Cablegate: Attack On Labor Activist - Consul General Expresses U.S.
DE RUEHGZ #0104 0510522
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 200522Z FEB 08
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6908
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6075
UNCLAS GUANGZHOU 000104
STATE FOR EAP/CM,DRL
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PHUM CH
SUBJECT: Attack on Labor Activist - Consul General Expresses U.S.
Concern to Guangdong Provincial Officials
REF: A) 07 GUANGZHOU 1268, B) GUANGZHOU 26
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DISSEMINATED OUTSIDE U.S. GOVERNMENT CHANNELS OR IN ANY PUBLIC FORUM
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1. (SBU) Summary: At the request of Embassy Beijing, the Consul
General Goldberg formally expressed U.S. concern about the physical
attack on Huang Qingnan, the Director of Dongzhe Work Safety and
Health Center, to Guangdong provincial officials. He urged them to
look into Huang's case as well as into the cases of others who have
similarly been abused, threatened or attacked while working on
behalf of China's workers. Guangdong Foreign Affairs Office
Director General Fu Lang contended that local authorities had taken
prompt action and expressed the Guangdong Government's commitment to
protecting workers' rights. He argued that the province's large
migrant population made law enforcement difficult. End summary.
2. (SBU) The Consul General coupled his formal expression of concern
about the specific case of labor activist Huang Qingnan with an
observation that such attacks on those who are in fact promoting
China's rule of law and building a harmonious society efforts
through assistance to the most disadvantaged had in fact increased.
(Note: As reported ref A, Huang was attacked on November 20 by
knife-wielding thugs -- the latest in a serious of escalating
attacks aimed at closing the NGO he runs. End note.) He noted that
it was essential for Guangdong's police and legal system to protect
organizations and individuals at increased risk of victimization.
The Consul General urged provincial officials to look into the case
and asked for future updates on its status.
3. (SBU) Fu, who had been well briefed on the facts of the case,
expressed sympathy for Huang but contended that local police had
taken prompt action. He argued that undertaking an effective
investigation had taken time, emphasizing that police had eventually
arrested the man who orchestrated the attack. Fu explained that
investigations had concluded that the main suspect had arranged the
attack because he believed that Huang's activities had cut into his
business profits. Fu also said that officials from the local Civil
Affairs Bureau and Trade Unions Federation had visited Huang to
express their sympathy and assure that he received proper treatment.
4. (SBU) The Guangdong Government, its law enforcement agencies and
criminal justice system are committed to protecting labor rights and
punishing criminal activity that threatens those rights, Fu said.
He cited the new Labor Law, effective January 1, as evidence of the
high priority the Chinese Government places on the rights and
interests of workers, especially migrant workers.
5. (SBU) Pointing out that nearly 20 million migrants live in
Guangdong province, Fu said the huge transient population made it
difficult for law enforcement agencies to maintain public security.
He commented that many violent cases like the attack on Huang take
place every day. He acknowledged that the local public security
situation remains unsatisfactory despite constant effort by local
police, but suggested that China was in a period of transition in
terms of labor issues and we would really only be able to judge
success as China moved toward better enforcement of labor rights.