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More Than 200 Child Laborers Found in Dongguan Factory

Posted: 07/4/2014 9:04 am

Underage workers are seen working at a factory in Dongguan, wearing green uniforms given by the factory to distinguish them from adult workers.

More than 200 child laborers were found in an electronics factory in Dongguan, one of the country’s largest manufacturing hubs for electronics and consumer goods, trying to earn extra money to cover school expenses, Guangzhou Daily reported on July 3 after conducting an investigative report.

Most of the children are from relatively impoverished rural areas in Hunan Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region. The children jumped at the opportunity to earn a monthly salary ranging from RMB 1,000 ($161) to RMB 2,000 ($392) at Ganggu Electronics Factory in Dongkeng Town.

The children were led by a man named Chan, and  were introduced to the factory through a person named Ah Min. Both of the men got a cut of the profits from the underage workers’ salary, the report said.

On June 22, a girl under the age of 15 named Xiao Jing was one of the more than 30 students who signed a contract with the factory, promising to work at least 280 hours per month. After giving the factory copies of their fake ID cards (saying they were over 16) and household registration, the youngsters were immediately put to work the next day.

The legal working age in China is 16.

Child laborers eating in the factory’s cafeteria.

A few days after starting work, Xiao Jing and 12 other youngsters were fired from the factory without any reason or payment. Most of the children are between 13 and 15 years-old.

Ah Min (pseudonym) said the three parties that include the teacher Chan, the agency and the factory all know the children are too young to work. Child laborers in the factory are given green work uniforms to distinguish them from adult workers, who normally wear blue overalls, according to one child laborer.

A child laborer lies on a bed in the factory’s employee dormitory.

However, the factory management denied they were aware these workers were children. They said they had a hard time verifying the work documents sent by the intermediary agency.

“They can tell these children are not 16 years-old just by one glance. The copies of their fake IDs and household registrations are just for show. No one will look into them. This is the unwritten rule,” Ah Min said.

In fact, sending child labor to well-off southern cities is less of a surprise for local residents in Pingnan County in Guangxi, where some of the children are from. Students in junior high often volunteer to work as child laborers in Guangdong to earn extra cash for school and help out with family expenses.

“Most of the people living in our county are very poor. There is no other way out. Many students work during summer vacations,” said Ah Wei (a pseudonym), uncle to one of the child laborers. “Every summer vacation, several hundred students go out to work. Most of them are younger than 16 years old,” he added.

The factory has paid the salaries for the 13 dismissed students, and promised to send the rest of the youngsters back to Hunan and Guangxi Province.

Although the payments were already given, the majority of the students wanted to stay and continue to work. Officials from the local human resources bureau and executives from the factory are working to persuade the students to go back home.

Most child labor stories involve forced labor, coercion and violence. But as Guangdong’s exports and economic growth slows, poverty-stricken children looking for ready cash fit right into the plans of factories that are currently trying anything to keep operational costs down.

Strictly speaking, hiring voluntary child laborers could be the easiest and cheapest solution.

Photos: Guangdong Daily 


Family walks home together… from Shenzhen to Hunan Province

Posted: 08/6/2013 7:00 am

An 8 year-old girl is joining her parents in walking from Shenzhen’s Baoan District to their hometown of Shaoyang in Hunan Province. The family set off on the 700 km journey on July 13 and have already reached Yongzhou so are within around 100km of their destination, Nandu Daily reports.

Xiong Bingji on a country lane on Saturday Aug. 3, image courtesy of Southern Metropolis Daily

Zeng Ziqi was born in Shenzhen and is currently in the 3rd grade. Her father, who had been in Shenzhen for 20 years, had always fantasised about walking back to his hometown, staying in villages and towns along the way. He ensured that his daughter would only have to come if she wanted to, so was quite surprised when she immediately agreed.

When they arrived in Guangzhou after three days, the girl’s mother, Liu Xiaoyan, gave her the option of turning back.

