More than one hundred scholars, from dozens of prestigious universities, in fifteen countries, have signed an “Open Letter to the Guangdong Government” to protest the apparently systematic repression against seven grass-roots labor NGOs in the last month. These scholars include most of the leading researchers, analysts and writers on Chinese labor issues throughout the world – including Ching Kwan Lee of UCLA, Anita Chan of University of Technology-Sydney, Simon Clarke of Warwick University, Michael Burawoy of University of California-Berkeley, and Jude Howell of the London School of Economics.
The growth of academic exchange between China and all other countries of the world has been dramatic, generating much fruitful research and expanding the understanding outside of China of important developments. It is therefore a natural outgrowth that many scholars, having paid close attention to labor relations in China, note with concern the limitations on the rights of workers to protect themselves.
Every industrialized country has produced its own system of labor relations, and its own field of labor scholarship. Yet in every country, the underlying belief that workers have a right to share in the benefits of society is a strong shaping impulse. This letter may be seen in that light. The signers hope that the Government of Guangdong receives this petition in the spirit of mutual respect, and restores basic rights of association to the affected NGOs.