Biopolitical Binaries (or How Not to Read the Chinese Protests)

On 26 November 2022, prompted by a deadly fire in a high-rise apartment block in Ürümqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, protesters took to streets and university campuses across China calling for an end to the country’s restrictive ‘zero Covid’ policy (清零政策) (Davidson and Yu 2022). Unsurprisingly, the libertarian right, anti-maskers, and […]

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Praising a Dead Dictator: How US Officials’ Visits to Taiwan Wade into Complex Historical Debates

In August 2022, US Senator Marsha Blackburn travelled to Taiwan in what was the last of three visits by members of the US Congress during that month alone. The trip occurred soon after Nancy Pelosi had visited the island with a bipartisan delegation of other elected US officials in what was the first visit by […]

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Everything Is Different, but Nothing Has Changed: 
The Past Decade for China’s Workers

Over the past decade, dramatic economic, social, and technological changes have affected the landscape of workers’ rights in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). But what did these transformations entail for China’s workers? In a recently released report entitled ‘Reimagining Workers’ Rights in China’ (CLB 2022d), we took a worker-centred approach to answering this question […]

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China’s Ratification of the ILO Forced Labour Conventions: A Hollow Gesture?

There was a lukewarm welcome from the international community to China’s announcement in April 2022 that it would ratify the International Labour Organization’s two forced labour conventions: the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) and the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105). Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Guy Ryder’s statement that […]

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Is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank a Responsible Investor?

When the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was first announced by China in 2013, a flurry of speculation erupted around which countries would join and how closely the new institution would follow the path trodden by traditional multilateral development banks such as the World Bank. Human rights advocates and environmentalists were particularly concerned that the […]

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The Third Road: Where Will Xi Jinping Go in 2022?

Earlier this year, two veteran analysts of Chinese politics, Richard McGregor and Jude Blanchette (2021), published a comprehensive report, laying out four possible scenarios for the next leadership succession in China’s new era. In two of these scenarios, Xi Jinping is out of the picture as the result of either a coup or ‘unexpected death […]

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The Chinese Trade Union to the Rescue: A Real Solution to Platform Workers’ Woes?

During a conversation we had a few years ago, an international trade unionist shared with me an anecdote from a recent encounter with a Chinese trade union. A delegation of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) had travelled overseas and met with his organisation as part of semi-regular exchanges. This was at a time […]

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The Final Sheathing of La Cuarta Espada

Abimael Guzmán liked to present himself as a studious man who dedicated himself, body and soul, to learning and teaching Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, a doctrine that he held aloft as insurmountable truth. In this sense, he was more of a prophet, or messiah, than a scientist. He was someone who felt that he was called, due to […]

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Is China’s Belt and Road Initiative Slowing Down?

Over seven years since China launched its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a widely held view from the outside is that this endeavour has now slowed down. Such an assessment is typically supported by evidence that China’s overseas financing has been in decline even before the COVID-19 pandemic. An influential article published in the […]

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Inciting Subversion by Association: 120 Days in Detention

On 16 February 2020, just a few hours after her partner Xu Zhiyong, a leading Chinese human rights lawyer, was detained, women’s rights and labour activist Li Qiaochu went missing. China’s state security bodies would hold her incommunicado for four months under the system known as ‘residential surveillance at a designated location’ on suspicion of […]

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