The girl has not stayed sprightly the whole time, and her enthusiasm was at its lowest between Guangzhou and Qingyuan. But the sheer variety and novelty of everything she’s seen has kept the city girl persisting, said her mother, who if anything has been less hardy than Zeng.

Having a well-earned rest

Some of the terrain they crossed has been dangerous and they have even walked along highways at times of poor visibility. But they crossed over into Hunan on July 25, and on July 29, Zeng’s father wrote on QQ that people should enjoy every step one-by-one and he was glad to be finally making this journey and seeing his daughter grow up along the way.

Deputy head of 21st Century Education Research Institute, Xiong Bingji, said it was an interesting adventure for the family and a good way of helping toughen up the child. But Xiong also stressed that not all children were cut out for such a journey.


Father sells his son, police find the toddler months later and reunite him with mom

Posted: 03/12/2013 10:49 am

Police in Guangzhou have reunited a three-year-old boy with his mother after his father sold him six months earlier, earning a handsome 25,000 yuan ($4,019).

It has been an agonizing wait as the police team from Panyu district finally tracked Xiang Xiang down in neighbouring Hunan province.

The father, Deng, 25, a migrant worker from Guizhou province, finally found his conscience, and on January 5 confessed what he did to police, four months after he had gone through with the transaction.

Boys are highly sought after in China. They sell for as much as 10,000 yuan ($1,607) because they continue to carry the family name. Beijing’s One-Child policy is blamed for driving up the price.

No doubt, both parents will be relieved and overjoyed. With Xiang now safely with his mother Hu, police have arrested Deng along with two of the buyers. Police are continuing with their efforts in searching for the third.

This case echoes a similar story from October 21 when a couple from Huizhou cashed in all three of their children in exchange for more money to play online games at the internet café.

Source: Guangzhou Daily via China Daily


Report: 10,000 tons of tainted rice have entered Guangdong markets since 2009

Posted: 03/1/2013 7:00 am

What do you know, another food safety scandal has hit the region. And once again, it involves a state-owned enterprise.

10,000 tons of cadmium-tainted rice are believed to have entered Guangdong province markets since 2009 after being bought by Shenzhen Cereals Group, Nanfang Daily reported Wednesday (via China Daily).

The state-owned enterprise is thought to have bought the rice from branches of China Grain Reserves Corp in Hunan, the report said.

Food quality supervision authorities in Shenzhen recently discovered that the rice had excessive cadmium.

A supplier in Xiangtanin Hunan recalled 180 tons of the tainted rice. But the recalled rice was resold to a mill that produces rice flour in Foshan, Guangdong province, the report said.

China Daily has more:

Shenzhen Cereals accepted the bulk of cadmium-contaminated rice on the condition that its price be cut, and the company later sold the rice at a higher price to clients that included a rice flour mills in Dongguan, a brewery in Guangzhou, and retailers in Shenzhen, the report said.
Shenzhen Cereals allegedly knew about cadmium contamination in rice as early as several years ago, when it started business with suppliers in Hunan.
The company did not complain and in fact continued to buy in large quantities until the rice market took a downturn in 2009, according to the report.

Crops grown in polluted soil may have higher cadmium concentration and produce tainted rice. Continual exposure of cadmium over a long time may lead to cancer and other health risks such as kidney and respiratory problems.

Shenzhen Cereals Group denied the allegations in a statement Wednesday: “As a responsible supplier, we have never allowed a grain of contaminated rice to enter the market,” Shenzhen Daily quoted representatives of the company as saying.

The group bought 15,415 tons of rice from Hunan Province in May 2009 but returned 13,584 tons that contained excessive cadmium, a toxic metal, the statement said.

Either way, you can add rice to the list of foods to be wary of.


Farmer threatens to attack schools in Guangzhou, upset over land grab

Posted: 01/16/2013 11:52 am

A farmer from Hunan Province turned himself in Monday after a citywide manhunt was conducted in Guangzhou over the weekend following his threats to attack schools in the city, Shenzhen Daily reports.

Last month, 22 children were wounded in a knife attack on a school in Henan Province, raising concerns about the safety of school children in China.

