China Blue: Chinese Risk Their Liberty

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Independent organizing of workers, by workers, is illegal in China, in violation of international treaties and covenants that China has signed. To find out what is going on for China’s workers beyond the gates of the factory where we filmed, we got in touch with labor organizers. The people we contacted must keep their activities completely underground, through a loose and clandestine network around the country. If caught, they face either a prison term or a labor re-education camp, where the authorities send people without trial or any due process of law. Reaching our contact required a complicated clock-and-dagger operation. We could not use hotel or pay phones and had to replace our mobile phone card and number shortly afterwards. The man we met was not a line worker, but an engineer with access to management memos in his factory. He provided us with a memo that instructed dept. managers to train their workers in the “correct” answers to questions during the upcoming inspection from Wal-Mart, the main customer of the factory. The management knew in advance not only the date of the inspection, but also the method: the inspectors will pick a few workers at random for an interview. The workers were told how to respond to questions about labor conditions under threat that if they tell the truth the factory will lose its contract and they – their job. The man who provided us with the information agreed to risk speaking on camera because he felt strongly that the world should know how China‘s workers are exploited with the complicity of multinational retail corporations. An interview with this labor activist, whose identity is masked, appears in the film.

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