Riots and clashes with police occurred in Chaozhou (潮州) in eastern Guangdong province on Monday night, after a migrant worker’s son was injured in a knife attack over a wage dispute. 18 people were injured an 9 were detained following a protest that involving hundreds of migrant workers, reportedly from Sichuan province.
On Friday, protesters reportedly began congregating in front of Chaozhou’s Guxiang township (古巷镇) government building, with protesters eventually turning violent by Monday when they began burning and destroying cars, the total number of which has been disputed.
The Global Times reports that a worker and his son were attacked after demanding to be paid:
The unrest came after a wage dispute occurred in Huayi Ceramics Factory in Chaoan county June 1 when a migrant worker couple from Sichuan Province, accompanied by their son, went to the factory demanding two months of unpaid wages, Chaozhou Television reported. The amount the couple demanded was not known.
The son, surnamed Xiong, suffered cuts to the feet and hands after being attacked by two employees of the factory, after his father argued with the boss and was himself hurt in the forehead, said police who later arrived at the scene and sent the wounded to a local hospital for treatment, Yangcheng Evening News reported.
The local government could not comment on why the protests on Monday occurred, even after the boss of the factory surrendered himself and confessed to local police on Saturday, with the other two suspects being arraigned by Sunday.
The fact that the riots were reportedly dominated by Sichuanese is a testament to the entrenched ties that provincial natives maintain in industrial areas all throughout China. Many workers in factory towns have left home for the first time, and having had little contact with strangers, must rely on a support system consisting of natives who can speak the dialect of their home region, or laoxiang (老乡), in order to ensure their protection and safety in unfamiliar cities.
Meanwhile, unpaid wages for migrant workers are a constant problem. The issue recently gaining attention after a swat team in Chongqing was called in to arrest the construction boss of the Top of City Garden housing complex and his hired thugs. 61 workers were owed a reported 800,000RMB in unpaid wages.
The video below from Hong Kong’s TVB News shows footage and still images of the rioting that took place Monday night.