Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle

cast away illusions, prepare for struggle!

A Different View: New IMF Rules To Isolate China and Russia?

[The IMF has, says Congress and the NYTimes, become more inclusive of China and Russia (see previous Frontlines post, https://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/ny-times-on-the-liberalizing-of-the-international-monetary-fund/).  But others, looking deeply, see the new IMF rules as counter-attacks on Chinese and Russian other-imperialist initiatives.  See this lengthy article for more details. — Frontlines ed.]

The IMF Changes its Rules to Isolate China and Russia

by Michael Hudson, CounterPunch, December 15, 2015

The nightmare scenario of U.S. geopolitical strategists seems to be coming true: foreign economic independence from U.S. control. Instead of privatizing and neoliberalizing the world under U.S.-centered financial planning and ownership, the Russian and Chinese governments are investing in neighboring economies on terms that cement Eurasian economic integration on the basis of Russian oil and tax exports and Chinese financing. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) threatens to replace the IMF and World Bank programs that favor U.S. suppliers, banks and bondholders (with the United States holding unique veto power).

Russia’s 2013 loan to Ukraine, made at the request of Ukraine’s elected pro-Russian government, demonstrated the benefits of mutual trade and investment relations between the two countries. As Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov points out, Ukraine’s “international reserves were barely enough to cover three months’ imports, and no other creditor was prepared to lend on terms acceptable to Kiev. Yet Russia provided $3 billion of much-needed funding at a 5 per cent interest rate, when Ukraine’s bonds were yielding nearly 12 per cent.”[1] Continue reading

Development finance helps China win friends and influence American allies

[Each day brings news of the every-sharpening contention between imperialist powers, who have long cooperated but are now more-ready to seize advantage at the expense of each other, and place burdens of more aggressive exploitation and more oppressive conditions on working people inside the imperialist countries (from US/EU to Chinese/Russian and others scrambling to expand their profits at each others expense).  One day, it is the seizure of energy resources, then it is trade routes and shipping, then monetary dominance, then credit dominance and wars, then military eyeball face-offs and surrogate/proxy hotspots, then it is digital battles and cyber wars.  There is no stopping this contention, nor any way for the people to see it but to raise the people’s struggles against all imperialism and all reaction.  Between these imperialists, working people have no horse in this race.  —  Frontlines ed.]
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
Mar 21st 2015 | SINGAPORE | From The Economist

 

STRATEGIC rivalry between America and China takes many forms. Rarely does a clear winner emerge. An exception, however, is the tussle over China’s efforts to found a new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). China has won, gaining the support of American allies not just in Asia but in Europe, and leaving America looking churlish and ineffectual. This month first Britain and then France, Germany and Italy said they hoped to join the bank as founding shareholders. China said other European countries such as Luxembourg and Switzerland are thinking of joining the queue.

Yet America has been sceptical about the AIIB. Its officials claim they have not “lobbied against” it, but merely stressed how important it is that it abide by international standards of transparency, creditworthiness, environmental sustainability, and so on.

Continue reading

Hong Kong: an anatomy of the revolt

[The Hong Kong revolt is a reform movement, not a revolution, and it has been sustained by its unmistakeable mass character.  Those who claim, disingenuously, that it is triggered by foreign forces a la “Orange Revolution” or even some kind of revanchist reassertion of British colonialism are inventing a false picture while denying the class character of the revolt, the class character of Chinese capitalist-imperialism, and the class character of Hong Kong.  The people have legitimate grievances, which are currently shaped and constrained by reformist leaders and by the lack of revolutionary leadership. This revolt will not be the trigger, today, for China-wide revolts against the capitalist regime in Beijing, though those revolts, especially by displaced peasants and massively exploited workers, are widespread and continuously growing against the counter-revolutionary post-Mao capitalist rule.  The people of Hong Kong should be supported by internationalists, anti-imperialists, revolutionary proletarians, and democratic activists.  The following detailed and lengthy reformist-focused article by Lawrence Wong examines the HK revolt and the conditions which gave rise to it — and its chances for “successful reform”.  What the article does not address are the ways the struggles of today will congeal into revolutionary forces and strategies in the future.  —  Frontlines ed.]

