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Archive for September 1st, 2007

Dalit kids roughed up in Bihar

Posted by Indian Vanguard on September 1, 2007

Dalit kids roughed up in Bihar

Suffering for being a dalit, a woman was burned by upper caste farmers of her village in Bihar, after her children dared to play on a temple’s premises on Friday evening.

About 10 upper caste farmers first beat up a group of dalit children at the temple, 25 km from Patna. Then they chased them to their homes got into an argument with their mothers, picked up a pan of daal cooking on a stove and flung it at the women.

”They beat my kids, who along with other children were playing in the temple premises. They have even asked us not to enter the temple premises, as we are dalits,” said Rubi Devi, victim.

”They told us how dare we enter the temple, this is our temple, you have no right to offer prayers here,” said Rukmini Devi, victim.

The police have arrested one of the men, the others are still missing.

”One person has been arrested. We are in search of 5 others. We will take action as per the rules notified in the Scheduled Caste Atroticities act.

”We have lodged an FIR and due compensation would be given to the families of the victims and the law will take its own course,” said Sunil Kr, SDO, Shahpur.

Atrocities against Dalits are not new in Bihar.

But at a time when the state government is boasting about appointing dalits as priests in temples across the state, incidents like these are even more shameful.

Posted in Bihar, Dalith | Leave a Comment »

The Worker, Organ of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)

Posted by Indian Vanguard on September 1, 2007


11th Issue Now available !
[For outlets, check below this message]
EDITORIAL:
Overcome the challenges to achieve the outstanding victory!
  • Articles:
  • Chairman Comrade Prachanda’s May Day speech
  • Literature, Art and Culture in New Nepal – Comrade Kiran
  • New Tactics: Challenges and opportunities – Comrade Gaurav
  • No Revolution can be replicated but developed – Comrade Basanta
  • International Seminar
  • Historic International Seminar
  • Inaugural Speach: Delivered by Comrade Prachanda, Chairman of CPN (Maoist) &nb sp;
  • Seminar papers and notes presented on behalf of:
  • Communist Party Of Nepal (Maoist)
  • Communist Party Of India (Maoist)
  • Communist Party Of India (Marxist-Leninist) Naxalbari
  • Revolutionary Communists, Germany
  • Communist Party Of the Phillipines
  • Communist Party of Turkey (Marxist-Leninist)
  • Press Communiqué of the International Seminar
  • Resolutions, Statements and Press releases:
  • Resolution of the Secretariat Meeting of Communist Party Of Nepal (Maoist)
  • Statements of Communist Party Of Nepal (Maoist)
  • Statements of the International Command, Communist Party Of Nepal (Maoist)
  • Guest Column :
  • Interview with Comrade Ganapathy, the General Secretary of the Communist Party Of India (Maoist)
  • The call of the unity Congress of the Communist Party Of India (Maoist)
  • Literature:
  • Critique of Krishna Sen Ichhchhuk’s poems – Rajan Prasad Pokhrel
  • Miscellaneous:
  • South Asia speaking tour


For orders E-mail :
lal_rpg@yahoo.co.uk

Available now from the following bookshop

Housmans Bookshop 5, Caledonian Road,
Kings Cross, LONDON, N1 9DX

Tel for postal delivery: 020 7837 4473

Posted in Nepal, The Worker | Leave a Comment »

Sison arrested: Emergency Action Alert

Posted by Indian Vanguard on September 1, 2007

Sison arrested: Emergency Action Alert

RELEASE JOMA SISON!
Fil-Am Alliance Condemns Dubious Arrest
of NDF Political Consultant

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of over 12 Filipino organizations in the US, vehemently condemned the arrest of the National Democratic Front Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison last night by the Dutch Police on false charges of multiple murders.

The alliance further condemned the raiding of homes by the Dutch police of the NDF personnel.

Sison was arrested last night for multiple murders of Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara. Police say Sison ordered the murders from the Netherlands back in 2003. Sison will be put on trial in the Netherlands, not the Philippines.

While the New People’s Army has already come forward with admittance to the killings, Sison maintains he is not in the leadership of the NPA nor the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

BAYAN USA maintains the real reasons for Sison’s arrest are political not criminal. Emergency actions will also be set at Dutch consulates across the country calling for Sison’s immediate release. [see below]

“Behind the actions of the Dutch police is the Arroyo government, which since its ascendency has been in pursuit of Joma Sison and worked tirelessly to subdue his meaning to the people,” states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano.

The alliance, a member of the International League of Peoples Struggle, an international organization of which Sison serves as Chair, has been calling for a de-listing of Sison from the US and EU terrorist lists.

“It is in every interest of the US and Arroyo governments to confine Professor Sison for his politics. As the Chief Political Consultant to the organization that comprises one half of the stalled NDF-GRP peace negotiations, the Arroyo government is declaring to the world it is not interested in resuming peace talks,” Quijano added.

BAYAN USA has also supported the resumption of peace talks between the NDF and GRP. The Arroyo administration just recently called to intensify the all-out war in Mindanao under the auspices of the US War on Terror as a measure to raise its annual pork barrel of military aid from the US government.

BAYAN USA also asserted it’s been a year of hot water for the Arroyo administration, with isolation from human rights watchdogs such as the UNHRC, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and even a US Senate hearing that may influence US military aid to the Philippines. Sison, a political refugee in the Netherlands for nearly 20 years, has been one of the most famous and vocal critics of the Arroyo regime.

Earlier this year, a European court nullified Sison’s terrorist listing. Since his listing of 2001, Sison had his assets frozen and right to work stripped. Sison remains on the US State Department’s terrorist list.

For more information, contact BAYAN USA.

Posted in Jose Maria Sison, Philippines | Leave a Comment »

Bhutan: Red Army in the Dragon Kingdom

Posted by Indian Vanguard on September 1, 2007

Participants in the CCOMPOSA political association of South Asian Maoists, the Communist Party of Bhutan (MLM) have openly declared the imminent launch of insurgency with the immediate goal of abolishing the monarchy and the establishment of a republic. I am not familiar with the author of this article, nor much beyond superficialities regarding life in Bhutan. This article is posted because it is so far unique, and that it appears to confirm the prognosis that South Asia is indeed becoming a storm center of world revolution. [Kantipur is not a Maoist publication. All links are provided for informational purposes. ]

Bhutan_2 By Deepak Adhikari
Kantipur Online

Another Maoist insurgency is going to rock yet another country in South Asia, if the statements made by the leaders of the Communist Party of Bhutan Marxist-Leninist-Maoist (CPM MLM) are anything to go by.

“Preliminary preparations for an insurgency are over. We are going to launch it soon,” says Vikalpa, nom-de-plume of CPB MLM General Secretary.
Bhutan is holding its parliamentary elections in March and April 2007. But, prior to the election date, CPB MLM plans to launch its ‘People’s War’ in the Himalayan kingdom.

The goal: Abolition of monarchy and establishment of a republic.

Following the footsteps of Nepali Maoists who had submitted a 40-point demand to the then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba before launching a ‘People’s War’, CPB MLM faxed a 13-point demand to the Royal Government of Bhutan on March 22, 2007.

The letter stressed the need to “introduce people’s democracy in the place of absolute monarchy.” The party has asked for multi-party democracy, repatriation of the refugees to their original homes with honor and dignity, release of all political prisoners and to introduce the land reform act etc.

Vikalpa (literally, alternative) says that fulfillment of the demands would have paved the way for a peaceful resolution. “But, the government, rather than taking it seriously, has unleashed terror by arresting commoners, and this has prompted us to wage an armed struggle,” says CPB supremo Vikalpa. .

The Druk regime is yet to respond to these demands.
The unfolding events suggest that South Asia’s only active monarchy that is ruling the so-called ‘Last Shangri-La’ is likely to take the country into Maoist violence. The eruption of militancy in northeastern South Asia will not only push Bhutan into turmoil but the two biggest Asian power i.e. India and China will have to deal with yet another insurgency in their backyards.

Expanding Network
At a time when Nepal was mired in the Maoist conflict, CPB MLM was announced on April 22, 2003. Pamphlets were widely distributed and posters were pasted in and around the seven refugee camps of Jhapa and Morang districts of Nepal. On the same day, sixteen out of a total twenty districts in Bhutan saw similar activities. That was the occasion of Lenin Day and the official announcement of the first communist party in Bhutan formed two years back.

Following its formal announcement, Bhutanese Maoist leaders zeroed in on two areas: expanding the organizational network and intensifying political and military training. The Maoist cadres overwhelmingly participated in the ‘long march’ along the Mechi Bridge on the border between Nepal and India last May. The forceful attempt made by the refugees to return to their home country did not succeed. It ended with clashes between refugees and Indian security forces.

The unrest triggered by the Maoists in Beldangi camp of Jhapa on 27 and 28 May led to the death of Narapati Dhungel and Purna Bahadur Tamang. The CPB MLM organized a condolence meet for the ‘martyrs’ in Beldangi and Sanischare camps on June 10. Student leaders Toya Khatiwada, Pasang Rai, Mesh Pathak, Champa Singh Rai delivered speeches during the programme.

An emergency meeting of CPB MLM Central Committee held in the first week of June, following the Beldangi and Mechi Bridge incidents, concluded that the grounds for an armed struggle were ripening. The meeting also decided to launch a ‘People’s War’ at the earliest. Following this, CPB has intensified its activities in all the seven refugee camps. The party has been organizing cultural programmes and closed-door meetings to indoctrinate more refugees for the upcoming ‘People’s War.’

Some of the Bhutanese leaders have gone to Western countries like USA, UK, Germany, while others stay in their cozy apartments in Kathmandu, leaving their countrymen in the cramped refugee camps.

In this backdrop, the Maoists have maintained a low profile while expanding the party network on a war footing. They have succeeded in drawing huge numbers of disgruntled refugees to their block. These new breed of leaders, unlike hitherto known leaders, are little known but they are spirited youths mostly from a teaching background. While the number of full time party members is still a matter of conjecture, what is obvious is that the party leadership has been rapidly expanding its network.

