A thorough look through Google search results for “Huadu” “teacher” and “protest” suggests a media blackout, which the teachers seem to have expected, as the story has been reported on closely at the 21Teacher internet forum, at least until comments were turned off early this afternoon. Of net news sites, GoldenGoat Net, Sina and Netease have run stories, some of which have since been deleted, along with other bbs forum and blog posts. Posts at 21Teacher estimate that between seven hundred to a thousand teachers appeared on the Huadu Plaza steps at nine this morning, and four hundred patrol and riot police—who some spectators say got violent with at least one teacher—being surrounded by spectators reportedly numbering between two to ten thousand, many of which it was speculated were also teachers. One statement not being refuted online is that the teachers have remained peaceful, breaking their “silent sit-in” only to sing The Internationale.
Chances are the PLA would be sent in to ‘negotiate’ if China's state unions went and tried to organize activities on behalf of their members, so what, asks forum member lhghk123, might have instigated this? An misinterpreted signal from the top, it seems, from someone who probably meant every word he said:
Two days ago, December 31, 2006, General-Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, National Chairman and Chairman of the Military Commission of the CPC Central Committee, Hu Jintao visited key county in the country's poverty alleviation program Weichang Manchu/Mongolian Autonomous County in Hebei Province's Chengde City to both investigate the economic and social development situation and pay respects to the grassroots level cadres and masses. At Yudaokou boarding elementary school, Hu Jintao said to teachers, “I express my deepest repect to you.” At the same time, he told the party committees and governments at all levels to passionately care for for teachers working in the countryside, especially those in poverty-stricken areas, and to create for them the best work, study and living conditions.
There's no union to better articulate the demands but according to forum poster hdjs, they are for education officials to:
Didn't take long for the cops to show up, and 21Teacher user tys123 was there to take some photos:
Commenter Huadu Watch (花都关注):
Commenter May All Your Wishes Come True (心想事成):
According to another post from Huadu Watch, a peaceful sit-in protest is fully within their rights according to point nine of article seventy-six of the sixth chapter of the most recent update to Mandatory Education Law, implemented on September 7, 2006, which reads:
To which user ‘student’ says:
Shortly before 21Teacher stopped allowing new posts and comments and information from teachers and those at the scene from sharing the latest updates, user 20070101 wrote:
But 21Teacher wasn't the only website censoring news of the event, according to poster ‘orange'; just the nicest:
Blackout imposed on media means citizen reporting of the event has limits. User ‘teacher’ posts some financial details regarding Huadu from one news website dating back to the first financial quarter of 2006:
Confirming that, some bloggers pointed out that teachers in Huadu saw salaries raised last year by 300 yuan, or USD 38 per month, but was it enough? Other bloggers have mentioned vast disparities exist between salaries for teachers in Huadu and those in other districts, although no figures have yet been given on 21Teacher.
Not all the commenters agree with the striking teachers, like one anonymouse user who posted ‘Several Reasons Not To Give Teachers A Pay Raise’:
2. In many poverty-stricken regions, there are still many children who can't afford to go to school, who can't learn. If teachers just took a little less and put this money toward sending those kids to school, China would have a few less illiterates, so why don't they?
3. The spirit of this profession teaching is dedication to begin with. If you choose this profession, you should feel this way.
4. At present, many teachers open up their homes offering private tutoring to their students. Every class fee is different. Twenty to thirty for junior high, forty to seventy for senior high, and even more so for university professors.
5. In the city, teachers drive to work, and live in commercial housing. In some so-called well-known schools, this is something quite common. As if they need still need raises?
If raises are really needed, it should be given to teachers in the hills and villages, because they are the most selfless.