and so on. Workers in Germany, Poland and France have gone on strike or used other collective actions, such as slowdowns, to assert their demands and resist intimidation by this seemingly all-powerful exploiter.
A lot of goods that Amazon ships to American, European and Japanese customers are made in China. And here too, Amazon has been trying to establish roots. However, in China, Amazon is a dwarf and light years away from the dominating position it holds elsewhere. Still, Amazon’s global reach coupled with its workers’ struggles and networking efforts elsewhere make it a particularly interesting case for comparing work conditions and for exchange among workers in different parts of the world.

Illegale Leiharbeit bei VW in China
Mrz 6th, 2017 by Gao

Hundreds of Volkswagen workers in northeast China demand equal pay (China Labour Bulletin)

More than 500 FAW-Volkswagen workers in the northeast city of Jilin held a demonstration demanding an end to unequal pay last week Thursday.
The workers, employed indirectly by an agency, gathered at the local labour arbitration committee offices, protesting official inaction over their case after months of campaigning through official channels. Workers have rallied under the slogan of “equal pay for equal work”, claiming that agency workers are paid significantly less than full employees, despite years of service to the factory. One Volkswagen worker reported making just half the pay of a full employee (60,000 vs 120,000 annually)…
According to workers themselves, the joint venture employs around 1,500 agency workers, many have worked at the factory for over ten years. Workers have demanded compensation for the discrepancy in wages, benefits and bonuses.

VW China mit illegaler Leiharbeit? (Rolf Geffken / Rat & Tat)

Tatsächlich verstößt die Verweigerung der gleichen Bezahlung sowohl gegen chinesisches Recht wie auch gegen die zitierte „Charta der Zeitarbeit“: 1. Wir zitieren aus unserem Kommentar zum Chinesischen Arbeitsvertragsgesetz: „Die Arbeitnehmerüberlassung soll in der Regel lediglich für vorübergehende Tätigkeiten…..vorgenommen werden (Art. 66). In der Novellierung… wurde der Begriff…. so definiert, daß damit nur solche Stellen gemeint seien, die nicht länger als 6 Monate (!) existieren. Im Ergebnis bedeutet dies, daß die Weiterbeschäftigung eines Leiharbeitnehmers auf einem Arbeitsplatz für länger als 6 Monate zur Begründung eines Arbeitsverhältnisses mit dem Entleiher (also: VW, R.G.) führt. In Art. 66 stellt das Gesetz klar, daß …. die Leiharbeit nur sekundär eingesetzt werden darf….. In Art. 63 der neuen Fassung wurde zudem der Grundsatz gleicher Bezahlung für gleiche Arbeit präzisiert.“ (Geffken/ Cui, „Das Chinesische Arbeitsvertragsgesetz“, 4. Auflage 2016, S. 26). In Art. 63 heißt es ausdrücklich: „Der Leiharbeitnehmer hat einen Anspruch darauf, für die gleiche Arbeit auch das gleiche Entgelt zu erhalten wie die Festangestellten des Entleihers“ (a.a.O., S. 50). Danach ist die Beschäftigung der meisten Betroffenen in Changchun als Leiharbeiter illegal. Die Arbeiter haben einen Anspruch auf Festanstellung u n d unabhängig davon auch auf gleiche Bezahlung … Der Konflikt in China zeigt, daß die Lage der Leiharbeiter und „Kontraktarbeiter“ dort strukturell absolut vergleichbar ist mit der Lage der Leiharbeitnehmer und Werkvertragsbeschäftigten in Deutschland. Allerdings: Die Rechtslage in China ist – absurd genug ! – noch eindeutiger als in Deutschland. Umso unverständlicher ist es aber, daß sich offenbar bis heute weder der „Weltbetriebsrat“ noch der Konzernbetriebsrat in Wolfsburg oder die IG Metall der Sache angenommen haben.