October 6, 2014

by Lawrence Wong | Counterfire | Opinion

Protestor

A protester (centre) raises his umbrellas in front of tear gas which was fired by riot police to disperse protesters blocking the main street to the financial Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, on Sept 28, 2014. — PHOTO: REUTERS

Lawrence Wong looks at the background, and prospects, for Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Revolution’

The scale, the size, and the vitality of the ‘umbrella’ revolution took every person, including the Hong Kong people themselves, by surprise. However, this does not mean that the protests and campaigns of civil disobedience were without precedent in the territory of Hong Kong.

The previous Chief Executive Tung Chee Wah was deposed through a mass campaign in 2003.There have been strikes, a notable docker’s strike, a threat to strike by Cathay Pacific cabin crew, a successful campaign against the change in the secondary school curriculum, and the recent mock plebiscite where 800,00 Hong Kong people voted for genuine democracy.

Every year, Hong Kong people come out, sometimes in tens of thousands and sometimes in hundreds of thousands, around June 4th to commemorate and to remember the fallen when Chinese people last stormed the gates of heaven twenty five years ago. Most of these protests have been successful, and have taken place in the ‘consultative’ period, prior to decisions being made. The mobilisations of Occupy Central, the mock plebiscite, the magnificent 500,000 demonstration on June 1 which was the closest Sunday to June 4th, took place within this by and large successful experience of struggle by Hong Kong people since 1997. Continue reading

Hong Kong Suppresses Protests with British Weapons

Hong Kong has spent billions on buying weapons from Britain 

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 October, 2014

Zimbabwe: Working for the Chinese in Zimbabwe

Over 300,000 teenage school leavers in Zimbabwe are currently working for Chinese shop-owners. One of them, Meagan Ngwenya, claims to be heavily exploited.

Meagan Ngwenya (18) is an orphan who has already worked for a variety of Chinese employers. She accuses them of unfair labour practices.

Ngwenya spoke to RNW at her current Chinese-run shop which sells clothing and vehicle-parts. “Since 2012, a year after I dropped out of school, I have been working for one Chinese boss after the other; often for little or no payment, which renders life hard for me.”

She claims to have been exposed to cruel treatment and extremely long working hours. “There are limited formal jobs here and I have found it hard to secure one, and as a result I continue to toil in shops owned by Chinese. This is my sixth job working for Chinese shop owners.”

Continue reading

Western Moves to Isolate Russia Spurs China-Russia Energy Deal

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, right, and President Xi Jinping of China on Wednesday in Shanghai, where they signed a deal to send gas through a pipeline from Siberia to China. Credit Pool photo by Mark Ralston

BEIJING — China and Russia agreed to a major 30-year natural gas deal on Wednesday that would send gas from Siberia by pipeline to China, according to the China National Petroleum Corporation.

The announcement caps a decade-long negotiation and helps bring Russia and China closer than they have been in many years. The contract was driven to a conclusion by the presence of President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Shanghai for the last two days. Continue reading

Should anti-Imperialists oppose only US imperialism?

