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.

Arbeitskämpfe | Sprachenpolitik | Inselstreit
Aug 28th, 2016 by Gao

Tricky Footwork-the struggle of labour rights in the Chinese shoe industry (Globalization Monitor)

Collected in interviews conducted in 2015 for this study, testimonies attest to the fact that labour law violations are still a common phenomenon in the Chinese leather and footwear industry. The people who work at the factories that supply European brands such as Adidas, Clarks and ECCO told us of, among other infringements, salaries that are far below a living wage, involuntary overtime, insufficient protection from health and safety risks, insufficient protection for young workers, disrespectful treatment of workers, no right to assembly, state violence to suppress strikes, unpaid social insurance contributions and insufficient severance payments.
All of the above is happening despite the fact that China has very progressive labour laws, especially in comparison with other producing countries.

Matthew Carney: The Labours of Mr Zhang (ABC)

Zhang Ziru has lost count of how many times he has been arrested. One week he remembers it was five times. He lives under constant police surveillance. He has moved away from his family to keep them safe.
Such are the occupational hazards for the labour activist who has helped organise some of China’s biggest strikes.

Gerald Roche: The politics of language on the Tibetan plateau (Little Red Podcast / Soundcloud)

The South China Sea is an important world energy trade route (U. S. Energy Information Administration)

Stretching from Singapore and the Strait of Malacca chokepoint in the southwest to the Strait of Taiwan in the northeast, the South China Sea is one of the most important energy trade routes in the world. Almost a third of global crude oil and over half of global liquefied natural gas (LNG) passes through the South China Sea each year.
The Strait of Malacca is the shortest sea route between African and Persian Gulf suppliers and Asian consumers. The strait is a critical transit chokepoint and has become increasingly important over the last two decades. In 1993, about 7 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of oil and petroleum products (20% of world seaborne oil trade) passed through the Strait of Malacca …

Jeremy Bender: The only chart you need to see to know that the South China Sea is one of the most militarized regions in the world (Business Insider)

China, by far, has the largest military force in the region. As such, Beijing could force its claims over the South China Sea against the wishes of the other nations involved in the dispute due to both its economic and military size.

Pepe Escobar: The Real Secret of the South China Sea (Sputnik)

The South China Sea is and will continue to be the ultimate geopolitical flashpoint of the young 21st century – way ahead of the Middle East or Russia’s western borderlands. No less than the future of Asia – as well as the East-West balance of power – is at stake.
To understand the Big Picture, we need to go back to 1890 when Alfred Mahan, then president of the US Naval College, wrote the seminal The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783. Mahan’s central thesis is that the US should go global in search of new markets, and protect these new trade routes through a network of naval bases.

Below the Winds: What Do the Island Disputes Really Mean to Vietnamese & Chinese Workers? (Chuang)

Chinese control over the South China Sea would to some extent entail Chinese control over Korean, Japanese, and Taiwanese capital. These three countries are longstanding American allies, and it stands to reason that should China be determined to dominate the South China Sea as a territorial water, thereby dominating one of the most important shipping lanes in the world, an American allied coalition may be dragged into conflict.

Peter Symonds: The Hague ruling: A dangerous step toward war (World Socialist Website)

In the wake of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s sweeping ruling on Tuesday in The Hague, negating all Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea, there has been a chorus of US-led condemnations of China’s “illegal activities,” demands that Beijing abide by the court decision and calls for US diplomatic and military action to enforce the verdict.

Robert Fitzthum: Der Konflikt in der South China Sea im geostrategischen Kontext (PDF, Labournet Austria)

Mehr als 11.000 km vom amerikanischen Festland entfernt proben US-Flugzeugträger, Lenkwaffenkreuzer sowie EP-3 Spionageflugzeuge in der South China Sea die ‚Freedom of Navigation‘. Erstaunlicherweise passieren jährlich ca. 100.000 Transportschiffe und viele Verkehrsflugzeuge dieses Gebiet, ohne dass man bisher von Problemen in der Freiheit der Passage durch die South China Sea gehört hatte. Die USA werfen China aggressives Verhalten im Zusammenhang mit der Schaffung von künstlichen Inseln und ziviler und militärischer Einrichtungen vor. Ein Jahrzehnte alter, regional allseits bewusst niedrig gehaltener Konflikt über die Hoheits- und Nutzungsrechte an Inseln, Riffen, Felsen, Meeresgebieten u.ä. wird derzeit als großes Problem hochgekocht und man fragt sich, warum ist das der Fall.