Krieg gegen China?
Dez 12th, 2016 by Gao

John Pilger: The Coming War on China (movie; RT)

A nuclear war between the United States and China is not only imaginable but a current ‘contingency’, says the Pentagon. This film by acclaimed filmmaker John Pilger’s is both a warning and an inspiring story of resistance.
The Coming War on China, filmed over two years across five potential flashpoints in Asia and the Pacific, reveals the build-up to war on more than 400 US military bases that encircle China in a ‘perfect noose’.
Using rare archive and remarkable interviews with witnesses, Pilger’s film discloses America’s secret history in the region – the destruction wrought by the equivalent of one Hiroshima every day for 12 years, and the top secret ‘Project 4.1’ that made guinea pigs of the population of the Marshall Islands.

Erneuerbare Energie
Okt 24th, 2016 by Gao

John A. Mathews: China’s Continuing Renewable Energy Revolution – latest trends in electric power generation (Japan Focus)

China has made strategic choices favouring renewables over fossil fuels that are still not widely understood or appreciated. Hao Tan and I have been making these arguments for several years now, and in particular in our article in Nature in September 2014 we argued that China had overwhelming economic and energy security reasons for opting in favour of renewables, in addition to the obvious environmental benefits.1 In this article I wish to take these arguments further and update the picture to incorporate comprehensive 2015 data as well as fresh targets for 2017 and 2020…
Of course the system as a whole is still largely black – that’s what 73% dependence on fossil fuels means. But the trend, the leading edge, is definitely headed in a green direction. Over the past decade, dependence on thermal sources reached a peak of 83.3% of power generated in the two years 2006 and 2007, and has been declining each year since to reach just 73.0% in 2015 – or a 10% decline in a decade. This is a remarkably swift shift for such a large technical system – particularly one that is growing rapidly – and is the basis for targets that see thermal sources accounting for just 63% by 2020 and less than 50% by 2030. By this time the total electric power system in China would be greener than blacker…
According to China’s National Energy Administration, China invested 139.6 billion yuan (around US$21 billion) in new coal-fired power stations in 2015. This is less than a fifth of the investment in clean energy sources. In the same briefing on the electricity sector in China in 2015 the NEA revealed that investment in hydro amounted to 78.2 billion yuan (or US$11.7 billion) and in nuclear power investment was 56 billion yuan (or US$8.4 billion). So it is safe to say that China’s green investment in renewable power sources in 2015 well surpassed investment in thermal sources.

Philippinen | Thailand | Korea
Okt 24th, 2016 by Gao

Anthony V. Rinna: Can Duterte’s diplomacy have it all? (East Asia Forum)

Less than six months into his tenure as President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte has embarked on what even he considers to be risky foreign policy moves. In September 2016, he declared that he is about to ‘cross the Rubicon’ in the Philippines’ relationship with the United States.
The ‘crossing’ Duterte refers to is his plan to enhance the Philippines’ relationships with Russia and China.

Greg Raymond: What’s wrong with the United States’ Southeast Asian allies? (East Asia Forum)

The Philippines and Thailand are not acting like US treaty allies are supposed to. While the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte seems somewhat of an outlier, his anti-Americanism is only the latest instalment of instability in the US–Philippines relationship. Thai–US relations have also suffered since the 2014 military coup and Thailand now appears to be seeking closer military ties with China. But these countries’ disagreements with the United States do not necessarily mean they want a change to the status quo in Asia.

Andrei Lankov: Learning to live with a nuclear North Korea (East Asia Forum)

North Korea has done it again. On 9 October they conducted yet another nuclear test, so far the most powerful and arguably the most successful. To make matters worse, there are good reasons to expect that another test is in the making.

Nidhi Prasad: Japan’s nuclear insurance against North Korea (East Asia Forum)

George Shultz’s axiom that ‘proliferation begets proliferation’ appears to be contested in East Asia. North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on 9 September, leaving its non-nuclear Asian neighbours vexed. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe termed it ‘totally unacceptable’ and has called for strict sanctions. But the international fear of North Korea’s nuclear tests triggering a chain of nuclear tests in East Asia or the rise of a nuclear tsunami seems to have been dispelled with the United States’ Asian allies favouring ‘strategic assurance’.

