International trade union community says NO to Article 23

Joint Press Release

China Labour Bulletin

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions


Upholding International Workers’ Solidarity –

Say No to Anti-subversion Laws in Hong Kong

In opposition to the proposed ‘anti-subversion’ laws, over 1000 individual trade unionists from more than 70 trade unions all over the world have sent emails to HKSAR Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa, expressing their concerns about the imminent threat to political and civil rights in Hong Kong, and the implication on the defense of workers’ rights in mainland China. (See appendix for the trade unions by country)

The international online protest campaign ( was jointly launched on January 3 by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), China Labour Bulletin (CLB) and prominent London-based trade union net, LabourStart. The joint campaign calls on the international trade union community to stand with the workers in Hong Kong in “defense of the right to organise, protest and campaign for better working conditions and human rights”.

In the submissions to the Hong Kong government on the enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law, both HKCTU and CLB have expressed our grave concerns that the proposed laws would undermine workers’ collective actions against anti-worker and anti-trade union policies. CLB has also compiled hard evidence in mainland China where workers and labour activists are imprisoned on subversion charges simply for exercising the core workers’ rights of free association and collective bargaining. CLB has also pointed out possible ‘legal’ restrictions on our activities in the promotion of the independent trade union movement in China.

The subversion charges laid against Liaoyang labour activists Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang are sharp reminders of what the Chinese government sees as “protecting national security” which is hailed as the justification for enacting new anti-subversion laws in Hong Kong.

On January 15, Yao and Xiao in the northeastern city of Liaoyang were put on trial for ‘subverting the state’. They were arrested last March, together with two other labour activists that have come to be known as the Liaoyang Four, for organising workers’ protests against wage arrears, corruption and illegal bankruptcy at the state-owned Liaoyang Ferroalloy Factory. In the trial yesterday, Yao was accused of communicating with CLB’s Director Han Dongfang who was labelled as a “hostile element”. (for more details see: "Yao Fuxin Accused of Communicating with Hostile Elements")

The message is both clear and chilling: CLB is marked as dangerous to the state and our efforts to gain solidarity support, the backbone of the international labour movement, is taken as politically hostile and punishable by laws on national security.

The subversion charges are the usual ‘legal’ weapon that the Chinese government employs to wipe out threats to the ruling regime. The case of Liaoyang Four adds to the list of appalling cases of repression in the name of ‘protecting national security’.

CLB reiterates that it is both absurd and totally unacceptable for the Hong Kong government to enact laws that put Hong Kong citizens at the mercy of the mainland China’s concept of ‘national security’ when people across the border are harshly punished for their legitimate activities in the same name.

However, indifferent to the opponents of the proposed ‘anti-subversion’ laws who took to the streets in their tens of thousands on December 15 last year, the security chief of the Hong Kong government took a provocative step to discredit the opposition as misled and irrational. On the contrary, the opponents have been asking a rational and legitimate question -- “Whose security is being protected?”

One of the online protestors from Australia sends a more candid remark in her email to Tung Chee Hwa: “Only fearful governments implement repressive legislation to inhibit the rights of its citizens. What is your government frightened of?”

The HK government is going to publish its responses to the public opinion soon. But we have no deadline for our struggle. China Labour Bulletin and the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions will not be threatened into silence. We appeal to the international trade union community again to join the workers in Hong Kong and mainland China in their defense of political and civil rights.

China Labour Bulletin

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions


For further information, please contact:

Lee Cheuk Yan, HKCTU at (852) 2770 8668

Han Dongfang, CLB at (852) 2780 2187

Incomplete list of trade unions whose members have joined the protest campaign against proposed anti-subversion laws in Hong Kong (as at January 16, 2003)

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union

Australian Community and Public Sector Union

Australian Writers Guild, Australian Services Union

Community and Public Sector Union, Australia

Finance Sector Union, Australia

Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, Australia

Labor Council of New South Wales, Australia

National Tertiary Education Union, Australia

Public Service Association of New South Wales, Australia

Service and Food Workers Union, Australia

Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Canadian Union of Public Employees

Chinese Canadian National Council

International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, Canada

Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada

Telecommunications Workers Union, Canada

Fédération des syndicats SUD Rail, France

Socialist Alternative, Germany

Verdi Union, Germany

Dutch Confederation of Trade Unions, Holland

Resorts World Employees Union, Malaysia

IUF, Moscow office

Financial Institute Employees Union Of Nepal

Post Primary Teachers' Association, New Zealand

Service & Food Workers' Union, New Zealand

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines

Arctic Circle Chemical Union, Norway

Electricians & IT workers Union, Norway

Norwegian Transport Workers' Union

Trade Union of Public Office of Quebec

Ceylon Bank Employees' Union, Sri Lanka

Central Organization of Sweden’s Workers

Swedish Metalworkers' Union

Association of University Teachers, UK

Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union, UK

Graphical, Paper & Media Union, UK

Hospital Employees Union, UK

Iron and Steel Trade Confederation, UK

National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, UK

National Union of Journalists, UK

Public & Commercial Services Union, UK


Unison, UK

American Federation of Musicians

American Federation of Teachers

Communications Workers of America

Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, US

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, US

National Postal Mail Handlers Union, US

Service Employees International Union, US

Teamster, US

United Food and Commercial Workers Union, US

United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America

University Professional & Technical Employees, University of California, US

Vermont State Employees' Association, US


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