We must emancipate the lower class and fight on behalf of workers

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Read this report in Chinese

Since I was a child, I was Maoism’s successor

I am one of the workers who was arrested on July 27th: Tang Xiangwei.

Today is August 14th but before I tell my story, I would like to first call upon the Chinese people to join us, the released workers, in speaking out and in working towards rescuing Mengyu and Xiao Hu!

These two outstanding members of the solidarity group have stepped up to the plate to support us workers. They have faced great risks as well as ignorance in their fight on the front lines. Mengyu has stood up, denounced hooliganism; Xiao Hu has endured harsh humiliation in their work to contact the relatives of the lawyers. They are good comrades of the solidarity group and even more so are they our good comrades-in-arms!

Yesterday, the solidarity group spoke out in support of the released workers; today, workers need to speak out to rescue the comrades of the solidarity group! The workers involved in the July 27th incident have pledged to support the support group every step of the way!

As for the aggressive Shenzhen Pingshan policemen, do you believe by kidnapping Mengyu and Xiao Hu, we will just collapse? You may have kidnapped Mengyu and Xiao Hu but there are still countless others like Mengyu and Xiao Hu who will stand up!

Now I will share my story.

I was born in 1994 and come from a rural village in Hebei. Up until I was 10, I was a very mischievous but easy-going child. During this period of my childhood, I would go to school in the village every day but at one point, my dad sent me off to a boarding school 15 kilometers away from our home. This was my first time leaving home and didn’t know a single person at the school. I didn’t even know how to line up to get food or swipe my meal card. I felt extremely helpless and would often secretly cry. I “hated” my dad for sending me there to go to school. However, one by one, my friends who had gone to school with me in the village, ended up not graduating from middle school, with some not even graduating elementary school and instead started working. Because the boarding school’s tuition was expensive – a year’s tuition was 1,500 RMB – I would record each time I received money from my family in a little book and mark it with a bloody fingerprint to remind myself of the debt of gratitude I owed my parents.

In my third year of middle school, my politics class was going to test us on current events and from that moment onwards, I began to pay attention to various societal issues and learned how increasingly difficult it was for university students to gain employment. Because of this, I felt that going to university would not change my status in life so before the gaokao (college entrance exam) came around, I dropped out of school, returned home and started working at a steel plant with some relatives.

At that time, I lived in an area with a high population of state-owned enterprise workers and I would often hear them discuss their previous happy lives. Their homes were all allocated to them by the factory. Their children all went to schools established by the factory. When they were ill, they just went to the factory hospital and didn’t pay anything so raising children was very easy. The factory’s leadership were all elected by the workers. Workers could supervise and criticize the leadership. The leadership could not deduct workers’ wages, much less fire them. The factory’s labor union implemented a democratic management. A phrase that was popular at the time was, “if you have any difficulties, go to the labor union.”

However, after the enterprise restructured, workers were no longer the ones watching over the leadership but rather it is the boss who was watching over the workers! Workers could no longer choose their leadership; their bosses were the ones choosing workers! The position of power that workers previously occupied was gone and on top of that, an array of benefits was also gone! The houses now all had to be purchased by the worker, going to the doctor now costs money, going to school costs money, and, in addition, wages were very low. The difference between before and after the enterprise restructured was night and day. When the elderly men reach this point in telling their story, they all start to get choked up.

When I was at the steel factory, I slowly started to become familiar with Utopia, Maoflag, Red Song Union, Red Flag[1], etc. I gradually began to understand Mao Zedong and Maoism as well as the history leading up to the Reform and Opening Up and the events that followed. It became increasingly clear to me why my grandfather recalls so fondly the era of state-owned enterprises.

I later started working at a factory in Dongguan – a factory that claimed to operate in accordance with labor laws. However, starting from my first day at the factory, I would work overtime every day until 11 PM, sometimes even until midnight. There was one time when I worked from 7 PM until 4 AM, for a total of 17 hours in one day, which I would’ve overlooked but shockingly, the time worked after midnight would not be paid according to overtime standards. I worked overtime each day and felt fortunate whenever I could finish work by 10 PM. They initially said working overtime would be voluntary but after actually starting work, I found if you don’t work overtime, then that day’s work would be for nothing. I worked at the factory for more than half a month but my body couldn’t handle it anymore so I had to resign.

