“The Mastermind”: A Third Young Leftist Speaks Out on the November 15th Incident

“The Mastermind”: A Third Young Leftist Speaks Out on the November 15th Incident

On November 15, 2017, police[1] stormed into a student reading group at the Guangdong University of Technology and seized six young participants. Two of them, Zhang Yunfan and Ye Jianke, were held at the Panyu Detention Center for a month as suspects for the crime of “gathering crowds to disrupt social order,” along with two other young people involved with the reading group who were later seized at their residences: Sun Tingting and Zheng Yongming. After prominent intellectuals circulated a petition for Zhang’s release, all four detainees have been released on bail but are still awaiting trial. Four other young leftists connected to the reading group are on a wanted list and still in hiding. In a previous post, we presented translations of open letters by Zhang and Sun detailing their motivations for participation in the reading group and related activities, and their nightmarish experiences at the hands of state authorities. Here we present a third letter by the alleged “mastermind” behind the reading group, Zheng Yongming, released on January 17. The translation is still a little rough because we want to make it available as quickly as possible. (Scroll down for original Chinese text.) Chinese readers may also read this letter just released by one of the four people in hiding, Huang Liping: 我是否有罪,人民自有公论!(“The people will decide whether I’m guilty”). Also see dozens of related commentaries here. Left 21 has announced a demonstration to take place in Hong Kong today.  “I Will Always Be a Son of the Workers and Peasants” By Zheng Yongming Translated by A&A   I am Zheng Yongming, the organizer of the reading group...
Locked Up for Reading Books: Voices from the November 15th Incident

Locked Up for Reading Books: Voices from the November 15th Incident

Translations of letters by two of the four young activists arrested at Guangdong University of Technology two months ago, and our brief commentary. The translation of a third detainee’s letter is forthcoming. On November 15, 2017, police stormed into a student reading group at the Guangdong University of Technology (GDUT) and seized six participants, including four current students at the university and two recent graduates from other schools. The former were released the next day, but the latter were placed under detention as suspects for the crime of “gathering crowds to disrupt social order”—a charge we have seen increasingly leveled against multiple feminists, labor activists, striking workers and bloggers over the past five years. Authorities alleged that the reading group was an “anti-party, anti-society organization” that was discussing “sensitive topics.” Despite Beijing’s massively staffed policing of the internet and cellular networks, a petition managed to circulate calling for the release of 24-year-old Zhang Yunfan—one of the initial two among what would turn out to be at least four young people detained for weeks as suspects in this case. Apparently the petition mentioned only Zhang, a “Left Maoist,”[0] because the authors were unaware of the others when it was penned. Although it was repeatedly blocked only moments after being reposted, over 400 people soon signed the petition, including many prominent intellectuals who risk repercussions because they are based in China. On January 15, after 30 days in the Panyu Detention Center, two weeks under house arrest and two weeks of recovery, Zhang published the open letter that we have translated below. The letter mentioned three associates who had also been...
Adding Insult to Injury: Beijing’s Evictions and the Discourse of “Low-End Population”

Adding Insult to Injury: Beijing’s Evictions and the Discourse of “Low-End Population”

Image: EpochTimes.com Translation of an article and a photo-essay from the Chinese media platform Tootopia (土逗公社), followed by our commentary.   “They are indeed ‘low-end labor-power,’ but who isn’t?” (他们就是“低端劳动力”,但谁不是呢?) By Lu Bu (卢布) Tootopia, November 24, 2017 Translation by Ignatius Wu   As long as it is “labor-power,” it is low-end.   Nearly a week has passed since the deadly fire at Jufuyuan (“Gathering of Good Fortune”) apartments in Beijing’s Daxing District on November 18. Though the bodies are not even cold yet, the city of Beijing has initiated a total clearing out of its migrant population. Jufuyuan, located in the Xihongmen neighborhood of Daxing District, was a typical residential area for migrant workers outside Beijing’s Fifth Ring Road. 400-or-so migrant workers were crammed into a small building of three stories, one of which was occupied by shops. They slept in bunk beds with an average living space of perhaps one or two square meters each. Every day, facing a nasty and chaotic environment with freezing winters, scorching summers, and overcrowded toilets, they lived inhuman (不是人过) lives, hidden from view. This fire not only took 19 lives but also marked the destruction of millions more as yet another wave of evictions swept the periphery of Beijing. [Video removed by censors. Caption: “After the fire, the police negotiate with a migrant worker about moving that same night.” — Trans.] They cannot really be expelled from the city Since the early 1980s, when the first batch of migrant workers entered Beijing in a phenomenon given the derogatory label “blind flow” (盲流),[1] evictions have never stopped. To use a popular expression,...
Donate to Chuang through our new Patreon & PayPal accounts

