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HRIC is frequently asked, “What can I do to make a difference?” This page gives suggestions on what you can do in specific areas of concern.


On February 28, 2001, China finally announced its ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). However, the Chinese government entered a reservation on Item 1.a of Article 8, which guarantees workers the right to form and join the trade union of their choice. The reservation stated that China only accepted this provision insofar as it was in accord with China’s Constitution, Trade Union Law and Labor Law. These essentially allow the All-China Federation of Trade Unions to hold the monopoly on union organizing, and people who have tried to set up independent labor unions or engage in independent labor advocacy have met with fierce repression. This is most evident in the massive protests in Daqing and Liaoyang in March and April.

  • Starting from March 1, workers from Daqing Oilfield staged a series of major demonstrations to protest against inadequate severance packages. Paramilitary police clashed with demonstrators on March 19. Although specific details of arrests in Daqing are still unclear, an official of the Daqing City government told Hong Kong based China Labour Bulletin that over 60 activists from the demonstrations had been detained by the end of March. It is known that on or around March 4, protesting retiree Li Yan (male, about 60 years old) was arrested, and released after being detained for about 20 days. A female worker, approximately 50 years old, was arrested by plain-clothes police officers after giving a speech in Tieren Square where most of the protests were held. She was reportedly staging a hunger strike in an undisclosed detention center.

  • On March 11 and 12, thousands of workers marched in Liaoyang, Liaoning Province, to express a wide range of grievances. Demonstrators also called for the resignation of Gong Shangwu, Liaoyang’s delegate to the National People’s Congress. The number of demonstrators swelled on March 18, after worker representative Yao Fuxin was secretly detained.

Yao, 54, was detained by plain-clothes officers on March 17, 2002, for organizing “illegal demonstrations.” Following Yao’s detention, authorities notified his family that he was receiving treatment for a heart attack and other health problems, raising speculation that he had been severely mistreated in custody. Yao is currently being held in Tieling Detention Center. On March 20, three more Liaoyang worker representatives, Pang Qingxiang, 58, Xiao Yunliang, 57, Wang Zhaoming, 39, were detained following a protest calling for the release of Yao Fuxin.

Send letters to the Chinese authorities calling for the immediate and unconditional release of these and other labor activists. Emphasize the contradiction between signing the ICESCR and persecuting individuals who attempt to exercise the rights and freedoms it contains. Express concern about Yao Fuxin’s medical condition and ask that he be given prompt and appropriate treatment.

Send your appeals to:

  • Bo Xilai, Governor, Liaoning Provincial People’s Government

    Shengzhang, Liaoningsheng Renmin Zhengfu, 45 Huangguqu, Beiling Dajie, Shenyangshi 110032, Liaoningsheng, People’s Republic of China (PRC)

    Fax: 0086 24 86892112k; e-mail:

  • Liaoning Province Public Security Bureau


Send copies of these appeals to:

  • President Jiang Zemin, Chinese Communist Party, Yongdingmen Street, Beijing 1000032, PRC

  • Prime Minister Zhu Rongji, Guowuyuan, 9 Xihuangchenggenbeijie, Beijing 1000032, PRC

  • National People’s Congress, Quanguo Renmin Dahuitang, 19 Xijiaominxiang, Xichengqu, Beijing 100805, PRC

In addition, send copies of letters expressing concern about Yao Fuxin's health to:

You can also write to your local Congressperson or member of Parliament and urge them to request that your government express concern about these matters in meetings with Chinese government officials.


As they begin the 13th year since the June Fourth massacre, the families of the victims are still facing persecution and attempts to silence those who insist on speaking out to challenge the lies the government continues to propagate about the events of 1989. Despite the intimidation, the Tiananmen Mothers continue their struggle for justice. During the past year they have collected more names of previously-unknown victims of the massacre, and have distributed donations collected from inside and outside China to victims’ families and people injured in the assault on Beijing, despite the authorities efforts to stop them (See page 44 for more information).

If you haven’t already, express your solidarity with the Tiananmen Mothers by signing the petition at


  • Organize an event in your community to introduce the ork of the Tiananmen Mothers to your friends.

  • Make a donation to help the victims of June Fourth. You can contribute to HRIC’s humanitarian fund by sending a check made out to Human Rights in China to our New York office. You may indicate that your donation is specifically for June Fourth victims, or for families of imprisoned labor activists.


Thanks to those who have recently made donations or renewed their subscriptions to China Rights Forum.


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