ChinaBounder comments:‘Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 29
"Every day in China, 320 people are killed in the workplace. That’s around 110,000 people per year, says the head of China’s State Administration of Work Safety, Li Yizhong (apparently forgetting some 6,800 victims indicated by the mathematically correct figure).
Li says that he does not expect this situation to improve significantly over the next ten to twenty years.
Mining is the single most deadly industry. In addition to the huge number of disease victims it causes, over 6,000 people die in China’s mines every year, due to fires, floods, cave-ins and gas build-up.
Many of these deaths are due to managerial indifference to safety rules or lack of safety equipment. And labor rights groups say the true figure is several times higher than this, due to extensive cover-ups of accidents.
China frequently launches showy crackdowns, announced with glowing headlines in the media, to try to reduce the endless cycle of corruption and death.
In 2005, it announced a campaign to close 7,000 small mines. This was slightly under a third of the total number of mines operating at the time, approximately 24,000. But the central government soon had to back down on this plan due to extensive opposition around the country.
Officials admitted that by January 2006 nearly 60% of the 5000 mines they had ordered to close had refused."
Out of the weak comes forth strength.
This is the China the West knows little about. This is the real China – the millions upon millions working out of sight, out of mind – digging the coal, mining the minerals, making the toys and shoes and bags and food and white goods and clothes and electronics and all the rest of it.
These are the millions who give China the economic strength it has today. Without them, China would remain the nothing-much nation it was for much of the 20th century.
Hidden behind factory doors, exposed to danger and death, denied any meaningful chance to speak up. No rights, no trade unions, no voice.
That’s what China’s strength is built on. Exploitation, initiated by the Communists and seized upon by the West.
When I go back to my home country I’m struck each time by the cheapness of many goods in the shops – and depressed, for I know the cheapness of those goods is predicated upon the suffering and exploitation of workers in China.
It’s maybe no surprise the West sucks up these cheap goods eagerly, for the misery that produces them is from far away, in another country. What does the suffering of nameless, faceless Chinese workers matter to the West? The square root of fuck all, as far as I can see.
But it is a surprise that China itself does not care about its own workers…
No, fuck that; it’s no surprise at all. Of course the workers of China get a raw deal. They’re the poor, the insulted and the injured, and in today’s China such people simply do not matter.
So let’s toss another 320 on the pile – that’s today’s total of dead – and celebrate the booming economy, the flow of cheap goods, and the chance for some tiny fraction of us to keep on getting richer.
‘Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 30
"Ironically, while attention at home to 320 people dead a day stirs not one change to regulations concerning safety, Chinese politicians instantly demand actions, solutions and apologies when problems involve their citizens overseas.
In April 2007, in Milan, Italy, police gave a Chinese woman a parking ticket since she was unloading goods from her car in a restricted area. They also tried to confiscate her car documentation. The woman, Bu Luowei, says that the policeman turned his back on her and began insulting Chinese people with his colleague. Police say Bu pushed them, and have charged her with insulting a civil servant and injuring police officers.
Whoever is telling the truth, what happened next is not in doubt. Hundreds of Chinese staged a protest, and fighting broke out when Italian riot police were called in to stop the unscheduled gathering. More than ten Chinese were hurt along with seven police officers.
In the days following this event, China protested. “We hope the Italian side deals fairly with the issue and seriously considers the justified demands of local Chinese nationals and takes real measures to protect their legitimate rights and interests,” a statement on the ministry’s website said.
The Chinese government demanded a meeting with Milan mayor Letizia Moratti, and China’s Premier, Wen Jiabao, demanded a report on the riot.
For China, a relatively trivial incident overseas in which no one died and no one was seriously hurt creates a diplomatic storm and nationalistic breast-beating because it plays well in the international press – China cares for its citizens.
Yet the more than 300 deaths every day from workplace accidents within China, plus the thousands of serious injuries and poisonings every year, indicate a little less care on the domestic front."
My repeated exhortation: 'T' for Tibet. 'X' for Xinjiang. It's important. It's humanity.