The Nanfang / Blog

30,000 Workers Strike in Dongguan, Robots Planned As Replacements

Posted: 04/18/2014 2:58 pm

robot worker labor factory

Labor strife in Guangdong can be had to generalize: as some labor disputes flare up and workers are granted concessions, other labor protesters are convicted for “disturbing social order”. And so, we have the following pieces of news, both announced recently.

There are currently 30,000 workers are on strike at the Yu Yuan Industrial shoe making factory complex in Dongguan, the Associated Press reports. Workers have been protesting the company’s lack of social security and welfare benefits, and have been staging periodic work stoppages at the factory since April 5.

Yu Yuan makes components used in shoes by Nike, Adidas, Reebok and New Balance in a gigantic complex made up of ten separate factories. The Nanfang had first told you about this labor dispute back on April 7.

SEE: Foxconn to Replace Shenzhen Workers with Robots

Striker Cui Tiangang, 31, was adamant on the demands made by the workers. Cui said, “We expect at least an explanation, to give us an answer… We will keep on striking if there is no offer.”

If true to claims made by the organizers, this protest is the largest strike of its kind to ever take place in China. As historic an occasion that may be, Cui’s solidarity for his fellow worker may just be a quaint notion in the not-too distant future.

An industrial development guideline issued by the Guangzhou municipal government is encouraging the use of robots instead of human labor by providing companies with cash rebates. In fact, Guangzhou plans to have 80 percent of all its manufacturing production to be performed by robots instead of humans by 2020.

READ: Strike by Sanitation Workers in Guangzhou
Leaves the City Messy, But Wins a Pay Raise

That’s not all: the Guangzhou government is proposing to construct two or three robot industrial development zones. Each of these in turn will make 100,000 robot units a year by 2020.

It’s simply great that waves upon waves of robots will be given the jobs necessary to provide for their robot families, but a reliance upon technology does not always solve the problem at hand as seen in the documentary about the decline of American prosperity, Robocop (1987).

Sure, it will be great to reap the rewards of a worker that won’t go on strike, and will neither arrest nor harm any senior executives of OCP. Luo Jun, executive chairman of the International Robotics and Intelligent Equipment Industry Alliance, predicts the annual output value gained from the robotics industry in China will equal 300 billion yuan (US$48 billion) in 10 years.

READ: Dongguan Workers on Strike at Samsung Supply Factory

However, industry experts are warning against an over-reliance upon the Western market and its technology as well as the danger of overcapacity. At that point, both robots and workers will be out of a job.

Manufacturing production is a huge industry for China and if this sector should ever suffer a economic breakdown with catastropic consequences, we may be referring to Robocop more often. If it isn’t “I’ll buy that for a dollar!” then it will be this:

“Riches, leave.”

Photo: Robotics Business Review

More stories:
Bra Workers Strike After Being Told to “Jump Off a Roof”
Another Suicide at Foxconn? Employee Jumps Off 9th Floor After Slitting Wrists
Another Worker Plummets to His Death At Foxconn
Guangdong Factory Workers Strike After Being Insulted By Boss


Sudden Death Overtime: Dongguan Man Dies After Working 190 Hours of OT

Posted: 04/17/2014 12:58 pm

work to death dongguan overtime factory stress derchun engineer

Your job sucks, but man, you work hard at it. Whether from a culture that views hard work as a virtue or from a work industry that makes unreasonable demands of its employees, the message remains the same: Work will set you free.

If only the cost to freedom was simply diligence.

For a 33 year-old Jiangxi man named Liu working for a company called Derchun Industries in Dongguan, hard work may have prompted a fatal end.

When Liu was found dead in his apartment on April 9,  Liu’s family immediately suspected overwork to be the cause of death. As Guangzhou Daily reports, their suspicions are confirmed by Liu’s paycheck: in the time leading up to his death, Liu had worked a full 31 days in March and accumulated 190 hours of overtime.

RELATED: Shenzhen College Graduate Literally Works Himself to Death

Liu, neither a smoker or drinker, had been dead for three days before he was discovered when he failed to show up at work, something he had never done besides also never having been late. A developmental engineer, Liu was described as a model worker at the factory and if you ever wanted to know how that is defined at Derchun Industries, this was Liu’s typical work day:

  • work 8am-12pm
  • half hour off for lunch
  • work 12:30-5:30pm
  • have dinner for half an hour
  • work 6-9:30pm


Yes, that’s 12 hours. Liu would do this every day; he is basically the equivalent of a cable news channel. Since he started working at Derchun in March of last year, Liu has never had a day off from work up until the day he died.

