Students at Peking University’s Marxist Society read and studied the writings of Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin and Mao Zedong, something that Chinese President Xi Jinping claimed during a May visit to the campus is “the foundation of China’s Communist Party.” But when the students decided to put what they read into action, China’s capitalist-minded rulers had them arrested.
Their “crime?” They had joined with workers in Huizhou, a city in Guangdong Province in southeastern China, who are protesting abysmal working conditions and fighting to organize independent unions. The province, a manufacturing center of 4.8 million people, is a hotbed of labor activity.
In July dozens of current and former students from several universities joined with workers at Huizhou’s Jasic Technology factory, which manufactures welding equipment, to support their fight to form an independent union. The young activists wore T-shirts with the slogan “Unity is strength” and marched alongside workers, holding banners that said “Forming unions is not a crime.”
Later that month police arrested 30 of the workers. Then on Aug. 24 cops wearing riot gear stormed an apartment in Huizhou and detained 50 of the student and youth activists. According to the New York Times, as the cops burst through the door, the youth sang “L’Internationale.”
“I could not let myself be a mere internet commentator,” Peking University graduate Yue Xin, told the Times before her arrest. “I had to stand up.”
“What we are doing is entirely legal and reasonable,” said Chen Kexin, a senior at Renmin University in Beijing. “We stand with workers.”