Responding to rising concerns about enslavement and child labor in China, the government announced a nationwide crackdown on such practices on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Teams will be dispatched across the country to investigate conditions in small rural kilns, mines and workshops. A directive to "strike hard against law-breaking and … criminal forces [and] rescue all the victims" was passed down following a meeting of the State Council Standing Committee, chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao. In a summary of the meeting, it was acknowledged that abduction, coerced labor, restriction of personal freedoms, the employment of children and "malicious wounding to the point of death" had taken place at kilns in Shanxi province. This was the first high-level response to the incidents, which have been met with disgust by the Chinese public. The governor of Shanxi province, Yu Youjun, made a self-criticism at the meeting on behalf of his administration. Local officials and police have been accused of ignoring the situation or even participating in the abduction of workers. One kiln owner already arrested is the son of a village party secretary.
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