RELATED: 29 Guangdong Cops Died Last Year in Line of Duty,
21 from “Overwork”

A spokesperson for Derchun Industries expressed his condolences and promptly explained all this is what Liu would have wanted:

“This past March, Xiao Liu worked 190 hours of overtime; on this point, the company will not refute. But Xiao Liu had voluntarily worked overtime so as to correspond to factory production requirements. Also, every time Liu would work overtime, he would sign a company form stating that he was doing it voluntarily.”

Of course, this would mean that for the month of March alone, Liu signed 31 overtime request forms, causing suspicion that he may have died of tendinitis.

Even though cultural reforms in China have allowed young people to choose their own romantic interests, a common complaint often heard is “I’m too busy working to go on a date.” If cases like Liu’s are any indication, this would mean that Chinese are less prone to Skillex in nightclubs than dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight.

Photo: Guangzhou Daily


A Different Kind of Nostalgia Served Up at Dongguan’s Little India

Posted: 04/17/2014 11:14 am

little india restaurant food dongguan reviewAt the bottom of Bar Street squashed between a bank and a nightclub with a faded sign is Dongguan’s only Indian restaurant, Little India.

Inside, the restaurant looks much more pleasant. The entrance is draped with bronze curtains, the walls are covered in gold embroidered wallpaper, and the tables are set with fine burgundy cloth. In the background there is traditional music playing.

My visit was reminiscent of the Indian restaurants I used to visit back in the UK. Sitting in Little India reminded me of nervous first dates and boozy nights with friends. One of the last places I would have expected to feel nostalgia for the UK is at Indian restaurant in Dongguan.

While looking at the menu, we were served papadums with mango chutney and mint, making us even hungrier to hurry up and order our meal. The menu is a mix between exotic dishes for those looking to try something new, and more familiar dishes for those looking to play it safe.

The menu also has a variety of lassi drinks. Little India’s mango lassi is one of the smoothest and fruitiest drinks to be found around town. Along with fruit drinks there is a well-stocked list of beers including Kingfisher, Heineken and Corona.

Shortly after ordering, the chicken pakora arrived piping hot. The batter was soft and the chicken was tender, while the initial spiciness gave way to a fragrant aftertaste.

When the main dishes arrived I became slightly concerned. The lamb rogan josh looked fatty and oily. The saag chicken arrived covered in so much spinach that it made me worry it would be too sickly.little india restaurant food dongguan review

The curries, however, tasted much better than they looked. The lamb was as tender as the chicken pakora, and although the sauce was overly oily it was still very aromatic. Meanwhile, the saag chicken was much lighter than expected.

The aloo paratha, unleavened dough stuffed with spices and potato, was perhaps plainer than hoped for but I still enthusiastically used it to soak up the lamb dish. The remaining curry got mixed in with the mutter pullao, a sweet rice dish with green peas. Although the rice was tasty, the portion was small, and we had to order more.

At the end of the meal the bill came. At 235RMB, it is not particularly cheap, but you can certainly pay a lot more for dinner on Bar Street.

I may have eaten better curries before and I am sure I will again, but Little India is worth trying for those missing their favorite Indian restaurants or looking to try something new.

For more details on Little India Restaurant, please see our listing in the Nanfang directory.

Pictures: Edward O’Neill


NPC Member Latest Casualty of Dongguan Prostitution Crackdown

Posted: 04/15/2014 4:06 pm

liang yaohui prostitution dongguan crackdown corruption npc

The prostitution crackdown in Dongguan ensnared its highest catch yet when Liang Yaohui, a deputy in the National People’s Congress (NPC), was forced to vacate his seat before being arrested for running a prostitution ring on the afternoon of April 14, the SCMP reported.

Liang was voted out of the NPC by the eighth session of the Standing Committee of the 12th Guangdong Provincial People’s Congress this past Monday. Shortly afterwards, Liang was arrested by Dongguan police, who respectfully waited for the wheels of justice to begin rolling in sequence.

