09.07.18

Preventing "Enemy Infiltration" in Shanghai

The Shanghai Federation of Trade Unions recently published an official document listing foreign NGO management work under the rubric of “social stability and preventing enemy infiltration.” Given the timing, it is unlikely the document was fully...
09.07.18

Shanghai Labor Union Preventing “Enemy Infiltration” along with Managing Foreign NGOs

Jessica Batke
In an official document dated late July, the Shanghai Federation of Trade Unions, the city’s branch of the country’s official, Party-affiliated trade union, outlined the major themes of its work going forward, including preventing “enemy...

Conversation

05.18.18

Does China Have a Jobs Problem?

Geoffrey Crothall, Ivan Franceschini & more
In a surprise Sunday tweet, U.S. President Donald Trump said he supported helping the phone-maker ZTE, a Chinese tech giant which has been one of the hardest hit from U.S.-China trade tensions. “Too many jobs in China lost,” he wrote. Though Trump...

Why Is China Suddenly Seeking Filipino English Teachers?

Coco Liu
South China Morning Post
Beijing shifts its attitude towards workers from the Philippines.
04.18.18

Government Cartoon Portrays ‘Foreign NGOs’ as National Security Concern

As part of the third annual “National Security Education Day” on April 15, several Chinese government institutions released a cartoon warning citizens to be on alert for attempts at foreign political infiltration. The cartoon shows a foreign NGO...

3M and H&M Probe Claim They Used Chinese Prison Labor

Daniel Shane
CNN
Three big Western companies are investigating allegations that prisoners in China made packaging bearing their brand names.

Conversation

12.13.17

Is Chinese Investment Good for Workers?

Aaron Halegua, Yu Zheng & more
China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a $1 trillion plan to deepen economic relations between itself and up to 60 other countries worldwide through large investments in infrastructure, construction, and other projects. Many commentators have...

Africa Will Take China’s Place as the next Factory of the World

Irene Yuan Sun
Quartz
I’m only thirty, but I personally witnessed a time when China’s now car-clogged streets were full of bicycles instead. Such has been the rapidity of China’s transformation, sparked by the rise of Factory China. In the quarter century since I first...

Gaps in Records Cloak China’s North Korean ‘Slave Laborers’ in Mystery

South China Morning Post
It is an open secret that a significant number of North Korean laborers work in China and Russia in border cities, especially in Siberia. But owing to minimal record-keeping, little is known about the workers’ presence or activities

China Charges Labor Activist for ‘Picking Quarrels’

Chun Han Wang
Wall Street Journal
A Chinese activist who for years has documented worker unrest faced charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” on Friday, in a trial seen as a bellwether of Beijing’s approach to containing labor tensions.

Books

04.21.17

A New Deal for China’s Workers?

Cynthia Estlund
China’s labor landscape is changing, and it is transforming the global economy in ways that we cannot afford to ignore. Once-silent workers have found their voice, organizing momentous protests, such as the 2010 Honda strikes, and demanding a better deal. China’s leaders have responded not only with repression but with reforms. Are China’s workers on the verge of a breakthrough in industrial relations and labor law reminiscent of the American New Deal?In A New Deal for China’s Workers? Cynthia Estlund views this changing landscape through the comparative lens of America’s twentieth-century experience with industrial unrest. China’s leaders hope to replicate the widely shared prosperity, political legitimacy, and stability that flowed from America’s New Deal, but they are irrevocably opposed to the independent trade unions and mass mobilization that were central to bringing it about. Estlund argues that the specter of an independent labor movement, seen as an existential threat to China’s one-party regime, is both driving and constraining every facet of its response to restless workers.China’s leaders draw on an increasingly sophisticated toolkit in their effort to contain worker activism. The result is a surprising mix of repression and concession, confrontation and cooptation, flaws and functionality, rigidity and pragmatism. If China’s laborers achieve a New Deal, it will be a New Deal with Chinese characteristics, very unlike what workers in the West achieved in the last century. Estlund’s sharp observations and crisp comparative analysis make China’s labor unrest and reform legible to Western readers. —Harvard University Press{chop}

Report Shows Labor Conditions at Chinese and American Firms in Kenya Comparable

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Nairobi-based researcher Zander Rounds joins Eric and Cobus to discuss a new comparative study on employment relations at Chinese and American firms in Kenya. Zander co-authored the report with China House Kenya founder Huang Hongxiang as part of a...