There was a couple working on the same assembly line as me who also left after working almost a month. They were unable to receive a single cent of the money they had earned through their blood, sweat and tears, a total of 5,000 RMB, because of “factory regulations”. The human resources department explained that the factory requirements were if the worker hadn’t worked for at least three months, they would receive no wages. I asked him how could the factory regulations overrule the labor law? He said if you feel like there’s a problem then you’re free to sue!

Following this incident, I went to the administrative building and visited each leader individually. Each leader was unable to put forth a convincing argument and I had to spend a whole day’s time before they would settle my wages.

When an individual suffers from their boss’s oppressive actions, they can either bite their tongue or transfer to another factory. However, it makes no difference how many factories a worker transfers to, they will face similar treatment at all of them!

My friend, Fengfeng, industriously worked at a factory for six years and had to work over 100 hours of overtime each month. However, his overtime wages were never given to him in accordance with labor law regulations and his overtime wages were reduced by a few hundred RMB each month. When he went to arbitration and requested the factory to pay him his owed wages, the company provided a falsified wage slip and said that the wage slip Fengfeng provided was forged!

Fengfeng said that the pay slip provided by the company was forged but the arbitrator said if Fengfeng felt that the pay slip provided by the company was fake, then he could apply to have it verified. However, verification would cost 4,000 RMB and for a total of 20 wage slips, the process would cost 80,000 RMB in total.

I was stunned as to why the arbitrator would not ask the company to verify their own wage slips but rather put the burden of responsibility on the worker. Fengfeng, because he just didn’t have that much money and was worried the verification process may possibly be subject to collusion between the government and business, had tens of thousands of overtime wages stolen from him.

It was only at that moment that it fully dawned on me how fortunate the older workers were when they enjoyed a high status during the time before the restructuring of the state-owned enterprises. Throughout my years of working at factories, I would only ever see workers being mistreated. Bosses were the ones violating the law but also maintained strict and harsh attitudes. They have connections and are able to collude with each other to oppress workers. When there is no labor union, us workers are all just lambs waiting for slaughter and we are unable to fight back. We, the workers, all occupy the same economic status; we are all working our hardest, day in and day out. In spite of this, we are still being fined, having our time off rescheduled, our wages deducted, and in the end, the wages we do receive are not enough to cover the most basic household expenses. The wages left to us workers were earned by enduring the boss’s oppression.

So, us workers must unite in solidarity, as that is the only way for us to protect each other’s benefits and interests.

On July 20th, Jasic Technology workers were jointly oppressed by factory officials colluding with the police because of their request to establish a labor union. After this incident, many workers came to show their support but were also violently arrested, with some workers suffering injuries.

Chairman Mao said: “Workers, peasants, and soldiers unite!” The workers by my side have all been mistreated by black hearted factory officials and police officers. Us workers must join forces. Upon learning of the incident at Jasic Technology, I went to show my support without a second thought.

On the afternoon of the 27th, Jasic Technology illegally fired the workers who wanted to establish a union. The workers requested the factory to reinstate their employment. When I arrived at the scene, I saw Yu Jucong and seven other people were being subdued by people who were summoned by Jasic leadership. We called the police and afterwards, a large number of police came and surrounded us, inexplicably. I asked the Yanziling police station’s police chief whether it was up to the public safety bureau or the labor department to determine if the workers and their boss have a labor relationship. He did not respond. I continued with my questioning: why did the police immediately believe the factory officials when they said they no longer had a labor relationship with the workers? Why did the police go as far as to take the workers away and beat them? Why is it that when us workers say we have a labor relationship with the factory, the police do not believe us? Shouldn’t the police fairly and equally review all of the evidence when handling cases?

