Jasic incident

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Jasic incident
Date27 July – 24 August 2018
Location
Caused byPoor working conditions, low wages, and forced overtime at Jasic Technology–Shenzhen
Goals
  • Improvement of working conditions, income and overtime work at Jasic Technology
  • Right to form labor unions
  • Rehiring of workers fired for participation in labor unions
MethodsUnionization, demonstrations, direct action, labor strike, social media activism
Resulted inNo concessions given
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures
    • Jasic Labour Union:
    • Mi Jiuping[1]
    • Yu Juncong[2]
    • Li Zhan[3]
    • Liu Penghua[4]
    • Student activists:
    • Yue Xin
    • Zhang Shengye
    • Shen Mengyu
Casualties
ArrestedSeveral activists and demonstrators arrested or missing

The Jasic incident (Chinese: 佳士事件; pinyin: Jiāshì shìjiàn) was a labour rights conflict in Pingshan District, Shenzhen of the Guangdong province of The People's Republic of China between labour organizers and Chinese authorities that lasted from July to August 2018.[5]

The conflict which consisted on public demonstrations, labour strikes, and direct action beginning on 27 July 2018 when a group of workers of Jasic Technology Co., Ltd.(abbr. Jasic), dissatisfied by low pay, poor working conditions, and long shifts sought to form a trade union.[6] Jasic responded to the workers petition by firing the employees. This sparked two weeks of protests and demonstrations drawing from both factory workers in Shenzhen along with student members of Jasic Workers Solidarity Group and sympathizers. The protests have been described as being largely Marxist[7] and Maoist[8] in nature.

Background[edit]

Shenzhen Jasic Technology Co., Ltd. was founded in 2005 and later listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, the company is chiefly involved in the fabrication of various welder and welding products.[9][10] The company has factories in Shenzhen, Chongqing, Chengdu and other locations, including the Shenzhen plant which employs about 1,000 people. Pan Lei serves as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Jasic, along with CFO Xia Ruyi, and board secretary Rui Li.[11]

Guangdong Province in China was notable for implementing the Guangdong model pursued by Politburo member Wang Yang,[12] which emphasized privatization and reduction in state spending over social welfare programs. The Guangdong model stood in opposition to the Chongqing model employed by now incarcerated Chinese politician Bo Xilai, whose governance employed expanded state spending, increased social welfare spending, and the promotion of socialist culture.

With the introduction of capitalist reforms by Deng Xiaoping many party hardliners and Maoists have been critical of the reform citing them as being "revisionist" and anti-Socialist. After The Suppression of The 1989 Tian'anmen Square protests university students have generally been supportive of the reforms. As economic growth stagnates and income inequality grows within China more students have begun to express interest in far-left politics, particularly that of Marxism and Maoism. Protestors stated they were influenced primarily by May Fourth Movement of 1919 in China.[13]

Factory workers refer to illegal activities such as overtime work, strict fines, and owing to the provident fund. They hope to establish their own trade unions to protect their rights and interests. In May 2018, several workers at the Shenzhen Jasic Technology factory citing poor working conditions, illegal mandatory overtime work, and excessive fines, attempted to form a labour union for the factory. When the workers issued their petition to the All-China Federation of Trade Unions their request was swiftly rejected, the workers began to form a union anyway.[14] Tensions began to rise on 27 July, as 14 workers involved in the labour dispute were arrested while attempting to return to work, including significant members of the labour organization.[14]

Details[edit]

On 29 July, Peking University Foreign Language Institute student Yue Xin and other activists published The Peking University Students on the "7-27 Worker Arrest in Shenzhen": the Letter of Solidarity, roughly thirty students and alumni of Tsinghua University signed The Letter of Solidarity: To Release the Detained Workers and the Masses Immediately, and other solidarity letters appeared on the Internet. They asked the Shenzhen police to release the arrested workers immediately and to explain and apologize for the relevant arrests. The letter of solidarity was deleted in less than three hours, by which time it already had tens of thousands of readings. In addition, the open letter issued by some activists received two thousand likes in support, mainly from mainland universities.[14] In late July, former workers at the company allegedly took direct action against the Shenzhen plant, breaking into the factory and attempting to disrupt production by sabotage.[14]

