Migrant worker is hamstrung for demanding due wages; massive violent conflict ensues
It was started by a hideous act of violence on a migrant worker. On June 1, 18-year-old worker Xiong Hanjiang from Sichuan province went with his parents to Huayi Porcelain Factory in the town Guxiang, Chaozhou city in southern Guangzhou province and asked the employer for his past due wages. During the process, Xiong Hanjiang got into a fight with Su, the factory owner. Su hit Xiong’s head with a wooden stool and ordered his underlings to cut Xiong’s wrists and ankles and cripple him.
Newscast of the incident on Youtube
Three suspects, including Su, were arrested by the police on the 5th. However, according to a microblog post, instead of penalizing or incriminating them, police released some of them after receiving US$460 as hush money. Indignant, Xiong’s family called on 200 of their fellow provincials who also worked in the town of Guxiang to gather at the town hall. The local government officials did not respond to the anger of the migrant workers. As a result, the 200 migrant workers vented their furor on the cars and small businesses nearby. Three cars were wrecked, one was set on fire and burnt. Nine of the mob were taken away by the police.
However, the incident did not subside in the least. The violence has provoked the locals. On the Sina microblog, some native Guxiang residents called for a revenge. Suddenly the locals and the provincials became divided by the poisonous animosity.
According to Hong Kong-based Apple Daily, until yesterday, migrant workers wandered on the streets of Guxiang, burning stores, smashing cars and hitting innocent people. Martial law has been imposed on the entire town until 14th. Schools have been closed, industrial production halted. Ordinary people mostly stayed home. The few men who did go out were armed with batons. Guxiang became a ghost town. Rumor even has it that migrant workers and provincials would detonate gas stations.
“We can never let outsiders bully us!” Innocent locals getting beaten has aroused the fighting spirit of people in Guxiang. Yesterday, each household was informed by the township committee to send a man between the age of 18 to 55 to the “self-defense army.” All “self-defense troops” have worn red ribbons on their arms to distinguish themselves from outsiders and begun to patrol the streets.
By their side are the large number of riot policemen stationed in most corners of the town.
The problem of wage arrears is endemic in construction sites and factories across China. A report from the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics reveals that by the end of 2008, there was a total of 225.42 million migrant workers in China, and about 5.8% of them did not get all due wages before the Chinese New Year.