[The world imperialist system today has entered a period of crisis, internal instability and disarray, growing internal conflict and inter-imperialist contention, conflict, and the beginnings of opposing bloc formations. It is a far-from-healthy and broadly discredited system, forcing the costs of its desperate wars and troubled (and false) bourgeois “recoveries” on the masses of people worldwide. Wave upon wave of resistance and rebellion has begun, sometimes toppling old imperialist puppets, though finding the path to create liberated societies very difficult. Fantasies that the US had, since WW2, successfully formed a system of efficient and unchallengable control of world imperialist domination, have fallen on hard times. Imperialist Russia and imperialist China have grown from the defeat of socialism and the seizure of power by capitalists, and have set upon an assertion of power and authority in regional, economic, political, military, monetary and financial affairs (though each is struggling to contain growing internal discontent). Anti-imperialists and revolutionaries who only think in the framework of decades-long opposition to US hegemony in the world system will look in vain, and to their own discredit, for friends or allies among the contending imperialists. The only path forward is to build revolutionary proletarian class-conscious parties and mass-based political forces with eyes wide open, independent of ties and influence by any and all imperialists.
Revolutionary Frontlines has recently received a new study from redpath.net, which examines the shape of the imperialist system today, with special emphasis on the still-debated role of China and Chinese imperialism. The introduction to this path-breaking study and analysis is posted here below. The entire document can be viewed at the website of http://www.red-path.net, where the document (produced by an independent research and writing group) was first posted. It can also be viewed and downloaded at http://www.mlmrsg.com/79-statements/82-is-china-an-imperialist-country-considerations-and-evidence. — Revolutionary Frontlines]

IS CHINA AN IMPERIALIST COUNTRY?  by NB Turner, et al.

It has long been known and understood that the entire world has been under the control of capitalist-imperialism. For a time, a section of this world broke from it, beginning with the victory of socialism in Russia and continuing through the Chinese Revolution, constituting a socialist world. Yet, in time, the socialist countries, through internal class struggles in politics and economics, were seized by capitalist conciliators and advocates, and then by capitalists themselves, who were largely within the ruling communist parties themselves. First in Russia, and later in China, when these counter-revolutions and coups took place, there ensued a period of entry and integration into the world imperialist system. The Soviet Union, at first under the existing signboard of socialism, continued much of its established national and economic power relations into a new social-imperialist bloc (socialist in name, imperialist in reality). The Russian capitalist-imperialist attempt to maintain this bloc, or important sections of what had been part of this bloc, and its historic allies, has continued in the years since the “socialist” signboard was discarded. In China, the defeat of the proletariat and the capitalist capture of state power, after the death of the great revolutionary Mao Zedong, have also led to a period of integration into the world imperialist system. China still operates under a “socialist” signboard, but has conducted itself unambiguously as a capitalist power.
Before the last decade, especially since the demise of the “socialist bloc,” the US was commonly seen as the sole Superpower, to which all other powers had to defer. The system which the US had designed, at the end of WW2, was global in scope, and to some more “democratic” in appearance than the old colonial empires. But it was built around the elitist privilege of power and authority, meaning the US as Superpower was at the centerpiece of the controls.
But in the last decade the imperialist world system is not what it used to be. Throughout the world, corrupt and comprador regimes have faced significant and often unprecedented mass popular opposition movements which have revealed the deep instability of the old neo-colonial arrangements. Continue reading

Capitalist China rapidly expanding its share of inter-imperialist contention and rivalry

[After Mao Zedong died 35 years ago, bourgeois forces within the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party led by the opportunist (revisionist or false-Marxist) Teng Hsiao-Ping seized power and began a ruthless period of destroying socialism and of capitalist profiteering and accumulation (under false banners of “market socialism”,  “development” and “modernization”).  After re-organizing the Chinese workers to serve, for several years, the established Western imperialists as a “cheap labor” resource, the Chinese bourgeoisie, concentrated in both “state-owned” enterprises and private corporations,  launched a more open imperialist drive with foreign investments, global resource acquisition, military force expansion, expanded trade relations, and corollary  diplomatic, media, educational, cultural, and joint-venture monetary and finance-credit initiatives.  The following article details one area of this expansion — arms exports — which inevitably creates new deals for parts supplies, operational training, logistical integration, joint military training exercises, and other aspects of new alliance formation.
All who oppose imperialism, and who have learned so much from the oppression of many imperialist powers such as the British Empire and US imperialism, must take note of this development of Chinese Social-Imperialism (socialist in words, imperialist in deeds).  While China is not the largest, and there are certainly many smaller, imperialist powers within the single imperialist world system, the people have no interest in taking the side of one imperialist versus another.  Only when the people’s revolution destroys and banishes imperialism on a world scale will creative history on human terms truly begin. — Frontlines ed.]

