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 of them have been criminally detained or are being held in currently uncertain whereabouts. Those five who are being put under criminal detention on charges include: Zeng Feiyang, the director of Panyu Workers’ Centre and labour organizer Zhu Xiaomei; labour activist He Xiaobo, who runs a group in Foshan called Nanfeiyan that helps injured workers; Activist Peng Jiayong, the founder of a workers’ self-help group, and another labour activist Deng Xiaoming. The authorities have prevented lawyers from meeting any of the detained. Labour activist Meng Han is being detained at Guangzhou City No. 1 Detention Centre, although the criminal detention notice is not yet issued. Activist Tang Jian is also known to be taken away by the police, but his location and charges are unclear. The police have continued to harass and intimidate the family members and friends of the detained activists and prevented them from giving media interviews. In May 2015, the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau detained labour activist Liu Shaoming and denied his rights to meet with his lawyer, saying that he has been charged with “inciting subversion of state power”.