Liang is the owner of the Crown Prince Hotel, a 5-star establishment located in Dongguan. His arrest is just the latest in a long string of announcements. To date, this is the fallout  from the Dongguan prostitution crackdown:

  • 865 arrests made
  • 541 pimps smacked
  • 62 criminal rings busted
  • 2,925 hotels, sauna and massage centers closed
  • 854 pornographic websites now hands off
  • 36 police officers involved of which 9 are in criminal detention, 13 face disciplinary action, 14 are under investigation
  • 1 Deputy Mayor and Head of the local PSB, Yan Xiaokang, sacked
  • a boyfriend and girlfriend mistaken for a prostitute and her john during a raid, released
  • around 800,000 people, or 10% of the city’s population, leaving the city en masse
  • 50 billion yuan of the local economy lost
  • 1 Dongguan mayor who claimed he “didn’t know the problem was so bad“, befuddled
  • 1 super-group power ballad sung, hurts so good


With so many announcements, we are all awaiting the future when Dongguan is cleansed of all of its vice so that it becomes just like any other normal town in China and has the same normal reasons not to go there and not engage in nefarious acts you wouldn’t do in your own town. It’s only fair.

Photo: Dayoo


Toxic Chemical Spill in Dongguan Called “Completely Safe”

Posted: 04/15/2014 1:55 pm

dongguan chemical leak freighter toluene diisocyanate TDI port

If singing a song or expressing complete ignorance aren’t effective methods to take the focus off the recent prostitution crackdown in Dongguan, then maybe a toxic chemical spill is just the catastrophe the city has been waiting for.

A freighter loaded with shipping containers collided with a sand barge at 2am on the morning of April 13 on the south side of Humen Bridge in Dongguan, iFeng reports. As a result of the collision, toluene diisocyanate (TDI) was spilled across the deck of the ship.

The Port of Humen in Shatian County determined that no chemicals leaked into the sea as a result of the incident, and that no injuries were incurred. For its part, the Environmental Protection Agency would state that no damage has been caused to the atmosphere or water from the chemical spill.

That’s all very reassuring, but a source working at the scene described the clean-up in this way:

The people in charge gave everyone masks and protective clothing to wear, but no matter what, I still feel sick.

Toluene diisocyanate is classified as “very toxic,” a “possible carcinogen,” and is acutely irritating to eyes, the respiratory system and skin with pronounced symptoms. But as no one was injured in the incident, it’s likely that the unidentified worker was just sick at seeing all this valuable chemical go down the drain. So to speak.

With public safety reassured, we can objectively value toluene diisocyanate for what it really is: a modern marvel necessary for the manufacturing of flexible polyurethane foam cushions which make sitting down such a joy.

dongguan chemical leak freighter toluene diisocyanate TDI port

Photos: Nandu


Watch: Dongguan Youth Defend Sex-Riddled City in Song

Posted: 04/14/2014 5:34 pm

i love dongguan song crackdown prostitution loss of face pride city youth

The common explanation for why people in a musical suddenly burst out in song is because that’s the only way they properly express themselves. When mere words fail you, sing them aloud.

Dongguan has been reeling from its prostitution crackdown. Besides suffering from huge economic losses and a mass exodus of people, Dongguan has been maligned with a loss of face from having been crowned “China’s sex capital”. While Dongguan’s mayor has responded to the scandal by being flabbergasted, Dongguan city youth have been more eloquent by putting their feelings into a song. Watch here, and sing along with the translated lyrics written below:

I Love Dongguan 

Get up, morning calisthenics, the sweet aroma of cake wafts in from the street stalls below
Get off from work early, the beautiful sky perfectly complements going for a walk
If you’ve never walked upon the ground of this happy place, then we ask you respectfully, how can you denounce it?
Blinded to this point, how do we make this right?

Even though many have only learned about Dongguan out of context from the media
Respectfully speaking, there is too much emphasis upon the actions of a few
The future of an famous emerging manufacturing city
awaits you to listen to what we have to say

For the righteous name of Dongguan, the basketball team will earnestly work hard
You say there are substantial problems, but you won’t listen to us
For the righteous name of Dongguan, mistakes have been corrected
Can our explanation be heard?

i love dongguan song crackdown prostitution loss of face pride city youth

For the righteous name of Dongguan, a prosperous city imbued with vision
Here, millions of people are capable enough to achieve goals through different means 
For the righteous name of Dongguan, the entire city will unite to bring about its worth Listen to us again

Keyuan, Tanwu, Humen and Xiaoyan are all places that you are familiar with
Tasks performed with precision, this is the only place in which digital products are made
Respectfully speaking, why is it that within the same country, you are only interested in the same point?
This is completely misleading, so let’s change the topic

I love you, Donguan, I will not leave or abandon you
Making a living depends upon my own two hands, struggle is what supports this place
I love you Dongguan, let’s tear away the stereotypes that label us
Together as one

i love dongguan song crackdown prostitution loss of face pride city youth

I love you, Dongguan, the vision of the city is on hold
Millions of football fans believe that they will carry the championship back home
I love you, Dongguan, our voices are here
and will not cry tears again

Once there was a problem, but you’re saying that it’s dead in the ground
But with both hands raised up high, there no need to tremble anymore
Let’s look at this squarely and not be scared of the ugly truth
We won’t stop our pace forward, hand in hand

Beijing recently employed the same tactic recently when a spate of bad smog would serve to galvanize the city in producing the lip-sync video “Happy in Beijing“. However, that video featured shaking hips and extroverted individualism that isn’t the message in this case.

