Who are the student who “go to Shenzhen”? Yue Xin, from Beijing to Shenzhen
“Go to Shenzhen” had been the call of the Jasic Workers Solidarity Support Group. They called upon the students in support of the Jasic workers to set up their own union to go to the scene at Shenzhen. Since the 727 Arrest in late July, students who supported Jasic workers have become a focus of the labour dispute. The workers action in southern China has received support from students in major universities, and many students put their words into action and supported the campaign on-site in Shenzhen. After Shen Meng-yu was forced to “disappear”, graduate from Beijing University Yue Xin became the representative of the Jasic Workers Solidarity Support Group. On 24 August when the police “cleared the scene”, she was arrested together with more than 50 members of the Support Group and is still out of contact.
Yue Xin came to be known by others in the Shen Yang Case of the Beijing University this year, when she and other students look into a case of sexual violence happened in 1988 in the university. In 1988, the Beijing University only issued a warning to Shen Yang for the sexual violence. 20 years later, the victim’s friend Li You-you was inspired by the #metoo campaign and issued an open letter on the case. Though the Nanjing University subsequently dismissed Shen Yang, Beijing University was silent on the matter. In April 2018, Yue Xin and a few students decided to apply for “information disclosure” and asked the Beijing University to release details of the case.
Faced with an application for “information disclosure”, the Beijing University, a public institution, did not release the information according to regulations, but harassed the students and forced them to withdraw the application. The Beijing University exerted pressure on her family members, hinted that her degree qualification might be affected by the application and claimed that was a “destabilizing” action. Yue Xin made public the suppression from the university. Her open letter went viral and was eventually uploaded as trade information on the Block Chain, and the Chinese government could do nothing about it. You might not have read the open letter, but you might have seen the news on use of block chain in civil resistance on Facebook.
Before the #metoo campaign in Beijing University, Yue Xin has been writing columns for the Southern Weekly with a pen name. In an interview, she claimed herself to be a liberalist when she was in high school, and turned to the left-wing at university and gradually became a Marxist.
It might be too far a journey for Yue Xin to go to Shenzhen to support the Jasic workers. She went to support teaching in Yunnan province in 2015, and was an exchange student to Indonesia which is further south. She brought something new to the Yunnan students, as she cared for village children in western districts who often received little sex education. Girls who go to the cities for work often face sexual harassment or even sexual violence, and most of them remained silent and did not fight back. Moreover, 4% of the unmarried girls between the age of 15 to 24 in China are pregnant. Yue Xin used a cucumber to teach girls at junior high school in the village to use a condom. Such a practice would bring a lot of noises from the conservative education institutions, both in China or Hong Kong. Her lessons, breaking the taboo about sex, taught girls to protect themselves and prevent sexual harassment in the campus, and aroused attention from the media.
Yue Xin majored in Bahasa Indonesia in Beijing University. She got to know left-wing student organizations in Indonesia when she was doing exchange programme at the university there, and recorded the Labour Day parade in Jakarta. “Anti-communist” is the most “politically correct” position in Indonesia, but worker and peasant movements have been staying active. With her fluent Bahasa Indonesia, Yue Xin was able to publish a number of articles on history of left-wing movement in Indonesia.
You might have heard about the Marxist study group in Beijing University. A group of students were suppressed by the government when they have taken it too serious in reading Marxist theories. One among the eight students being chased after by the government was Gu Jia-yue, editor of Shi-dai-xian-feng website, who was later arrested in the Jasic workers’ struggle. They met in Beijing University and Yue Xin considered her an inspiring companion. The left-wing students in Beijing University have always concerned about workers’ rights in the campus, and released reports on working conditions of logistics support workers in 2015 and 2018 respectively. In 2016, workers in a library in Beijing University demanded for their overdue wages, which probably has influence on the students of the Marxist study group.
The “Go to Shenzhen” student group in the Jasic labour dispute spoke for the young generation who refuse to be slaved. They tried so hard to get rid of their elites status and sometime went too far in self-reflection (like calling their origins as “original sin”), motivated by imagination of unity of students and workers in the campaign. Rights of women and grassroots are not marginal in this campaign.
“People in the compartment, have the responsibility to move forward,” sings My Little Airport. Young people like Yue Xin are listening to their songs and fighting on the other side of the river, Shenzhen.