And so, as the economy began to fail in 2008 and as factories closed by the tens of thousands, workers took to the streets, especially in the country’s export powerhouse, the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong Province. Protests have continued around the country. At the end of July last year, for instance, some thirty thousand steelworkers in the rust-belt province of Jilin fought with police and beat to death a top manager who had threatened large layoffs after a merger. The incident illustrates the trend that disturbances are becoming larger and more violent. In fact, demonstrators in the last few years have been using deadly force as an initial tactic against local authorities.
All the more reason for the State Department and organized labor to re-think any idea of “constructive engagement” with China.
via World Affairs Journal – The Party’s Over: China’s Endgame.
Worker protest by suicide is a horrible fact of life in China. It serves as more evidence of the misguided approach to labor rights that the new human rights team at the State Department appears intent on following.
Instead of “constructive engagement” with the bosses in Beijing, we need pressure on China to recognize universal labor standards including the right to freedom of association.
Silicon Valley should take the lead here and ask for an independent investigation of labor conditions at Foxconn and the other offshore manufacturing centers used to build our laptops and smartphones and iPads by the ILO and including an internationally recognized team. Transparency is a crucial first step to encouraging Chinese workers to take advantage of universal human rights to solve their problems rather than desperate measures.
Foxconn: Another worker dies at electronics maker’s factories in China