For a power ballad in the vein of “We Are the World”, we are nonetheless surprised not to see a rap breakdown in the middle in which an MC differentiates regional Chinese differences by outlining what the local delicacies are as had happened in many “Gangam Style” tribute videos.

i love dongguan song crackdown prostitution loss of face pride city youth

Photos: Screencaps from 56

[h/t Here! Dongguan]


Shenzhen, Dongguan, Huizhou to Share Extended Subway Network

Posted: 04/14/2014 3:26 pm

The proposed inter-provincial transportation system announced last year that will connect the three cities of Shenzhen, Dongguan and Huizhou is promising to provide trips of only 60 minutes in length to commuters riding two trains under ideal circumstances.

The Guangdong Provincial Transportation Department announced its proposal up for ratification on April 11 that will unify the separate cities of the Pearl River Delta into a singular urban amalgamation. The proposal also outlines how a trip from one transportation hub to another should only take 30 minutes, and how the network will be extensive enough to allow commuters to walk to any downtown core area from a subway station in just 15 minutes.

Scheduled to be completed in 2030, the ambitious plan will see Shenzhen establish two subway lines to Huizhou, and another three to Dongguan.  The entire subway network will consist of three north-south lines, four east-west lines, and a subsidiary line in addition to new road and railway network that would see commuters travelling from Guangzhou to Hong Kong in one hour’s time.

Things do sound good in theory, though we’ve seen that things put into practice aren’t as ideal. The Shenzhen-Xiamen high-speed rail which broke down in a tunnel recently was touted to last only three hours, whereas it now journeys for four. Still, commuters are able at present to enjoy features like surfing free internet to pass the time as others drop the gloves, their civility  or a diamond deuce.

Photo: Nandu


Mayor of Dongguan: “I Had No Idea Prostitution Was Such a Big Problem”

Posted: 04/10/2014 11:30 am

As parents, we try to protect our children from harm and indulge ourselves in thinking that we can preserve their innocence for just a bit longer. The world is a harsh den of vice and men, and it always will be

Yuan Baocheng, mayor of Dongguan, has now unflinchingly come into his own as a man who can see the world for what it is during a interview on the CCTV show News 1 + 1. With the gates to the garden of paradise firmly shut behind him, Yuan spoke to the media for the first time about the crackdown back in February in which he expressed his bewilderment that prostitution was such a huge problem in the town under his jurisdiction.

“But to be frank, we didn’t expect a problem as serious or widespread as the TV report showed,” Yuan stated as reported by Global Times, visibly showing his dissatisfaction that the world does not live up to his expectations. But before Yuan could express how the fine people of Dongguan have let him down, Yuan stated that his government had been “incompetent handling prostitution”.

Launched a day after a CCTV news report that exposed the city’s extensive vice trade, the crackdown would put 200,000 sex workers out of work as they fled the city in droves. The crackdown caused a huge hit to the local economy, of which Yuan stated that hotels, entertainment, bath and massage venues generated 8.3 billion yuan, or 1.5 percent of the city’s total GDP.

“The 8.3 billion yuan is not all from prostitution, drugs and gambling,” he would add, though he didn’t invoke his realization of how big a “problem” prostitution is for the local GDP, rumored to have been worth 50 billion yuan, or 10% of the city’s GDP.

Yuan was adamant that the city government had never turned a blind eye to the illegal trade. Instead, certain lower-tiered officials had secretly consented to the matter. This would include the sacking of Yan Xiaokang, deputy mayor of Dongguan and head of the police force, as well as the investigation of 36 police officers.

When confronted with the prospect of a resilient local sex trade that will continue to flourish three months from now, Yuan was steel-willed as he clung to his innocence:

“Three months from now, we will have adopted measures that no one would have expected. I can fundamentally make the determination now that whatever cases we find, we will investigate.” 

