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Jasic incident

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Jasic incident
Date27 July – 24 August 2018
Caused byPoor working conditions, low wages, and forced overtime at the Jasic Technology factory in Shenzhen
  • Improvement of working conditions, income and overtime work at Jasic Technology
  • Right to form labor unions
  • Rehiring of workers fired for participating in labor unions
MethodsUnionization, demonstrations, direct action, student activism, labor strike, social media activism
Resulted inNo concessions given; dozens of demonstrators arrested, leftist student groups disbanded by the government
Lead figures
Detained50+, including two officials from the All-China Federation of Trade Unions

The Jasic incident (Chinese: 佳士事件; pinyin: Jiāshì shìjiàn) was a labour dispute 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 dispute began on 27 July 2018 when a group of workers of Jasic Technology Co., Ltd., 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 weeks of protests by factory workers in Shenzhen, as well as student members of the Jasic Workers Solidarity Group and other sympathizers. The protests consisted of public demonstrations, labour strikes, and direct action, and have been described as being largely Marxist[7] and Maoist[8] in nature.


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] However, AsiaNews reports that workers complained that working conditions at the factory had deteriorated severely and that wages, as well as social security and housing funds, had been cut, and the company treated them "like slaves".[12]

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 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, 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]

Despite the introduction of many national-level laws to protect labor rights since 2000, workers' rights in China remain poor for many. The workers' movement as a protest movement has been further suppressed since 2015.[14]: 168–170 


Workers' unrest[edit]

In May 2018, Yu Juncong, a 25-year-old worker born in Jiangxi province, was dismissed.[15] Several workers at the Jasic Technology factory in Shenzhen – citing the dismissal of Yu, 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 and got swiftly rejected, the workers began to form a union anyway.[16] However, the company took a common anti-union position, and in June the managers of the Jasic company called for an Assembly of Employee Representatives to replace the workers' self-organized union. Leading workers of the union soon became the target of management's slander and defamation, accompanied by threats, insults and job redistribution.[17] On 20 July, the police arrested two workers' leaders, after which more than 20 workers went to the police station to demand the release of the two men, who were, however, similarly arrested later.[18] On 27 July, more than 30 workers and supporters involved in the labour dispute were detained again for "picking quarrels and provoking troubles" while attempting to return to work, including significant members of the labour organization.[19]: 65 

Formation and engagement of solidarity groups[edit]

University students began to take notice on July 27, when police violently arrested nearly 30 workers and sympathizers.[17] One day later, Wu Jingtang, who had been a leader during the Tonghua Iron and Steel Group riot ten years ago, called for joining the struggle: "For an awakening of the working class, for Chairman Mao!" Chinese Maoists and New Leftists, notably editors of Maoflag and Utopia, began to show support for the Jasic workers.[14]: 171  According to a post[20] related to the call and a report from Voice of America, about 1,100 people joined solidarity groups formed by the Utopia.[21]

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.[16] On the same day, the Jasic company issued a statement denying that it had mistreated workers or prevented them from forming a union. The statement said the company fired some workers under the law and was in the process of establishing a union. Jasic did not respond to a faxed request for further comment from Reuters.[22] 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.[16]

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.[23]

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 Chinese Communist Party and retirees. The rally was largely organized through the popular leftist and Maoist online forum website Utopia.[24] The protesters carried banners that read "Old Jiangxi old workers and old cadres support the workers and their supporters." Zhang Qinde, a retiree from the CCP's Central Policy Research Office and a Maoist intellectual, gave an unrehearsed speech, saying that "We must stand with the working classes and advance and retreat with the Jasic workers. We must see this struggle through till the end!"[25]: 160 

On 11 August, Shen Mengyu, a graduate student from Sun Yat-sen University, was bundled into a car by three unidentified men and had since been missing. Students around Shen reported the abduction to the police, who doubted their story and told them that the video cameras in the area where the incident occurred were broken.[22] Activists accused of the authorities' abduction, with the government insisting it was "a matter regarding a family dispute."[26]