Jacques deLisle: The South China Sea Arbitration Decision: China Fought the Law, and the Law Won….Or Did It? (Foreign Policy Research Institute)

When the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague issued its unanimous decision on July 12 in the case that the Philippines had filed against the People’s Republic of China two and a half years earlier, the Court set forth: a stunning repudiation of several of China’s key legal arguments and much of its real-world behavior in the disputed South China Sea; a remarkable affirmation of the core elements of US policy and strategy toward the contested maritime region and China’s claims and actions therein; and a striking assertion of the reach and capacity of international law and formal dispute resolution procedures. Yet, as with so much else concerning the South China Sea, China’s relations with its neighbors, US policy toward China, and international law, the implications of the decision are a good deal more ambiguous and ambivalent. In the aftermath of the decision, China is faced with difficult choices, the US with complex dilemmas, and international law with substantial peril.

Minxin Pei: Why China’s elites worry about the country’s future (Nikkei Asian Review)

[I]f you meet Chinese businessmen, academics or government officials who are willing to share their candid opinions in private, most will tell you they have no idea where China is going. Several recent important developments create the same sense of bewilderment about China’s overall direction.

Walmart-Streik | Mao-Biografien | Auslandsaufklärung | Yanhuang Chunqiu
Jul 28th, 2016 by Gao

Nandita Bose: U.S. and Chinese labor groups collaborated before China Wal-Mart strikes (Reuters)

OUR Walmart, the American worker group, has taken the unusual step of collaborating with a group of Chinese Wal-Mart workers trying to fight work schedule changes and low wages.
OUR Walmart and the Wal-Mart Chinese Workers Association (WCWA) discussed strategy for recent strikes in China on a Skype call last month using a translator

Statement from Hong Kong labour groups on the prosecution of labour activists in Guangdong (Globalization Monitor)

Guangdong labour activists Zeng Feiyang, Meng Han, Zhu Xiaomei and Tang Huanxing, who were arrested by Chinese police on 3rd December, 2015, were charged with “disturbing social order” by the People’s Procuratorate of Panyu District, Guangzhou Municipality in June and will be on trial in the near future.
In the December incident, more than 50 activists were interrogated and seven were detained or went missing. This prosecution is part of President Xi’s crackdown on labour activists and gravely threatens the survival of civil society in China.

Letzte Woche fand am Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften der Universität Wien eine Konferenz mit dem Titel „Mao Zedong: Exploring Multi-Dimensional Approaches to Biography“ statt. Unter den Teilnehmer_innen waren u.a. die Autor_innen von Mao-Biografien Jīn Chōngjí 金冲及 (Máo Zédōng zhuàn 《毛泽东传》, 6 Bde.), Alexander V. Pantsov (Александр Вадимович Панцов: Мао Цзэдун. 2007, ²2012; englische Übersetzung von Steven I. Levine: Mao. The Real Story. 2012.) und Felix Wemheuer (Mao Zedong. 2010.). Auch Susanne Weigelin-Schwiedrzik und Helwig Schmidt-Glintzer arbeiten jeweils an einer Mao-Biografie.
Burkhard Bischof: Die Entschlüsselung des „Großen Steuermanns“ Mao Zedong (Presse)

Fionnuala McHugh: What drives Frank Dikötter, chronicler of China’s insanity? (South China Morning Post)

Chinese thief of US military secrets given four years‘ jail (Guardian)

A Chinese businessman who admitted taking part in the hacking of US defence secrets has been given nearly four years’ jail.
Su Bin, 51, was convicted of taking part in a years-long scheme by Chinese military officers to obtain sensitive military information, targeting projects including the F-22 and F-35 fighter jets and Boeing’s C-17 military transport aircraft.

