Re: labor unrest

From Jonathan Lassen <>
Date Tue, 02 Nov 2004 00:51:53 -0500
In-reply-to <>
References <>
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Hi Martin,

I should preface my comments by saying that I'm half a world away from 
all this, and most of my knowledge comes from trying to decipher the 
meaning and veracity of flickering images on my screen, so take anything 
with a grain of salt and please defer to people who know more...

Yes, it does seem that the labor actions are becoming more diverse. You 
still see pensioners protesting (as in Bengbu), but now you also have 
protests like that in Shandong against a sudden drop in wages and 
working conditions after an ownership change (state->private), the 
strike in Shanxi in protest of corruption and collusion, and the strike 
Shenzhen against low wages and harsh working conditions. And these are 
the ones we know about.

I think it's also important to also look at three other things going on 
right now. First is the Lang Xianping debate. Lang's criticism of SOE 
asset transfer touched off a storm, particularly on the internet, and 
opinion has been almost unanimously in support of his crticisms. This 
has gotten little play in English-language media. Neoliberal economists 
within China have been silent, unable to muster a coherent reply, and 
the charges created (I think) enough of a crisis of legitimacy to 
warrant from SASAC a very very lame defense of the policy.

Second, the unprecedented scale and ferocity of place-based actions 
against perceived governmment injustice (Wanzhou and Hanyuan) seems new 
to me. The sentiment isn't, but I think you can call it a crisis when a 
county seat of 100,000 experiences a general strike (as in Hanyuan) and 
the state has to cut off all communications with the city and call in 
the paramilitary troops.

Third, the elite are seriously worried. This rough draft of a piece by 
Li Changping gives some idea:



Btw, the strike in Shanxi is apparently finally over after 6 long weeks. 
The police took over and arrested people, according to:

  Hart-Landsberg wrote:
> I wanted to ask about people's impressions concerning the growing labor 
> unrest in China.   Over the last two years it seemed to me that most of 
> the labor actions involved laid off or retired workers who were 
> demonstrating for pensions or health care or against the process that 
> led to their lay offs/retirements.  There was little actual strike 
> action resulting in production shutdowns.  But this year it seems to me 
> that there are growing numbers of actual strikes, especially in textiles 
> and electronics.  Is this an accurate impression and if so how 
> significant is this change?
> Thanks in advance,
> Marty Hart-Landsberg