Since the party is underground, most of its activities are undertaken through its sister organizations. All Bhutan Revolutionary Student Association, its student wing, was formed shortly after the announcement of CPB MLM. Similarly, All Bhutan Women Association was announced just two weeks after the formation of its student wing. All Bhutan Republic Youth Association, all Bhutan Teachers’ Association, All Bhutan Peasants’ Association, All Bhutan People’s Cultural Forum are other sister organizations of the party.
CPB has also adopted the strategy to form independent or literary groups to spread its ideology. The now defunct Communist Study Center led by a refugee from Goldhap camp (who was adept at oratory skills) active in 2003 was one such group.

CPB MLM has also been involved in collecting funds. News sources say, the party has collected donations from Bhutanese teachers working in private schools and plus-two colleges in Kathmandu. Similarly, the party has urged Bhutanese working in INGOs and donor agencies to contribute 5 per cent of their salary. Sources claim the party has been able to collect approximately 14 lakh rupees, some of which was spent on purchasing arms.

Organizing cultural programmes is another way to collect money for the party. All Bhutan People’s Cultural Forum organized a cultural programme and a drama titled ‘Paristhiti Le Janmaeko Lakshya’ (Goal Created by Circumstances) at the Nepal Academy in Kathmandu on May 10, 2007. More than thirty thousand rupees was collected from the tickets of the show and from the sales of the album ‘Bidroha Ka Jhilkaharu’ (Sparks of Rebellion).

Preparing for ‘People’s War’
The first national conference of CPB MLM (from January 31 to February 3, 2006) devised an ideological and technical outline for a ‘People’s War.’ According to a party press release, the conference approved the manifesto and the programme and policies of the party. The conference, according to the release, “broke all the large and bulky party committees into a sophisticated one to make a unified force.”

The conference also elected Vikalpa General Secretary until the second national conference. “The most important decision was to make party military oriented and military party oriented,” argues Vikalpa.

Bhutanese Maoists have followed the strategies adopted by Nepali Maoists. The protracted People’s War is divided into three strategic phases: defense, balance and counter attack. Defense is again divided into three sub-phases: preparation, commencement and continuation. Among these, the party is still in its first phase. The preparation phase is again divided into four phases: ideological, organizational, technical and related to struggle. Among these, they have started the propaganda machine through cultural programmes, production of people oriented musical albums and pamphlets and posters. Party mouthpieces such as Vidhyarthi Pratirodh and Naulo Awaj also serve their purpose.

CPB MLM has also applied Chinese leader Mao’s doctrine: ‘encircling city from village.’ It has stressed the formation of an armed force to implement the doctrine. Vikram, one of CPB leaders, says they plan to create a guerilla force that will be technically able to carry out defensive attacks, which, in his words, “will crush the enemy’s forces while defending our forces.”

What is the military strength? Vikalpa says, “We have a few old and homemade guns. However, our fighters are not trained for hi-tech war. We believe in getting trained in the course of war.” He adds, “There cannot be a better training field than the working area.”

Made in Bhutan
CPB MLM’s working area is none other than Bhutanese soil. Apart from refugee camps, Bhutanese leaders are active in Damak and Birtamode of Jhapa and Siliguri (West Bengal), Sikkim, Darjeeling and Assam in India. They also frequent Kathmandu in order to propagate and collect funds. But they are trying to focus their activities mainly inside Bhutan. CPB leaders claim that theirs is the only party established inside Bhutan. The Central Committee of CPB MLM has five commands (four commands operate in Bhutan and one in the refugee camp). More than one lakh refugees are languishing in the camps while one lakh and eighty thousand Lhotsampas (Nepali speaking Southern Bhutanese) are in Bhutan.

Penetration by its cadres inside Bhutan and their mobilization has been a top Maoist priority. The result: three districts namely Tashigang, Samdrup Jonkhar and Samchi are now Maoist hotbeds. Bhutan’s geographical situation (65 percent forest and 80 percent mountainous and hill region), says CPB, is suitable for guerrilla warfare.

Sources say, the party plans to stat a ‘People’s War’ from the northern districts of Yangtse, Tashigang and Mongar where the state has a minimum presence. These districts share a porous border with Arunachal state of India, which China claims as its own. The Sarchops (ethnic Bhutanese of the East) are the majority in that region. Sarchops account for 33 percent of the total population and they are coming under the influence of CPB MLM. Sarchop Mukti Morcha, a sister organization of CPB was formed a few months ago. Another organization called Gorkha Rastriya Mukti Morcha led by Amar Chhetri (which demands six southern districts be declared Gorkha Pradesh) has close ties with the Maoists.

However, an analyst warns that the idea to launch the war from the southern stronghold of Lhotsamaps might be counterproductive. The Druk regime has been terrorizing south Bhutan for years. As a result, that part has become an epicentre of rebellion since the early 90s when one lakh Nepali speaking Bhutanse were forced to leave their homeland.

Bhutan State Congress (est. 1952), led by DB Gurung, pioneered the rebellion in 1954 from Sarbhang district of South Bhutan. Interestingly, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala had also taken part in the democratic movement in Bhutan in the early 1950s. He disclosed the fact in his memoir published in Nepal Weekly Magazine (Aug 20-26, 2007). CPB MLM invokes Mahashur Chhetri, killed in 1954 uprising, as an inspiration for their cause.

Nepal Connection
As mentioned above, Bhutanese Maoists have largely drawn the strategy and tactics from Nepali Maoists. Bhutanese comrades have maintained a rapport with the Nepali Maoists since its inception. Nepali Maoists, sources say, provided ideological and material assistance to them. Senior leaders of CPN M imparted training on firearms and ideological and cultural issues. With both parties being members of the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organizations of South Asia (CCOMPASA), it’s easier for them to cooperate, sources privy to the Maoists say. CPB MLM actively participated in an international seminar organized by CPB M between December 26 and 30, 2006. CP Gajurel ‘Gaurav’, In-charge of the International Bureau, CPN M, says, “We are very close, for we follow the same ideology in the first place and they are also people of Nepali origin in the second.”

He disclosed that most of the CPB MLM leaders were trained and inspired by Nepal’s ‘People’s War.’ He adds, “We are helping them in guerrilla warfare strategy and working policy.”

If CPN Maoist enters mainstream politics shunning violence, they might only share ideological grounds. Nevertheless, if the Constituent Assembly polls did not take place and they adopted a policy of rebellion, relations between these parties might extend to the level of material cooperation. CPB also maintains close ties with the Communist Party of India Maoist.

Violence out of Compulsion?
The Bhutanese refugee stalemate is the main base where CPB aims to launch a ‘People’s War.’ Scholars had predicted that if the refugee impasse remained for a long time, the youths would be drawn to violence. Aruni John, a Sri Lankan scholar, in her research published by Colombo-based think-tank Regional Centre for Strategic Studies as early as August 2000 wrote, “It is likely that the unemployed Bhutanese refugee youths in Nepal will shortly become potential recruits for militant forces that currently destabilized northeast India, southern Bhutan and eastern Nepal.”

She concluded, “Frustration with a legal process between the governments of Bhutan and Nepal that appears to be going nowhere, a splintered refugee leadership, a seemingly uncompromising Bhutanese monarchy, and the lack of future options may push these refugee youth to turn to militancy.” Many Bhutanese leaders opine that the Bhutan government should take the responsibility for the plight of the refugees. Teknath Rizal, Chairman of Bhutanese Movement Steering Committee, says, “Every person has a limit of tolerance. If that limit is crossed, one is compelled to resort to arms.”

The main reasons behind the formation of CPB are the frustration and anger due to the protracted refugee crisis. But will politics of violence be successful? A Bhutanese human rights leader has a few caveats. He says it is problematic for an underground party to wage a war in Bhutan due to the small size and the sparse population of the country. He recollects the arrest of 39 Bhutanese following a cultural programme4 organized by Maoists in May.

Bhutan with a population of seven lakh and fifty thousand has nearly 22 thousand security forces including the Royal Bhutan Army, Royal Bodyguard and Royal Bhutan Police. Approximately 20 thousand Indian Army personnel are currently stationed in Bhutan. The soldiers are said to be kept in Bhutan for military training, road construction and other development works. This heavy military presence makes it difficult for CPB MLM to launch a ‘People’s War.’ Probably taking its cue from this scenario, CPB has asked other political parties to launch a joint struggle against monarchy. A recent press release undersigned by Vikalpa reads, “We request all the political parties to form a unified front to fight against Bhutan’s monarchy, the common enemy of all democratic forces.”

Thinley Penjor, chairman of Druk National Congress (DNC), while admitting that the DNC and CPB cadres in Bhutan are working jointly at local levels, hinted at the possibility of unity at the central level. Nepali Maoist leaders had advised Bhutanese Maoists to work with other stakeholders. Ram Karki, chief of Bhutan desk in the International Bureau of CPN M, says, “The Bhutanese movement will succeed only if it joins hands with DNC and BPP (Bhutan People’s Party).”

India’s Role
Maoist leader Gaurav says, “It’s easy to start an armed struggle in Bhutan because the government is very weak. But, it may have to face the military strength of India.” Bhutan, surrounded by Indian states fighting an insurgency for decades, is a strategically important region. “That’s why,” he says, “India will try to prevent a ‘People’s War.'” Like Nepal, it is sandwiched between China and India. CPB has a nexus with ULFA and Bodo, separatist outfits operating in northeast India.

When Nepal’s Maoist conflict reached its apogee, India termed it a common security threat for both countries. If such a Maoist conflict spawns in Bhutan, it will definitely be a trilateral (Bhutan, Nepal and India) issue. “Bhutanese Maoists have to directly confront Indian security forces,” says Ram Karki, central member of CPN M.

Indian interest in Bhutan is manifold. However, bilateral treaties bind Bhutan with its southern neighbour. According to the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty of 1949, India has the prerogative over the issues of foreign affairs and security of Bhutan. The treaty was amended in February this year. Firstly, Article 2 has been rephrased and the term ‘guided by the advice by GOI’ has been replaced by ‘friendly cooperation’ in the context of Bhutan’s foreign relations. Secondly, Article 6 has been revised to the extent that Bhutan can act independently in importing non-lethal equipment, but will still have to go by India’s assistance and approval for import of arms, ammunition, machines and warlike materials and stores for Bhutan’s welfare and protection. Though, there seems to be some changes in theory, India still plays in practice a significant role in the security and foreign relations of the Druk regime.