The police chief did not answer and seemed to unknowingly walk over to the Jasic factory entrance to watch over us. I continued asking him which side he stood for. He rushed out of the entrance to stand at the sidelines. When I said I was leaving, the deputy police chief had people block my path. He said he needed to see my ID card. I said I didn’t bring it. He harshly and viciously said he was going to bring me to the police station to verify my identity. I recited my ID card number. The deputy police chief could not validate it and had nothing left to say so he just stood to one side. We were surrounded just like this. No one told us why we were being prevented from leaving.

Each public safety leader stood to one side as if they were waiting for something. At this time, a Jasic leader walked over and said they wanted to negotiate with us. It finally became clear to me that the police were waiting for the Jasic boss’s orders! Why has Jasic not wanted to talk to us these past few days and only wants to talk to us once when we were surrounded by police? Is it because if we did not agree to the Jasic leaders’ conditions that we’d be taken away by the police and we would only avoid arrest if we agreed to their conditions?

Once their collusion became transparent to us, Pingshan branch’s leaders immediately issued us a writ of summons under the charge of illegally demonstrating. After we had arrived at the police station, the charge was changed once again to “inciting trouble” and because of this, we would need to be detained. While being interviewed at the Baoshan police station, the police officers kept questioning me under the assumption I have already committed a crime and said I had received foreign funding. They only corrected their interrogation method after I pointed out what they were doing.

During the questioning, there was a column on the intake paper regarding my drug history, which had already been filled out. I didn’t even have time to look it over. I asked the police officer and he said he thought I had taken a urine test. I said you don’t even know if I had taken a urine test but you filled it out anyway? He said he felt that I didn’t do drugs. I asked him if, in the event, he felt that I had committed a crime then would I be deemed a criminal?

On the 27th, the Baoshan police promised us we would be given three meals a day. However, on the morning of the 28th, when we wanted to eat breakfast, a police officer unexpectedly told us we would only be receiving two meals a day. It was only under our insistent requests that someone gave us two baozi but our hands were dirty so we asked to wash our hands. He said it’s fine, just eat?! Of course, it’s fine to you. The germs won’t end up in your mouth.

I don’t understand why at the Baoshan police station I was constantly being forced to wear handcuffs and ankle bracelets. I would need to wear them even when I was sleeping or went to the bathroom. The ankle bracelets were rusty, and each step I took felt like pins and needles. But did I express even a hint of resistance or noncooperation? When we were being detained and brought to the police station, we brought up that we would like to notify our family members. The police wanted to see our cell phone passwords and if we did not give them our cellphone passwords then they would not let us notify our family members, resulting in us being unable to contact our family. May I ask by what right do you have to steal our personal information?

Afterwards, when we were being questioned, the police did not explain my motive for the crime but instead asked me to plead guilty. Could it be that because I went to support Jasic workers that I was being given a crime? In the middle of the night I was interrogated, the camera was pointed at me and they asked me to say that I realized I had done wrong. I brought up that I wanted to see their police identification. Once my words were spoken, the police said this person was just too annoying and they wouldn’t question me further. They hurriedly put me back into my cell. On the walk over they asked me two times if I was called Tang. From his tone of voice, I felt a sense of fear. I wasn’t sure why I had been selected to be questioned in the middle of the night why they would be so agitated upon asking them to show their identification.

They switched people to question me. The police wanted me to admit that what I had done was illegal. I repeated all of the things I had gone through and told them that I hadn’t committed any crime. He once again wanted me to claim that the methods we used were illegal and inappropriate. To this, I said perhaps! He said so long as I understood this then it’ll be fine. That night I was released on bail. After my release, they told me that I should not interact with these right defenders again or else they would immediately throw me back into prison. At 2 AM on August 4th, someone from the Longtian Correctional Center watched me return to my place of residence, the infamous so-called “escort service”. Following my release, I continuously suffered harassment and was subject to surveillance from community police.

After being released on bail, I continued to carry around the burden of being labelled a criminal. It was in Pingshan, this dark place, that I saw the warmest, most moving and spectacular side of life. It was seeing everyone who, like me, came from all across the country to support the Jasic workers who want to establish a labor union. The supporters included university students, senior party officials, veteran cadres, as well as justice seekers from various industries. They raised a portrait of Chairman Mao in support of us arrested workers.

