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SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) – When Shen Mengyu graduated with a master’s degree from a top Chinese university in 2015, she could have landed a comfortable job in government or at one of China’s internet giants.
Instead, she went to work at a car parts factory in the southern city of Guangzhou, pursuing her interest in labor activism.
May - Workers - Plant - Workers - Trade
In May, she was fired for organizing workers at the plant. Undeterred, she began advocating for workers trying to form an autonomous trade union at Jasic International, a welding machinery exporter in nearby Shenzhen.
Shen is part of a cohort of activists across China who have been supporting and publicizing worker protests and detentions at a time of slowing economic growth.
Activists - Students - Graduates - Factory - Workers
The activists include students and recent graduates, as well as retired factory workers and Communist Party members.
While they appear to be small in number, the activists are drawing rare attention to calls for greater union representation from Chinese workers, particularly in the south, where demands for more pay are growing.
Challenge - Ruling - Communist - Party - Labor
This unrest poses a challenge for the ruling Communist Party, which opposes independent labor action and punishes protesters. It also views the activists as a threat to its authority.
Shen told Reuters last week she believed the authorities had been intimidating her parents to get her to stop her activism.
Saturday - Night - Parents - Jasic - Factory
On Saturday night, after dining with her parents near the Jasic factory, Shen was bundled into a car by three unidentified men, two student activists from Peking University who were at the scene told Reuters.
“Mengyu was shouting ‘What are you doing? Let me go, let me go’,” one of the activists said. “Everything happened so quickly, we ran to get help and by the time we came back she and the car had disappeared.”
Students - Abduction - Police - Account
The students said they reported the abduction to the police, who doubted their account and refused...
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