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/21/world/asia/chinas-arms-industry-makes-global-inroads.html?hp&_r=0

China’s Arms Industry Makes Global Inroads

October 20, 2013

BEIJING — From the moment Turkey announced plans two years ago to acquire a long-range missile defense system, the multibillion-dollar contract from a key NATO member appeared to be an American company’s to lose.

Members of Aviation Industry Corporation of China displayed a model of the JF-17 jet at an exposition in Beijing last month.

For years, Turkey’s military had relied on NATO-supplied Patriot missiles, built by the American companies Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, to defend its skies, and the system was fully compatible with the air-defense platforms operated by other members of the alliance.

There were other contenders for the deal, of course. Rival manufacturers in Russia and Europe made bids. Turkey rejected those — but not in favor of the American companies. Its selection last month of a little-known Chinese defense company, China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp oration, stunned the military-industrial establishment in Washington and Brussels.

The sale was especially unusual because the Chinese missile defense system, known as the HQ-9, would be difficult to integrate with existing NATO equipment. China Precision is also subject to sanctions from the United States for selling technologies that the United States says could help Iran, Syria and North Korea develop unconventional weapons. A State Department spokeswoman said this month that American officials had expressed to the Turkish government “serious concerns” about the deal, which has not yet been signed.

Industry executives and arms-sales analysts say the Chinese probably beat out their more established rivals by significantly undercutting them on price, offering their system at $3 billion. Nonetheless, Turkey’s selection of a Chinese state-owned manufacturer is a breakthrough for China, a nation that has set its sights on moving up the value chain in arms technology and establishing itself as a credible competitor in the global weapons market. Continue reading

China: “Dehui poultry plant fire: Locked exits ‘blocked escape'”

Photo taken on June 3, 2013 show the burnt poultry slaughterhouse owned by the Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Company in Mishazi Township of Dehui City in northeast China’s Jilin Province. The death toll from the fire has risen to 119 as of 8 p.m. on Monday. Search and rescue work is under way. (Xinhua/Wang Hao Fei)

Photo taken on June 3, 2013 show the burnt poultry slaughterhouse owned by the Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Company in Mishazi Township of Dehui City in northeast China’s Jilin Province. The death toll from the fire has risen to 119 as of 8 p.m. on Monday. Search and rescue work is under way. (Xinhua/Wang Hao Fei)

3 June 2013

Survivors told state TV how they escaped from the blaze

A fire at a poultry processing plant in China has killed at least 119 people, officials say.

The fire broke out at a slaughterhouse in Dehui in Jilin province early on Monday.

Accounts speak of explosions prior to the fire, which caused panic and a crush of workers trying to escape. Most exits were said to be locked.

A labour activist told the BBC it was the worst factory fire in living memory.

The fire is now said to have been mostly put out and bodies are being recovered.

President Xi Jinping, who is on a visit to the Americas, ordered every effort to go into the rescue operation and treatment of survivors, adding that the investigation into the cause of the accident would be vigorous.  Sources including the provincial fire department suggest there may have been an ammonia leak which either caused the fire or made fighting the blaze more hazardous.

Fo132428218_11notage from inside the plant shows burning embers and piles of ash, as Damian Grammaticas reports.

Other reports speak of an electrical fault.

It is China’s deadliest fire since 2000, when 309 people died in a blaze in a dance hall in Luoyang, in Henan province.

About 100 workers had managed to escape from the Baoyuan plant, Xinhua said, adding that the “complicated interior structure” of the building and narrow exits had made rescue work more difficult.

