Denied Unpaid Wages, Migrant Worker Blows Up Government Building

March 2, 2010 2:34 am Last Updated: October 1, 2015 8:40 pm

The explosion tore away one of the four pillars in front of Beihe government office building. (Chinese Blogger)
The explosion tore away one of the four pillars in front of Beihe government office building. (Chinese Blogger)
A migrant worker who was unable to obtain his unpaid wages detonated an explosive outside the county government building on Feb. 16 in northwestern China’s Shaanxi Province. Official Chinese media reports about the incident diverge from those of witnesses.

According to the official media report, an explosion hit Renmin Road in Baihe, and a 56-year-old male suspect named Ye Kaiguo was apprehended and arrested.

Mr. Ye had been appealing to the county government to pay his withheld salary of 2800 RMB (US$411). The report claimed that because the explosion occurred during the New Year holiday period, there was no major damage to the building; three passersby sustained minor injuries.

Local residents, however, say that one of the four pillars in front of the government building was torn away, some windows and doors of the building were broken, and the explosion caused varying degrees of damage to adjacent structures.

After the explosion, a crowd of several hundred onlookers gathered at the scene. Then, a few dozen police rushed to the site and sealed off the street.

A local resident who witnessed the whole incident also disagreed that police had cracked the case open and arrested Mr. Ye, “Ye Kaiguo surrendered himself,” he said. “He stayed at the scene after the explosion.”

Mr. Chen, who works at a nearby pharmacy, believes the explosion was the result of Mr. Ye's resentment toward the government. Ye has been angry about the meager compensation he was paid when the government demolished his property nine years ago. His current unpaid salary was just the “fuse that lit the fire.”

A blogger who calls himself “Bufeiyan” commented: “I am also from Beihe County. I visited the scene after the incident. Why did the government claim that Ye blew up Renmin Road? It was the county government building!”

Although desperate acts such as Ye's are still rare among migrant workers in China, other acts of desperation by migrant workers seeking to collect unpaid wages have become increasingly widespread in recent years.

For example, on Jan. 14, in Harbin, the capital of Northeastern China’s Heilongjiang Province, three migrant workers climbed to the top of a 70-meter-tall radio tower. They stayed there for nine hours, threatening to jump if they did not receive their wages.

A Google search of “Ask for unpaid wages” yields 2.62 million hits on related news. In China, however, many such Web sites cannot be accessed due to suppression of such news.

In many cases, officials from local regimes are backing employers who deny wages to migrant workers. On Feb. 1, over 40 migrant workers appealed for unpaid wages at the provincial government offices in the capital city of Shaanxi Province. They were intercepted by police.

Workers claim that the Communist Party Chief of the local Beilin District owns the construction company that refused to pay their wages.

Li Fan, director of the World and China Institute, says that it is almost impossible to prevent such incidents under China’s current political system.

Tang Jingling, a rights lawyer in Guangdong Province, told The Epoch Times, “The incident not only relates to the conduct of local authorities. It highlights a political issue—there is no government (in China) that cares for the interests of the people.”

Read original Chinese article.