On 1 August, Amnesty International issued a statement in which a Chinese researcher, Pan Jiawei said that the authorities should solve the problem of exploitation of labour rights and respect workers' right to unionize, and moreover, barring evidence internationally recognized crimes had been committed, that the workers should be released. On the same morning, in Hong Kong, a total of about 30 members of the CTU, the HKCSS and the Street Labour Group marched from Western District police station to the Hong Kong Liaison Office, chanting slogans in solidarity with the Jasic workers. The CTU said it would plea for complaints from the international community in support of the protest and the establishment of independent unions. As the Central Liaison Office refused the protest letters, the demonstrators posted them and other slogans on the front door.[15]

On Monday, 6 August 2018, a reported 80 supporters took part in a demonstration in front of the Yanziling police station. Among them were forty registered members of the Communist Party of China and retirees. The rally was largely organized through the popular leftist and Maoist online forum website Utopia.[16] The protesters carried banners that read "Old Jiangxi old workers and old cadres support the workers and their supporters."

On 19 August, Peking University Yue Xin published an open letter to paramount leader and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping reading,

On behalf of all members of the Solidarity Regiment, I said to the Party Central Committee and General Secretary Xi Jinping that all members of the Solidarity and I will strengthen political consciousness, strengthen the beliefs of Marxism–Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, and firmly stand on the position of the great working class. We will resolutely safeguard China's socialist and people's democratic dictatorship. We will continue to fight until all the arrested workers are acquitted before the local evil forces are not investigated, and before the basic rights and legal status of the workers are guaranteed![14][17]

Neither Xi Jinping or any representative replied or acknowledged the letter.

Arrest of activists[edit]

The Guardian reported on 24 August 2018 that fifty students who were involved in the demonstrations had gone missing after Chinese police raided an apartment that served as a location for workers and students to organize.[18] The New York Times reports that twelve student activists were missing according to family and relatives. According to relatives, the activists were abducted from Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan. According to some witnesses the activists were beaten.[13][19]

Several organizers and student activist remain missing, including Yue Xin and Zhang Shengye.[19]

Reactions[edit]

International human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch[20] have condemned the Chinese government's response to the Jasic protesters and has called for the release of all detainees involved in the demonstrations.[21]

The Jasic Workers and Jasic Solidarity received internal support from Chinese figures such as Chinese labour activist Li Qiang and Professor Pan Yi of the Sociology Department of The University of Hong Kong, both of who signed a petition calling for the release of the detained workers and students and an improvement in Chinese labor rights.[22][23] Furthermore, according to The Guardian, the movement had gained a following within the Chinese political elite, particularly among retired party officials who opposed the economic policy of Party general secretary Xi Jinping.[18]

The Jasic cause has resonated particularly among Leftists in America and Europe, who sympathise with the workers' demands for better rights. Popular Marxist philosopher Slavoj Zizek condemned the Chinese government, in an article published in The Independent, stating that the Chinese suppression of these workers and students was proof of the ideological hypocrisy of The People's Republic of China and the governing Communist Party of China.[24] At least thirty academics, including linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky and Yale University Political Philosophy professor John Roemer are boycotting Chinese Marxist academic conferences, citing that participation in the Chinese academic community following these suppression would be an act of complicity. Chomsky in statements released through The Financial Times stated that all leftists should join the boycott.[25]

