News / Asia

China Labor Activist Freed, Says Will Still Help Strikers

FILE - Workers protest during a strike as police stand guard at the factory area of Yue Yuen Industrial, in Dongguan, Guangdong province, April 18, 2014.
FILE - Workers protest during a strike as police stand guard at the factory area of Yue Yuen Industrial, in Dongguan, Guangdong province, April 18, 2014.
Reuters
A Chinese labor activist has been freed after being detained for more than two days by security agents who he says tried to convince him not to make contact with workers involved in China's biggest strike in years.
          
Zhang Zhiru's brief detention underscores nervousness among officials about the strike, which began on April 14 at a Yue Yuen shoe manufacturing complex that employs some 40,000 workers in the southern industrial city of Dongguan.
          
A colleague of Zhang's at the Shenzhen Chunfeng Labor Dispute Service Center, which he runs, was detained separately on Tuesday and has not been released, Zhang told Reuters by telephone on Friday.
          
Labor activists say the strike is one of China's biggest since market reforms started in the late 1970s. It is already starting to have ripple effects on businesses.
          
German sportswear firm Adidas is shifting some orders from the factory to minimize the impact of the strike, and a spokesman for Nike, which also sources shoes from the facility, said on Thursday the Oregon-based company was watching developments closely.
          
Zhang had been working with other activists and lawyers to help workers at Yue Yuen organize and press their demands regarding social insurance payments. He visited the Dongguan site on Monday after an attempt last week was thwarted by security agents.
          
Speaking on Friday from the southern city of Shenzhen, next to Dongguan, Zhang said domestic security agents summoned him to a meeting on Tuesday and asked him to promise he wouldn't make contact with the workers. He refused, and was taken to what the agents said was a “vacation area” in the suburbs of nearby Guangzhou, where they removed his mobile phone, confined him to a room and barred him from making outside contact, he said.
          
They tried to convince him to write a statement that he was “safe and on a trip for fun with friends,” but he refused. He was allowed a telephone call to his wife on Wednesday afternoon.
          
Late on Thursday morning, he was driven back to Shenzhen, where he lives, and released, Zhang said. He was again told not to make contact with the striking workers.
          
“They said this would be going against the work of the government,” which he was told was trying to facilitate an arrangement to end the strike. “But, definitely, if the workers have a need or if they have some questions and come to us we will still give them opinions and suggestions, telling them how they can better protect their interests,” Zhang said.
          
The Dongguan office of the Ministry of State Security did not have an immediate response to questions about the case. Calls to the Dongguan police propaganda office went unanswered.
          
Geoff Crothall, at the Hong Kong-based watchdog China Labor Bulletin, said the detentions of Zhang and his colleague were illegal, but not a reflection of a broader crackdown amid a recent wave of labor activism.
          
“We do not think it is politically motivated or represents a crackdown on labor rights groups in general. Rather, it is a local action in response to a specific issue,” he wrote in emailed comments.
          
Separately, a spokesman for the Ministry of Labor and Social Security told reporters in Beijing on Friday that Yue Yuen had been underpaying its social welfare contributions.
          
“The related department has already ordered the factory to rectify the wrongdoings before April 25,” Li Zhong said. “Our ministry will continue to keep a close watch on the progress of the issue."

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid