Chinese labor unrest tests Communist Party authority


An upsurge in industrial militancy in China is presenting a challenge for a Communist Party that bases much of its legitimacy on its ability to manage the economy, Simon Denyer writes for the Washington Post:

Experts say it is not about to threaten the party’s vice-like grip on power, but it will ring alarm bells for local officials whose careers often depend on their ability to stamp out stirrings of social unrest….

China Labour Bulletin (CLB), a Hong Kong-based group that supports workers’ rights, says it recorded 2,774 strikes or protests in China last year, twice as many as in 2014. It says the rise may be partly accounted for by better tracking of strikes on social media but called the upsurge obvious and massive….CLB said two-thirds of the disputes recorded last year related to the nonpayment of wages. “The economic slowdown only partially explains the increase in labor disputes,” it wrote. “The fundamental cause has been the systematic failure of employers to respect the basic rights of employees.”

In December, dozens of labor activists were arrested and three remain behind bars, Denyer adds, the most prominent being Zeng Feiyang (right).

The top U.N. human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, and the International Trade Union Confederation have expressed concern or called for the activists’ release. Writing in The Washington Post in January, three leading American legal scholars denounced the “cruel irony” of a Communist Party repressing labor activism.

“The authorities don’t know how to deal with the situation, so their only response was to target the people who are actually helping,” said Geoffrey Crothall, communications director for CLB, which helps fund Zeng’s small labor organization. RTWT

The latest directive from China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, highlights the strength of his obsession with Mao-era ideology, Zheping Huang writes for Quartz:

On Thursday (Feb. 25), Xi ordered all Communist Party officials to read an essay by Mao Zedong, and to learn “the art of leadership” (link in Chinese) described in it. The order was issued to Party committees in the army, state-owned enterprises, universities, and government bureaus, and was widely reported by state media including Xinhua news agency and People’s Daily….

Xi’s revival of Mao’s ideologies has already raised concerns from many China watchers, and the descendants of former Party leaders.

Mao’s essay, titled Methods of work of Party committee (pdf, page 377), was written in March of 1949, on the eve of the founding of Communist China. In it, Mao uses a colloquial tone to describe 12 points about forming a sound Party leadership.


A prominent Christian rights lawyer in China has become the latest to have his “confession” to alleged crimes aired on state television. The confession comes after six months of being held in seclusion, denied access to his lawyers and family, and even before he has been indicted or tried in court, Joyce Huang reports for VOA.

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