Ivan Franceschini is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Political and Social Change, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, The Australian National University. He has been working on Chinese labour activism for over a decade and his current research mainly focuses on China's presence in Cambodia.

The Power of Place: A Conversation with Mark Frazier

Shanghai and Mumbai are leading centres of manufacturing and finance. In The Power of Place: Contentious Politics in Twentieth-Century Shanghai and Bombay (Cambridge University Press 2019), Mark Frazier adopts a comparative historical lens to chronicle the political biographies of these metropolises, reconstructing an impressive series of riots, strikes, and protests that shook the two cities […]

Disenfranchised: A Conversation with Joel Andreas

Work units (单位) and the ‘cradle-to-grave’ employment model that they represented have not escaped the general rejection of China’s Maoist past. Not only have they become symbols of inefficiency, but they have also been criticised for putting workers in a position of total dependence and therefore subjugation. In Disenfranchised: The Rise and Fall of Industrial […]

City Making and Global Labour Regimes: A Conversation with Antonella Ceccagno

Chinese immigrants in European societies have often been perceived as a threat, especially in those contexts affected by economic decline and industrial retrenchment. Prato is no exception to this. Once a flourishing textile hub in which local entrepreneurs dominated the industry, a couple of decades ago the Italian city entered a phase of decline. It […]

The Internet in China: A Conversation with Gianluigi Negro

For the past couple of decades, the Internet has been one of the most contentious arenas for public discourse in China, a site of confrontation between authorities eager to exert control and users attempting to re-appropriate discursive spaces. In his book The Internet in China: From Infrastructure to Nascent Civil Society (Palgrave Macmillan 2017), Gianluigi […]

How the Chinese Censors Highlight Fundamental Flaws in Academic Publishing

Heads of major international organisations and world-famous actresses are not all that has been disappearing in China in recent months. According to a complaint recently posted online by several scholars, Springer Nature—the world’s largest academic publisher—is guilty of removing ‘politically sensitive’ content published in the Transcultural Research book series from their Chinese website at the […]

Hegemonic Transformation: A Conversation with Elaine Sio-Ieng Hui

Discussions of Chinese labour are generally dominated by stories of exploitation. Relatively little attention has been paid to the fact that over the past two decades the Chinese authorities have developed an impressive body of labour laws and regulations. There has been even less notice of the fact that this legislation was widely disseminated among the Chinese public through the official media, or of how these laws have regularly elicited widespread domestic discussion. But how to reconcile these notable legislative achievements with the global image of a government that apparently does not care for the wellbeing of its workers? In Hegemonic Transformation (Palgrave Macmillan 2017), Elaine Sio-Ieng Hui addresses this paradox.

The Last Days of Shi Yang

What follows is a fictionalised account of the last days of Shi Yang (1889–1923) based on the prison diaries included in the commemorative volume Shi Yang jinian wenji (Museum of the 7 February Massacre, Wuhan 1988). Shi Yang was a weiquan lawyer ante litteram, and to this day he remains an inspiration to many labour activists in China. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) celebrates him as a martyr of the revolution, the irony of which will not escape those who are aware of the plight of human rights lawyers and labour activists in the country today. That in April 2018 the Chinese government passed a new law to protect the reputation and honour of ‘its’ heroes and martyrs can be seen as further adding to the irony.

A ‘Pessoptimistic’ View of Chinese Labour NGOs

We’ve entered a grey area: we’re not organisations anymore, and maybe in the future we’ll be reduced to only a few individuals.   This was the ominous prediction of one Chinese labour activist in Shenzhen in 2016. If we consider that these words were proffered in the midst of the worst crackdown that labour NGOs […]

Resurrecting the Dead

Lu Xun today lives a new life in his homeland as well as abroad. However, given the vastness and unevenness of his oeuvre, not all his works receive the same attention. In particular, one collection of short stories stands out for their neglect: Old Tales Retold, a series of comic sketches based on ancient Chinese myths and legends published shortly before his death. This essay focusses on this semi-forgotten pearl and its relevance for today’s readers.

Beyond the Great Paywall: A Lesson from the Cambridge University Press China Incident

On 18 August it was revealed that Cambridge University Press had complied with the demands of Chinese government censors to block access on its website in China to hundreds of ‘politically sensitive’ articles published in its prestigious China Quarterly journal. The ensuing debate has generally overlooked the problematic nature of the commercial academic publishing industry. Isn’t it time to take the profit motive out of the equation and to rediscover a certain measure of idealism in academia?

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