‘We the Workers’: On the Front Lines of China’s Record-Level Labor Unrest

James Griffiths
CNN
Zhang Zhiru is one of a shrinking number of Chinese labor activists helping workers in the world’s second largest economy fight for their rights—an ongoing crackdown has seen dozens detained and slapped with heavy prison sentences.

China Exports Slide on Weak Demand

Mark Magnier
Wall Street Journal
Global uncertainty and headwinds continue to buffet the world’s second-largest economy.

Caixin Media

08.02.16

Revival, Resistance for National Pension Push

Bridging the “regional divide” that separates affluent and less affluent areas is a main goal as the central government revives a stalled effort to form a nationwide pension system.The State Council, China’s cabinet, laid the groundwork for a...

Features

07.01.16

The Rockets’ Red Glare

Kathleen McLaughlin & Noy Thrupkaew from Slate
The vast majority of the world’s fireworks come from China. And sometimes they explode early, with deadly consequences.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Chinese in Africa But Were Too Afraid to Ask

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
The Chinese presence in Africa has been so sudden and so all-encompassing that it’s left a lot of people confused. Chinese farmers now compete for space and customers in Lusaka’s open-air markets, Chinese textiles are undercutting Nigerian...

China: Scaling The World’s Highest Innovation Peaks

Vikram Jandhyala
TechCrunch
The word “innovation” was mentioned 71 times in a communiqué after the Chinese Communist Party’s recent plenary meeting. 

Conversation

12.23.15

China in 2016

Andrew J. Nathan, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian & more
What should China watchers be watching most closely in China in 2016? What developments would be the most meaningful? What predictions can be made sensibly?

China’s Workers Are Fighting Back as Economic Dream Fades

MARK MAGNIER
Wall Street Journal
For workers like Li Jiang, factory closings represent a failed promise of a better life earned far from home.

Caixin Media

12.14.15

Lack of Clear Policy Direction on Two-Child Rule Leaves Nation Guessing

Regional family-planning officials say the lack of clarity on when the new two-child rule will come into effect has put them in legal limbo, unable to issue birth permits to couples who conceive a second child before the new policy kicks in, leading...

The Strange Case of 77 Blue-Collar Chinese Migrants That Kenya Is Calling “Cyber-Hackers”

Lily Kuo
Quartz
Their arrests are emblematic of a slowly brewing backlash against Chinese immigration to Africa.

Two-Child Policy Is Too Little, Too Late

Adam Minter
Bloomberg
When Chinese leaders convene this week for a four-day meeting on the future of the country’s economy, the biggest news might have to do with babies.

How hard does China work?

Tom Phillips
Guardian
A look at the realities of working life in China, following Jeremy Hunt’s suggestion that Britons need to work as hard as the Chinese.

The Village and the Girl

Carrie Gracie
BBC
The destruction of rural China became for pig farmer Xiao Zhang a liberation and an opportunity.

China’s Troubling Robot Revolution

Martin Ford
New York Times
China may face a staggering challenge as it attempts to adapt to the realities of a new age.

Caixin Media

06.09.15

China’s Cabinet Unveils Plan to Improve Rural Schools

The State Council has released a plan for improving the quality of education in rural areas over the next five years—a move the cabinet says is aimed at improving the quality of teaching at primary and secondary schools in the country’s less-...

NO! China is NOT Exporting Convict Labor to Africa!!!!

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Fifteen minutes into almost any conversation about the Chinese in Africa, the question about Chinese labor invariably comes up. “The Chinese are exporting convicts to work on construction sites,” according to one of the pervasive myths, or, “Chinese...

A Flash Point in China-Africa Relations Re-Opens in Zambia

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
When critics of the Chinese in Africa make their case, the Collum coal mine in Zambia is invariably on their list of grievances. The controversial mine has been the site of violent labor disputes that have severely injured, even killed, both...

Pool of Migrant Workers Expands Slower than in Past

Workers are also making more, National Bureau of Statistics says, and they are finding work closer to their rural homes.

Sinica Podcast

04.13.15

Styling It in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Sociologist Ben Ross, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, focuses on Chinese labor migration and related issues. He first got noticed by Sinica in 2007 while writing a blog about working as the only foreign "hair-washing trainee...