India’s special relation with Bhutan has irked Bhutanese refugee leaders. Bhutanese leader Teknath Rizal says, “Aren’t the issues raised in Terai and ours the same? Why does India keep mum over our issue?” India’s diplomatic reticence is obvious given its involvement in hydropower projects and military training in Bhutan. India has established a Military Training Team (IMTRAT) in Ha district of Bhutan. The Indian army is also active in Bhutan under the name of the General Road Task Force.

In early 2003, the Royal Bhutan Army with assistance from the Indian army flushed out the insurgents operating in northeastern India from their base in southern Bhutan. The separatist outfits, United Liberation Front of Assam, National Democratic Front of Bodoland and Kamatapur Liberation Organization, once welcomed by the royal government, were later perceived as threats to the state. But three years after getting rid of the Indian insurgents, the government is likely to confront homegrown militants.

This confrontation can largely be traced to the refugee problem created by Bhutan itself almost two decades ago. In this scenario enters the United States with a proposal to resettle sixty thousand refugees. This proposal, sources say, surfaced after the US detected growing extremism in the refugee camps. Australia and Canada have also shown willingness to take in a few thousand refugees.

But, the advocates of third country settlement have been targeted by the Maoists. Two camp secretaries of Beldangi camp, Hari Adhikari Bangaley and Manorath Khanal, have been frequently assaulted over the last three months. Sources say Maoist cadres were involved in the incidents. The CPB MLM took part in the ‘Long March’ movement to return home in May this year. A press release of the party dated June 7, 2007 reads, “The organizations privy to our party had to lead the movement in Mechi Bridge due to the failure of the National Front for Democracy.”

In the same release, the party has vowed to start an armed struggle. It remains to be seen whether CPB MLM will be confined to mere press releases or carry out yet another ‘People’s War’ in the subcontinent.

Posted in Bhuttan | Leave a Comment »

China, Capitalist Accumulation, and Labor

Posted by Indian Vanguard on September 1, 2007

by Martin Hart-Landsberg & Paul Burkett
Most economists continue to celebrate China as one of the most successful developing countries in modern times. We, however, are highly critical of the Chinese growth experience. China’s growth has been driven by the intensified exploitation of the country’s farmers and workers, who have been systematically dispossessed through the break-up of the communes, the resultant collapse of health and education services, and massive state-enterprise layoffs, to name just the most important “reforms.” With resources increasingly being restructured in and by transnational corporations largely for the purpose of satisfying external market demands, China’s foreign-driven, export-led growth strategy has undermined the state’s capacity to plan and direct economic activity. Moreover, in a world of competitive struggle among countries for both foreign direct investment and export markets, China’s gains have been organically linked to development setbacks in other countries. Finally, China’s growth has become increasingly dependent not only on foreign capital but also on the unsustainable trade deficits of the United States. In short, the accumulation dynamics underlying China’s growth are generating serious national and international imbalances that are bound to require correction at considerable social cost for working people in China and the rest of the world.1

Significantly, many on the left (including those who acknowledge that China is now predominately a capitalist country) find these criticisms of the Chinese experience largely beside the point. They see China as a viable and praiseworthy example of economic modernization.2 For them, the relevant counterpoint to China’s economic achievements is the long-run development crises experienced by countries in Africa and Latin America. These countries have failed to develop the productive forces necessary to generate significant long-term job opportunities in the “formal labor market,” with the result that the overwhelming majority of workers in Africa and Latin America are forced to eke out an existence in the relatively unregulated and non-institutionalized “informal sector” or in subsistence (or below-subsistence) agriculture. In contrast, China, with its dynamic industrial development and manufacturing export activity, is assumed to have made great strides toward overcoming such problems.

Although this assumption about the progressive nature of Chinese growth and employment creation seems beyond challenge, unfortunately it is false. In fact, the labor market outlook in China (and in the East Asian countries that are most closely integrated with China) is rapidly approaching a crisis situation similar to that found in much of Africa and Latin America. And this is not because capitalism has ceased to be a dynamic mode of production. Far from it: the emerging employment crisis is a direct outcome of transnational capital’s dynamic shaping and integration of China and a number of other East Asian countries into a regional system of export-oriented production.

Regrettably, the celebration of these countries as development successes has led many on the left to defend the position that (properly regulated) capitalism remains a historically progressive mode of production. But this ignores the possibility that the basic dynamics of contemporary capitalism themselves constitute the main barrier to sustained improvements in working and living conditions on national, regional, and global levels. Demonstrating that workers in China and throughout East Asia are increasingly suffering the very same labor outcomes as workers in Latin America and Africa offers a powerful argument against current celebratory accounts of the China–East Asia system.

China’s Economic Transformation

Beginning in 1978, the Chinese state launched a reform program that has produced an impressive growth record. According to the International Labor Organization, “Between 1990 and 2002, GDP per capita grew at a rate of 8.3 percent per annum. This phenomenal growth was driven by an industrial revolution that has made China a manufacturing powerhouse.”3

Underlying this program was a set of state policies that has, over time, led to the privileging of market forces over planning, private production over state production, and foreign enterprises and markets over domestic ones. One consequence is that Chinese economic activity has become increasingly dominated by transnational corporations. For example, the share of foreign manufacturers in China’s total manufacturing sales grew from 2.3 percent in 1990 to 31.3 percent in 2000. From 1998 to 2003, the share of industrial value added produced by state enterprises in the non-resource based industrial sector fell from 17.3 percent to 6.7 percent, while the share accounted for by foreign enterprises rose from 11.4 percent to 17.1 percent.4

Another consequence is that China’s economic growth has become increasingly dependent on foreign produced exports. Approximately 46 percent of foreign manufacturing production is exported, compared with only 16 percent for domestically owned manufacturing firms. Foreign firms now dominate China’s export activity; their share of China’s exports grew from 2 percent in 1985, to 30 percent in 1995, and 57 percent in 2004. As a result of these trends, the ratio of exports to GDP has steadily climbed from 16 percent in 1990 to 36 percent in 2003.5

Numerous studies have found that the contribution made by transnational corporations to China’s growth is substantial and increasing over time. For example, an analysis published by the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded that approximately 30 percent of China’s growth over the period 1995–2004 was due to transnational corporate activity, with the foreign contribution rising to over 40 percent in 2003 and 2004.6

In terms of expenditure categories, the two main drivers of Chinese growth are exports and fixed investment—with much of the investment undertaken in support of export activity. Stephen S. Roach (managing director and chief economist of Morgan Stanley) estimates that investment and exports account for approximately 80 percent of Chinese GDP.7 As table 1 shows, the growing importance of gross capital formation and net exports has come largely at the expense of private (household) consumption, which fell as a share of GDP from 51.1 percent in 1988 to 38.9 percent in 2005.

This focus on export-oriented capital accumulation highlights China’s growing external dependence. China’s exports are largely directed toward the U.S. market. According to one analyst, if one includes goods that are re-exported from other countries (especially Hong Kong), China’s exports to the United States account for about half of its total exports. “Thus export growth is largely determined by the growth of US demand. Because almost all of China’s exports are consumer goods, personal consumption demand in the US drives China’s export growth.”8

Moreover, even China’s fixed investment is heavily dependent on external forces. Foreign direct investment is one of the main determinants of investment in the country’s manufacturing sector. It also strongly influences Chinese spending on “domestic infrastructure, such as power generation, ports, and road and rail transport, which is critical to expanding manufacturing and export capacity. Finally, external demand also influences China’s domestic investment in real estate, which is necessary in securing locations for new manufacturing and power plants, as well as housing for employees.” According to one estimate, “external demand directly and indirectly drives about 65% of all domestic investment in China.”9

Table 1. Structure of demand, percent of GDP at current prices
1988 1990 1995 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Private consumption 51.1 49.1 46.1 47.2 46.5 44.9 46.6 38.9
Government consumption 11.6 12.1 11.4 13.4 13.2 12.6 16.9 14.2
Gross domestic capital formation 36.8 34.7 40.8 38.5 40.2 43.9 50.5 44.1
Net exports of goods and services 1.0 2.7 1.7 2.3 2.7 2.3 3.0 4.6
Source: People’s Republic of China, Key Indicators of Developing Asian and Pacific Countries, Asian Development Bank, updated July 21, 2006, http://www.adb.org .

Supporters of China’s growth strategy tend to minimize the significance of the country’s reliance on foreign investment and exporting. Rather, they emphasize that China’s reform strategy has enabled the country to steadily upgrade the sophistication of its industrial activities, thereby demonstrating that the country is indeed making major strides towards development. One of the most commonly used measures of this progress is China’s growth as a producer and exporter of electronics and information technology goods. In fact, “After almost a decade of explosive growth in its electronics sector, China has overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest supplier of information technology goods, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.” These exports now account for more than 28 percent of total Chinese exports.10

Although impressive, this accomplishment is misleading as a measure of China’s national technological development. One reason is that China’s electronic and information technology products are generally of lower technological sophistication. For example, China’s main high-technology exports are in consumer electronics, office equipment and computers, and communications equipment. Within these categories, China’s leading products are DVD players, notebook computers, and mobile telephones, respectively. As two leading China observers, Lee Branstetter and Nicholas Lardy, point out, “Each of these is a high volume, commodity product sold primarily by mass merchandisers of electronic products….The huge volumes and low unit costs of these products undermine the argument that these are high-tech products.”11
Perhaps more revealing of China’s ongoing foreign technological dependence is the fact that China, as Branstetter and Lardy note, “does not in any real sense manufacture…[high-technology] goods. Rather it assembles them from imported parts and components. For example, domestic value-added accounts for only 15 percent of the value of exported electronic and information technology products. All the rest is import content. In short, for many of these products it is doubtful that China is supplying anything but the labor required to produce these goods.”12

Finally, not only is China’s high-technology production dependent on imported technology, it is largely carried out by foreign-invested firms (most of which are wholly foreign owned). For example, in 2003, foreign-invested firms accounted for approximately 90 percent of China’s exports of computers, components, and peripherals and 75 percent of its exports of electronics and telecommunications equipment. Not only do foreign firms dominate China’s high-technology export activity, they are also coming to dominate China’s domestic markets. For example, between 1998 and 2002, foreign firms increased their share of total domestic high-tech sales from 32 percent to 45 percent.13

Moreover, the foreign domination of this sector continues to grow. According to China’s Ministry of Information Industry, the percentage of foreign ventures in China’s electronic information industry rose from 58.7 percent in 2000 to 77.4 percent in 2005. And, in the first two months of 2006, these foreign firms were responsible for 86.9 percent of China’s total exported electronic products.14

Although committed to a program that has emphasized market liberalization and reliance on foreign capital, the Chinese state simultaneously tried to promote a few “national champions” in an attempt to ensure the establishment of a domestically rooted industrial base. Among the most important are: Huawei (which produces telecommunications equipment), Haier (consumer appliances), Lenovo (computers), TCL (televisions), and Baosteel (steel).