Chinese wegen Cyberspionage in den USA zu Haftstrafe verurteilt (Standard)

Wegen Cyberspionage bei US-Rüstungsfirmen ist ein Chinese zu drei Jahre und zehn Monaten Haft verurteilt worden. Der 51-jährige Su Bin muss außerdem 10.000 Dollar (9.000 Euro) Strafe zahlen, wie ein Gericht in Los Angeles am Mittwoch entschied.

Johnny Erling: Feindliche Übernahme von Chinas liberalem Reformmagazin (Standard)

2014 war auf Anweisung des Propagandaministeriums die Nationalakademie zum Aufpasser der Zeitschrift ernannt worden. Sie sollte die „Yanhuang Chunqiu“ disziplinieren. Weil die sich aber redaktionell nicht dreinreden ließ, blieb nun nur die Übernahme.

Walmart | Japan
Jul 11th, 2016 by Gao

Kevin Lin: In China, Walmart Retail Workers Walk Out over Unfair Scheduling (Labor Notes)

About 70 Walmart workers began a wildcat strike July 1 against an unpopular new flexible scheduling system. They are reacting against a campaign of intimidation by Walmart China, which has been trying to coerce store workers to accept the new schedules since May…
From 1996 to the mid-2000s, Zhou says, Walmart workers were comparatively well-paid—making more than three times the average salary of workers in Shenzhen, a factory city created to produce for export.
But with rapid inflation over the past decade, Walmart’s real wages and benefits have fallen to only a third of the Shenzhen average. The same is true elsewhere in China.
Today Walmart wages are not significantly higher than local minimum wages. After paying their social security contributions, worker may even be making less than minimum wage—and certainly way below a decent living wage.

Strikes at Walmart stores in China begin to spread (China Labour Bulletin)

More than 200 workers from at least three Walmart stores in China went on strike over the weekend in protest against the company’s introduction of a comprehensive working hours system. The workers also called for new trade union elections.
On 1 July, at least 130 workers at Store No. 5782 in Nanchang, Jiangxi, began marching through the store, chanting “Walmart Workers Stand Up!” and “No to the Comprehensive Working Hours System!” Workers had discovered the previous day that the company had unilaterally enforced the new working hours system against their wishes. The workers said management might now use the new system to punish activists by cutting their overtime pay.
In solidarity, some 30 workers at Store No. 2039 in the same city and another 60 employees at Store No.0209 in Chengdu, Sichuan, walked out on 2 July and 4 July respectively.

Made in China, 2. Ausgabe (PDF,

A Quarterly on Chinese Labour, Civil Society, and Rights

Lily Kuo: African migrants are returning from China and telling their compatriots not to go (Quartz)

When Lamin Ceesay, an energetic 25-year-old from Gambia, arrived in China last year, he thought his life had made a turn for the better. As the oldest of four siblings, he was responsible for caring for his family, especially after his father passed away. But jobs were few in his hometown of Tallinding Kunjang, outside of the Gambian capital of Banjul. After hearing about China’s rise, his uncle sold off his taxi business and the two of them bought a ticket and a paid local visa dealer to get them to China.

William Nee: China’s Disturbing Detention of Hong Kong Booksellers (Diplomat)

A recently returned bookseller has decided to speak out, with some disturbing revelations.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: World faces deflation shock as China devalues yuan at accelerating pace (Telegraph)

China has abandoned a solemn pledge to keep its exchange rate stable and is carrying out a systematic devaluation of the yuan, sending a powerful deflationary impulse through a global economy already caught in a 1930s trap.
The country’s currency basket has been sliding at an annual pace of 12pc since the start of the year. This has picked up sharply since the Brexit vote, suggesting that the People’s Bank (PBOC) may be taking advantage of the distraction to push through a sharper devaluation.

Alexander Billet: Super Official Marx (Jacobin)

The Chinese Communist Party put out a hip-hop track praising Karl Marx. It’s as bad as you would expect.