Jacobin columnists Elaine Hui of Pennsylvania State University and Eli Friedman condemned the suppression of the Jasic workers union and the student protesters.[26]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jasic Detainee #1: The Story of Worker-Poet Mi Jiuping". Labor Notes. 5 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Jasic Detainee #3: The Story of Yu Juncong: Always Standing Against Injustice". Labor Notes. 19 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Jasic Detainee #2: Li Zhan: Standing with Workers through Thick and Thin". Labor Notes. 17 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Jasic Detainee #3: The Story of Yu Juncong: Always Standing Against Injustice". Labor Notes. 19 November 2018.
  5. ^ Blanchette, Jude D. (2019). China's New Red Guard. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 391. On July 27, twenty-nine workers from the Jasic factory were detained for “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” a vague charge frequently used by the authorities to quash speech or action that isn’t covered by more specific legal statutes. One month later, heavily armed police arrested fifty students and workers who had begun a campaign to push for the release of the detained workers. Back in Beijing, the government raided the offices of the sympathetic Red Reference magazine, detaining one employee. “They searched every corner of our offices, and even smashed a cupboard, and took our computers, our books away in a bunch of boxes,” said magazine editor-in-chief Cheng Hongtao.
  6. ^ "Jasic case shows Chinese workers' rights in a dangerous new phase". South China Morning Post. 19 September 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  7. ^ Haas, Benjamin (12 November 2018). "Student activists detained in China for supporting workers' rights". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Chinese Maoists join students in fight for workers' rights". South China Morning Post. 10 August 2018. Archived from the original on 15 August 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  9. ^ bloomberg.com https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=61046745. Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "Jasic Company Profile". U.S. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  11. ^ "300193.SZ - Shenzhen Jasic Technology Co Ltd Profile | Reuters".
  12. ^ Rajiv Jayaram, Triumph of Guangdong model over Chongqing model in China, Economic Times, 14 April 2012.
  13. ^ a b Hernández, Javier C. (11 November 2018). "Young Activists Go Missing in China, Raising Fears of Crackdown". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d e "深圳佳士维权: 中国社媒审查与致习公开信". BBC News 中文. 23 August 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  15. ^ "China: Thirty people detained at factory worker protest must be released". amnesty.org. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  16. ^ Lau, Mimi (10 August 2018). "Chinese Maoists join students in fight for workers' rights". South China Morning Post. South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 15 August 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  17. ^ @yuexinmutian (19 August 2018). "#jasic 佳士声援团代表岳昕致党中央的公开信: 我们向党中央和习近平总书记表示,声援团全体成员将坚定马克思列宁主义和毛泽东思想的信仰,在全体被捕工人被无罪释放之前、在地方黑恶势力没有得到调查之前、在工人的基本权益和合法地位没有得到保障之前,我们将继续斗争下去!" (Tweet) (in Chinese). Retrieved 1 January 2019 – via Twitter.
  18. ^ a b Haas, Benjamin (12 November 2018). "Student activists detained in China for supporting workers' rights". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  19. ^ a b "Fears for young Marxist activist missing after police raid in China". South China Morning Post. 11 October 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  20. ^ "Rights group calls on China to free detained labour activists". South China Morning Post. 4 December 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  21. ^ "Rights group calls on China to free detained labour activists". South China Morning Post. 4 December 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  22. ^ 潘毅 (17 August 2018). "观点:深圳佳士工人维权的两大意义". BBC News 中文. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  23. ^ 苒苒 (28 December 2018). "高压下崛起的中国左翼青年". BBC News 中文. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  24. ^ Zizek, Slavoj (29 November 2018). "The mysterious case of disappearing Chinese Marxists shows what happens when state ideology goes badly wrong". The Independent. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  25. ^ Yang, Yuan (27 November 2018). "Noam Chomsky joins academics boycotting China Marxism conferences". Financial Times. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  26. ^ Hui, Elaine; Friedman, Eli (2005). "The Communist Party vs. China's Labor Laws". jacobinmag.com. Jacobin. Retrieved 31 December 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Blanchette, Jude D. China's New Red Guard: The Return of Radicalism and the Rebirth of Mao Zedong. Oxford University Press, 2019.