• China,  Cuba,  Vote 2016

    Sanders on Cuba, Trump on China

    Although I support Hillary Clinton for president, I’ve tried to be fair to Bernie Sanders. Among other things I’ve praised his comments about the Communist regime in Vietnam during a discussion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement which he opposes: “The minimum wage in Vietnam is 56 cents an hour,” [Sanders said]. “Workers there cannot form independent unions. And if you protest government policy, you might end up in trouble. OK?” So I was rather disturbed when the question of Cuba came up in last week’s debate between Clinton and Sanders. While both endorsed President Obama’s restoration of diplomatic ties with the Cuban regime, Sanders said this: Cuba is, of…

  • China,  Human Rights

    World kowtows as China cracks down on dissent

    It’s appropriate that “kowtow” is a word of Chinese origin, because that’s exactly what the rest of the world is doing to the Chinese regime. China’s campaign against dissent is going global. Amid extraordinary moves to rein in criticism at home, Chinese security personnel are reaching confidently across borders, targeting Chinese and foreign citizens who dare to challenge the Communist Party line, in what one Western diplomat has called the “worst crackdown since Tiananmen Square.” A string of incidents, including abductions from Thailand and Hong Kong, forced repatriations and the televised “confessions” of two Swedish citizens, has crossed a new red line, according to diplomats in Beijing. Yet many foreign…

  • China,  Employment Rights,  Israel

    China-Israel labor deal falls through; China cracks down on labor activists

    Last month we reported on a deal between the Israeli and Chinese governments that would have allowed Israeli companies to recruit 20,000 Chinese construction workers under exploitative conditions without the most basic protections of Israeli labor law. The good news is that the deal has fallen through, perhaps in part due to the 6,300 online protests sent to Israeli and Chinese officials. Meanwhile, as the number of grassroots protests and strikes by Chinese workers soars, Chinese authorities have begun a crackdown on workers’ rights activists in Guangdong province. More than 25 people from at least four labour organizations have been taken away and questioned by the police. At least seven…

  • China,  Employment Rights,  Israel

    Israel/China: Stop governments’ deal to import bonded workers

    Cross-posted from LabourStart Join with Israeli and Hong Kong Workers’ Unions and Human Rights Organizations in their call to end a deal between the Israeli and Chinese Governments that will put migrant workers in a dangerously disadvantaged position. The deal, as it stands, will allow Israel to recruit 20,000 Chinese construction workers via private recruitment agencies. In order to pay the exorbitant commissions charged by these agencies, Chinese workers will have to commit to massive loans before entering the country, making them more vulnerable to exploitation and abusive employment practices, without protection under Israeli labor law. This call to end the Israeli-Chinese deal comes as a response to the Israeli…

  • China,  Labour Party

    McDonnell quotes Mao

    The infuriating thing about this is that John McDonnell actually had a reasonable, eminently debatable point about the UK government’s plan to sell stakes in major infrastructure projects to Chinese state investors– before he blew it to smithereens by flourishing and quoting from Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book.” Even when the Corbynistas are right, they manage to screw it up. If he had noted that the Tory government was making these arrangements with a regime that still honors the worst mass killer in human history, he would have been more on point. Is such a realization beyond him? Hell, even Homer Simpson got it:

  • China,  North Korea

    “Made in China” by North Koreans

    If you need another reason to feel badly for buying “made in China” products (and how many do you need?), consider that some of them may be produced just across the border from North Korea, in factories owned by North Koreans, employing North Korean women working 13 hours a day and earning $300 a month, two-thirds of which goes to the government in Pyongyang. In one factory: The women work on the third floor, wearing their coats inside to guard against the cold, and live on the second floor in shared, dormitory-style rooms decorated with a banner declaring, “Let’s realize the revolutionary ideas of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong…

  • China,  Democracy

    In China, communists and capitalists unite against democracy in Hong Kong

    As tens of thousands of people fill the center of Hong Kong to demand the right to choose their leaders freely and democratically, the communist government in Beijing reached out— not to the demonstrators but to Hong Kong’s business elite. With political tension in the southern Chinese financial hub at its highest in years, China’s leaders summoned dozens of the city’s tycoons earlier this week for talks. The rare trip by the large contingent of business leaders to meet President Xi Jinping in Beijing highlighted the unlikely role that Hong Kong’s capitalists have played as longstanding supporters of China’s communist rulers. “I see most of my old friends,” Xi said…

  • China,  Freedom & Liberty

    Uighur moderate Ilham Tohti sentenced to life in prison

    In response to unrest and separatism, including acts of terrorism, China has imposed collective punishments on Muslims living in Xinjiang.  Restrictions have been imposed on Islamic dress, including hijab and beards – in the city of Karamay anyone wearing such items has been banned from using the bus service. In a recent sweep of Urumqi, the region’s capital, authorities last week said they seized 1,265 hijab-type headscarves, 259 jilbabs and even clothes printed with Islamic star-and-crescent symbols. Officials also “rescued” 82 children from studying the Quran, the government said. The prohibitions on Islamic attire and beards have attracted widespread criticism, with many experts saying such repression angers ordinary Uighurs and…

  • China,  Christmas

    Enjoy your Chinese-made decorations

    National Public Radio’s program “All Things Considered” reports on Stuart Foster, an American who spent seven months in a Chinese jail on charges of theft. He and other inmates were forced to make Christmas lights for the US market under terrible conditions with no pay. “In the cell, there was an average of 30 men,”says Foster, an amiable 49-year-old who speaks with a Southern drawl. “There were no chairs, there were no beds. We slept on the concrete floor, and most people didn’t even have a sheet and certainly no pillows. It was so crowded that most inmates had to sleep on their side.” In the morning, Foster says, he…

  • China,  Freedom of Expression,  Ignored by Socialist Unity

    Stalin and Mao applaud

    The Washington Post reports on the Chinese government’s use of an old Stalinist standby– coerced public confessions– against critics of the regime: Chinese state television on Sunday broadcast a startling video of a famous blogger in handcuffs, renouncing his Web posts and saying how dangerous the Internet would be if left uncontrolled by the government. The 10-minute news report featuring Charles Xue — a Chinese American businessman and one of China’s most popular bloggers — was the latest step in what appears to be a systematic campaign to intimidate online opinion leaders against speaking too freely or critically of the government. “It gratified my vanity greatly,” Xue said of the…