However, despite the fact that many of these companies have grown quite large, few have succeeded in becoming internationally competitive or profitable. In addition, these leading firms have done little to advance national interests in terms of technological development. Most continue to rely on imported foreign equipment to stay competitive and spend little on indigenizing their purchased technology. They have also done little to support the development of national technology supply networks. In fact, “China’s best firms are among the least connected to domestic suppliers: for every $100 that state-owned electronics and telecom firms spend on technology imports, they spend only $1.20 on similar domestic goods.”15

Unfortunately for Chinese planners, the reasons for such failures are largely found in the very logic of the country’s economic reform strategy—specifically its direct and heavy reliance on transnational corporations. In this regard, the Chinese growth strategy has differed greatly from that employed by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. As a Brookings Institute economist observes, those countries “relied almost exclusively on domestic firms to manufacture and to export commodities; China has largely relied on FIEs [foreign invested enterprises] to produce exports, and virtually no domestic Chinese companies control significant export networks.” The Economist adds that because “the central government has allowed foreign companies into China at a much earlier stage of its development…these [firms] now control the bulk of the country’s industrial exports, have increasingly strong positions in its domestic markets and retain ownership of almost all technology.”16

In sum, China’s post-reform policies have produced an economy that is increasingly dominated by foreign capital and foreign produced exports. This development has undermined the state’s capacity to plan and direct economic activity. It has also greatly increased the economy’s dependence on the ability of the United States to sustain ever greater trade deficits.

The East Asian Transnational Production Network

East Asian economies are also going through a major transformation, one that has largely proceeded in concert with China’s restructuring. Most economists view this development positively, crediting China’s import dependent growth for generating ever expanding markets and new production possibilities for the other countries in the region. However, this framing masks the real nature of the transformation. In reality, China’s post-reform economic activity and the resulting economic restructuring of other East Asian countries cannot be adequately understood in national or even international terms. Rather, East Asian economies, including China, are being linked and collectively reshaped by broader transnational capitalist dynamics, in particular by the establishment and intensification of cross-border production networks by transnational corporations.

As part of this transformation, all East Asian economies have become more trade oriented, with exports playing an increasingly central role in driving growth. For example, from 1990 to 2004, net exports as a percent of GDP rose from 2.1 percent to 21.4 percent in Malaysia, and from –7.6 percent to 5.1 percent in Thailand. One reason for these large increases is that, unlike in China, growth has not been supported by investment. In fact, as the Asian Development Bank notes, “outside the PRC, widening [trade] surpluses are more closely associated with stunted levels of investment….With the exception of Cambodia, PRC, and Viet Nam, investment rates in East Asia and Southeast Asia are still well below their average pre-crisis levels.”17

More importantly, the transformation has also involved significant changes in both the geographical direction as well as the nature of East Asian manufacturing export activity. As table 2 shows, over the period 1992–2003, Greater China (defined as the mainland and Hong Kong) shifted its export orientation from East Asia, especially developing East Asia, to NAFTA and the EU. Specifically, the share of Greater Chinese exports to developing East Asia fell from 53.8 percent to 30.4 percent. Over the same period, the rest of East Asia shifted in the opposite direction. For example, the six listed members of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) increased the share of their exports to East Asia from 36.8 percent to 48.0 percent. And, as table 3 shows, East Asian trade in manufactures is becoming increasingly narrowed to the export and import of parts and components rather than final goods. Looking just at the AFTA countries, trade in parts and components accounted for approximately half of the group’s total increase in manufactured exports and 70 percent of its total increase in manufactured imports over the period 1992–2003. China stands out as one of the few countries whose exports remain largely final goods.

This development reflects the rise of a transnational corporate structured regional production system, with China largely functioning as the final production platform. In other words, the region’s growing focus on trade in parts and components is largely a consequence of China’s new position as an import-dependent producer of high-technology exports. Thus, in 2003, semiconductors and other electronics components accounted for approximately 40 percent of the region’s total exports of parts and components. Adding parts and components related to telecommunication equipment and office and automated data processing machines brings the total to 90 percent.18

Table 2. Destinations of manufactured exports (percent of total exports by region or country)
Destinations
Exporters Years EA Japan DEA GCH AFTA NAFTA EU
EA 1992 36.6 4.7 31.9 17.1 11.5 30.3 19.6
1996 43.8 7.4 36.5 16.4 15.9 27.6 16.6
2003 45.6 7.4 38.2 22.2 11.6 25.8 15.7
Japan 1992 25.1 25.1 9.0 11.2 32.7 20.8
1996 34.4 34.4 10.7 17.0 30.8 16.2
2003 35.9 35.9 17.8 11.5 28.7 14.9
DEA 1992 44.0 8.6 35.5 23.2 11.0 25.9 17.1
1996 46.8 11.5 35.3 19.0 14.4 24.1 16.0
2003 47.3 10.1 37.2 23.2 11.2 23.7 15.4
GCH 1992 56.4 2.7 53.8 45.3 6.5 19.1 14.7
1996 46.2 8.8 37.4 26.5 7.5 25.9 18.8
2003 39.1 8.7 30.4 19.0 6.9 27.7 20.9
AFTA 1992 36.8 8.8 28.0 7.1 19.3 27.2 19.7
1996 45.0 11.1 33.9 8.2 23.6 23.5 16.0
2003 48.0 10.0 38.0 13.5 21.3 20.7 14.2
Note: The country groups are as follows: EA is East Asia (Japan, China, Hong Kong SAR, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam); DEA is Developing East Asia (East Asia excluding Japan); GCH is Greater China (China plus Hong Kong SAR); AFTA is the ASEAN Free Trade Area (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam); NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Area (United States, Canada, Mexico); EU is the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom).
Source: Athukorala & Yamashita, “Production Fragmentation and Trade Integration,” 243.

Japan remains the main driver of the region’s production sharing operations, providing a dominant share of the region’s parts and components. In 2001, for example, 70.5 percent of Indonesia’s regional imports of parts and components came from Japan; the corresponding figures were 53.8 percent for Korea, 52.5 percent for the Philippines, 50.5 percent for Taiwan, 48 percent for Thailand, and 43 percent for China. China’s unique role as the region’s ultimate production platform is highlighted by the fact that it is the only country in the region that runs a regional trade deficit in parts and components. In 2001, for example, Greater China (defined here with the substantial intra-trade between Hong Kong and China netted out) ran a regional parts and components trade deficit of $17.6 billion, split almost evenly between Japan and the rest of East Asia. Japan’s unique position is highlighted by the fact that it ran a regional parts and components trade surplus of $29.3 billion, while the rest of East Asia recorded a regional parts and components trade deficit of $5.8 billion (because its collective deficit with Japan was larger than its surplus with Greater China). Thus, the mirror image of China’s growing surplus in trade with the United States, and secondarily the European Union, is its growing deficit in trade with East Asia.19

Table 3. Parts and components (P&C) in manufacturing trade, in percent
Share of P&C in mfg. exports
Contribution of P&C to growth of mfg. exports
Share of P&C in mfg. imports
Contribution of P&C to growth in mfg. imports
Country/region
1992
2003
1992–2003
1992
2003
1992–2003
EA
20.3
27.5
33.5
21.4
35.3
45.6
Japan
21.2
27.9
47.5
14.2
21.5
27.8
DEA
19.3
27.3
31.2
23.5
38.9
49.8
China
5.5
15.2
17.1
17.6
34.3
38.4
Hong Kong
20.2
12.3
28.1
44.2
Rep. of Korea
17.1
25.5
30.9
25.2
33.6
40.7
Taiwan
28.3
39.5
52.2
16.9
37.3
57.1
AFTA
24.7
40.6
49.9
28.2
47.1
67.7
Indonesia
3.7
13.9
25.1
18.5
18.5
18.5
Malaysia
38.7
42.7
44.6
35.2
55.7
74.4
Philippines
19.8
63.8
70.1
24.8
63.1
76.1
Singapore
27.0
46.7
59.7
30.0
49.2
70.8
Thailand
19.1
26.7
31.0
24.7
32.5
41.0
Note: See the note to table 2 for country groupings.
Source: Athukorala and Yamashita, “Production Fragmentation and Trade Integration,” 239–40.

