Kevin Lin is China Programme Officer at the International Labor Rights Forum. His research interests focus on labour and employment relations in China’s state sector, and China’s labour movement and civil society.

State Repression in the Jasic Aftermath: From Punishment to Preemption

Although several months have passed since the Jasic struggle (Zhang 2019), in the aftermath of the mobilisation labour activism remains under assault in China. On 20 January, five activists involved in various labour NGOs in Shenzhen were unexpectedly arrested (Elmer 2019). They were picked up by Shenzhen police in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Changsha. Among them, […]

CNPolitics: A Conversation with Fang Kecheng

We are happy to announce a new collaboration between the Made in China Journal and the website CNPolitics.org, a Chinese-language academic website specialising in the popularisation of social science research. In the coming months, CNPolitics will translate and feature a selection of our articles, making them available to a Chinese-speaking audience. In this conversation, CNPolitics […]

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 […]

Eviction and the Right to the City

Beijing’s eviction of migrants from their dwellings in November 2017 following a deadly fire left tens of thousands homeless within days. It was rightly seen not as a legitimate response to a fire hazard but a convenient opportunity to push forward new political goals with regard to the city’s migrant population. The evictions were undoubtedly […]

Beijing’s eviction of migrants from their dwellings in November 2017 following a deadly fire left tens of thousands homeless within days. It was rightly seen not as a legitimate response to a fire hazard but a convenient opportunity to push forward new political goals with regard to the city’s migrant population. The evictions were undoubtedly not just an unintended consequence of a disaster. They were preceded by the forced closing of shops, restaurants and housings in similar areas, and by the announcement of a plan to relocate Beijing’s city government and public institutions to a nearby province. This is part of a wider strategy to supposedly slow down the urban growth of the capital—moves that have produced heightened anxiety and uncertainty among the Chinese floating population. This poses the question: do migrants in today’s China have a right to the city?

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Collective Bargaining or Universal Basic Income: Which Way Forward for Chinese Workers?

The loss of political support for collective bargaining has stripped the Chinese labour movement of one of its few unifying forces. In light of this decline, in a recent essay Eli Friedman has argued that collective bargaining should be replaced with universal basic income (UBI) as a common goal of the movement. But would UBI be able to play such a role? What may be gained or lost by mobilising around UBI? To respond to these questions, this essay compares the two strategies with regard to a number of crucial aspects.

Labour Protests in the State Sector: Back to the Nineties?

In the first quarter of this year, a week-long strike at an ailing state-owned steel factory in Guangzhou, a street protest by miners in Heilongjiang denouncing the governor for a misleading remark about their wages, and a symbolically powerful convergence of coal miners in the once revolutionary area of Anyuan in Jiangxi, have raised concerns […]

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