Lehrer | Zhou Yongkang | Australien | China Airlines
Jun 20th, 2016 by Gao

China’s teachers: The unsung heroes of the workers’ movement (China Labour Bulletin)

Images of worker activism in China tend to be dominated by factory workers and, more recently, coal miners and steel workers. However, some of the largest, best organized and most determined worker protests of the last few years have been staged by teachers.
Teachers make up less than two percent of China’s overall workforce but they account for about four percent of the strikes and protests recorded on China Labour Bulletin’s Strike Map. Moreover, unlike workers in privately-owned factories, most teachers are employed by the state and their protests often pose a direct challenge to local government officials and administrators.

Xinhua: Son of Zhou Yongkang sentenced to 18 years in prison (China Daily)

A court in central China’s Hubei Province on Wednesday sentenced Zhou Bin, son of Zhou Yongkang, to 18 years in prison for taking bribes and illegal business operations.
Zhou Bin was also fined 350.2 million yuan (53 million U.S. dollars) and all of his illegally obtained assets will be confiscated, according to the verdict of Yichang City Intermediate People’s Court.

Liam Ward: Radical Chinese labour in Australian history (Marxist Left Review)

Flick through any mainstream book on Australian history and chances are you’ll find some version of the phrase “cheap Chinese labour”. Historians usually employ it to explain the alleged centrality of the organised working class in establishing racist anti-Chinese immigration laws, particularly the cluster of federal government legislation broadly known as the White Australia policy. This competition from pliant non-union labour was interpreted through the racial supremacist ideas of the time and, so the argument goes, prompted unionists to respond with vociferous calls for the total exclusion of non-white immigrants.
But a subtle shadow tracing through the history books suggests a problem with the argument. Time and again, often without any significant conclusions being drawn, we see passing reference to Chinese workers in Australia organising, striking and generally giving hell to their employers. These are fleeting glimpses of a neglected history of class struggle waged by Chinese workers whose memory continues to be dismissed as both separate from and somehow a threat to the workers’ movement.

Nele Husmann: China Airlines darf nicht nach Athen fliegen (AeroTelegraph)

Die griechische Regierung hat China Airlines eine Absage erteilt: Ihre Flugzeuge dürfen nicht in Athen landen. Das angespannte Verhältnis zwischen Taiwan und der Volksrepublik China ist wohl der Grund.

Bergarbeiterproteste in Heilongjiang
Mrz 14th, 2016 by Gao



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)


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)

Sex | Streiks | Staatsbetriebe
Mrz 1st, 2016 by Gao

Alexandria Icenhower: What China’s sexual revolution means for women (Brookings)

While Chinese women today have increased freedoms, there is still a long way to go before gender equality is realized. Civil unrest concerning gender inequality recently made headlines in China and abroad when a group of five female protesters in China were arrested and jailed for publicly demonstrating against gender inequities, such as inequality in higher education and domestic violence. …
China’s first and leading sexologist, Li Yinhe, delivered a keynote address that emphasized that when it comes to sex, China is in the midst of an “era of important changes.” Li explained that all sexual activities before marriage were illegal in China before 1997 because of a “hooliganism law,” and a woman could be arrested for having sex with more than one man. Thus, premarital sex was forbidden. In surveys in 1989, only 15% of citizens reported having premarital sex—and “most of them were having sex with their permanent partners,” Li said. That law was overturned in 1997, and recent surveys show that 71% of Chinese citizens admit to having sex before marriage. This is a dramatic change in a short period of time, and marks what Li asserts is a sexual revolution for Chinese citizens. …
Pornography isn’t considered to be protected as it is in the U.S. In contrast, Chinese law strictly prohibits creating and selling porn. …
Prostitution is another activity affected by outdated laws in China, where any solicitation of sex is strictly illegal. In the early-1980s through late-1990s the punishment for facilitating prostitution was severe. In 1996, a bathhouse owner was sentenced to death for organizing prostitution. Now, prostitution is widely practiced and the most severe punishment for organized prostitution is that those managing sex workers are ordered to shut down their businesses. …
In regards to homosexuality, Li was quick to note that China’s view of homosexuality is historically very different from Western views. For example, in some U.S. states, laws “criminalized or deemed homosexual activities illegal.” But throughout China’s history, there were not severe repercussions or the death penalty for homosexuality, and it “was never illegal.” However, this is not the case for same-sex marriage. Li thinks it will be “hard to predict” when same-sex marriage might be legalized.

