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An Important Industrial City



After decades of construction, Xianyang has developed an industrial system encompassing electronics, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, energy and chemicals.


Xianyang is the largest electronics industrial base in Northwest China, a well-known textiles industrial base, and a famous production base for medical and health products. Xianyang is also the only national commodity grain production base in Northwest China, and a large national production base for excellent apples. Xianyang's local advantages are reflected not only in its hardware -- its environment and communications facilities -- but also in its software -- its highly qualified citizens.


Xianyang is an important city in the Longhai-Lanxin economic belt. It is one of the oldest textile centers in the PRC; it is also the birthplace of the country’s first color kinescope. It has six large and medium-sized State-owned enterprises producing electronics, textiles, chemicals, health-care facilities, machinery, and building materials. In 1998, its gross domestic product (GDP) was Y20 billion; the added value of the secondary industry was Y9.3 billion, or 46.5 percent of GDP. Its revenue was Y1.27 billion, or 11.6 percent over revenue a year earlier. The electronics industry developed especially vigorously, with electronics groups such as Caihong, Pianzhuan, Ruyi, and Kangjia developing well as modern enterprises. Some famous products such as the Caihong color kinescope, Kangjia color TV, and Aoda digital camera sell well at home andabroad. In 1998, output of the electronics industry was Y11.3 billion, or over two thirds the total for electronics in the province.


source: www.chinatoday.com, www.adb.org







A CLB Case Intervention

The Xianyang textile workers' strike was a major event in the recent history of China's labour movement for several reasons. The number of workers who took part in the strike – over 6,800 – is highly significant, as is the fact that most of these workers were women. And the length of the strike – almost seven weeks – makes it probably the longest recorded industrial action in China's post-1949 history. But perhaps most important is that the Xianyang workers' grievances stemmed from contract negotiation disputes that had arisen from the factory's recent switch-over from government to private ownership. The Xianyang strike action thus reflected, in a particularly dramatic form, a wider systemic problem in China affecting workforces throughout the many thousands of state-owned enterprises that have undergone radical restructuring and privatization over the past few years.

The mass strike by workers at the Xianyang Huarun textiles factory, located near to the Shaanxi provincial capital, was triggered by the workers' anger at a restructuring plan revealed in autumn 2004 by China Resources, a Hong Kong-based mainland conglomerate which had recently acquired the formerly state-owned factory. According to the takeover announcement, the entire workforce would have to accept a one-off severance payment equivalent to a month's basic salary for each year of service in the factory, after which an undisclosed number of the workers would be re-employed on short-term contracts of one to three years' duration. Worst of all from the workers' point of view, China Resources signalled that it would not be paying their future retirement pension and medical insurance premiums once the new contracts have been signed. The conflict was further exacerbated by rumours that while individual managers were slated to receive 32,000 yuan in compensation for their loss of state-owned enterprise benefits, the workers would be getting nothing.

On 14 September 2004, the textile workers began a seven-week protest in which they halted all production at the factory and maintained a 24-hour vigil in rotating shifts (of around 200 workers at a time) on either side of the factory's main gate.  Their demands included long-term contracts for workers (many of whom had been employed at the factory for more than 20 years), revocation of the demeaning six-month "probationary work period" requirement, a central-government inspection team to review the terms of the factory's merger with China Resources, and compensation for their loss of state-owned enterprise employee status.


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