On 19 August, Peking University Yue Xin published an open letter to paramount leader and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party 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![16][27]

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

Mass arrest[edit]

On the morning of 24 August 2018, police raided an apartment that served as a location for workers and students to organize, detaining about 50 people, who were singing L'Internationale at the time of being arrested.[28][29] In the days that followed, the police went on raids throughout the country, arresting a number of students and workers.[30] 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][31]

On 9 September 2018, ten workers and students went to Shaoshan and paid homage to Mao Zedong. They pulled up a banner at the bronze statue square and laid flowers for the bronze statue of Mao Zedong, singing L'Internationale before being arrested by local police.[32]

Throughout November, a dozen activists were detained,[33] including two officials from the All-China Federation of Trade Unions who, according to workers, had helped them form a union.[34] On December 26, Qiu Zhanxuan was taken away by police before he went to attend the 125th anniversary of Mao's birth in Beijing.[35] The following day, the Peking University Marxist Society was forcibly "restructured", and Qiu, as president, said that none of the new staffs from the restructured Society were previous members of the group.[36]

In January 2019, police summoned several activists and showed them an allegedly "forced confession" video in which four activists (including Yue and Qiu) claimed to renounce labor radicalism. Some activists later wrote blog posts criticizing the police's action, saying it was a "ridiculous performance put on by the police". Seven more people were taken away again.[37]

Several organizers and student activists remain missing, including Yue Xin and Zhang Shengye.[31]


Chinese government[edit]

On 24 August 2018, China's official news agency Xinhua News Agency posted a report entitled "Behind the 'rights protection' of workers at Shenzhen Jasic Technology Co., Ltd." in Chinese,[38] and "Investigation on so-called worker incidents in Shenzhen" in English,[39] arguing the incident was instigated by foreign NGOs, especially an organization called "center for migrant workers". According to Xinhua, Yu and other people clashed with the police at the behest of Fu, an employee of the "center for migrant workers".


International human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch[40] have condemned the Chinese government's response to the Jasic protesters and has called for the release of all detainees involved in the demonstrations.[40]

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 whom signed a petition calling for the release of the detained workers and students and an improvement in Chinese labor rights.[41][42] 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 CCP general secretary Xi Jinping.[29]

The Jasic workers' cause resonated particularly among leftists in the West, 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 Chinese Communist Party.[43] 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.[44]

Jacobin columnists Elaine Hui of Pennsylvania State University and Eli Friedman condemned the suppression of the Jasic workers union and the student protesters.[45]

