NGOs forced to close in tech manufacturing hub Shenzhen

More than 10 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) related to labor advocacy were shut down after a "sustained campaign of harassment" in the Chinese city in Guangdong province.

More than 10 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) related to labor rights were forced to shut down after a "sustained campaign of harassment".

In a Wednesday report, China Labour Bulletin spokesman Geoff Crothall told The Register: "There has been a sustained campaign of harassment of labour NGOs in Shenzhen this year.

"No one really knows for sure what is behind it but it is most likely an attempt to assert greater control over civil society organisations in the city. But if so they are certainly going about it in a very heavy-handed way," said Crothall.

According to the report, Shenzhen is the location of one of China's biggest technology manufacturing hubs. However, workers' rights are reportedly often forgotten and violated in the name of manufacturing more products at a cheaper price.

NGOs step in as "rare source of advice and support" for migrant workers who have gone to Special Economic Zone of Shenzhen in search of employment, it noted. These groups often provide legal aid, safety training, psychological counselling and other social services.

However, these labor advocacy groups have been facing pressure from government bodies and threats of violence, forcing them to shut down.

A Sunday report by QQ Finance said a group of scholars, lawyers and media workers have released an open letter to the Guangdong government on Sunday, urging the authorities to support the shuttered NGOs.

The open letter noted that organizations such as Spring Breeze Labour Disputes Service Center, Yuandian Worker Service Center, Part-timer's Center and Xiaoxiaocao Advisory Center have been subjected to examinations by several government agencies and were asked to leave their premises before their rental contact has ended.

The group added that the government, employers, workers and NGOs should come together and discuss what should be included in regulations surrounding NGOs, instead of the current situation where only the authorities have the right to deem an NGO legal or not.