China

On July 29, three leaders of a 29-month factory occupation in the city of Chongqing, in China’s southwest Sichuan province, were each sentenced to suspended prison sentences of 18 months.
Four days after the October 17-21 17th Congress of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), the country’s government body dealing with public petitions and complaints — the State Bureau for Letters and Calls (SBLC) — held a national conference to map out new strategies to step-up its role in managing China’s escalating social conflicts.
At its 16th Congress five years ago, the Communist Party of China (CPC) amended its constitution to allow the admission of capitalists to its ranks and to legitimise the swelling number of capitalists already in its membership. Today, 3 million of its total membership of 73 million are capitalists — over 4%.
Despite China’s spectacular GDP growth of nearly 10% per year since 1978 — and despite Beijing’s claim that the country remains on a socialist course — in the eight years to 2005, workers’ wages as a proportion of GDP plunged from 53% to 41.4%.
Class-free analysis seeking to justify Beijing’s pursuit of capitalism with a human face will likely find a place in the Communist Party of China’s constitution at the party’s 17th congress, which begins on October 15. A scheduled constitutional amendment is expected to be couched in such terms as the pursuit of a “socialist harmonious society” and a “people-centred” “scientific concept of development”, which will be credited as “major theoretical developments” of CPC general secretary Hu Jintao.
Since Beijing’s push to speed-up privatisation in the mid-1990s, left-leaning intellectuals in China have increasingly made use of Dushu (Readings), a monthly discussion magazine, as a platform to challenge this policy direction and Beijing’s overall pro-capitalist agenda. They highlighted the horrific social consequences of Beijing’s course and have generated waves of debates on the way forward for China.
During the last week of August, more than 3000 workers at the state-controlled Chengdu Power company went on strike at their diesel engines producing plant in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, and protested at the city government offices. The action was a bid to pressure the factory management to honour the original agreement under which working conditions would be changed while the company is restructured for privatisation.
On August 22, more than 5000 workers at a mobile phone component factory in Shenzhen, southern China, struck against their bosses’ attempt to increase their work hours without extra pay.
In a move reminiscent to the 1947-89 Cold War, on June 15 Washington imposed a series of restrictions on the export to China of high-tech goods, including aircraft engines, high-performance computers and other technologies that might have military applications.
On June 3, an elderly flower seller in the municipality of Chongqing was critically injured when council rangers violently cleared the area of street hawkers. In response, a thousand-strong riot erupted. Three days later, a similar incident occurred in the Henan provincial capital of Zhengzhou, when a riot of thousands of people forced a backdown from the authorities.
The enormity of China’s environmental nightmare is well-known. However, its root causes — especially the part played by First World capital — is less widely understood. One example is the massive dumping in China of First World “e-waste” — electronic and electrical waste.
Concerned about the health effects of a chemical plant proposed to be built in the coastal city of Xiamen by a Taiwanese capitalist, up to 2000 protesters took to the city’s streets on June 1 and 2 seeking to have the project scrapped.
On June 4, China’s National Development and Reform Commission issued a 62-page climate change “action plan” that seeks to reduce the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. The plan seeks to realise by 2010 three goals under the UN climate change convention — to reduce the country’s energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20%, to increase its renewable energy’s share in the country’s primary energy mix to 10% (up from its existing share of 7%, and to increase forest coverage to 20% (up from its existing 18%).
As of 2004, foreign capital controlled 76.6% of Chinese industry, a study produced by academics from Beijing’s Communication University has found. The findings of the report, which was released in March, are consistent with a November 2006 report by the Development Research Centre of the State Council, China’s cabinet.
Greedy property developers and corrupt government officials have forcibly driven tens of thousands of people across China from their homes. Most of these homeowners weren’t in a position to resist the developers’ strong-arm tactics.
Police clashed with protesters in a May Day demonstration in the Chinese territory of Macau. Around 2000 protesters demonstrated against state corruption and lack of jobs for local workers, which they blame on the use of foreign labour. They were

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