An American executive has been held hostage for four days at his medical supply plant in Beijing

Associated PressBy LOUISE WATT | Associated Press

Associated Press/Andy Wong - American Chip Starnes, co-owner of Specialty Medical Supplies, waves from a window after he was held hostage by workers inside his plant at the Jinyurui Science and Technology Park in Qiao Zi township of Huairou District, on the outskirts of Beijing, China Monday, June 24, 2013. An American executive said Monday Starnes has been held hostage for four days at his medical supply plant in Beijing by dozens of workers demanding severance packages like those given to co-workers in a phased-out department. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Associated Press/Andy Wong – American Chip Starnes, co-owner of Specialty Medical Supplies, waves from a window after he was held hostage by workers inside his plant at the Jinyurui Science and Technology Park in Qiao Zi township of Huairou District, on the outskirts of Beijing, China Monday, June 24, 2013. An American executive said Monday Starnes has been held hostage for four days at his medical supply plant in Beijing by dozens of workers demanding severance packages like those given to co-workers in a phased-out department. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

BEIJING (AP) — An American executive said Monday he has been held hostage for four days at his medical supply plant in Beijing by scores of workers demanding severance packages like those given to 30 co-workers in a phased-out department.

Chip Starnes, 42, a co-owner of Coral Springs, Florida-basedSpecialty Medical Supplies, said local officials had visited the 10-year-old plant on the capital’s outskirts and coerced him into signing agreements Saturday to meet the workers’ demands even though he sought to make clear that the remaining 100 workers weren’t being laid off.

The workers were expecting wire transfers by Tuesday, he said, adding that about 80 of them had been blocking every exit around the clock and depriving him of sleep by shining bright lights and banging on windows of his office. He declined to clarify the amount, saying he wanted to keep it confidential.

“I feel like a trapped animal,” Starnes told The Associated Press on Monday from his first-floor office window, while holding onto the window’s bars. “I think it’s inhumane what is going on right now. I have been in this area for 10 years and created a lot of jobs and I would never have thought in my wildest imagination something like this would happen.”

Workers inside the compound, a pair of two-story buildings behind gates and hedges in the Huairou district of the northeastern Beijing suburbs, repeatedly declined requests for comment, saying they did not want to talk to foreign media.

A local police spokesman said police were at the scene to maintain order. Four uniformed police and about a dozen other men who declined to identify themselves were standing across the road from the plant.

“As far as I know, there was a labor dispute between the workers and the company management and the dispute is being solved,” said spokesman Zhao Lu of the Huairou Public Security Bureau. ” I am not sure about the details of the solution, but I can guarantee the personal safety of the manager.”

Representatives from the U.S. Embassy stood outside the gate but said they had no comment.

The protest reflects growing uneasiness among workers about China’s slowing economic growth and the sense that growing labor costs make country a less attractive place for some foreign-owned factories. The account about local officials coercing Starnes to meet workers’ demands — if true — reflects how officials typically consider quashing unrest to be a paramount priority.

It is not rare in China for managers to be held by workers demanding back pay or other benefits, often from their Chinese owners, though occasionally also involving foreign bosses. It is unusual for such an incident to take place in Beijing because most such ventures have moved elsewhere in China because of high costs in the capital.

Starnes said the company had gradually been winding down its plastics division, planning to move it to Mumbai, India. He arrived in Beijing last Tuesday to lay off the last 30 people. Some had been working there for up to nine years, so their compensation packages were “pretty nice,” he said.

Some of the workers in the other divisions got wind of this, and, coupled with rumors that the whole plant was moving to India, started demanding similar severance packages on Friday.

 

To learn more about Made in USA Certification: http://www.USA-C.com

MADE IN USA CERTIFIED LOGO

U.S. Demands China Block Cyberattacks and Agree to Rules

CPA Logo 2

Reposted from The New York Times

nyt thumbnail

Mark Landler and David Sanger  |  March 11, 2013  |  The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The White House demanded Monday that the Chinese government stop the widespread theft of data from American computer networks and agree to “acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace.”

The demand, made in a speech by President Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, was the first public confrontation with China over cyberespionage and came two days after its foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, rejected a growing body of evidence that his country’s military was involved in cyberattacks on American corporations and some government agencies.

The White House, Mr. Donilon said, is seeking three things from Beijing: public recognition of the urgency of the problem; a commitment to crack down on hackers in China; and an agreement to take part in a dialogue to establish global standards.

“Increasingly, U.S. businesses are speaking out about their serious concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyberintrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale,” Mr. Donilon said in a wide-ranging address to the Asia Society in New York.

“The international community,” he added, “cannot tolerate such activity from any country.”

In Beijing, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, did not directly say whether the government is willing to negotiate over the proposals spelled out by Mr. Donilon. But at a daily news briefing Tuesday she repeated the government’s position that it opposes Internet attacks and wants “constructive dialogue” with the United States and other countries about cybersecurity issues.

Until now, the White House has steered clear of mentioning China by name when discussing cybercrime, though Mr. Obama and other officials have raised it privately with Chinese counterparts. In his State of the Union address, he said, “We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets.”