Based on my understanding, on July 27th, after all of us had been arrested, the supporters came to Pingshan. They came after being summoned by comrade Wu and were organized under the leadership of Shen Mengyu. All these heroes gathered at Pingshan. They also came to Yanziling to request for the release of the workers. During this process, the comrades in arms suffered abuse from the thugs colluding with the police. Some were even knocked to the ground but they didn’t run away or abandon us. They stayed and fought with the police and put immense pressure on the Pingshan authorities and it was because of their efforts that we were finally released on bail.

August 6th was the most inspiring day. From all across the country, senior party officials, senior cadres, Peking University and Tsinghua students as well as students from other renown universities, workers from all industries, came to show their support of Jasic workers and gathered at Pingshan Yanziling’s police station. The supporters requested for the arrested workers to be acquitted of all charges and released as well as demanded the police officers who assaulted the workers be severely punished!

Senior comrades led us in singing communist songs and further explained Maoism to us. Chairman Mao of the Communist party served the people wholeheartedly and worked in the interests of the worker and peasant class as well as the impoverished and suffering. Especially now, when us the working class have been bullied by the capitalist, black-hearted bosses. So long as someone is an actual communist, they will come to support us and unite with us workers to fight against the capitalist bosses! They all came at great self-expense, facing the danger of being arrested. They came not to further their own interests but rather the interests of us, the working class. Right now there are still many comrades who have stayed behind to suffer alongside the Jasic workers and support them every step of the way!

After enduring this fight, we now better understand Maosim! Maoism is no longer some meaningless thing in books! No longer is it a fantasy in our minds! No longer is it some unobtainable desire! It is something with flesh and blood. It is something that is connected to the fate of us workers. It is the guiding force behind the actions of the working class! Maoism has told us we will go wherever there is a need for us! Right now the most practical plan is to support the Jasic workers in their efforts to establish a union with real life actions.

I am deeply aware my understanding of Maoism is still very rudimentary. Us workers urgently need Maoism to arm us. I urge promoters of Maoism to come into our factories, into the industrial areas, into the midst of workers, and teach us about Mao Zedong and Maoism!

However, just because workers want to establish a union, there have been people who said it is because of overseas influences and that we want to escape the guidance of the party leadership. This is utter nonsense!

Could they possibly mean us workers are overseas influences? Could they mean that the solidarity group is an overseas influence? The group has members from the senior cadre of the party, senior party officials, senior workers, academics from ten or so famous universities such as Peking University and Tsinghua as well as esteemed individuals from various industries, could they all be overseas influences? Isn’t that saying China’s very foundation is made up of overseas influences?

Jasic workers followed the Constitution and the Labor Union Law and established a union under the instruction of the Shenzhen General Labor Union and the Pingshan District General Union! The Constitution stipulates: “The People’s Republic of China is a socialist state under the people’s democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants. All powers of the state belong to the people!” The Labor Union law stipulates: “All manual and mental workers in enterprises, institutions and government departments within the territory of China who rely on wages or salaries as their main source of income, irrespective of their nationality, race, sex, occupation, religious belief or educational background, have the right to organize or join trade unions according to law. No organizations or individuals shall obstruct or restrict them.”

May I ask, is this us deviating from the guidance of the party leadership? You have all fabricated these crimes for us, in order to oppress the workers who are establishing a union! May I ask whose ideas are you in support of?

Up until this very moment, us, 29 workers and students who have been arrested, 15 have been released on bail, but there are still 14 Jasic workers who are still at the Longgang detention center suffering various abuses and hardships. Mengyu and Xiao Hu have been arrested and as of writing, there has been no news about them. At this moment, I, and the other released workers, would like to strongly request:

1. The immediate acquittal and release of all arrested workers, restore their reputation, and severely punish the police who assaulted them!

2. Immediately take Mengyu and Xiao Hu back to the supporter group!

3. Support Jasic workers’ in their efforts to establish a labor union in accordance with the Constitution and Labor Union Law!

August 4, 2018

Tang Xiangwei

(Translated by China Labor Watch)

[1] The following are all Chinese internet forums purporting Maoist and Communist ideology.