Sarah Buckley: China’s high-speed sexual revolution (BBC)

Over the last 20 years, Chinese attitudes to sex have undergone a revolution – a process carefully observed, and sometimes encouraged, by the country’s first female sexologist, Li Yinhe.
„In the survey I made in 1989, 15.5% of people had sex before marriage,“ says Li Yinhe. „But in the survey I did two years ago, the figure went up to 71%.“
It’s one of many rapid changes she has recorded in her career. She uses the word „revolution“ herself and it’s easy to see why. Until 1997, sex before marriage was actually illegal and could be prosecuted as „hooliganism“.

Simon Denyer: Strikes and workers’ protests multiply in China, testing party authority (Washington Post)

Strikes and other labor protests have spiked across the country as manufacturing plants lay off workers and reduce wages in the face of mounting economic head winds. But the unrest is particularly intense in the southern province of Guangdong, the vast urban sprawl bordering Hong Kong that is the heart of China’s export industry — and its economic success story.

Exklusives Gerücht von „zwei zuverlässigen Quellen mit Verbindungen zur Führung“:
Benjamin Kang Lim, Matthew Miller, David Stanway: China to lay off five to six million workers, earmarks at least $23 billion (Reuters)

The hugely inefficient state sector employed around 37 million people in 2013 and accounts for about 40 percent of the country’s industrial output and nearly half of its bank lending.
It is China’s most significant nationwide retrenchment since the restructuring of state-owned enterprises from 1998 to 2003 led to around 28 million redundancies and cost the central government about 73.1 billion yuan ($11.2 billion) in resettlement funds.
On Monday, Yin Weimin, the minister for human resources and social security, said China expects to lay off 1.8 million workers in the coal and steel industries, but he did not give a timeframe…
The government has already drawn up plans to cut as much as 150 million tonnes of crude steel capacity and 500 million tonnes of surplus coal production in the next three to five years.
It has earmarked 100 billion yuan in central government funds to deal directly with the layoffs from steel and coal over the next two years, vice-industry minister Feng Fei said last week.

Jan 30th, 2016 by Gao

Daniel Reineke, 
Christoph Plutte: Chinas unruhige Arbeiter (Neues Deutschland)

Die Nachrichten aus China über Verhaftungen regierungskritischer AktivistInnen, Streiks und Börseneinbrüche reißen nicht ab. Die Zahl der Arbeitskämpfe in den Weltmarktfabriken im »Reich der Mitte« ist im vergangenen Halbjahr deutlich gestiegen und mit ihnen die staatliche Repression: Seit Anfang Dezember wurden mindestens 40 ArbeiteraktivistInnen und UnterstützerInnen von Arbeiterorganisationen vorübergehend in Polizeigewahrsam genommen und verhört. Gegen vier von ihnen wird nun strafrechtlich ermittelt, die Anklagen lauten auf »Aufruf zur Versammlung und Störung öffentlicher Ordnung« bzw. »Veruntreuung«.
Die jüngste Verhaftungswelle richtete sich gegen das Dagongzu Arbeiterzentrum in Guangzhou und drei ähnliche Einrichtungen, die insbesondere WanderarbeiterInnen in Rechtsstreits, im Falle von Arbeitsunfällen und bei Lohnkämpfen im Perlflussdelta unterstützen. Die Festnahmen stellen hinsichtlich der Anzahl der Betroffenen und der Schwere der Vorwürfe die bisher schärfste Repression gegen unabhängige Arbeiterorganisationen und Labour-NGOs dar. Was aber sind die Hintergründe für diese Verschärfung der Klassenkämpfe?