Read more of this post

Air pollution in Beijing goes off the index

Associated Press/Alexander F. Yuan – A man flies a kite near electricity pylons on a hazy day in Beijing Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. Air pollution levels in China’s notoriously dirty capital were at dangerous levels Saturday, with cloudy skies blocking out visibility and warnings issued for people to remain indoors. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

BEIJING (AP) — People refused to venture outdoors and buildings disappeared into Beijing’s murky skyline on Sunday as the air quality in China’s notoriously polluted capital went off the index.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center said on its website that the density of PM2.5 particulates had surpassed 700 micrograms per cubic meter in many parts of the city. The World Health Organization considers a safe daily level to be 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

PM2.5 are tiny particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size, or about 1/30th the average width of a human hair. They can penetrate deep into the lungs, so measuring them is considered a more accurate reflection of air quality than other methods.

The Beijing center recommended that children and the elderly stay indoors, and that others avoid outdoor activities.

The U.S. Embassy also publishes data for PM2.5 on Twitter, and interprets the data according to more stringent standards.

Read more of this post

Why China Hates U.S. Presidential Elections

In the third and final U.S. presidential debate on Monday, Mitt Romney once again vowed to declare China a currency manipulator on his first day in office. Most Chinese observers think this position is as extreme as it is unlikely, but ever since Romney first made that pledge a year ago, the reaction by policymakers in China has been a mix of frustration and exasperation. “The candidates find fault with China simply to win more votes,” wrote veteran Chinese journalist Ding Gang in the state-run People’s Daily Online. “There must be something wrong with the…[American] political system.”

A Chinese man adjusts the Chinese flag before a point press conference by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sept. 5, 2012. (Feng Li / AFP / Getty Images)

Ding’s article, which ran with the headline “China-bashing: Shame on American Politics,” is an extreme example of the angst—even anger—that many Chinese feel when they listen to American presidential candidates talk tough on China. Most people in China, of course, don’t hate Americans. But Chinese policymakers do hate American elections—especially the effect they have on China’s image in the United States. This year has been especially bad, analysts say, as Beijing has been blamed for everything from the sluggish U.S. economy to America’s high unemployment rate. Coming at a time of declining economic growth in China and fierce competition over trade between the two countries has created considerable tension.

That tension is reflected in the polls. An October poll from the Pew Research Center found that 49 percent of American voters want the U.S. to get tough on China, an increase of nine percent from March of 2011. And only 42 percent of voters want the U.S. to build a strong relationship with China, compared to 53 percent in March of last year. Most of the American angst about China is economic as opposed to military, according to a September Pew poll, with the biggest concerns being the amount of American debt held by China and the loss of U.S. jobs.

Poll results reflect rising friction in China as well. A separate Pew Survey, for instance, found growing wariness and negative perceptions of America compared to two years ago. The percentage of Chinese respondents who characterize their country’s relationship with the U.S. as one of cooperation has dropped from 68 percent in 2010 to 39 percent today. More than a quarter of those surveyed said the relationship was hostile, compared to eight percent two years ago. Confidence in Ratings President Barack Obama also declined significantly, down to 38 percent compared to 52 percent in 2010.

One reason why Chinese leaders in particular dislike changes in Washington: they feel the need “to teach the new American president about the realities of the relationship,” said one Chinese source who requested anonymity because he wasn’t cleared to talk with media. These realities, in the Chinese view, include the need to avoid a trade war that, because of their interdependence, would undermine both economies. The learning curve for U.S. presidents can make for jittery moments. In April of 2001, for instance, not long after George W. Bush took office, a U.S. EP-3 spy plane collided with a Chinese jet fighter in mid-air over the South China Sea. The 24 crew members of the American plane subsequently landed on China’s Hainan Island. After 11 days of intense negotiations over apologetic language, they were released. But the incident turned out to be more protracted and more difficult to resolve than expected.

Read more of this post

Obama to hit China with trade case over cars, parts

President Barack Obama launches a campaign swing through the pivotal battleground of Ohio on Monday — armed with a new trade enforcement case against China over allegedly improper subsidies to its auto and auto-parts sectors.

Mitt Romney has recently escalated his attacks on the incumbent as not doing enough to protect America’s battered manufacturing sector from unfair competition from Beijing. The message has special resonance in states like Ohio, where the auto-parts sector accounts for a sizeable chunk of the economy. (The White House says the industry directly employs 54,200 Ohioans and supports some 850,000 total jobs).

Obama decided to go after China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) because its subsidies are giving its auto parts a leg up — even in the U.S. market — over their American counterparts, the administration says.

 

The Obama Administration is also escalating another trade enforcement action, begun in July, against what it says are unfair anti-dumping and countervailing duties on some $3.3 billion in U.S. automobile exports to China.

The United States will ask the WTO to set up a dispute settlement panel to consider its case against those duties, which Beijing imposed in December 2011. China acted in response to the auto bailout Obama championed, arguing the rescue amounted to unfair government support for the industry.

“The key principle at stake is that China must play by the rules of the global trading system,” an administration official said on condition of anonymity. “When it does not, the Obama Administration will take action to ensure that American businesses and workers are competing on a level playing field.”

 

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer first reported the news.

%d bloggers like this: