Unfortunately, the Southern Metropolis Daily isn't translated or online.
The story, is like something out of 19th Century England. "Young people – some aged under 10 – are said to have been discovered being bought and sold at a street market in Sichuan, one of rural China's most overpopulated provinces.
According to investigative reporters, the children stood in line as they were assessed like cattle, before being driven on trucks to factories in the Pearl River Delta, China's manufacturing heartland."So we have slave markets in the most densely populated province in China, which is incidentally the industrial heart of the nation. Province officials have made arrests of 4 individuals involved in the illegal labor trafficking and rescued more than 100 children, according to NYTimes reports. No doubt pressure has mounted about these sorts of things with the Olympics about to be held at the center of the new industrial world. But will a few Lady Bountifuls address the underlying issues of population and capital accumulation?
The Times notes, "The abuses may also reflect the combined pressures of worker shortages, high inflation and a rising currency that have reduced profit margins of some Chinese factories and forced them to scramble for an edge — even an illegal one — to stay competitive."
This story is totally ripped from the pages of Marx's Capital Vol. 1. The logic at work in Chinese industry seems internal to the process of capital accumulation. "The establishment of a normal working day is therefore the product of a protracted and more or less concealed civil war between the capitalist class and the working class. Since the contest takes place in the arena of modern industry, it is fought out first of all in the homeland of that industry--England." We might substitute the word China for Engand in the above quote from Marx's chapter on "the working day." The civil war continues even with laws on the books.
"This did not, however, prevent them, throughout the following decade, from spinning silk for 10 hours a day out of the blood of little children who had to be put on stools to perform their work...This time the pretext was 'the delicate texture of the fabric in which they were employed, requiring a lightness of touch only to be acquired by their early introduction to these factories.' The children were quite simply slaughtered for the sake of their delicate fingers, just as horned cattle are slaughtered in southern Russia for their hides and fat."In Marx's day manufacturers had built a whole system of relays, rotating children from one work station to another, to prevent inspectors from verifying the hours of their work. Sounds a lot like the fake papers used to prevent the verification of childrens ages (in China the legal age of work is 16).
The Southern Metropolis Daily, who has been breaking these stories, was tipped off by residents close to the street market. "Since journalists could discover the facts by secret interviews in a few days," Southern Metropolis wrote in a separate editorial on Tuesday, "how could the labor departments show no interest in it and ignore it for such a long time?"
A good question. One must remember that the arrests of a few child traffickers will never put an end to the practices, just as it is not the individual capitalist himself who conspires to exploit his laborers. The logic of capital accumulation forces him to do so.
And to think that China was once considered communist under Mao. To quote Marx, quoting Virgil, Quantum mutatus ab illo!