Trouble on the Line

Karl Marx once wrote that "the worker becomes an ever-cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates." His observation was published 160 years ago, but it's an accurate commentary on the plight of millions of Chinese like Chen Suo, a 16-year-old assembly-line worker at shoe manufacturer Stella International located in the southern city of Dongguan in Guangdong province. Chen returned to her home in Shaanxi province in disgrace earlier this month after spending eight months in jail for participating in a labor protest that turned violent. "I wasn't thinking of breaking things or blowing things up," says Chen of the April rampage,...

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