Bergarbeiterproteste in Heilongjiang
Mrz 14th, 2016 by Gao

出大事了!黑龍江上萬礦工討薪跟武警幹起來了(阿波羅新聞)

這兩天在我家鄉黑龍江省雙鴨山發生的真實事件,沒有一家媒體敢報道,在兩會期間省長說­龍煤集團八萬井下職工一個月工資都沒少,矇騙全國人民,真實情況是整個集團十多萬人已­經快一年沒有薪水,每個月工資幾百塊的活命錢,民憤難平!
黑龍江省雙鴨山市“雙鴨山礦業集團”旗下多個礦區的上萬人星期五發起遊行示威,抗議集團拖欠工人工資。期間,4名工人遭到警方抓捕。當天上午,“雙鴨山礦業集團”旗下的東榮小區、東榮一礦、東榮二礦、東榮三礦、四方台礦、七星礦等多個礦區的數千工人及家屬走上街頭,手持“我們要活著,我們要吃飯”、“陸昊睜眼說瞎話”等橫幅,在市區多處遊行示威。

Jane Perlez, Huang Yufan: Mass Layoffs in China’s Coal Country Threaten Unrest (New York Times)
Peter Symonds: Thousands of coal miners protest over unpaid wages (WSWS)

Thousands of Chinese coal miners protested last week in the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang after provincial governor Lu Hao boasted to the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing that wages at the huge state-owned Longmay Mining Group were being paid in full and on time.
The unrest follows the announcement earlier this month by employment and welfare minister Yin Weimin that 1.3 million coal miners and 500,000 steel workers will lose their jobs as the government slashes overcapacity in basic industry. The protests are a sign of the acute social tensions building up as the Chinese economy continues to slow.

Lucy Hornby: China provinces rail against Beijing plan to tackle overcapacity (Financial Times)

[A]t the annual session of the National People’s Congress, … a central government plan to tackle crippling industrial overcapacity has met a chorus of complaints over who is to foot the bill.
For the past two weeks, Beijing has openly acknowledged that solving the problem will involve job losses — almost 6m, by some estimates. Beijing has proposed that the central government establish a Rmb100bn ($15bn) fund to retrain workers but specified that local governments and the companies themselves must foot part of the bill. In return, banks would be expected to provide new loans.
“Enterprises should be the major actors, local governments should play a co-ordinating role and the central government should provide due support, while the responsibility for making sure that overcapacity reductions happen in a locality will be on the relevant provincial-level government,” the finance ministry said in its annual report released on Saturday.
The problem with this cost-sharing solution is that local governments in coal, oil or steel-dependent regions are seeing their revenues hit as their local champions go broke. While apparently supportive of Premier Li Keqiang’s plan, regional representatives have been using the National People’s Congress to suggest Beijing should be shouldering more of the burden.
Lu Hao, governor of resource-dependent Heilongjiang province on the border with Siberia, is one of them. In the past two years the province has weathered protests by unpaid teachers and angry retirees of China National Petroleum Corp, the national oil company. In October state-owned enterprise Longmay Coal announced it would have to lay off 100,000 of its bloated 248,000 workforce.

Chris Buckley: Official Admits He Gave Misleading Account of Chinese Miners’ Plight (New York Times)
Zhuang Pinghui: Miners’ protest: ailing Chinese coal firm Heilongjiang Longmay told to pay workers (South China Morning Post)
蒋国华:陆昊主持召开专题会议研究龙煤集团脱困发展工作(黑龙江省人民政府)
文静:“这个事错了,知错就要改”(京华时报)

