The riot, at the Tonghua Iron and Steel Works in Jilin Province in northern China, broke out after a visiting steel executive from a related company threatened mass layoffs at the Tonghua steel mills as part of a major restructuring of the state-owned company, China Daily said.That is not surprising. Shortly before this incident in China, "Workers at collapsed French car parts maker New Fabris threatened on Sunday to blow up their factory if they did not receive payouts by July 31 from auto groups Renault and Peugeot to compensate for their lost jobs" ("French Workers Threaten to Blow Up Factory," Reuters, 12 July 2009). It could happen here.
The riot followed a pattern of massive demonstrations that have taken place in various parts of the country over the past few years, many involving citizens outraged over government corruption or threatened with layoffs or orders to relocate.
The China Daily report said Chen Guojun, the steel executive who was beaten to death, had threatened 3,000 Tonghua steelworkers with layoffs, which he had said could take place within three days. He also had signaled that larger jobs cuts were likely at the struggling steel mill.
The report said the rioters blocked the police, ambulances and government officials from reaching Mr. Chen before he died. (David Barboza, "China Steel Executive Killed as Workers and Police Clash," New York Times, 27 July 2009)
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
It Could Happen Here
Normally, the Western mass media love the stories of any old conflicts -- from electoral disputes to ethnic conflicts to even workers' uprisings -- in Southern nations of interest to the West, but they don't appear to find this story so amusing, as is suggested by the terseness of the report.