5.03.2008

child slavery in china

From Reuters:
Thousands of children in southwest China have been sold into slavery like "cabbages", to work as labourers in more prosperous areas such as the booming southern province of Guangdong, a newspaper said on Tuesday.

China announced a nationwide crackdown on slavery and child labor last year after reports that hundreds of poor farmers, children and mentally disabled were forced to work in kilns and mines in Shanxi province and neighboring Henan.

"The bustling child labor market (in Sichuan province) was set up by the local chief foreman and his gang of 18 minor foremen, who each manage 50 to 100 child labourers," the Southern Metropolis Newspaper said.

"The children generally fall between the ages of 13 and 15, but many look under 10," it added.

The newspaper said 76 children from the same county, Liangshan, had been missing since the Chinese Lunar Year festival in February, 42 of whom had already left the region to work.

"The youngest kids found in the child labor market were only seven and nine years old," it said.

According to a contract exposed by an undercover reporter, a child laborer is paid 3.5 yuan ($0.50) an hour and must work at least 300 hours a month.

"These kids are robust and can do the toughest work," a foreman was quoted as saying, as he pulled a scrawny girl to stand beside him, the paper said.


And meanwhile, guess where the uniforms for Team Canada are being made?

When I wrote about not watching the Olympics because of China's rampant human rights abuses, I was slammed for... well, what wasn't I slammed for. Western hypocrisy, because you're only allowed to be outraged if you come from Ideal World Where Everyone Is Perfect. Ineffectiveness, since not watching the Olympics will not in itself solve the world's problems. Politicizing the supposedly apolitical Olympics, which are awarded to countries to curry trade and political favours. Arrogance, because boycotting China supposedly implies I think the US is just grand. Bigotry, because China is in Asia and I am white.

Not watching the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics is a symbolic action. Just like the torch relay is a symbol, and protests against it symbolic, too. Like standing for a national anthem, or remaining seated.

Not watching the Olympics, in itself, solves nothing. But if I don't watch the Olympics, and I tell you why, perhaps you will talk about it around your dinner table or on your own blog. Perhaps more people will learn about what is happening in China.

If enough people don't watch the 2008 Summer Olympics because they are being held in Beijing, perhaps the IOC and Beijing will notice.

Surely it's not sufficient. But just as surely, it's worth doing.

7 comments:

James said...

One of those prosperous factories in China has, apparently, been making "Free Tibet" flags, without realizing what they were.

M@ said...

I won't be watching the olympics either. And yes, it's going to suck, because normally I'm glued to the olympics. But I agree with your position and I take the same one.

I bet there are a lot of people out there who hate what China is doing in its own and in other countries, but don't know what to do about it. I hope they come to the realization that refusing to participate in the bogus olympic spectacle is positive action.

(For me, the hardest part is going to be not watching the Canadian men's baseball and women's soccer teams, because I watched the qualifiers and am fairly familiar with the teams. I really hope they do well. But I can't watch them.)

L-girl said...

One of those prosperous factories in China has, apparently, been making "Free Tibet" flags, without realizing what they were.

You know how I've complained about people using the word "ironic" when the situation is not ironic?

NOW IS THE TIME!!!

L-girl said...

I won't be watching the olympics either. And yes, it's going to suck, because normally I'm glued to the olympics. But I agree with your position and I take the same one.

I'm glad to hear it. It's a sacrifice for me too.

This reminds me of another response I got, perhaps the stupidest of them all. "I don't watch the Olympics anyway, they are stupid!"

Hey, didja ever consider it's not really about what *you* find stupid...

Anonymous said...

If I rarely watch the Olympics anyway, does that negate the symbolic value of not watching the Olympics because of the China issue? I mean, I'm doing the same thing I always did, but for a different reason this time!

I think that a lot of the value of the Beijing Olympics is that it gives a springboard for discussion of China's human rights abuses, lack of democracy etc.

The Chinese authorities apparently wanted the Olympics in China for it's PR benefits. It seems they just don't get what the West really thinks of them.

I'd like to see the Canadian government use the way the Olympics are generating discussion on China to put our foreign policy on a more firm human rights footing. The Conservative government has already shown some willingness to criticize China's record even if it costs us in trade. I'd like to see more, and preferably in concert with other like minded countries. There's support for such a foreign policy all over the United States & Europe.

L-girl said...

I'd like to see the Canadian government use the way the Olympics are generating discussion on China to put our foreign policy on a more firm human rights footing.

Me too!

There's support for such a foreign policy all over the United States & Europe.

There is no support from this from the US government, since it is a perpetrator of rampant human rights abuses, both directly and through the authoritarian regimes it has always supported.

redsock said...

The Chinese authorities apparently wanted the Olympics in China for it's PR benefits. It seems they just don't get what the West really thinks of them.

Like the US, China is powerful enough to not give a damn what the world thinks.