Overall, East Asia’s growth has become increasingly dependent not only on the export of parts and components, which are largely detached from any national base of production, but also on a select few products in a select few industries as determined by the changing needs of transnational corporations. This development has led to a serious misreading of East Asian economic dynamics. As two prominent Asian trade analysts observe, the growth in the intra-regional trade of parts and components causes a significant double-counting of trade “because goods in process cross multiple international borders in the course of their production sequence. The total amount of trade involving the goods while in process can be a multiple of the final value of that good.” Thus, although total trade figures show a rise in the share of intra-regional trade thereby suggesting greater regional self-sufficiency, figures for final goods show quite the opposite trend. For example: the intra-regional share of final manufacturing trade for Developing Asia fell from 44.6 percent in 1992 to 35.2 percent in 2003. Therefore, along with China, the entire region’s growth is becoming ever more dependent on external sales, especially to the United States and the European Union.20

Moreover, although this regional production system appears to promote higher value added production, it in fact offers limited gains in value added to the various countries that compete with one another to participate in it. For example, an UNCTAD study found that “participating in international production chains” often leaves the host country “locked into its current structure of comparative advantage…thereby delaying the exploitation of potential comparative advantage in higher-tech stages of production.” These limitations have “been causing concern in recent years, even in some of the East Asian countries which have been more successful in exploiting various advantages associated with TNCs [transnational corporations].”21

China’s Labor Dynamics

Although some analysts have begun to acknowledge the problems highlighted above, especially those related to the region’s growing dependence on sales to the U.S. market, few have examined the labor market implications of East Asia’s accumulation dynamics. By contrast, it is widely recognized that in Latin America and Africa, employment growth has been inadequate, so that growing numbers of workers in these regions have been forced to accept irregular work. As the IMF has noted:

With slower GDP growth in the latter part of the 1990s, employment also suffered, particularly for wage earners. The quality of new jobs deteriorated, with many concentrated in micro-enterprises or self-employment at relative low wages. The share of the informal sector—defined as employment without access to social benefits or unemployment protection—rose to about 50 percent of total employment in Latin America.22

It is widely assumed that the situation is different in East Asia where capital accumulation remains robust, especially in China. However, the reality is quite the opposite; workers in China and the rest of East Asia are being forced to battle conditions very similar to those in Latin America. Here we focus on the situation in China.

Before looking at job creation, it is important to comment, at least briefly, on employment conditions for those with jobs. For many, including those employed in Guangdong, where approximately one-third of China’s exports are produced, these conditions are far from satisfactory. For example,

base assembly-line wages in the Pearl River Delta, the province’s manufacturing belt, have been virtually frozen at about $80 per month for the past decade, according to a recent survey by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. Factor in inflation over roughly the same period, and average pay in real terms has declined by as much as 30%. The reason: China’s rise as a manufacturing power has contributed to a surplus of global production capacity for all kinds of goods, from sneakers to DVD players to plastic lawn chairs. With the price of raw materials rising and factory profit margins shrinking, blue-collar workers are at the losing end of a long chain of supply and demand.23

The situation in Guangdong is far from unique. Migrant workers, who make up a growing share of the country’s industrial workforce, are increasingly responding to these conditions by initiating job actions (including strikes) or quitting and returning to their home villages. Worried companies have been forced to raise wages, but according to one estimate, “even after doubling between 2002–2005, the average manufacturing wage in China was only 60 US cents an hour, compared with $2.46 an hour in Mexico.”24

The central government has begun issuing decrees calling for local governments to raise local minimum wages in line with inflation. But, according to Anita Chan, “in reality the wages of the migrant industrial workers are often considerably lower than the official standards. For one thing, the minimum wage, set by the month, does not reveal the illegally long hours worked by migrant workers to attain that minimum. According to a survey I conducted in China’s footwear industry, the average workday there amounts to about 11 hours each day, often with no days off—that is, about an 80-hour work-week.”25

Moreover, many migrant workers are not even being paid what they are owed. At least one government survey found that 72.5 percent of the country’s nearly 100 million migrant workers are owed wages, especially those employed in the construction and coastal export sector. Non-migrant workers employed by state owned enterprises are not immune from these developments; they are routinely told by their managers that “they must accept a decline in conditions and welfare or be replaced by migrant workers from the countryside.”26

Those analysts that do acknowledge the difficult conditions under which Chinese workers labor, generally view them as a temporary cost that must be paid as China continues its industrial forward march.27 As they see it, what is critical is that, in contrast to much of Africa and Latin America, China’s industrial growth continues to draw more and more Chinese into formal labor-market relations, thereby advancing modernization and a progressive process of development. However, they are wrong.

Recently, several international organizations have reworked sometimes inconsistent Chinese government labor data to create a more reliable picture of Chinese employment trends. Here we rely on the work of the International Labor Organization (ILO).28 The ILO began its study by organizing Chinese enterprises into seven different categories: state and collective enterprises, joint ownership enterprises, limited liability corporations, share holding corporations, foreign owned and operated enterprises, small-scale private registered enterprises, and individual registered businesses. The first five comprise the formal urban sector and the last two the informal urban sector. The ILO then used these enterprise forms to establish four different employment categories: regular formal wage employment (for those employed in urban formal sector enterprises), regular informal wage employment (for those employed in small-scale private registered enterprises), regular self-employment (for those running individually registered businesses), and irregular employment (for those engaged in casual-wage employment or self-employment—often in construction, cleaning, and maintenance of premises, retail trade, street vending, repair services, or domestic services).

Significantly, regular formal wage employment in China’s urban sector actually declined at an annual average rate of 3 percent over the period 1990–2002. Total regular (formal and informal) wage employment remained basically unchanged over this period, registering a zero average rate of growth. Only irregular employment grew, increasing at an annual average rate of 18.5 percent.29

Table 4 provides a more detailed view of these trends. In particular, employment in state and collective enterprises (what the ILO calls the traditional formal enterprises) fell by 59.2 million over the thirteen year period. Despite the country’s rapid growth and the government’s support for new, non-state forms of enterprise, the new emerging formal enterprises (cooperative enterprises, joint ownership enterprises, limited liability corporations, shareholding corporations, and foreign-funded enterprises) generated only 24.1 million jobs. The result was an overall decline in formal sector employment of 34.1 million. Even with the employment contribution of the informal urban sector (registered small privately owned enterprises and individually owned enterprises), the Chinese economy managed an overall increase in regular employment of only 1.7 million workers over the thirteen year period. This was far from sufficient to match the growth in labor supply. Thus, growing numbers of Chinese workers have been forced to accept irregular employment which, with an increase of 80 million, now comprises the largest single urban employment category. A growing share of this irregular work is accounted for by China’s burgeoning sex industry. While the Chinese government says there are 3 million prostitutes nationwide, independent estimates put the figure at up to 20 million (with sex work accounting for up to 6 percent of China’s GDP) once sex laborers in massage parlors, entertainment establishments, and even barber shops and beauty salons are properly included.30

Table 4. Urban employment by type, in millions
TF EF EP ES IRR Total
1990 139.1 1.6 0.6 6.1 15.3 162.7
1991 142.9 2.2 0.7 6.9 13.7 166.4
1992 145.1 2.8 1.0 7.4 14.1 170.4
1993 143.1 5.2 1.9 9.3 22.6 182.1
1994 141.0 7.4 3.3 12.3 18.3 182.2
1995 140.4 8.7 4.9 15.6 17.0 186.4
1996 139.0 9.4 6.1 17.4 23.9 195.8
1997 135.9 10.8 7.5 19.4 30.5 204.1
1998 107.2 16.3 9.7 22.6 56.8 212.6
1999 99.9 17.8 10.5 24.1 68.2 220.5
2000 93.3 19.3 12.7 21.4 81.3 228.0
2001 86.5 21.4 15.3 21.3 91.4 235.9
2002 79.9 25.7 20.0 23.5 95.3 244.4
Note: TF is employment in traditional formal enterprises (state and collective enterprises), EF is employment in emerging formal enterprises (cooperative enterprises, joint ownership enterprises, limited liability corporations, shareholding corporations, and foreign-funded enterprises), EP is employment in small-scale private registered enterprises, ES is employment in individual registered businesses, and IRR is irregular employment.
Source: Ghose, “Employment in China: Recent Trends and Future Challenges,” 27.

This massive increase in irregular employment is even more shocking when one realizes that growing numbers of workers have actually been leaving the urban labor market. For example, the labor force participation rate of urban residents fell from 72.9 percent in 1996 to 66.5 percent in 2002. In addition, outright unemployment also remains a serious and growing problem. As the ILO explains: “A major consequence of the reforms of the 1990s has been the emergence of open unemployment in China’s urban areas.” Official government figures seriously understate the seriousness of the problem in part because of the narrow definition used. For example, the urban unemployed are limited to those persons “with non-agricultural household registration at certain working ages (16–50 years for males and 16–45 years for females), who are capable of work, unemployed and willing to work, and have been registered at the local employment service agencies to apply for a job.” Using more commonly accepted international definitions, the ILO estimates that the 2002 unemployment rate for long term urban residents was in the 11–13 percent range.31

Table 5. Regular manufacturing employment by type, in millions
TF EF EI Total
1990 51.7 1.3 0.9 53.9
1991 52.6 1.8 1.3 55.7
1992 52.8 2.3 1.3 56.4
1993 50.3 4.3 1.8 56.4
1994 48.4 5.9 2.7 57.0
1995 47.5 6.9 3.4 57.8
1996 45.7 7.2 4.0 56.9
1997 42.5 8.3 4.5 55.3
1998 26.2 11.5 5.6 43.3
1999 22.7 12.3 6.0 41.0
2000 19.3 13.1 6.3 38.7
2001 16.2 13.9 7.2 37.3
2002 13.3 15.8 8.2 37.3
Note: TF is employment in traditional formal enterprises (state and collective enterprises); EF is employment in emerging formal enterprises (cooperative enterprises, joint ownership enterprises, limited liability corporations, shareholding corporations, and foreign-funded enterprises); and EI is employment in emerging informal enterprises (small-scale private registered and individual registered enterprises).
Source: Ghose, “Employment in China: Recent Trends and Future Challenges,” 29.

The situation in manufacturing is much the same. As table 5 shows, despite the growing importance of manufacturing over the period 1990–2002, overall regular (formal and informal sector) manufacturing employment actually fell by 16.6 million workers. Once again, employment activity in the new emerging formal and informal enterprises was not sufficient to compensate for the enormous declines in state and collective employment.

Unfortunately, China’s employment crisis is likely to get much worse very soon. Along with the massive pools of job-seekers generated by rural underemployment and state-sector layoffs, the number of jobless university and high school graduates is increasing rapidly. Of the close to 5 million university graduates projected for 2007, nearly 1.5 million will be unable to find work, according to the Chinese Ministry of Education. Similarly insecure prospects are in store for the great majority of the country’s approximately 50 million high school graduates who enter the job market each year.32 In short, it is increasingly difficult to see a fundamental difference in terms of labor market trends between China, a country with dynamic capitalist accumulation processes, and Latin America, a region with acknowledged economic difficulties.

