Chinese Workers Defy the Government and Employers in Heated Riot

An intense protest of enraged migrant workers broke out on Tuesday in Ruian, China. The city is located in the Zhejiang, a wealthy province in China. Reuters reports that about 1,000 migrant workers proceeded to turn over an iron gate, and damaged at least a dozen cars during their protest, which was centered on a government office building.

The demonstration began in the early morning after a young worker was allegedly killed by his employer over a payment dispute. The demonstration finally ended at midday after the family of the murdered man was given 300,000 yuan in compensation, which is the equivalent of about $47,000.

Worker uprisings have been extremely common in the last decade throughout China. Just a month ago, about 200 workers threatened to protest Apple’s Foxconn factory. The protesters, who were demanding “workplace adjustments” according to Reuters, threatened to jump off the roof of the factory in a show of solidarity. Although the disagreement was quickly settled in negotiations, the incident illustrates the often tense relationship between workers in factory settings and the large corporations that run the factories.

The controlling central government in China has also faced some intensive strikes and demonstrations over the years. In February, a riot broke out which left 12 people dead, the Guardian notes. Many people suspect the riot was an anti-government demonstration but little to no information was provided by officials monitoring the incident.

The government and companies often work together to silence workers’ demands. Wong Kam Yan, writing for Solidarity, writes:

In July 2004, it was reported that two battery factories on Mainland China had poisoned at least 370 workers with cadmium.  The two factories belong to the Gold Peak Industrial Holding Ltd, a Hong Kong and Singapore based Asian TNC; its electronic products are sold all over the world under different brand names.

The affected workers were paid little compensation, and at one point were even threatened by the company and the local authority that if they petitioned the central government in Beijing again they might end up with criminal charges.

Riots have also taken place in protest to economic issues. The video below shows a protest in Chongqing during which police forces stand guard with batons ready. There appears to be thousands of workers protesting economic conditions.

This most recent demonstration unfortunately fomented in the wake of the murder of a young worker, a 19 year old named Yang Zhi, a particularly tragic reason for action. The demonstration on Tuesday and those of the last few months all suggest that anti-government feeling is on the rise, making officials and police forces extremely nervous. Reuters reports that the Chinese government claims that around 90,000 “mass incidents” take place every year.

Most protests are quickly silenced and government officials are reticent to comment on uncomfortable or jarring incidents, such as the murder of the young worker in Ruian. Chinese officials have been particularly on guard since the international uproar that followed the treatment of the blind activist Chen Guangcheng as he attempted to escape from Chinese control this spring.

Related Stories:

Activist Chen Asks Obama to Get His Family Out of China

Chinese Crackdown Feared After Dissident Chen’s Escape

Is Chinese Activist Chen Guangcheng in the US Embassy? (Video)

Photo Credit: Krokodyl


Huber F.
Huber F6 years ago

Workers should always negotiate with their employers whether they can come to an agreement. Die hard fools seeking work have little to lose but for Yang Zhi a tragic ends means that he would be awol for a long time. Ow. A mad world.

Caroline L.
Caroline L7 years ago

Actually, OWS is alive and well. The corporate media ignores them because they ignore everything that challenges their advertisers.. but there are live feeds all over the web. They are still going strong but the majority of Americans are fat, lazy and apathetic and would not riot even if they were threatened with death. It's apathy that has stalled every single movement in this country. I am pulling for the Chinese workers! I hope they overthrow that criminal government... and also hope that they don't end up with military rule like Egypt. In this world, you overthrow one evil pig and end up with another. In this country, we are one step away from the military being on the streets. And it doesn't matter who you elect, Obummer or Chumley, they will both make that happen when the time comes. We need to stop hoping the flavor of the month is going to make it all right, wish it all away, return us to our "glory days". I give Romney or Obama two years. If after two years things are no better, or, as I think it will be, worse and may even a lot worse, we may then see riots. But I think the power grid has to come down first. People are staring at TV and eating donuts. Without TV or stupor inducing sugar treats, they might wake up. But, right now, even with this horrible recession, most of them are still asleep.. or stoned.

RobynRobyn Brice
Robyn Vorsa7 years ago

China is a seething cauldron at the moment and god help the government when it finally boils over.
V For Vendetta-People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of the people.

Chiensheng T.
Chien-sheng T7 years ago

If only Occupy Wall Street could do as much for US workers, but OWS is ineffective in the USA and ignored. In many cities in USA, the police presence blocked the protests and they got nowhere.

Freedom to protest is an inalienable right in every country, and power to the people should be supported, worldwide.

s. r.
p. q7 years ago

rock on

nicola w.
Jane H7 years ago

I love the fact the new technology has taken media control OUT of the powerful Chinese govt.
As little as Ten years ago we would see very little "embarrassing" incidents like murder , massacre, mass eviction , home demolitions...
Brave people - good luck protestors !

Jen Matheson
Past Member 7 years ago

I am really excited for these workers. I hope that they get all their demands!

Fadi M.
Fadi M7 years ago

I really wish them all the best!

Roger Monk
Past Member 7 years ago

The key line there is that there are 90,000 "mass incidents" every year.

That's huge. And yet what changes? As far as I'm aware: nothing.

Patrick F.
Patrick f7 years ago

The next story about this will probably read "Chinese workers executed for subordination".