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Chinese Workers and the Law: Misplaced Trust?

One fascinating question concerning labour activism in contemporary China regards the attitude of Chinese migrant workers towards the law. In recent years, much has been written about the ‘rights awakening’ (quanli de juexing) of Chinese workers. But what kind of rights are we talking about? Do they respond to an entirely subjective concept of justice […]

Chinese Workers and the Legal System: Bridging the Gap in Representation

In 2007, the Chinese authorities issued the Labour Contract Law to grant new legal protections to workers and the Labour Dispute Mediation and Arbitration Law to make it easier for them to enforce their rights through litigation. In the decade that followed, Chinese workers have increasingly turned to labour arbitration and courts in the hope […]

The Chinese Working Class: Made, Unmade, in Itself, for Itself, or None of the Above?

China’s working class dwarfs those of all other countries. It has undergone several rounds of momentous and wrenching change over the past hundred years—from early industrialisation and urban growth, through the Japanese invasion and the Second World War, to the 1949 Chinese Communist Party (CCP) takeover and Maoist Era mobilisation, the advent of reform and […]

Laying Off Responsibility: Microcredit, Entrepreneurship, and China’s Industrial Retrenchment

When the news broke earlier this year that Chinese state-owned steel and coal companies would be laying off anywhere between 1.8 to 6 million workers over the next two to three years, the government quickly moved to provide assurances that the socioeconomic fallout would be mitigated through 150 million yuan in assistance for the newly […]

The Resistance of Walmart Workers in China: A Breakthrough in the Chinese Labour Movement

On 21 June, the Walmart Chinese Workers’ Association (WCWA) announced in its blog that it and its American counterpart, OUR Walmart (Organisation United for Respect at Walmart), had joined hands in cyberspace to discuss how to move forward in their struggle against Walmart. This marks a new stage in recent Chinese labour history. This time […]

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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