“井上职工欠薪我们一直是掌握的。井下职工确实有欠薪,这个情况,我说错了,不管什么层级报告错了,不管任何原因,错了就要改。改了,还要努力解决问题,同时深刻吸取教训。”今天下午,黑龙江省省长陆昊在代表团驻地讨论会场接受本报记者采访时表示,龙煤集团拖欠工资问题,政府将帮助支持企业努力解决,近期会有进展。我们不管是政府干部,还是企业干部,对待职工要真诚,讲清楚真实的问题,正确的工作要坚持,错的问题就要改。

David Stanway: China’s failing state firms need to reform themselves: governor (Reuters)
Twin meetings, mass layoffs and failed reforms (Chinaworker)
Schwieriger Abbau von Überkapazitäten (Deutsche Welle)

Alltag in China unter Mao
Jan 30th, 2016 by Gao

Tong Lam: Everyday Life in Mao’s China: A Q&A with Historian Covell Meyskens (Los Angeles Review of Books)

In the early 20th century, Paul Valery predicted that one day in the not too distant future, it would be possible for someone to access information from all over the world without having to travel anywhere. With the arrival of the digital age, this prediction has become our reality. The possibilities that this condition has opened up for contemporary scholarship are truly exciting. A few months ago, I began my first venture into this realm, when I created the website Everyday Life in Mao’s China.
The website came about largely by accident. Over the past few years, I had collected a number of digital photos of the Maoist period, but I had not made much of them, except as illustrations in my dissertation. Then, last fall, I began to show some in my courses to spur discussions. A few lively class sessions later, I realized how useful it would be to have a website where people could access all sorts of images of China under Mao.

Blog/Website: Everyday Life in Mao’s China

This website is dedicated to photos and paintings of everyday life in China from roughly the 1930s to the 1980s.

KDVR
Jan 12th, 2016 by Gao

Nordkorea-Experte Frank über angeblichen Bombentest (ORF ZiB24, Video, 4:40 Min.)

Gadenstätter: Es haben heute Experten auch schon gesagt, Kim möchte … vor allem mit den USA auf Augenhöhe verhandeln. Warum ist ihm denn das so wichtig?
Frank: Aus nordkoreanischer Sicht sind die Vereinigten Staaten … das größte Sicherheitsrisiko für Nordkorea, zumindest bislang, wenn man China mal ausklammert. … [Die Nordkoreaner!] wollen gerne einen Friedensvertrag abschließen. Den möchten sie zwischen Gleichberechtigten schließen, nicht zwischen Gewinner und Verlierer, und auch dazu trägt sicherlich das Atomprogramm bei.

Klaus Huhold: „Der Abbau von Atomwaffen ist für Nordkoreaner indiskutabel“ (Wiener Zeitung)

Nordkorea hat mit seinem vierten Atomtest wieder einmal für internationale Empörung gesorgt: Das Regime des Diktators Kim Jong-un gibt an, eine Wasserstoffbombe getestet zu haben – westliche Experten vermuten aber, dass es eher eine weitere, herkömmliche Atombombe war. Der Nordkorea-Experte Rüdiger Frank erklärt, warum das Land aufrüstet und in welches Dilemma das China stürzt.

Maximilian Gerl: Pjöngjangs Atomtest: „Der Westen hat kaum noch Drohpotenzial gegen Kim“ (Spiegel)

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Was bezweckt Nordkorea mit der Zündung einer angeblichen Wasserstoffbombe?
Rüdiger Frank: Es ist die konsequente Fortsetzung der bisherigen Politik von Pjöngjang. Nordkorea hat sich schon vor vielen Jahren dazu entschieden, auf das Prinzip der nuklearen Abschreckung zu setzen. Das hat schon während des Kalten Krieges gut funktioniert. Die Führung um Kim Jong Un hat offenbar immer noch die Sorge, dass die USA das Land militärisch besetzen könnten. …
SPIEGEL ONLINE: China gilt als der wichtigste Partner Pjöngjangs. Wie lange wird Peking Nordkorea noch beschützen?
Frank: Das tun die Chinesen schon lange nicht mehr.Eigentlich ist China das von Nordkorea am meisten bedrohte Land in der Region: Gibt es ein Reaktorunglück, weht der Fallout nach China. Bröckelt das Regime in Pjöngjang, ist das auch für Chinas Machthaber gefährlich. Die Nordkoreaner treiben die Chinesen im Moment vor sich her – und machen ihr eigenes Ding.