It said the plant’s front gate was locked when the blaze began, and other official media reports said there was only one unlocked door in the whole building.

Firefighters have still not completed the job of recovering bodies from the building, meaning the death toll may rise yet further, say correspondents.

Some 60 injured people have been sent to hospital, but the severity of their injuries remains unclear. State media quoted hospital staff as saying that some wounded were being treated for inhalation of toxic gases such as ammonia while others had burns of varying degrees. Continue reading

NGOs, weapons of “populist/humanitarian” imperialism, now wielded by competing imperialists in the new scramble for Africa

[From the Crusades and in the earliest years of colonialism, conquests and conquistadores arrived with more than guns and swords and armies.  They brought Bibles, and missionaries, and, in time, Christian charities, anthropologists, humanitarians and investors, intelligence operatives of CIA and other varieties.  In time, the restructuring of direct colonial relations into neo-colonial forms introduced by the Ford Foundation, vast arrays of “civil society” groups, cultural programs and comprador governments and training programs for junior officers and police captains.  And these came from throughout the global imperialist system, but unevenly.  Largely dominated by the US, with increasing inputs from Europe, there were parallel NGO-type ventures launched by the Soviets during its waning years, and growing Islamic charities and Jewish charities.  None of which were accountable to the local populations they each claimed to serve and represent.  Now, as the world imperialist system is confronted by ever-sharpening crisis, the US/EU hegemonic bloc is no longer riding securely and unchallengable or unchallenged, and so the growing competitive imperialist powers and blocs-in-formation are bringing similar instruments into the developing fray (which is still largely regional but getting some global features).  Not surprisingly, the ever-growing-imperialist China is opening this field of political and cultural cultivation to match their economic onslaught in Africa and elsewhere.  The ventures described here have not often been clarified, but along with their media work (CCTV) and their BRICS “development” initiatives, it bears watching and giving close attention.  Worldwide, revolutionary forces are learning to keep their distance from these imperialist tools and to carefully guard their independence and revolutionary initiative. — Frontlines ed.]

Africa-China4Challenging opportunity

By Liu Hongwu (China Daily), 2013-04-26

Increased grassroots engagements will help Chinese NGOs blaze new trail

Increased engagements and people-to-people exchanges, especially between non-governmental organizations from China and Africa, have given a new dimension and perspective to what Africa and the rest of the world thinks about China.

Taking a cue from the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2000, many Chinese companies are spreading their wings in Africa and are fast becoming vital parts for Chinese NGOs.

Chinese NGOs have ensured that their activities are broad-based and cover important segments like healthcare, environmental protection and education. Prominent among them are the China NGO Network for International Exchanges and the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation. Several national and regional commerce chambers like the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade are also doing projects in Africa. Academic institutions and groups like the Chinese Society of Asian and African Studies are also in the fray.

According to current estimates, there are more than 100 Chinese NGOs in Africa. There are several factors that are unique to these engagements. Continue reading

China in Revolt

[This essay from Jacobin magazine traces the trajectory of recent working class struggle in China.  It draws on many unknown examples, and for that reason Frontlines posts this material for our readers.  The analysis and conclusions drawn by the author are his own. — Frontlines ed.]

Few in the West are aware of the drama unfolding in today’s “epicenter of global labor unrest.” A scholar of China exposes its tumultuous labor politics and their lessons for the Left.

Workers on strike blocking the entrance gate of Hi-P International factory yell slogans during a protest in Shanghai Dec 2. Labor actions in the country are increasing. REUTERS photo

At the same time, Chinese workers are depicted as the pitiable victims of globalization, the guilty conscience of First World consumers. Passive and exploited toilers, they suffer stoically for our iPhones and bathtowels. And only we can save them, by absorbing their torrent of exports, or campaigning benevolently for their humane treatment at the hands of “our” multinationals.