One can only hope for the day when Yuan will not be able to find anymore instances of vice in Dongguan, thereby proving that no such problem even exists. Hopefully, parental supervision will be strict and Yuan won’t be contacted by prostitutes using WeChat or watch documentaries about the notorious Dongguan sex trade.

Photo: iqilu



Hero climbs down six-story building on bedsheet to save child dangling by head

Posted: 04/8/2014 5:47 pm

dongguan child hanging burglar bars hero

Heroism has a name in China, and that name is “Brother Prop Up”.

It was around 10am on April 5, as reported by Nandu. Li Jian was new to Dongguan, and while walking down Kuangjiangtousan street in Xiabian village, Liaobu county, Li noticed something out of the ordinary: a five year-old girl with her head stuck in the bars of a anti-burglar cage hanging from a sixth floor apartment. The girl had somehow slipped through the cracks of the anti-burglar, but her head did not, saving her from a fall.

After furiously pounding on the door to the apartment but no receiving any response, Li would head up to the roof. There with the help of a neighbor named Sun Qiya, a group of people would knot three bed sheets together in order to assemble a make-shift rope. Holding onto one end of it, they lowered Li down.

Embracing his destiny, Li stepped over the edge and climbed down to the fifth floor; there, he supported himself by standing upon the anti-burglar bars of the fifth floor apartment that were fortunately there. While using one arm to support himself, Li would use his other arm to “prop up” the child so as to prevent any further injury by hanging from her neck. Li would support the girl for a full ten minutes before rescue workers arrived to break down the door of the fifth floor apartment and pry open the anti-burglar bars. At approximately 10:15am, the girl was finally saved.

While Li is new to Dongguan, the sight of a child hanging by their head from a anti-burglar bar may be construed as a familiar sight to long-time residents in Dongguan. On March 31 of last year, a three year-old boy was found hanging by his head from a third floor anti-burglar cage in Huangjiang District, Dongguan while another similar case happened on June 2012 in Tianhe District in Guangzhou.

It’s fortunate that we have come to know the proper name to call such a hero as Li Jian; this is because it’s the same name used in previous media stories to call the heroes who bravely and selflessly helped save these other children helplessly dangling by their heads: “Brother Prop Up”.

Wherever there are children left home alone with anti-burglar devices that are inadequate to trap them inside, these are these heroes that will “prop up” these little victims whenever they fall through the cracks.

Li Jian has been commended by the local police to receive a medal for bravery.

Photo: Nandu


Thousands strike at Nike, Adidas, Reebok factory in Dongguan over invalid contracts

Posted: 04/7/2014 9:02 am

Thousands of workers took to the streets on Saturday at a shoe making factory in Dongguan under the Taiwan-based Pou Chen Group when workers discovered that the factory has cheated them by using invalid contracts and signing up long-term workers with temporary staff social insurance schemes.

Yuyuan shoe factory in Gaobu Town in Dongguan is the biggest shoe making factory for more than 30 world famous sportswear brands such as Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Salomon. It has been operating in Dongguan since 1998 and currently has more than 60,000 workers, China News reported on April 5. It was also the factory where basketball legend Michael Jordan visited in 2004 on a China tour. 

One of the workers surnamed Li said he had been working in the factory for more than 10 years and was on a permanent work contract, but when he used the work contract as a proof to enroll his child into a local school, he was told the contract was not legally binding. Many other workers also reported similar instances, the report said. Migrant workers in Guangdong must present documents proving their long-term residency in the province, consecutive five-year records of social insurance fees, and one-child policy certificates in order to enroll their children into local schools, according to article 27 in the province’s laws managing migrant workers.

In addition to cheating workers by using invalid contracts, workers discovered that many of their social insurances schemes were downgraded to temp staff packages. According to the report, the downgrades were not only discovered in one of Yuyuan’s factories, but several other factories under Yuyuan as well. Workers had been negotiating with the factory, but nothing fruitful had come of it. It eventually escalated into Saturday’s protests.

Meanwhile, insurance standards in the factory also vary, according to the report. One of the workers surnamed Jiang said she paid more than RMB 40,000 ($6,440) for her insurance package, while another worker, who enrolled in the factory around the same time Jiang did, only paid a little over RMB 10,000 ($1,610). It was unclear what kind of packages Jiang or her coworker were entitled to.

One person in charge of one of the factories at Yuyuan declined to comment and said the factory is scheduling another round of negotiations with workers on April 14. The factory’s production has so far been uninterrupted by the protests.

Home page and content page photo credit: Net Ease 

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