Workshop 2015
Aug 25th, 2015 by Gao

Workshop: Wohin geht China?
Zur Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in China

6. und 7. November 2015
Kulturzentrum Amerlinghaus, Stiftgasse 8, 1070 Wien
Wohin geht China?
China macht täglich Schlagzeilen. Die Nachrichten reichen von Horrormeldungen bis zu unwissendem Staunen. Tiefer gehende Hintergrundberichte haben Seltenheitswert. Auch unter der Linken herrschen vage Vorstellungen über die Entwicklungslinien des Landes vor.

Die China Study Group Europe will mit ihrer Veranstaltung und dem Seminar einen Beitrag zur Erhellung der Situation in China aus linker Sicht liefern: Wie weit gehen die Reformen in Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft? Ist die Arbeiter_innenklasse gänzlich an den Rand gedrängt? Ist von der chinesischen Revolution nur mehr die rote Fahne übrig geblieben? Welche Kräfte dominieren, was ist ihre Perspektive? Welche Klassen bestimmen die weitere Entwicklung? Welche Szenarien sind real? Hat der Sozialismus in China noch eine Chance? Diesen Fragen versuchen wir auf den Grund zu gehen. Read the rest of this entry »

Planwirtschaft?
Jun 23rd, 2015 by Gao

Ein neuerer Artikel von Heiko Khoo (s. u.) greift diese Debatte von Ende letzten Jahres auf:
Sebastian Heilmann, Oliver Melton: The Reinvention of Development Planning in China, 1993–2012. In: Modern China 39 (November 2013), S. 580–628.

In studies of China’s economic rise and political system, multiyear comprehensive and sectoral plans issued by the national government tend to be played down as futile efforts at reigning in a political economy increasingly driven by market incentives and decentralized decisions. Contrary to this, we provide evidence that China’s planning system has been transformed alongside the economic transition, yet remains central to almost all domains of public policy making and the political institutions that have fostered China’s high-speed growth and economic stability. The incorporation of experimental programs into macro-plans, a tiered hierarchy of policy oversight, newly introduced mid-course plan evaluations, and systematic top-level policy review have allowed Chinese planners to play a central role in economic policy making without succumbing to the rigidity traps that debased traditional planned economies. By better understanding how the planning cycle influences incentives and resources of successive layers of bureaucracies and jurisdictions, and how it updates itself and adapts to new challenges, it is possible to explain a greater proportion of the Chinese policy-making process, including many of its successes and pathologies.

Hu Angang: The Distinctive Transition of China’s Five-Year Plans. Modern China 39 (November 2013), S. 629–639.

China has taken a distinctive path of economic transition, combining both the market and the plan. In introducing the market mechanism, the government has not abandoned the planning mechanism, as was done in other socialist countries, but instead has reformed it. The five-year plan has thus been transformed from economic planning to public affairs governance planning. Today the plan and the market are combined so that the two supplement and stimulate each other.

Barry Naughton: The Return of Planning in China. Comment on Heilmann–Melton and Hu Angang. In: Modern China 39 (November 2013), S. 640–652.

Heilmann and Melton break important new ground in describing the revival of development planning in China and showing how planning is now interwoven with other aspects of the political system, particularly policy formulation and cadre evaluation. Clarification of the instruments planners use and their link to developmental outcomes would improve the argument. Although planners believe their plans are consistent with a market economy, it may turn out that the revival of planning after 2003 was purchased at the cost of significant distortions in the market economy and reduced efficiency.

Heiko Khoo: China’s modern planning system (China.org.cn)

The 12th Five-Year Plan comes to a close this year and the 13th Five-Year Plan is being elaborated, so it is worth looking at how China’s planning system functions so we can better understand the forces driving China’s economy.

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