East Asian Labor Dynamics

The employment problems highlighted above are not unique to China. According to the Asian Development Bank, research shows that “employment elasticities across the region are low and that, in general, they decreased in the 1990s vis-à-vis the 1980s.”33 As table 6 illustrates, among the eleven countries examined, seven showed a decline in their employment elasticities, one remained relatively constant, and only three showed an increase. Thus, the employment contribution of growth is clearly diminishing. The negative trends for China, Malaysia, Thailand, and Taiwan are especially striking.
The Asian Development Bank describes the importance of the results for China, “the world’s fastest-growing economy year after year,” as follows:

While in the 1980s it took a 3% growth rate of output to induce a 1% increase in employment, in the 1990s a growth rate of almost 8% was needed to achieve the same result. Estimates by the PRC’s National Development and Reform Commission reveal the challenge that is involved: in 2006 the country will need to generate about 25 million urban jobs to accommodate new entrants into the labor market, workers laid off from state enterprises, and rural migrants. However, urban areas are expected to be able to generate only about 11 million jobs.34

Conditions are far worse than even these low and declining elasticities would indicate since these studies do not distinguish between formal and informal employment. While countries generally have different criteria for what constitutes formal as opposed to informal sector work, what is striking is that the gains in employment in most of these countries, as in China, have largely been in the informal sector. Indeed, the ILO estimates that approximately two-thirds of all new jobs currently being created in Southeast Asia are in the informal sector. Thus, in the region with the most dynamic capital accumulation, not only are the employment effects of growth declining, but the jobs being produced are increasingly ones that offer the least protection and stability and the lowest earnings.35

Table 6. Employment elasticities
1980s 1990s
Bangladesh 0.550 0.495
People’s Republic of China 0.330 0.129
Indonesia 0.435 0.379
India 0.384 0.312
Republic of Korea 0.223 0.225
Malaysia 0.683 0.406
Pakistan 0.406 0.553
Philippines 0.535 0.731
Singapore 0.375 0.711
Thailand 0.315 0.193
Taiwan 0.242 0.139
Note: The elasticities show the percentage increase in employment resulting from a percentage increase in GDP
Source: Felipe and Hasan, “The Challenge of Job Creation in Asia,” 1.

For example, in Indonesia, the employment share of the informal sector in total non-agricultural employment grew from 65.4 percent to 70.8 percent over the period 1998–2003. Similar but less dramatic increases took place in Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam. In India (the newest poster country), the employment share of the informal sector grew from 80.5 percent to 83.2 percent between 1993–94 and 1999–2000. Over that same period, Indian GDP per capita grew by approximately 4.7 percent a year. As the Economist observed: “Despite [Indian] manufacturing’s remarkable success, the number of jobs in its ‘organized sector,’ i.e., firms employing more than ten people, has hardly changed since 1991, at just above 6 million, out of a total of about 48 million in manufacturing as a whole.” Even in OECD-initiate South Korea, the self-employed and their unpaid family members now account for more than one-third of the total workforce.36

Beyond the high and rising share of informal work, there are also changes in the nature of formal sector employment which are undermining its status. Generally, formal labor status involves regular or long-term employment with an enterprise that is registered and thus regulated by government mandated labor laws. However, this is changing as registered enterprises are increasingly making use of temporary or contract workers while shedding permanent workers via explicit layoffs and forced or semi-forced “retirements.” As a result, a growing share of formal sector employment no longer includes employment security or other benefits previously associated with regular employment. In South Korea, for example, the percentage of wage workers with irregular labor status rose from 42 percent before the 1997–98 crisis to 55 percent in 2003, and these irregular workers receive on average only 53 percent of the hourly real wages paid to regular workers. Similarly, the share of contract labor in India’s formal sector manufacturing rose from approximately 7 percent of total person-days worked in 1984 to 21 percent in 1998. The share of non-regular workers in Filipino establishments with ten or more workers increased from 20.51 percent in 1991 to 28.20 percent in 1997. In short, as the Asian Development Bank explains, “the distinction between formal and informal sectors in terms of desirable job characteristics (from a worker’s perspective)…has become somewhat blurred.”37

As in China, a growing number of workers in the other East Asian countries suffer from open unemployment or involuntarily part-time employment. Official unemployment rates in Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea have recently exceeded 5 percent, meaning that hundreds of thousands of workers in these countries have been unable to find any work at all. And, as the Economist admits, “those figures do not include the legions of underemployed.” Younger workers are disproportionately afflicted by this unemployment and underemployment. Workers between ages 15 and 24 account for only a fifth of the workforce but half the unemployed in Asia as a whole, according to the ILO. In South Korea, about 5 million workers aged 20–34 are either wholly or partially unemployed and dependent on their parents for support. The overall official unemployment rate of about 9 percent for South Korean workers aged 15–29 thus represents only the proverbial tip of the iceberg.38

The Dynamics of Capitalist Accumulation

How do we explain these labor market outcomes? According to the Asian Development Bank, they are a result of “the interplay of three factors, namely, globalization, technical change, and competition.” Specifically, this interplay leads to the adoption of “inappropriate technology.” As East Asian companies compete to produce exports for sale in developed capitalist countries, they are increasingly relying on technologies imported from those countries. Thus, “the modern sector in developing countries is not much different from those in industrial countries in terms of capital intensity. The problem is that given the supply of labor available, and given the rate of investment, the more capital intensive the techniques, the less employment will be required.”39

However, this framing, which pins the blame for employment stagnation simply on the rising capital intensity of production, leads to a false understanding of, and misdirected response to, the problems facing working people. For example, the common response by mainstream economists is to target government policies (and/or trade unions) for keeping wages at “artificially” high levels compared to the “price of capital.” Yet, this obviously makes no sense in the case of China or other East Asian countries like Indonesia where wages are abysmally low. Capitalists do certainly mechanize production in order to reduce labor costs. But the fact is that given the nature of the products produced, it is often—even usually—the case that mechanization lowers unit costs even at very low wage levels. In fact, given the nature of the output, more labor intensive production processes may not be physically feasible at all.

Industrial capital accumulation is not a process that, if unrestrained by regulations and/or worker-organizations, tends toward an equilibrium with labor force growth so as to ensure productive and regular employment for all. Far from it. As Karl Marx explained, the “industrial war of capitalists among themselves…has the peculiarity that the battles in it are won less by recruiting than by discharging the army of workers. The generals (the capitalists) vie with one another as to who can discharge the greatest number of industrial workers.” This war is especially intense in East Asia, where more and more production is being structured under the control of and according to the logic of competing transnational corporations (and their local subcontractors) operating through cross-border production networks. It is the real force underlying the recent statement by Singapore’s labor minister, responding to the seventeen-year high 6.3 percent official unemployment rate, “that the boom years of near-full employment would not return as Singapore faced competition from low-cost rivals in the region.” Similarly, explaining why India’s economy needs to grow at least 8 percent per year just to keep unemployment from rising, the Far Eastern Economic Review noted that the basic problem is that “companies are shedding workers and increasing productivity in the face of new competition.”40

More generally, much of the underemployment and unemployment in China and the rest of East Asia can best be understood as the result of the ongoing separation of workers from access to the conditions necessary for their production and reproduction, what Marx called “primitive accumulation.” David Harvey has recently coined the phrase “accumulation by dispossession” to describe this process—the change in terminology rightly emphasizing that this kind of separation and disemployment (creation of a pool of exploitable labor power) is not limited to the early history of capitalism on a global scale, but is rather integral to the system’s ongoing historical development especially in its latest, neoliberal phase.41

Even the “flexibilization” of employment that is promoted by governments in response to neoliberal market pressures can be viewed as a variant of accumulation by dispossession insofar as it involves erosions of workers’ job rights. This is obvious, for example, in the case of state-enterprise industrial workers in China, but it is also true for workers in other East Asian countries where capitalists—domestic and foreign—have responded to unionized worker struggles by locking out and then replacing them with contract workers and other temporary laborers. In Indonesia, for example, upsurging unionization, strikes, and wage-gains in the immediate post-Suharto period were followed by dismissals of workers (and replacements with contingent workers) exceeding 100,000 per year in 2002 and 2003. As Rustam Aksam, president of the Indonesian Trades Union Congress, observed, “Every country is now competing to reduce worker rights….We’re racing to the bottom.”42

In sum, the employment problems of China and East Asia need to be seen as part of “the growing failure of capitalism…to solve the elementary and, in the long run, the very survival requirements of the vast majority of those living under its sway.” Of course, this failure is multi-dimensional. Alongside these employment problems, there is also “the unprecedented scale and speed of the deterioration of the natural environment.”43 That working people in the most dynamic centers of accumulation are also suffering from this crisis is an indication of its deep, intensive, and above all system-wide character. Under capitalism, universal access to productive employment—including jobs in education, health care, and other areas oriented toward improving the conditions of human development—is always seen as an inefficient diversion from the business of competitive money-making. Better to maintain a massive reserve army of unemployed and underemployed as a check on workers’ bargaining power and as a source of cheap labor to service the consumption needs (servile, sexual, and entertainment-wise) of the capitalist class and its various professional functionaries. Seen from this perspective, it is clear that the answer to worker problems in Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere for that matter, is not to be found in supporting policies designed to replicate capitalism’s so-called Asian success stories. Rather it lies in building national and international movements with an accurate understanding of, and a commitment to overcoming, the dynamics of contemporary capitalism.