See also[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. ^ "Shenzhen Jasic Technology Co., Ltd.: Private Company Information - Bloomberg". bloomberg.com. Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Jasic Company Profile". U.S. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  11. ^ "300193.SZ - Shenzhen Jasic Technology Co Ltd Profile | Reuters". Reuters.
  12. ^ Wang, Zhicheng (8 November 2019). "Maoists and students back workers who want independent trade union in Shenzhen". AsiaNews. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  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 Chan, Jenny (2020). "A Precarious Worker-Student Alliance in Xi's China". China Review. 20 (1): 165–190. ISSN 1015-6607.
  15. ^ "Chinese labour crackdown: missing, detained, arrested". Financial Times. 29 March 2019. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  16. ^ a b c d "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.
  17. ^ a b Pun, Ngai (17 November 2021). "Turning left: student-worker alliance in labour struggles in China". Globalizations. 18 (8): 1395. doi:10.1080/14747731.2021.1884329. ISSN 1474-7731. S2CID 233627538. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  18. ^ Pun, Ngai (December 2020). "The new Chinese working class in struggle". Dialectical Anthropology. 44 (4): 325. doi:10.1007/s10624-019-09559-0. S2CID 201323820. Retrieved 4 September 2023.
  19. ^ Dog Days: Made in China Yearbook 2018. ANU Press. 2019. ISBN 978-1-76046-292-5. JSTOR j.ctvfrxqcz. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  20. ^ A crosspost from Utopia to redchinacn.org: Wu, Jingtang (29 July 2018). "与佳士的工人同志们在一起,打退资产阶级的嚣张气焰!" [Be with the comrades of Jasic workers and beat back the arrogance of the bourgeoisie!]. RedChinaCn (in Simplified Chinese). Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  21. ^ "毛左呼吁赶赴深圳声援佳士员工抗争黑恶势力" [Left Maoists called to rush to Shenzhen to show solidarity with Jasic workers to fight against the evil forces]. Voice of America Chinese (in Simplified Chinese). 28 July 2018. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  22. ^ a b Wong, Sue-Lin; Shepherd, Christian (15 August 2018). "China's student activists cast rare light on brewing labor unrest". Reuters. Retrieved 6 March 2023.
  23. ^ "China: Thirty people detained at factory worker protest must be released". amnesty.org. Archived from the original on 20 June 2021. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Blanchette, Jude (2019). China's New Red Guards: The Return of Radicalism and the Rebirth of Mao Zedong. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0190605841.
  26. ^ Chen, Michelle (4 September 2018). "China's Workers Aren't Fighting a Trade War—They're Fighting a Labor War". The Nation. Retrieved 16 February 2023.
  27. ^ @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!" [An open letter from Yue Xin, a representative of the Jasic Solidarity Group, to the Party Central Committee: We express to the Party Central Committee and General Secretary Xi Jinping that all members of the Solidarity Group will firmly believe in Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought and will continue our struggle until all the arrested workers are acquitted, until the local black and evil forces are investigated, and until the basic rights and legal status of the workers are guaranteed!] (Tweet) (in Chinese). Retrieved 1 January 2019 – via Twitter.
  28. ^ Hernández, Javier C. (28 September 2018). "China's Leaders Confront an Unlikely Foe: Ardent Young Communists". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 November 2022.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ Shepherd, Christian; Wong, Sue-Lin (28 August 2018). "Some Chinese student activists released after police raid". Reuters. Retrieved 4 September 2023.
  31. ^ a b "Fears for young Marxist activist missing after police raid in China". South China Morning Post. 11 October 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  32. ^ "赴韶山祭拜毛泽东 深圳佳士声援团成员传被带走" [To Shaoshan to pay respect to Mao Zedong, Shenzhen Jasic solidarity group members were allegedly taken away by the police]. Oriental Daily News (in Simplified Chinese). Archived from the original on 11 September 2018. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  33. ^ Zhang, Yueran (25 June 2020). "Leninists in a Chinese Factory: Reflections on the Jasic Labour Organising Strategy". Made in China Journal. 5 (2): 82–88. doi:10.22459/MIC.05.02.2020.07. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
  34. ^ Shepherd, Christian (30 November 2018). "Two Chinese trade union officials arrested after helping workers: source". Reuters. Retrieved 4 February 2023.
  35. ^ Westcott, Ben; Xiong, Yong (27 December 2018). "Marxist student snatched on way to Mao Zedong celebration in China". CNN. Retrieved 4 February 2023.
  36. ^ Shepherd, Christian (28 December 2018). "China police detain students protesting crackdown on Marxist group". Reuters. Retrieved 4 February 2023.
  37. ^ "Inside China's crackdown on young Marxists". Financial Times. 14 February 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
  38. ^ "深圳佳士公司工人"维权"事件的背后" [Behind the "rights protection" of workers at Shenzhen Jasic Technology Co., Ltd.]. xinhuanet. 24 August 2018. Archived from the original on 24 August 2018. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  39. ^ Mu, Xuequan (24 August 2018). "Investigation on so-called worker incidents in Shenzhen". Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 4 November 2022.
  40. ^ a b "Rights group calls on China to free detained labour activists". South China Morning Post. 4 December 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  41. ^ 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.
  42. ^ 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.
  43. ^ 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.
  44. ^ Yang, Yuan (27 November 2018). "Noam Chomsky joins academics boycotting China Marxism conferences". Financial Times. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  45. ^ Hui, Elaine; Friedman, Eli (2005). "The Communist Party vs. China's Labor Laws". jacobinmag.com. Jacobin. Retrieved 31 December 2018.

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