- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 27, 2001

Desperate to win the 2008 Olympics, China has pulled off a real public relations cutie. It has invited the U.N. International Labor Organization (ILO) to assist the Chinese communist government in helping the Chinese workers solve their problems. The ILO, a U.N. agency, agreed to do so, according to the New York Times. Its as if the Mafia, seeking to improve its image, were to invite some small town police chief to help its mobsters become good citizens.

China is, of course, one of the worst violators of everything the ILO stands for, primarily freedom of association; that is, the right of workers to form unions of their own choosing. Chinese workers who have tried to form unions independent of the government are thrown into jail. There are at least 30 independent trade unionists who are serving long jail sentences because of their union activity. Some of those convicted have been forcibly committed to so-called psychiatric hospitals.

Tibetans are particularly discriminated against; they are not allowed access to education, job training and the labor market, according to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), an umbrella group of labor unions in democratic countries.

Child labor is rampant and thus violates ILO Conventions 138 and 182 as well as a number of U.N. human rights covenants. Last March, in a village in Jianxi province, about 60 people, mostly children, were killed in an explosion. Third-graders in a school building had been forced without pay to insert fuses and detonators into large firecrackers. Children who refused to work at this hazardous occupation were barred from attending school. All this was, of course, known to provincial authorities who, according to the ICFTU, actually organized it all. It has been estimated that between 5 million and 8.5 million children under 16 are now working in China and, as the Chinese economy expands, child labor is increasing.

The biggest violation of the ILO Charter which the Chinese government is supposed to uphold are the forced labor camps. The system, one of the little known below-the-surface features of Chinese communism, was instituted after the communist takeover in 1949. The Chinese name for this is "Lao-Gai-Dui."

These labor reform camps are administered by a department of the Chinese government, the Labor Reform Enterprise, an enormous national economic system of agriculture, industry, communications, transportation, engineering and construction.

The China appeal to the ILO is hypocrisy of the first order, a morbid joke because until the Communist Party goes out of business there can be no rule of law, no civil society and therefore there can be no genuine, lasting reforms.

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