For parts of the rich-world left, the moral of these opposing narratives is that here, in our own societies, labor resistance is consigned to history’s dustbin. Such resistance is, first of all, perverse and decadent. What entitles pampered Northern workers, with their “First World problems,” to make material demands on a system that already offers them such abundance furnished by the wretched of the earth? And in any case, resistance against so formidable a competitive threat must surely be futile.

By depicting Chinese workers as Others – as abject subalterns or competitive antagonists – this tableau wildly miscasts the reality of labor in today’s China. Far from triumphant victors, Chinese workers are facing the same brutal competitive pressures as workers in the West, often at the hands of the same capitalists. More importantly, it is hardly their stoicism that distinguishes them from us.

Today, the Chinese working class is fighting. More than thirty years into the Communist Party’s project of market reform, China is undeniably the epicenter of global labor unrest. While there are no official statistics, it is certain that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of strikes take place each year. All of them are wildcat strikes – there is no such thing as a legal strike in China. So on a typical day anywhere from half a dozen to several dozen strikes are likely taking place. Continue reading

The Conditions of Migrant Workers in Shenzhen: A Discussion with a Rural Migrant Workers’ Rights Activist

by Shui Mui, China Left Review (Issue # 4) — (researcher, mainly focusing on migrant workers and labor-capital relations)

In March, 2009, I interviewed a Shenzhen based migrant workers’ rights activist. The interview helps us better comprehend the current conditions of migrant workers in China.

1. Workplace Injuries

A Hong Kong NGO put out a report (Arms and Legs), which discussed workplace injuries in China. At present in Shenzhen, many factories adopted new machinery equipped with infrared technologies, which could help prevent workers’ injuries. But that didn’t mean that older machinery left the Chinese scene altogether, it just moved inland. Still, Shenzhen’s rate of workplace injuries did not decrease, they only became more intense. Many 18-25 year old workers who just started working were injured in the first few days of work. This was because at many factories there was no training for newly hired workers.

Small factories owned by local investors are well below standard. When workplace injury related incidents occur, bosses frequently jump ship. Many workers’ injuries are not covered by regulations on the books that ensure workplace injury insurance. Electronics and shoe factories use a great amount of chemicals during production, without needed measures to prevent workplace poisoning. Smaller scale factories are especially weak in this area. Most of the workers in electronics factories are women, accounting for 70-80 percent of the workforce. Their work has a great impact on their reproductive systems, and the frequency of their falling ill is quite high. This is not only a problem for individual women workers, it also affects the next generation of offspring. One of the staff at University of Science and Engineering opened a battery factory where the majority of women workers fell ill to cadmium poisoning. One of these workers gave birth to an infant with a large black stripe on its body, which no one could explain. There have emerged many new chemicals used in factories are not covered by Chinese law. It’s estimate that in the next few years, rates of factory dust related lung disease will surge. This amounts to the end of the incubation period for diseases acquired since the process of economic liberalization began. Grinder’s disease, especially prevalent among miners, has already ended countless workers’ lives. Others with the disease are simply waiting to die.

Since the labor shortage that started in 2004, it should be noted that women workers are also finding it easier to secure jobs. Because women are regarded as more physically nimble, more obedient thanks to traditional culture in the countryside, much like previous generations of women workers in Korea, factory owners are predisposed to hiring them. Furthermore, if women workers look to fight for their rights, they typically have a much harder time than male counterparts. Continue reading

Chinese iPhone 5 workers strike over increased quality control demands, holiday work

Foxconn Workers Go On Strike Over Insane iPhone 5 Demands, Disrupting Production

foxconn

If you’ve been waiting for iPhone 5s to become available, you may have to wait a while longer.

In the latest reminder of the harsh working conditions, crappy pay, and brutal hours endured by those who make the gadgets the world loves, 3,000–4,000 workers at a Foxconn plant have gone on strike, according to China Labor Watch. (via Lauren Indvik at Mashable).

