Re: labor unrest

From Martin Hart-Landsberg <>
Date Thu, 04 Nov 2004 12:43:52 -0800
In-reply-to <>
References <><>

Thanks for your response Jonathan.  I wonder whether these responses 
are a reflection of the building social costs from years of state 
marketization policies?  And if so is there any reason to expect that 
there will not be more of them.

Also interesting is the question of how much publicity these strikes 
and actions are getting in China.  Might they serve as a base for more 
elite resistance to market policies, and if so with what alternative 


--On Tuesday, November 02, 2004 12:51 AM -0500 Jonathan Lassen 
<> wrote:

> 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:
> Cheers,
> Jonathan
> 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