China

Green Left Weekly's Peter Boyle spoke to Kevin Lin, who is doing research for his PhD at the University of Technology Sydney on the labour movement in China, about the background to a new wave of strikes in the country.
China’s Rise: Strength & Fragility By Au Loong Yu Resistance Books, IIRE Merlin Press, 2012 316 pages The transformation of the Chinese economy a 20-fold rise in the size of the economy between 1979 and 2010 and huge development of private enterprise has been one of the most significant and remarkable phenomena in recent history. However, neither the Western media and academia, nor the Chinese regime itself, provide much credible analysis on what is involved in this transformation.
“There will never be strikes in my company,” Foxconn CEO Guo Taiming once proclaimed. But just last month, 1800 workers struck at two Foxconn factories in China — following the example of other Foxconn workers in Taiyuan and Chengdu last year. Foxconn produces cell phones and other products for Apple and others, and owns property worth US$6 billion. It has 1.2 million workers and is the largest sweatshop of ill repute in China.
Chinese leaders are aware that visiting Western leaders will be under some pressure from their domestic constituencies to raise Tibet, human rights and other “sensitive” issues. So a mechanism has been considerately created to cater for this need. It consists of a meaningless piece of theatre otherwise known as the “obligatory-behind-closed-doors-human-rights-discussion”. According to the well-worn script, the elected foreign official heads to China on a trade mission, accompanied by a media circus and some high-level trough-snouting capitalists (like Andrew Forrest).
A Uyghur man is serving an 11-year prison sentence for “inciting separatism”, allegedly for translating Chinese-language news related to Kashgar City, in a newly revealed case reported by Uyghurbiz.net. The Uyghur people, whose traditional lands are in the north-west of the Chinese state, have been denied national rights and suffer severe repression.
There is a lot of discussion about the nature of the Chinese economy and its developing role in global capitalism. Much of the debate has focused on the tensions between a seemingly declining United States and rising China ― and possible changes in the global distribution of power. In the context of a global domination of US-backed neoliberalism, the “Chinese model” has been put forward by some as a possible alternative. However, not only is China's rise far from inevitable, its “model” has its own contradictions ― as the rise of labour struggles helps reveal.
This photo essay by Tom Grundy, an activist-journalist based in Hong Kong, shows the 180,000-strong candlelight rally held in Victoria Park, Hong Kong on June 4 to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre in Beijing. It is republished with permission from his Hong Wrong blogsite.

The Goddess of Democracy statue.
Rural protests make up a large part of overall social unrest in China. But such protests had not received prominent international attention until the siege of Wukan, a village of 12,000 in Guangdong province, late last year. Just like the strikes in Honda plants in 2010, Wukan brought to light the deep-seated grievances of villagers in a dramatic way. The revolt featured the eviction of party officials and the police, the self-management of the village by villagers, and the stand-off against armed police in a siege for more than a week.
Working class struggle is an important part of modern Chinese history, and is rising In a late industrialising country, the Chinese working class emerged and became organised only in the early 20th century after the country was forced to open up to global capitalism. However, shaped by harsh economic exploitation and foreign semi-colonial domination, China’s working class quickly established itself in the space of a few decades. This culminated in mass protests and strikes between 1925 and 1927.
China’s transition to state-led capitalism over the past three decades has generated numerous social struggles against the state and capital. With China’s ascent in the capitalist world economy, the social struggles inside China not only have a significant domestic impact, but increasingly international ramifications. As China celebrates the Year of the Dragon, it is an opportune time to critically review the situation for social struggles and their prospects for the future. State and elite politics
“Factories making sought-after Apple iPads and iPhones in China are forcing staff to sign pledges not to commit suicide, an investigation has revealed. “At least 14 workers at Foxconn factories in China have killed themselves in the last 16 months as a result of horrendous working conditions. “Many more are believed to have either survived attempts or been stopped before trying at the Apple supplier's plants in Chengdu or Shenzen. “Appalling conditions: An investigation by two NGOs has found new workers at Foxconn factories in China are made to sign a ‘no suicide’ pledge ...
When a Billion Chinese Jump — How China Will Save the World, or Destroy It By Jonathan Watts Faber & Faber, 2010 485 pages, $32.95
http://site.whenabillionchinesejump.com/
When Jonathan Watts was a child growing up in England, he used to pray that all the people in China would not jump at once, lest they send the earth spinning off its axis.
The battle for the planet’s dwindling resources has taken a further trade war twist with China’s recent decision to place limits on the export of the 17 chemical elements collectively known as “rare earths”. These elements, found near the bottom of the periodic table, are crucial for manufacture of a wide range of modern technology products.
“Workers in southern China, who say they were assembling Apple laptops and iPhones, have become seriously ill after using a dangerous chemical. “The Number Five People’s Hospital in Suzhou has been treating workers who breathed in vapours from the chemical n-hexane. “According to the workers, the chemical was being used in the production of Apple products and has left them unable to walk … They say they were using n-hexane to glue and polish the logos on Apple products …
Review by Graham Matthews
Capitalism and Workers’ Struggle in China By Chris Slee Resistance Books, Sydney, 2010, $5 www.resistancebooks.com China enters the 21st century as something of an enigma.
On June 29, the US-based National Labor Committee released a report documenting the illegal and harsh sweatshop conditions at the Jabil Circuit factory in Guangzhou, China. At the factory, more than 6000 workers — many of them illegal temporary workers — produce hi-tech products for US companies HP, IBM, Intel, Cisco and Jabil. The report, which can be read at www.NLCnet.org, found the workers at the Jabil factory work 84 hours a week.

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