Notes
1. We discuss these points in detail in Martin Hart-Landsberg and Paul Burkett, China and Socialism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2005); “China and the Dynamics of Transnational Accumulation, Causes and Consequences of Global Restructuring,” Historical Materialism 14, no. 3 (2006).
2. Indeed, many believe that China’s emergence as a world economic power is creating a progressive alternative to the U.S.-dominated regime of neoliberal economics and military unilateralism.
3. Ajit K. Ghose, “Employment in China,” Employment Analysis Unit, Employment Strategy Department, Employment Strategy Papers, 2005/14, ILO, 1, http://www.ilo.org.
4. Hart-Landsberg and Burkett, China and Socialism, 48; OECD, Economic Surveys: China (Paris: OECD, 2005), 133.
5. John Whalley and Xian Xin, “China’s FDI and Non-FDI Economies and the Sustainability of Future High Chinese Growth,” National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper Series, Number 12249, May 2006, 5. Hart-Landsberg and Burkett, China and Socialism, 121; Steven S. Roach “What if China Slows,” Global Economic Forum, Morgan Stanley, May 23, 2005. There is a similar trend with imports; in 2004, foreign invested enterprises accounted for approximately 60 percent of China’s total imports. Whalley and Xin, “China’s FDI,” 5.
6. Whalley and Xin, “China’s FDI,” 9. However, some analysts regard these figures as upper bound estimates. See, for example, Lee Branstetter and Nicholas Lardy, “China’s Embrace of Globalization,” National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper Series, Number 12373, July 2006, 19.
7. Stephen S. Roach, “China’s Control Problem,” Global Economic Forum, Morgan Stanley, July 21, 2006.
8. Jephraim P. Gundzik, “What a US Recession Means for China,” Asia Times Online, September 27, 2006, http://www.atimes.com.
9. Gundzik, “US Recession.”
10. David Lague, “China Overtakes U.S. as Tech Supplier,” International Herald Tribune, December 12, 2005; ChinaDaily.com , “China’s high-tech export grows 43.5% in past five years,” January 29, 2006. Approximately 42 percent of China’s electronics and information technology exports are sold in the United States; beginning in 2002, China became the largest exporter of these products to the United States (Branstetter and Lardy, “China’s Embrace of Globalization,” 36).
11. Branstetter and Lardy, “China’s Embrace of Globalization,” 37–38.
12. Branstetter and Lardy, “China’s Embrace,” 38. The computer industry is a noteworthy example. Approximately 80 percent of the world’s notebook and desktop computers are assembled in China, but most of the production is controlled by Taiwanese firms operating as original design manufacturers (ODMs). As a consequence, eight of China’s top ten exporters are Taiwanese companies that supply “branded PC sellers such as Dell with unbranded computers and components.” These Taiwanese firms may produce on the mainland but most of their components are supplied by other smaller firms that operate in other countries. As one analyst explains, “Almost all mainland China brings to the industry is cheap land and even cheaper labor. China is the manufacturing center of the global computer industry, yet it adds little value and therefore makes little profit.” According to another, “There are no Chinese ODMs and there are no significant Chinese suppliers to the Taiwanese ODMs or to their suppliers.” Tom Miller, “Manufacturing That Doesn’t Compute,” Asia Times Online, November 22, 2006, http://www.atimes.com.
13. Branstetter and Lardy, “China’s Embrace,” 39–40; George G. Gilboy, “The Myth Behind China’s Miracle,” Foreign Affairs (July–August, 2004).
14. People’s Daily Online, “Nearly 90 pct of China’s Electronics Exports are from Foreign Ventures,” April 15, 2006.
15. Economist, “The Struggle of Champions,” January 6, 2005, 59–61; Gilboy, “The Myth Behind China’s Miracle.” For example, as a result of its 2005 acquisition of IBM’s PC unit, Lenovo became the world’s third largest PC brand by volume. However, its profits have been on the decline. More importantly, “Like its rivals, Lenovo employs Taiwanese ODMs in the mainland to manufacture its branded computers….The company’s headquarters have moved to the United States, and US engineers are largely responsible for developing new products (in conjunction with their ODM suppliers).” Tom Miller, “Manufacturing That Doesn’t Compute.”
16. Barry Naughton, “China’s Emergence and Prospects as a Trading Nation,” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, no. 2 (1996); Economist, “The Struggle of Champions,” 61.
17. Asian Development Bank, Key Indicators of Developing Asian and Pacific Countries 2006, http://www.adb.org; Asian Development Bank, Asian Development Outlook 2006, 3, http://www.adb.org.
18. Prema-chandra Athukorala and Nobuaki Yamashita, “Production Fragmentation and Trade Integration,” North American Journal of Economics and Finance, 17 (2006): 241.
19. Francis Ng and Alexander Yeats, “Major Trade Trends in East Asia, What are their Implications for Regional Cooperation and Growth?” Policy Research Working Paper 3084, World Bank Development Research Group, June 2003, 60. The rest of East Asia includes Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.
20. Athukorala and Yamashita, “Production Fragmentation,” 246–47.
21. UNCTAD, Trade and Development Report 2002 (New York: United Nations, 2002), 75.
22. Anoop Singh, et al., Stabilization and Reform in Latin America, occasional paper no. 238, International Monetary Fund, February 2005, chapter 2, 7, www.imf.org.
23. Neil Gough “Trouble on the Line,” Time Asia, January 31, 2005.
24. John S. McClenahen, “Outsourcing,” IndustryWeek.com, July 1, 2006.
25. Anita Chan, “A ‘Race to the Bottom,'” China Perspectives, no. 46, (March–April 2003): 43.
26. Ching Kwan Lee, “‘Made in China,'” presentation at the 2004 Mansfield Conference, The University of Montana, Missoula, April 18–20, 2004, http://www.umt.edu, 2; Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, Chinese Labor and the WTO, 2004, http://www.ihlo.org , 22.
27. For a more complete examination of the social costs inherent in China’s growth as well as a refutation of arguments that present these costs as temporary, see Martin Hart-Landsberg and Paul Burkett, “China and Socialism: Engaging the Issues,” Critical Asian Studies 37, no. 4 (December 2005).
28. Studies done by the ILO, Asian Development Bank, and IMF all present very similar employment trends. See Asian Development Bank, Labor Markets in Asia (Manila: Asian Development Bank, 2005), and Ray Books and Ran Tao, China’s Labor Market Performance and Challenges, IMF Working Paper, WP/03/210, 2003.
29. Ghose, “Employment in China,” 6.
30. Howard W. French, “Letter from China,” International Herald Tribune, December 14, 2006, http://www.iht.com.
31. Ghose, “Employment in China,” 8, 12, 13.
32. Edward Cody, “Students Grow Desperate Over China’s Tight Job Market,” Washington Post, November 24, 2006; Guan Xiaofeng and Wang ShanShan, “Job Shortage to Affect Graduates,” China Daily, November 29, 2006, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn .
33. Asian Development Bank, Labor Markets in Asia, 22.
34. Jesus Felipe and Rana Hasan, “The Challenge of Job Creation in Asia,” Asian Development Bank, ERD Policy Brief, Economics and Research Department Series No. 44, April 2006, 2.
35. Some countries limit the definition of informal employment to only self-employed and unpaid family workers, while other countries also include wage workers at small and/or unregistered enterprises. Indonesia is an example of the former, India of the latter. Asian Development Bank, Labor Markets in Asia, 18. Gianni Rosas and Giovanna Rossignnotti, “Starting the New Millennium Right,” International Labor Review 144, no. 2 (2005): 144. Southeast Asia is defined to include Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
36. Asian Development Bank, Labor Markets in Asia, 18, 20: Simon Long, “Now for the Hard Part: A Survey of Business in India,” Economist, June 3, 2006, 10; “The Self-Employed in Plight,” Korea Herald , February 12, 2005, http://www.koreaherald.co.kr.
37. Sang-hwan Jang, “Continuing Suicides Among Laborers in Korea,” Labor History 45, no. 3, 2004, 280–81; “Labor Group Seeks Equality for All Workers,” Korea Herald, January 16, 2003, http://www.koreaherald.co.kr. For details on forced retirements as a method of lowering labor costs, see Samuel Len, “Job Cuts Follow Recovery in South Korea,” New York Times, December 9, 2003; Joonmo Cho and Sunweong Kim, “On Using Mandatory Retirement to Reduce Workforce in Korea,” International Economic Journal 19, no. 2 (June 2005): 283–303; Data on India and the Philippines comes from Asian Development Bank, Labor Markets, 19, 56.
38. Kim Jung Min, “Victims of Efficiency,” Far Eastern Economic Review, January 29, 2004; Keith Bradsher, “After an Exodus of Jobs, A Recovery in Taiwan,” New York Times , March 19, 2004; Trish Saywell, “A Question of Jobs,” Far Eastern Economic Review, January 15, 2004; “The Jobless Boom,” Economist, January 14, 2006, 47.
39. Felipe and Hasan, “The Challenge of Job Creation in Asia,” 5; Asian Development Bank, Labor Markets in Asia, 30;
40. Karl Marx, Wage-Labor and Capital (New York: International Publishers, 1976), 45; Saywell, “A Question of Jobs”; Joanna Slater, “The Dangers of Jobless Growth,” Far Eastern Economic Review (May 6, 2004).
41. See David Harvey, The New Imperialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003) and A Brief History of Neoliberalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
42. Wayne Arnold, “In Indonesia, Unions Hit a Roadblock,” New York Times, May 21, 2004.
43.Harry Magdoff and Paul M. Sweezy, Stagnation and the Financial Explosion (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1987), 203, 205.

Posted in China | Leave a Comment »

CONDEMN STATE’S ATTEMPT TO SILENCE DISSENT. FIGHT FOR THE RELEASE OF SHIELA DIDI.

Posted by Indian Vanguard on September 1, 2007

Sheila Didi is a popular women’s activist among the most deprived women of Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and Bihar. She was the former President of Nari Mukti Sangh, Bihar. She was arrested on 7 October 2006 at Aamjhor Village under the police limits of Lathikata, Sundargarh district of Orissa. The police fabricated cases against her in the name of waging war against the state. After the arrest they immediately shifted her to a nearby CRPF camp where she was tortured physically and psychologically for two days. Later she was produced before a magistrate court which allowed four more days of police custody. She was once again tortured physically and psychologically. She sustained injuries on forehead and stomach during the police torture. The police brutally tortured her constantly by inflicting severe blows on her legs and the soles of her feet. The police, after blindfolding her, kept on shifting her from one place to the other. She was interrogated by the teams of police from West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Since then she has been incarcerated in Rourkela prison. Her health has deteriorated as she has been denied any medical care. She hasn’t been given even a pen or a sheet of paper, let alone books or periodicals to read. After she was given bail in all existing cases on 11th July she was arrested again as soon as she came out of prison with more cases being foisted on her.

