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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

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