Donate to Chuang through our new Patreon & PayPal accounts

Update October 1, 2018: Issue 2, “Frontiers,” is finally nearing completion. (See the overview to the issue here, and two preview pieces: “A State Adequate to the Task” and “The Hermit and the Empire.”) Thanks to sales from issue 1 and many generous donations, we’ve raised nearly enough money both to print issue 2 and to do a larger, higher-quality reprint of issue 1, after which’ll begin preparation of both issue 3 and the first in a series of other printed works: the translation of a Chinese collection of factory diaries and commentaries. (In the next few months we’ll begin publishing the contents of this book in serial form on our blog.) However, we still need to raise a few hundred more US dollars before we have enough to print issue 1 and reprint issue 2 — hopefully by the end of the year. So we are now sending out one more call for donations. One-off donations may be made via the yellow PayPal link on the right side of this page, and regular monthly donations (for which “sustainers” will receive complimentary copies of all our printed works) via Patreon. Thanks for your support! Several readers have contacted us asking how they can donate to help us produce new content more quickly and afford to print higher-quality copies of the journal. In response, we’ve set up a Patreon account, where you can sign up to donate small amounts of money every month until you choose to cancel your subscription. If you just want to donate, become a “supporter” and pay $2 (USD) per month. If you’d also like to...
“Bluegogo’s CEO has apologised, but I still haven’t gotten my wages and can’t pay rent”

“Bluegogo’s CEO has apologised, but I still haven’t gotten my wages and can’t pay rent”

Image from SocialBikeshare.org Translation of Jianjiao’s commentary on the collapse of all but two of the many bike-share companies that bubbled up last year, and on the discourse of the hard-working, risk-taking CEO, followed by our own observations. ‘Women workers have a say: Bluegogo’s CEO has apologised, but I still haven’t gotten my wages and can’t pay rent’ (女工说:小蓝单车CEO道歉了,但我还是没拿到工资付房租) By Li Zhi (李芝), from Jianjiao (尖椒部落), 22 November 2017 Translated by Go Slow Notes The workers at the Jiangnan Leather Factory ended up selling wallets, my uncle sold shoes, and now Bluegogo’s former employees are selling furniture. It doesn’t matter if it’s the boss fleeing with the money or the business’s failure on the market, the result is always the same: the ordinary workers get screwed. Bluegogo, often called “the bike-sharing company with the best bicycles,” has dissolved. The CEO Li Gang first disappeared and then eventually sent an apology, as if this were the end of the matter. After notification about the company’s dissolution, however, it was revealed that Bluegogo workers had resorted to selling second-hand furniture in order to get by. They were forced to do this because their Bluegogo wages were in arrears and were likely to remain unpaid until February 2018. Seeing this news, some netizens expressed concern that if the workers were still not paid by February, many of them would be unable to go home for the [Chinese] New Year!   Winter has come for the bike-sharing economy In early June this year, Wukong Bike announced its withdrawal from the bike-sharing market. Since then the ‘death list’ of bike-share companies has continued to grow:...
“The Germans don’t care, so we have to fight for ourselves” (德国人不管,我们自己奋斗吧)

“The Germans don’t care, so we have to fight for ourselves” (德国人不管,我们自己奋斗吧)

Reposted from Gongchao, 9 October 2017.  Also see this music video made by the temp workers in Changchun. — FAW-VW workers employed through temporary agencies in Changchun, northeastern China, have been involved in a struggle for equal pay since late 2016. FAW-VW was established in 1991 as a joint venture co-owned by the Chinese state enterprise FAW and German car makers Volkswagen (VW) and Audi. Apart from Changchun (Jilin), it runs factories in Chengdu (Sichuan), Dalian (Liaoning) and Foshan (Guangdong). It employs more than 50.000 workers and produces passenger cars and car components.1 Struggle of temporary workers at FAW-VW in Changchun The temporary workers – many of them working at FAW-VW for years – demand that the joint venture hires them as direct employees immediately, that it acknowledges how long they have worked there, and that they get compensated for the past unequal pay. They do the same work but earn roughly half of what workers directly employed by FAW-VW get (for example, 60,000 yuan vs. 120,000 annually) and don’t receive any of the latter’s benefits. In their statements, the temporary workers call this a breach of China’s Labor Contract Law, namely article 63 (equal pay for equal work) and article 66 (agency workers should just fill ‘provisional, auxiliary or substitutive positions’). Besides, some of the temporary agencies are directly linked to (and possibly owned by) FAW-VW, a breach of article 67 of the Labor Contract Law (companies are not permitted to establish their own temporary agencies to employ workers).2 On top of that, VW has even committed itself to equal pay in the “Charter on Temporary Work for the...