The strike, which was reportedly over impossibly-high work-quality standards, apparently shut down iPhone production lines at the factory for a day.

Here’s the statement from China Labor Watch:

(New York) China Labor Watch (CLW) announced that at 1:00PM on October 5 (Beijing time), a strike occurred at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory that, according to workers, involved three to four thousand production workers. In addition to demanding that workers work during the holiday, Foxconn raised overly strict demands on product quality without providing worker training for the corresponding skills. This led to workers turning out products that did not meet standards and ultimately put a tremendous amount of pressure on workers. Additionally, quality control inspectors fell into to conflicts with workers and were beat up multiple times by workers. Factory management turned a deaf ear to complaints about these conflicts and took no corrective measures. The result of both of these circumstances was a widespread work stoppage on the factory floor among workers and inspectors. Continue reading

2,000 Workers Riot At China’s Foxconn Factory

Unrest at the notorious factory where Apple manufactures many of its products injures 40 employees, reportedly stems from security guards beating a worker.

Jessica Testa BuzzFeed Staff
Source: micgadget

A fight among 2,000 factory workers broke out Sunday night at a Foxconn Technology Group factory dorm in China, NBC News reports.

The dorm brawl injured 40 people and shut down production Monday, Foxconn said in a statement. There have been reports in Chinese media that 10 people died, but the company has not confirmed any deaths.

The factory employs about 79,000 workers who make electronic components of automobiles and consumers products, including the Apple iPhone 5, according to Reuters.

Photos and videos of the aftermath were captured and shared on Chinese microblogging sites:

Foxconn said the incident began as a personal dispute around 11 p.m. and ended around 3 a.m. But word spread quickly on Chinese blogs that the fight may have been started by security guards who nearly beat a worker to death. Continue reading

With the iPhone 5 come new accusations of Foxconn abuse

September 16, 2012

In this May 26, 2010 file photo, staff members work on the production line at the Foxconn complex in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. China’s economy surged 10.3 percent in 2010, spurred by a torrent of investment in property and other areas that also fanned politically volatile inflation. Figures released Thursday Jan. 20, 2011, by the National Statistics Bureau showed inflation moderating in December from a 28-month high in November as food prices eased, but analysts warned that was likely temporary. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

The new iPhone 5 isn’t even on the shelves yet, and already Applehas seen its stock surge.

The company, which became the world’s most valuable publicly listed company ever in August, said it expects to offload up to 33 million units this quarter. Analysts say supply constraints won’t be a problem this time for the bigger, slimmer iPhone 5.

And while that’s good news for Apple’s shareholders, its bad news for anyone who may have been forced or poorly paid to make one of their products.

That’s right, Foxconn, the electronics company that manufacturers components for Apple, is also back in the news this week.

Chinese state-run media reported that the Taiwan-based company had forced university students to take internships at Foxconn factories to help make the new iPhone 5. Not long after that public relations blow, Foxconn revealed Wednesday that another Chinese worker committed suicide at one of its factories.

Foxconn says the worker “fell to his death” on Wednesday, and that it was “unclear” whether police were investigating the death as a suicide.

After a spate of suicides and repeated accusations of labor abuse, Foxconn agreed last March to improve the working conditions of its 1.2 million employees who make iPhones, iPads and other electronics. Foxconn said it would hire more workers to reduce overtime and improve safety and living conditions.

Both the China Daily and Shanghai Daily reported last week that classes had been suspended at some universities in eastern Jiangsu Province in order for students to be bused to factories to make up a shortfall in dwindling staff numbers.

In a statement provided to Bloomberg, the world’s largest electronics maker denied that the teenagers were forced to man production lines for the new iPhone.

Schools “recruit the students under the supervision of the local government, and assign teachers to accompany and monitor the students throughout their internship. The internship programs range in length from one to six months and students are free to leave the internship program at any time,” the statement read. Continue reading