Who Knew? Madagascar Has Africa’s Third Largest Chinese Population

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The Chinese population on the east African island of Madagascar defies many of the poorly-informed, albeit widely-held, stereotypes about Chinese migrants on the rest of the continent. First, the community in Madagascar isn't small or isolated...

Viewpoint

02.20.15

Major China Apple Supplier Pays Workers Less Than Foxconn

Jonathan Landreth & Kevin Slaten
Apple, the world’s most beloved maker of sleek mobile phones, powerful personal computers, and slim portable music players recently reported record profits—money a new report from the New York-based nongovernmental organization China Labor Watch (...

Conversation

10.23.14

Are China’s Economic Reforms Coming Fast Enough?

Daniel H. Rosen, David Hoffman & more
Economic data show a slowdown in China. At least two opposing views of what’s next for the world’s largest economy have just been published: one skeptical, from David Hoffman at The Conference Board, and one cautiously optimistic, from Dan Rosen and...

Viewpoint

09.18.14

More Exploitation, More Happiness

Kevin Slaten
It was one of the deadliest industrial disasters in recent Chinese history. On August 2, a massive metal dust explosion killed 75 workers and injured another 186 at a factory in Kunshan, in Jiangsu province, that supplied wheels to General Motors...

Environment

09.10.14

The Dark Side of the Boom

Isabel Hilton from chinadialogue
Just over a year ago, in July 2013, a report published in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, put the health impacts of air pollution in China into an unusually clear framework: residents of south China, the report said...

Death Toll Rises to 75 in Chinese Factory Blast

Jack Chang
Associated Press
The death toll in for an explosion at a Chinese auto parts factory has risen to 75 people, as investigators fault poor safety measures and news reports reveal that workers had long complained of dangerous levels of dust.

Conversation

07.17.14

How to Read China’s New Press Restrictions

David Schlesinger, Orville Schell & more
On June 30, China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television posted a statement on its website warning Chinese journalists not to share information with their counterparts in the foreign press corps. Most major...

China Said to Deport Models for Working Illegally

Edward Wong
New York Times
Chinese authorities have deported scores of foreign models whom they detained earlier this month in Beijing on accusations that the models were working illegally, said a model who once worked in China.

Viewpoint

05.16.14

Government Steps Up To Labor’s Demands

Kevin Slaten
On April 14, most of the 40,000 workers at the Dongguan Yue Yuen shoe factory—supplier to Nike, Adidas, and other international brands—began what would become a two-week work stoppage. While there are thousands of strikes in China every year, the...

Anger Grows in Vietnam Over Dispute With China

Mike Ives and Thomas Fuller
New York Times
Thousands of workers rampaged through an industrial area in southern Vietnam in what reportedly began as protests against China’s stationing of an oil rig in disputed waters off of Vietnam’s coast.

China Inc. Moves Factory Floor to Africa

Peter Wonacott
Wall Street Journal
Faced with rising labor costs at home and negative perceptions about their employment practices in Africa, Chinese companies are setting up new factories on the continent and hiring more Africans.

Alibaba Works Magic for China's Taobao 'Treasure Hunters'

Callum MacLeod
USA Today
Alibaba's eBay-like marketplace Taobao allows budding entrepreneurs to set up and run an online store, for free. The site has steven million sellers offering hundreds of millions of items...

China’s Losers: Disillusioned Office Workers

Gady Epstein
Economist
Amid spreading prosperity, a generation of self-styled also-rans emerges.

Massive China Shoe Factory Strike Rolls on as Offer Falls Flat

John Ruwitch and Danny Kwok
Reuters
Chinese shoe factory workers shrugged off an offer of improved benefits, prolonging one of the largest strikes in recent years amid signs of increased labor activism as the economy slows.

Sinica Podcast

03.01.14

In Line Behind a Billion People

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by Damien Ma, author of In Line Behind a Billion People, a new book for China-watchers looking at how China’s lack of affordable housing, its food and air pollution, and the country’s poor education...

China’s Strong-Arm Tactics Toward U.S. Media Merit a Response

Washington Post
Chinese journalists get an open door to the United States. This reflects U.S. values and is fundamentally correct. If China continues to exclude and threaten American journalists, the U.S. should inject a little more symmetry into its visa policy.