Petra Kolonko: Streikverbot in der Werkhalle der Welt (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

Nach den Verhaftungen von Menschenrechtsanwälten im vergangenen Jahr geht die chinesische Regierung nun auch gegen Arbeiterrechtler vor. Am Sonntag wurde bekannt, dass Anklage gegen fünf Arbeiteraktivisten in Südchina erhoben wurde, darunter auch gegen Zeng Feiyang, den Leiter des privaten Panyu-Wanderarbeiter-Zentrums. Vier Aktivisten wird vorgeworfen, die soziale Ordnung gestört zu haben, ein fünfter wird der Unterschlagung beschuldigt. Ende vergangenen Jahres hatten die Sicherheitsbehörden in der südchinesischen Metropole Guangzhou Aktivisten von vier verschiedenen Nichtregierungsorganisationen festgenommen, die Arbeitern bei Disputen und Arbeitskämpfen unterstützten. Bislang wurde den Beschuldigten jeder Kontakt mit Anwälten mit der Begründung verboten, es handle sich um Fälle, in denen die „nationale Sicherheit“ gefährdet sei. …
Die Verhaftung der vier prominenten Aktivisten sendet nun eine deutliche Warnung an Mitstreiter. Die Nachrichtenagentur Xinhua hat noch vor der Anklageerhebung den Aktivisten vorgeworfen, vom Ausland gesteuert zu sein und die Arbeiter zu Streiks angestiftet zu haben.

Workers in a Workers’ State (Jacobin)

The Chinese state has dramatically escalated repression against workers organizations.
On December 3, four workers organizations in the southern manufacturing hubs of Guangzhou and Foshan came under attack from Chinese authorities. Dozens of staff, family members, and affiliated workers were questioned, and seven remained in custody for over a month. Four have now been formally charged: three of them for “assembling a crowd to disrupt social order” and one for “embezzlement.” …
The repression represents a deliberate response to a cluster of economic and social contradictions confronting the ruling Communist Party: the economic challenge of managing an economy increasingly plagued by capitalist dynamics of crisis (as manifested in the 2015 stock market crash, which occurred despite significant state control and regulation); the political challenge of rescuing the party from a legitimation crisis (which has sparked the expulsion of tens of thousands of party leaders and government bureaucrats); and the social challenge of containing popular movements…
The authorities are doing their best to present the latest crackdown as entirely lawful. Instead of harassing and arbitrarily detaining activists as it has done in the past, the state is trying to build airtight legal cases against them.
This change in tactics — reminiscent of how liberal democratic states sometimes handle militant trade unionists — risks setting a dangerous legal precedent. It not only criminalizes otherwise lawful activities, but normalizes such criminalization.
The thinly veiled abuse of the legal process has been complemented by a not-so-subtle smear campaign in the state media. While disgraced celebrities and officials have been on the receiving end of such tactics before, targeting labor activists constitutes a new level of repression.
Broadcast on the main state television station in late December, the smear campaign alleged financial and moral misconduct as well as ulterior political motives, specifically against Zeng Feiyang.



Übersetzung ins Englische:
Slandering of the Workers’ Movement Will Not Be Permitted (Chuang)

2015 年 12 月 23 日,贵报发表了记者张璁撰写的一篇新闻报道(责任编辑:曹昆),题为“大量接受境外组织资金,操纵罢工,升级劳资矛盾,玷污公益之名敛财骗色——起底‘工运之星’真面目”……该篇报道的标题及内容所用词句,充满国人早已深恶痛绝的煽动对立、制造仇恨的“文革”话语逻辑。好像“境外组织资金”就是妖魔鬼怪,只要跟境外资金扯上关系,不管是做什么,便其心可诛。难道,贵报从总编辑到记者们的眼里,这个世界,我们的国家,人与人之间,真的已经晦暗到了只剩下“拉拢”和被拉拢的关系,只有骗子、傻子、袖手旁观者和落井下石者这几种人吗?难道,在你们的内心世界,早已不再有志同道合者吗?不再有为了共同理想和精神追求合作奋斗这回事吗?不再有工人阶级的阶级感情这种东西吗?更不再有基于这种阶级情怀,对中国工人阶级所受苦难不忍冷眼旁观,不齿于弥漫于街头巷尾和办公大楼里心口不一的假卫道士,从而愿意坐言起行改变现状的理想主义者吗?难道,在我们这个工人阶级为领导阶级,社会主义为根本制度的国家,“境外资本”可以践踏劳动法律法规,“境外老板”可以肆意侵害我国工人合法权益,并能够得到包括贵报在内的权势者的保驾护航,而包括“中国劳工通讯”在内的“境外组织”,帮助那些遭受境外资本和境外老板剥削的工人,争取合法权益,反倒应该受到打压,甚至遭受牢狱之灾吗?