Guangzhou police said the suspect, Cao Zaifa, was unhappy about the demolition of his home and the seizure of his land by the government in Hunan’s Rucheng County. He sent a text message to the county’s police chief Friday, threatening bloody violence in Guangzhou’s kindergartens and at Sun Yat-sen University.

Rucheng is near the border between Guangdong and Hunan. Police say Cao came down solely to commit the act and he turned himself in 6:50 p.m. Monday.

Wanted posters with Cao’s photograph had been posted in many residential neighborhoods.

Although his actions have caused outrage, some people have sympathised with his plight.

Cao Zaifa in police custody

Land grabs have been a major source of public anger during the years of China’s breakneck development and the victims are invariably society’s most powerless people. Philip Pan’s “Out of Mao’s Shadow” gives this explanation as to how they work:

Naturally, developers sought to boost profits by paying the residents they evicted as little as possible in compensation. Private homeowners presented the biggest problem, because they could demand a market price or even refuse to sell. In reality, though, local officials often approved projects and sold land-use rights to developers without going through the trouble of buying or seizing them from homeowners first. Officials then conspired with developers to pressure owners to give up their land. Developers often hired thugs to intimidate residents while police looked the other way, and local authorities sometimes, cut off water, electricity, or heat to the holdouts. If necessary, the government intervened on behalf of developers and ordered a forced eviction on questionable legal grounds. Altogether, between 1991 and 2003, more than half a million families in Beijing were evicted by developers.

A cop outside a schoolgate in Guangzhou

As one netizen put it: “What legal channels did Cao have to go through?”


A 58-year-old spends 4 hours on Dongguan roller coaster, wants to set world record

Posted: 09/24/2012 1:00 pm

A 58 year-old man spent 4 continuous hours on a roller coaster ride at the Xinhua South Mall in Dongguan on September 23, according to Southern Metropolis Daily.

The ride consists of a 60-metre vertical drop. The 58 year-old native of Hunan Province said he would have stayed on even longer if a thunder storm hadn’t begun, according to the paper.

He Kuiming comes from Shenyang City and after retiring he came to Dongguan to live with his daughter. From 2:45 p.m. until around 7 p.m. he rode the roller coaster, occasionally snacking on bread during intervals.

He first experienced this type of theme park ride in Shenzhen in 2009. Although it made him dizzy, he got addicted. He later discovered that for 198 yuan, he could ride enjoy any ride at Dongguan’s Xinhua South Mall throughout the day.

He’s other hobby is bungee jumping, but because of his age, he is often refused the opportunity to bungee jump. “On October 1, I intend to go to Guilin in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to attend the World Bungee Jumping Championship,” He told the paper.

“I want to enter the Guinness Book of Records for doing the largest number of consecutive bungee jumps,” said He.

However, in spite of his good health, he may not receive permission to attempt this because he has no formal training in bungee jumping.


Woman falls from a 10th floor window after explosion, lands on passerby below

Posted: 08/1/2012 2:17 pm

A gas explosion at a rented appartment killed a woman instantly in Yucui Village, Shenzhen’s Longhua District on the evening of July 30, Southern Metropolis Daily reports.

According to a neighbour, a blast could be heard at about 7:00 pm, then someone shouted “gas explosion!” The whole building shook. When the neighbour went outside, he saw the charred remains of a woman on the ground and also saw that the tenth-floor window from which she had fallen was smashed.

“She was a divorcee who had had a quarrel with her boyfriend. It is very possible that their frequent quarreling was what drove her to commit suicide,” said the neighbour.

Police said the woman was around 30, came from Hunan Province, and worked as a bus conductor. She ignited a gas canister at her home at 6:47 pm.  Police say her unhappy love life was the most likely reason for her suicide. A passer-by was hit by the falling woman and was taken to hospital but had no serious injuries.

One Weibo user asked what is about the modern age that is making people so fragile. Another said it isimpossible to know whether to blame society or to blame the person. Another suggested that this was all simply because women are stupid.


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