Books

10.28.13

In Line Behind a Billion People

Damien Ma, William Adams
Nearly everything you know about China is wrong! Yes, within a decade, China will have the world’s largest economy. But that is the least important thing to know about China. In this enlightening book, two of the world’s leading China experts turn the conventional wisdom on its head, showing why China’s economic growth will constrain rather than empower it. Pioneering political analyst Damien Ma and global economist Bill Adams reveal why, having thirty-five years of ferocious economic growth, China’s future will be shaped by the same fundamental reality that has shaped it for millennia: scarcity.{node, 4231}Ma and Adams drill deep into Chinese society, illuminating all the scarcities that will limit its power and progress. Beyond scarcities of natural resources and public goods, they illuminate China’s persistent poverties of individual freedoms, cultural appeal, and ideological legitimacy—and the corrosive loss of values and beliefs amongst a growing middle class shackled by a parochial and inflexible political system. Everyone knows “the 21st century is China’s to lose”—but, as with so many things that “everyone knows,” that’s just wrong. Ma and Adams get beyond cheerleading and fearmongering to tell the complex truth about China today. This is a truth you need to hear—whether you’re an investor, business decision-maker, policymaker, or citizen. —Pearson{chop}

Excerpts

10.28.13

Stark Choices for China’s Leaders

Damien Ma & William Adams
One Beijing morning in early November 2012, seven men in dark suits strode onto the stage of the Great Hall of the People. China’s newly elected Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Xi Jinping stood at the center of the ensemble, flanked on each...

Workers’ Rights ‘Flouted’ at Apple iPhone Factory in China

Juliette Garside and Charles Arthur
Guardian
Staff are allegedly working without adequate protective equipment, at risk from chemicals, noise and lasers, for an average of 69 hours a week. Apple has a self-imposed limit of 60 working hours a week. 

Reports

06.01.13

Expanding Social Insurance Coverage in Urban China

John Giles, Dewen Wang, Albert Park
World Bank
This paper first reviews the history of social insurance policy and coverage in urban China, documenting the evolution in the coverage of pensions and medical and unemployment insurance for both local residents and migrants, and highlighting...

Media

05.17.13

Chinese Anxiety—In Debate About Overwork, a Glimpse of Shifting Expectations

Almost half of all Chinese report feeling “more anxiety” now than they did five years ago. What, exactly, is driving these concerns, or increasing reports of these concerns? Avid followers of China-related news might immediately think of censorship...

Excerpts

04.05.13

Living Underground

Ana Fuentes
They are called rats, and they have become a symbol of Beijing’s red-hot real estate market. Because of soaring housing costs, there are at least a million people living underground, only able to afford a rented room in the basements of skyscrapers...

Reports

03.28.13

China’s Demography and its Implications

Il Houng Lee, Xu Qingjun, Murtaza Syed
Luo Xiaoyuan
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
In coming decades, China will undergo a notable demographic transformation, with its old-age dependency ratio doubling to 24 percent by 2030 and rising even more precipitously thereafter. This paper uses the permanent income hypothesis to reassess...

Conversation

03.26.13

Can China Transform Africa?

Jeremy Goldkorn, Isabel Hilton & more
Jeremy Goldkorn:The question is all wrong. China is already transforming Africa, the question is how China is transforming Africa, not whether it can. From the “China shops”—small stores selling cheap clothing, bags, and kitchenware—that have become...

In China, A Vast Chasm Between the Rich and the Rest

Sim Chi Yin
New York Times
The passing coal miners in remote Shaanxi Province took one look at our marooned Audi and walked on, leaving us stuck on the sleet-covered mountain road. As dusk fell, I managed to mingle with some young migrant workers, and trek with them through a...

Hewlett Directs Its Suppliers in China to Limit Student Labor

Keith Bradsher and David Barboza
New York Times
Hewlett-Packard, one of the world’s largest makers of computers and other electronics, is imposing new limits on the employment of students and temporary agency workers at factories across China. 

China to Make State Firms Turn Over More Profits

Liyan Qi
Wall Street Journal
China unveiled guidelines on its long-awaited income redistribution plan by saying it would boost income for the poor, tighten its grip on illegal income and ask state companies to contribute more profits to the government.