Child Slave Labor in China
Just when we think we've heard the worst out of China, another atrocity rears its ugly head. This time it's the push for more child labor.
I know that some of you have read my articles on China in the past, but this information seems to have come out of left field.
BEIJING, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Chinese education authorities should formulate a regulation on manual labor for schoolchildren as many kids in cities even do not clean their own classrooms, a political advisor has proposed.
While child labor is not much of a leap to comprehend, it is an impossible leap to condone. Even the good old USA had young sons working on farms (maybe still?) to help ease the manual labor their parents had to shoulder alone. Especially farms that were strapped for cash and couldn't hire farm hands.
The difference is it that they were well fed, had shoes and clothes, played with friends, went to school and could have sick days if they needed them.
This was use - not child abuse.
Feng Shiliang, member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said Monday he was concerned that manual labor such as sweeping has been outsourced by some urban primary and middle schools to property management companies.
"The students' ability for labor has been strangled," Feng said.
Why is Shiliang "concerned"? Surely China needs all the jobs it can muster for the millions of unemployed adult Chinese within its borders.
As of January 20th this year, Chinese unemployment has already soared to a new 30 year high at 18 million, or 9% of the workforce. Plus 1 million college graduates are going to find employment a scarce commodity this year.
Yin Weimin, China's social security minister, admits that the employment situation is "critical" with people looking for jobs where none exist.
So with all this unemployment for adults, why is Shiliang seeking to employ its young children?
He went on to say:
Many children in cities are doing little manual labor, as at home their parents do all the housework and at school labor is taken over by employees of property management companies, Feng added.
He refuted the pretext by some schools that manual labor might be "dangerous" for children. "It might be dangerous to clean windows of tall buildings, but how about the classrooms and playgrounds?"
The sad undertones of such thinking reveal children whose day will consist of morning chores before going to school; more chores at school; more chores when they return home from school and homework.
When do these children get to have fun, being silly and hanging out with their friends?
The advisor said he would submit a proposal to the upcoming annual session of the CPPCC National Committee, the country's top political advisory body, to suggest country's education authorities formulate a regulation on manual labor for schoolchildren.
This news is appalling even as it shines it's light on the Japanese ideal for children working manual labor. Shiliang informs us that that it's mandatory for Japanese students to do manual labor. In fact, Japanese schools specifically organize children to work in remote islands and villages.
The China Economics Blog expands it's observations on unemployment:
As a global recession takes hold and China's economy continues to slow, growing legions of unemployed workers are becoming increasingly bold in expressing their unhappiness -- expanding a debate over how to protect the Chinese economy into long-fought disputes over other issues such as freedom of expression and equality before the law.
Equality before the law. Riiiigghht.
The photograph of the Chinese girl in a pink tracksuit, was snapped by Reuters last year after being rescued from a factory, where she had been forced to work in Dongguan, China.
Equality before the law? Give me a break!
SHANGHAI: China said Wednesday that it was investigating whether hundreds or perhaps thousands of children from poor areas in the southwest part of the country had been sold to work as slave laborers in booming coastal factory cities.
Authorities in southern Guangdong Province, near Hong Kong, said they had already rescued more than 100 children from factories in Dongguan, a huge manufacturing city known for producing and exporting toys, textiles and electronics.
It's already known that "employment agencies" in Sichuan Province force children 13 - 15 years old to work. These children don't even go to school. It's like something out of a horror movie - the agencies trick or kidnap children and send them to factory towns in Guangdong.
These kidnapped children are even younger than 13 years of age.
Imagine these sorrowful, displaced children forced to work as much as 300 hours a month. The following is a quote from the Child Labor Cases Uncovered in China and this information makes my skin crawl.
"These youngsters have no ID cards, so it makes it difficult to identify them," said Zhang Xiang, a spokesman for the Guangdong Labor Bureau. The child labor scandal was uncovered by Southern Metropolis Daily, a crusading newspaper based in Guangzhou, in southern China, less than a year after the authorities said they had rescued hundreds of people, including children, from working as "slave laborers" in brick kilns in the north and central part of the country.
In Liangshan, it was discovered that children were transported south and sold to factories. They received the equivalent of 43 cents per hour. Some children were threatened with death, if they tried to escape.
Where the hell is UNICEF?
Where is the International Labor Organization? (ILO)
Where is Zoe's Ark? The latter I know are busy in Darfur these days, but forcing children to slave labor in China has been a problem for decades.
* Back in 2005 the ILO ran an article on Child Slave Labor in China. It was nothing short of astounding.
No more will this reporter buy anything Chinese. I officially boycott a nation of people who unceasingly use children to make the products that are sold here and in other places. I will not have the fruit of sweat shops taking up residence in my home.
I know that my vehement protest alone carries little weight, if any - but if others also took up the cry ....
by Megan Grau
International Herald Tribune | Asia Pacific
by David Barboza
China Economics Blog
NPC, CPPCC Annual Sessions 2009
International Herald Tribune | Asia Pacific
China Daily, via Reuters
National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
by Li Yanping
* This link has been taken down since yesterday.