Übersetzung ins Englische von David Bandurski:
Han Dongfang: A reply to the People’s Daily report on the director of the Panyu Workers Service Centre, Zeng Feiyang (China Labour Bulletin)

Jan 3rd, 2016 by Gao

The Guangdong Six and the rule of law (of value): Preliminary theses on the December 3 crackdown (Chuǎng)

Why should we focus on supporting “reformist NGO staff” when workers and peasants are regularly arrested, beaten and sometimes killed for participation in forms of resistance more likely to improve their conditions or lead to more transformative movements? Also, how could we support these detainees in ways that might hasten their release, affect the legal precedent being set by this crackdown, or increase international solidarity among workers—as opposed to the merely symbolic actions proposed so far? …
1. This crackdown is unprecedented in the number of workers’ organizations and individuals targeted at the same time, and in the severity of criminal charges being brought against them. …
2. While both the mainstream media and initiators of the solidarity campaign have been calling the detainees “labor rights NGO staff,” these groups must also be understood as workers’ organizations, mainly formed and run by workers to support workers’ struggles. …
3. However, these organizations’ relationships with the state have been typical of NGO-type organizations in their ambiguity, at times collaborating in certain ways, while at other times encountering repression—not only now, but repeatedly over the past few years. …
4. Among possible reasons for the crackdown, crucial determining factors were the slowing of economic growth (in China and globally) and industrial relocation away from the PRD (Pearl River Delta). At the same time, the militancy of workers has been growing in this region, with the number of recorded strikes doubling since last year. …
5. Many commentators have emphasized the role of Xi Jinping’s distinctively authoritarian mode of governance, but that mode itself might be better understood as a response to these changing economic and social conditions. In contrast, we would rather highlight similarities between this increasing repression in China and developments in so-called “democratic” polities. …
6. Several commentators have described the crackdown as unlawful, or as undermining the rule of law. …
7. The crackdown hurts not only these particular organizations, activists, and the workers whose struggles they have been supporting. If the detainees are pronounced guilty and stay locked up, this could set a precedent for further persecution of other workers’ organizations, and discourage other workers and their supporters. …
8. If the charges are dropped, there is a chance that the channeling of workers’ struggles into reformist directions will increase. … However, this would still be less discouraging for workers and their supporters than the alternative. …
9. The international solidarity campaign to release these detainees is probably the largest international effort to support Chinese workers’ struggles in decades, but so far it hasn’t been framed as such, or surpassed typical activist methods.

Free Chinese labour activists now 馬上釋放中國勞權人士 (auf Facebook)

Christoph Plutte, Daniel Reineke: Weihnachten in Chinas Weltmarktfabriken bedeutet Knast für ArbeiteraktivistInnen (Vice)

Anfang Dezember begann in den Städten Guangzhou und Foshan, im größten Industriegebiet Südchinas, die—geht man nach Anzahl der betroffenen Personen und der Härte der Vorwürfe—bisher schärfste Verhaftungswelle gegen Arbeiterorganisationen und UnterstützerInnen von Arbeitskämpfen. Am 3. Dezember wurden bei Polizeirazzien in vier Organisationen 21 Personen festgenommen und verhört, sowie Büros und Wohnungen durchsucht, Akten und Computer beschlagt. Insgesamt befanden sich bis Anfang Januar mindestens 40 Personen zumindest kurzfristig in Polizeigewahrsam. Sechs AktivistInnen sind weiterhin in Untersuchungshaft, gegen sie wird strafrechtlich ermittelt.

Ellen David Friedman, Ashley Smith: Caught in China’s crackdown on labor radicals (Socialist Worker)
Sweeping the house clean—clean of labor NGOs (Chuǎng)
The criminalization of strikes since 2012 (Chuǎng)
No Way Forward, No Way Back: China in the Era of Riots (Chuǎng)
Labour activists detained for doing the job of the trade union (China Labour Bulletin)
Michelle Chen:  China’s Latest Crackdown on Workers Is Unprecedented (Nation)
China Detains Labor Activists as Authorities Sweep Industrial Hub (Wall Street Journal)

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