Sheila Didi belongs to a poor Adivasi family. A woman of courage and conviction, she was convinced about the need for building up a strong women’s movement as she realized that women in our country had to fight every step for their rights and freedom, to do away with the customs and traditions that treat her as an inferior being, a second class citizen. The founding of Nari Mukti Sangh along with a host of other women was the result of this realization.

Soon this organization developed into a strong women’s organization. Thousands of the most deprived women today are conscious about their rights. This organization has been consistently fighting all forms of patriarchy while at the same time resisting any kind of exploitation, domination or discrimination. Hundreds of women, along with Sheila Didi have become literate in the due course of empowerment of this real and genuine movement.

The condition of women in our country is so pathetic and wretched that if they stand on their own legs in order to move ahead in their lives, patriarchic oppression along with all kinds of attacks of the contemporary society will brow beat them to submission. It is in this context that Sheila Didi has evolved as a valiant and uncompromising leader of the oppressed women and waged several struggles for the betterment of their lives in these regions. It is highly deplorable and is a grim reflection of all of our sensitivity that this women’s activist who has emerged from the most oppressed rungs of Adivasi life and who worked day in and out to awaken thousands of oppressed women, has been incarcerated in the jail.

We demand that Sheila Didi be released immediately and unconditionally. In this context we urge you to intervene immediately and ensure that she receives proper medical care and relief. We also demand that she be treated as a Political Prisoner as she has been arrested and incarcerated for her convictions to fight for women’s rights. In this connection, we also appeal to you to join the fight against the continued incarceration of this senior women’s activist while demanding for her unconditional release.

http://dsujnu.blogspot.com/2007/08/condemn-states-attempt-to-silence.html

Posted in Fact finding Report, Nari Mukthi Morcha | Leave a Comment »

Malda court acquits Maoist leader

Posted by Indian Vanguard on September 1, 2007


Statesman News Service
MALDA, Aug 30: The Malda court today acquitted Maoist leader Mr Animesh Chakraborty of all charges brought against him by the Malda police. The learned judge Mr Tapan Sinha released him along with 11 others in a verdict at the fast track court.

The Darjeeling district police had arrested Mr Chakrabarty from the Naxalbari area in Siliguri sub-division three years ago. He was in jail custody in Siliguri and then transferred to Malda in connection with several cases. Later he was transferred to West Midnapore jail in connection with Maoist activity and the Belpahari blast cases.

The charges against him included ‘waging war against the state.’Mr Chakrabarty had been agitating inside the Malda jail campus as well on various issues and demand for political prisoner status.

His lawyer Mr Goutam Mukherjee today claimed: “The police have failed to substantiate the charges brought against Mr Chakrabarty. Neither could they prove the anti-state activity or murder charges against him. Today’s verdict shows Animesh is innocent.”
Happy with his release Mr Chakrabarty later said: “The police used unlawful means to frame me. They also tried to confine me within the prison walls for as long as they could but their efforts have failed.”

http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=10&theme=&usrsess=1&id=168223

Posted in West Bengal | Leave a Comment »

Cops ran away, let Naxals mow down 55: Official probe

Posted by Indian Vanguard on September 1, 2007

Security personnel abandoned posts, sought shelter in girls’ hostel; many could have been drunk; too much confidence in poorly trained ‘Special Police Officers’

Raipur, August 31: How prepared the security establishment is to tackle Naxalite terror has been exposed by an official investigation into the worst-ever Naxalite attack that killed 55 security personnel in Chhattisgarh on March 15 this year.

Cowardice, desertion by security personnel, too much dependence on locally-recruited Special Police Officers (SPOs) delayed rescue operations, lack of proper training and even consumption of intoxicants have been identified as the key reasons that let Naxalites kill 16 Chhattisgarh Armed Police personnel and 39 SPOs.

The attack at Rani Bodli, a security outpost in the state’s Bijapur district, continued for about three hours and was carried out by at least 400 Naxalites, mostly from the military dalam of Maharashtra.

The investigation report, a copy of which has been obtained by The Indian Express, was prepared by Inspector General (Naxal Operations and State Intelligence) Girdhari Nayak and has been given to Chief Minister Raman Singh, Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam and Director General of Police Vishwaranjan.

Its startling revelations:

Three jawans of Chhattisgarh Police Majji Shankar, Sagau Patel and Keshav Singh Yadav, deployed on the watchtowers built on the outpost’s roof, deserted their post as soon as the attack began to take shelter in the adjoining SC/ST welfare department hostel building. The fact was corroborated by the statement of Assistant teacher Ram Shankar Singh Thakur that these jawans hid among the 30 girls, along with their weapons and ammunition. The sentry posts were crucial for the security of the outpost as they were Light Machine Gun points which could have repulsed the attack.

Investigators have refuted Majji Shankar’s statement that he fired 11 LMG magazines and three SLR magazines before vacating his post. The claims of the other two who said they fired eight SLR magazines has been found to be false.

“They simply abandoned their posts out of cowardice,” the investigation report states citing the fact that although the three claimed to have fired over 500 rounds, only a few empty shells were recovered from the watchtowers.

All six sentry posts along the boundary of the outpost were manned by only SPOs. About 4,000, mostly tribal, youths from Bastar have been employed by Chhattisgarh Police as SPOs in the five Naxal-dominated districts. They are paid Rs 1500 per month and are given merely a general training in weapons-handling.

The six positions were manned by nine SPOs who were inadequately trained. They weren’t able to detect the presence of Naxalites in the area until a .303 rifle was snatched from one of them, Todsa Putti.

SPO Kawasi Aayatu admitted to providing a goat, five bottles of whisky and laandaa (country liquor) to security personnel to celebrate as he got married three days before the incident. Statements of SPOs Jagru Podiyam, Majji Budhram, Beladi Narayan, the cook of SC/ST welfare hostel Aayatam Nagaiya and Ram Shankar Singh Thakur confirmed that security personnel at the outpost were drinking intoxicants on a regular basis and most of them could have also consumed liquor on the day of the attack.

Not one Chhattisgarh Armed Police personnel was posted along the perimeter fence, “too much confidence has been shown in the ability of SPOs.”

The entire force was in one building making them an easy target. The practice of posting a small group of security personnel in a nearby primary school building and a night party on search and surveillance mission in nearby jungles was also discontinued at the outpost. These personnel could have attacked the Naxalite cadres had they been deployed.”

There were three Central Reserve Police Force camps within a radius of 10 km of the outpost but while the SOS was sent at 2.10 am and acknowledged by all police positions in the area, the first rescue party was sent only at 4 a.m. from Kutru police station.

While 22 Chhattisgarh Police jawans and 55 SPOs were present in the outpost when the attack started, most were sleeping. Not one body was recovered from the sentry posts as most of them were deserted as soon as the attack started. Most bodies were recovered lying around in the front or backyard of the outpost.

The jawans weren’t prepared for an attack as most of them seemed to have fired indiscriminately. About 350 bullet marks were located on the inside boundary wall of the outpost, which clearly shows that jawans fired indiscriminately and several of them could have been killed by bullets fired by their colleagues.

SPOs Roshan Lal Gota, Somru Sodi, Jagru Podyam, Aando Ram, Kursam Hiriya, Mijji Budhram and Bedali Narayan deserted the outpost after scaling the outer perimeter wall.

The investigators say that the Naxalites launched the attack to undermine the Salwa Judum, the people’s force launched in the district to counter the Naxals. “The loss of lives could have been avoided if the sentries posted on duty were alert and hadn’t deserted their posts,” the report states. The sentries weren’t being checked by a “watcher” who would have been helpful in keeping them alert. Despite indicting the security structure, the report, curiously, is silent on proposed action against erring officials.

Home Minister Netam refused to comment on the issue. DGP Vishwaranjan said he was touring Bastar to take stock of the ongoing fight against Maoist extremists. “I won’t be able to comment on it as I am yet to see the report,” he said.

The incident

On March 15, Naxalite cadres killed 55 security personnel posted at Rani Bodli, a security outpost located in Maoist-infested Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. At least 400 Naxalites, are believed to have carried out the attack which continued for about three hours http://www.indianexpress.com/story/213804.html

Posted in Chhattisgarh, Rani Bodli | Leave a Comment »

Maoists’ Gandhigiri: Strike for political prisoner status

Posted by Indian Vanguard on September 1, 2007

Apparently inspired by Gandhigiri, the Maoists lodged in various jails across Bihar are on a daylong token hunger strike on Friday demanding status of political prisoners, ending corruption in prisons and improving civic amenities.

The CPI-Maoist activists, in an obvious acknowledgment of the power of passive resistance practiced by Gandhiji during the freedom struggle, began their 12-hour hunger strike on Friday morning under the banner of ”Political Prisoners Release Committee (Bihar-Jharkhand)”.

”The stir is peaceful so far. As a precautionary measure, additional contingents of police headed by magistrates have been deployed in sensitive jails like the Beur Central Jail in the state capital and Sasaram,” Director (Prisons) A C Mishra said.

The committee had distributed pamphlets on August five seeking status of political prisoners, effective steps for a check on corruption by the jail staff, improvement in quality of food, proper healthcare and civic amenities, besides non-transfer of naxalites from one jail to another.

The naxalites also sought ending the solitary confinement of a top commander Ajay Kanu, responsible for the Jehanabad jailbreak on November 13, 2005 in which hundreds of Maoists had escaped.

”The jail administration is looking into their demand for improved civic amenities, healthcare and a check on corrupt practices by jail officials, but their demand for status of political prisoners is ridiculous as they have refused to be part of the political mainstream,” Mishra said.

He said the Maoists have refused to take food since morning but will have dinner.

http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070024571

Posted in Political Prisoners | Leave a Comment »