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A Quarterly on Chinese Labour, Civil Society, and Rights
AND THE LAW:
RULE OF LAW IN CHINA
MADE IN CHINA 2016
ISSUE 2, 2016
THE RESISTANCE OF
A Quarterly on Chinese Labour, Civil Society, and Rights
MADE IN CHINA
Made in China Made in China is a quarterly newsletter on Chinese labour, civil society, and rights. This project
has been produced with the financial assistance of the Australian Centre on China in the World
(CIW), Australian National University, and the European Union Horizon 2020 research and inno-
vation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 654852. The views
expressed are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of the European
Union, CIW, or the institutions to which the authors are affiliated.
CHINA COLUMNS (P.9)
THE RESISTANCE OF
WALMART WORKERS IN
CHINA: A BREAKTHROUGH
IN THE CHINESE LABOUR
INTERPRETING THE RULE
OF LAW IN CHINA (P.26)
CHINESE WORKERS AND
THE LAW: MISPLACED
ACADEMIC WATCH (P.42)
ELI FRIEDMAN ON ‘CHINA
ON STRIKE’ (P.42)
TABLE OF CONTENTSEDITORS
PRODUCTION AND DESIGN
Chen Xin ( Cover)
Black Station (P.9-10)
Peter Van Den Bossche (P.12)
Mariana Santana (P.23)
THE FOREIGN NGOs
MANAGEMENT LAW: A
4MADE IN CHINA - EDITORIAL
WHY MADE IN CHINA? In the last few years, the Chinese labour movement has witnessed significant developments, not only with the occurrence of some of the largest strikes in decades but also the emergence of grave chal- lenges for workers and activists. Made in China springs from the belief that this calls for more seri- ous analysis from both scholars and practitioners, as well for a critical engagement with a broader international audience interested in forging inter- national solidarity.
5MADE IN CHINA - EDITORIAL
We are pleased to announce the second issue of Made in China. In this issue, we open with a series of Briefs that provide an overview of notable stories that have taken place over the past three months. In the last quarter, one of the most important developments for Chinese civil society is the passing of the Law on the Management of Foreign NGOs’ Activities within Main- land China on 28 April. Although a draft released early last year had received exten- sive domestic and international criticism, the Law was passed with only minor revi- sions. What we previously described as a sword of Damocles looming over Chinese civil society has now become reality.
To contextualise the language of the Law and shed light on its possible implications, we have compiled The Foreign NGOs Management Law: A Compendium. While the new legislation indeed helps to clarify what is a substantial grey area in the Chi- nese legal system, the specific terms of the Law have grave implications not only for international NGOs operating in China, but also for the whole of Chinese civil society. This is especially true for those organisa- tions that operate in politically sensitive fields such as labour and human rights.
In the China Columns section, we pres- ent three articles. In Walmart Workers in China: A Breakthrough in the Chinese Labour Movement, Anita Chan highlights the historical importance of the recent struggles of Walmart workers in China. In Chinese Workers and the Law: Mis- placed Trust?, Ivan Franceschini reflects on the ‘rights awakening’ of Chinese work- ers, challenging some widely held assump- tions. Following up on the tribulations facing state workers in China that we out-
HAMMER TO FALL Harder Times Ahead for Chinese Civil Society
lined in the last issue, Laying Off Respon- sibility: Microcredit, Entrepreneurship, and China’s Industrial Retrenchment by Nicholas Loubere offers an analysis of the political and ideological implications of resorting to microcredit to promote entre- preneurial activity among laid-off workers.
The arbitrary detention of rights ad- vocates and lawyers over the last year has renewed interest in re-evaluating the meaning of the discourse of the rule of law promoted by the Chinese authorities. This issue includes a forum, Interpreting the Rule of Law in China: A Discussion, edited by Elisa Nesossi with contributions from legal experts Joshua Rosenzweig, Ewan Smith, and Sue Trevaskes. This dis- cussion puts the concept of the rule of law in China in a wider historical and political perspective, and deconstructs its multiple dimensions and specificities.
Finally, in the Academic Watch sec- tion, we introduce China on Strike, a new book on the struggles of Chinese workers, through a conversation with one of the co-editors Eli Friedman.
This journal is hosted by Chinoiresie. info, a collective blog edited by young scholars and dedicated to the analysis of Chinese society. If you would like to con- tribute a piece of writing, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to receive this journal reg- ularly by email, you can subscribe at this link: www.chinoiresie.info/madeinchina. We welcome any feedback and we hope you will consider sharing this journal with your friends and colleagues.
The Editors, Ivan Franceschini, Kevin Lin
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6MADE IN CHINA - BRIEFS
PC: QINGNIAN BAO
On 8 April, He Xiaobo, one of the labour activists taken into custody in early December 2015, was released on bail after being charged with embez- zlement. A 42-year-old former migrant worker, He is the director of the Nanfeiyan Social Work Ser- vice Centre, an NGO based in Foshan, Guangdong, that specialises in providing legal aid to victims of work-related accidents and occupational diseases. Another two labour activists, Zeng Feiyang and Meng Han, of the Panyu Migrant Workers Centre, an NGO based in Guangzhou, currently remain under detention with the charge of ‘disrupting so- cial order’. In late December, Chinese state media publicly accused Zeng of having embezzled money from factory workers, having affairs with several female workers, and writing ‘vulgar’ messages to women online. His mother Chen Wenying later at- tempted to sue the official Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television, demanding one mil- lion yuan in compensation for defamation, but in April she dropped charges due to the unrelenting pressures she and her family had been subjected to in the wake of the lawsuit.
(Sources: Guardian, Quartz, South China Morning Post, Xinhua)
He Xiaobo Released on Bail, Zeng Feiyang’s Mother Attempts to Sue Official Media
On 28 April, the National People’s Congress, China’s legislative body, passed the long-awaited Law on the Management of Foreign NGOs’ Activi- ties within Mainland China. The new Law, which will come into effect on 1 January 2017, fills a grey area of the Chinese legal system, stipulating that any foreign group wishing to operate in China must register with the public security authori- ties. This means that the Ministry of Public Se- curity and its local branches down to the county level will formally be in charge of supervising all activities of foreign NGOs in China. The passage of the Law signifies increasing restrictions on the activities of foreign NGOs. Not only will they be barred from engaging in political or religious ac- tivities, or acting in a way that damages ‘China’s national interests’ or ‘ethnic unity’, but criminal measures can also be taken against individuals who are suspected of having engaged in activities that violate these broadly worded principles. As most foreign NGOs operating in China do not have any official registration, no official data are avail- able on their numbers. However, according to one estimate more than 7,000 international organisa- tions are active in the country today. In light of this widespread presence, the Chinese authorities have argued that such regulation is long overdue, with an op-ed published on the People’s Day on 4 May rhetorically asking: ‘If you do not violate the law, what are you afraid about?’ Still, critics maintain that the laws amount to a crackdown. To allow our readers to have an informed opinion on the matter, on pp. 34-40 of this issue of Made in China you can find a compendium of the Law.
(Sources: BBC, China Law Translate, Guardian, People’s Daily)