Foreign enterprises breaking laws will be duly punished
On Dec 19, a local court in Shanghai sentenced an entrepreneur with foreign citizenship to five months' detention plus a fine of 40,000 yuan ($6,082) because he owed 158 of his employees 600,000 yuan. Beijing News comments:
According to the law, every worker has the right to get paid for his or her labor. Yet in reality, some enterprises always tend to delay paying their workers using one excuse or another.
Most of the victims are manual laborers who have a relatively lower education background and fewer channels for seeking help. Worse, they also belong to a vulnerable group in society, because their incomes are low and their influence is weak.
As early as 2003, there was a nationwide campaign to put a stop to companies not paying or withholding the wages of laborers, and the situation improved. In January 2013, the Supreme People's Court officially confirmed it is a crime for companies to maliciously delay paying their employees, and those doing so will receive a criminal penalty.
In this case, the entrepreneur with a foreign citizenship had obviously broken the Criminal Law because the labor rights protection agencies had several times asked him to pay his workers, but he did not do that. It was not until the judicial process began that he paid part of the payment he owed to his employees. Therefore, it is safe to conclude he deserved the criminal penalty he got.
No less importantly, the case reminds all market participants that everyone is equal when it comes to the law. Foreigners must abide by Chinese laws when they run businesses in China. Of course, they should not be discriminated against, and their legal rights should be protected the same way as their Chinese counterparts.
We hope all entrepreneurs, domestic and foreign, learn a lesson from the ruling.