Jun 19, 2007

Chinese press critical of government complicity in slavery scandal

The PRC news service, Xinhua, has recently published a condemnation of local governments failure to prevent slave labor -- including child labor -- at a kiln in the coal-rich Shanxi and Henan provinces.

The article provides startling details of the extent of the injustice:
"By Saturday, 315 people, including 22 under the age of 18, had been freed after police raided more than 3,700 small brick kilns and collieries"

"Police in central Henan said they had freed 217 slave laborers, including 29 juveniles and 10 mentally handicapped people."

It then goes on to condemn the officials on who's watch it happened:
"We should be asking how local governments allowed such blatant labor abuses to happen in broad daylight"

"Labor protection officials must shoulder a large portion of blame"

"Police in Shanxi and Henan have patently failed to perform their duty to protect the people."

Finally, it acknowledges that these are not isolated incidents and calls for broader reform:
"Slavery scandals are not unique to Shanxi and Henan."

"It is high time the government stepped up labor protection and spurred idle officials to do their jobs properly if we are to come even close to building a 'harmonious society'."

Clearly any illusions of the People's Republic of China as a "Workers Paradise" have been long since abandoned, but how does one account for this candor from the state-run press?
Damage control for a scandal that could no longer be contained?
Any attempt to separate Beijing from the misdeeds of rouge kiln operators and local officials?
Or, is it possible, a real sign of increased freedom of the press?

See the Xinhua article Here