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...
06.06.17

Possible Foreign NGO Law-Related Detentions: What We Know, and What We Don’t

Jessica Batke
Three labor activists affiliated with the New York-based China Labor Watch (CLW) were detained in China last week. Reports suggest that they were detained for investigating labor practices at factories in Jiangxi and Guangdong provinces. This comes...

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...

China Labor Unrest Spreads to ‘New Economy’

Hudson Lockett
Financial Times
Retail and logistics sectors hit by strikes and protests once focused on industry

For Couriers, China’s E-Commerce Boom Can Be a Tough Road

Ryan McMorrow
New York Times
The Chinese e-commerce industry has been built on the backs of couriers—called kuaidi, or express delivery, in China. They number 1.2 million, and online retailers like Alibaba use them to zip packages to customers by scooter or three-wheeled...

Step Inside China’s Hellish, Illicit Steel Factories

Laura Mallonee
Wired
Kevin Frayer's photographs of illegal Chinese steel factories look like postcards from the dawn of the Industrial Revolution ...

Reports

07.26.16

The Condom Quandary

Asia Catalyst
Sex work is illegal in China, and law enforcement practices that focus on condoms as evidence of prostitution are having a negative impact on HIV prevention among sex workers. When Lanlan, who runs a community-based organization (CBO) and support...

Viewpoint

07.26.16

Sex Workers and Condoms

Charmain Mohamed & Shen Tingting
China has long taken a punitive approach to sex work, but sex workers in China have recently experienced the harshest crackdown in a decade. The “strike hard” campaigns which began in Beijing and Dongguan in 2010 and 2014 respectively, ultimately...

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.

Culture

06.29.16

Using Free Sex to Expose Sexual Abuse in China

Jonathan Landreth
Nanfu Wang hoped that a woman called Ye Haiyan (“Hooligan Sparrow”), who had offered free sex on the Internet to draw attention to the plight of poor women selling their bodies to support their children, would lead her to the prostitutes she wanted...

Why Chinese Companies in Africa Are Improving Their Behavior

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Chinese companies around the world, particularly in Africa, have a well-earned reputation for being bad corporate citizens. There are countless stories of labor rights violations, disregard of environmental policies, and lack of engagement with...

Photo Gallery

12.01.15

Life After Death

Sim Chi Yin
A family mourns the loss of a husband and father, who died after a decade-long fight against silicosis contracted while working in China’s gold mines. He was one of an estimated 6 million workers in China who have some form of pneumoconiosis, the...

Episode 36 – Sim Chi Yin

Sharron Lovell & Sim Chi Yin
Multimedia Week
Sharron Lovell speaks with Sim Chi Yin about crossing the lines between journalism and advocacy. Chi Yin recently published her four year story following a Chinese gold miner suffering with the lung disease silicosis, caused by years of inhaling...

Video

06.10.15

A Miner’s China Dream

Sim Chi Yin
Over the four years I have known him, He Quangui, a gold miner from Shaanxi, has told me many times he wants to travel with me back to Beijing. It’s not just me he wants to visit. He dreams of going to the Chinese leadership’s compound, Zhongnanhai...

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 (...

Is Chinese Corporate Behavior Improving in Africa?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The list of grievances against Chinese companies operating in Africa is long and varied, from violations of labor rights to environmental destruction to widespread allegations of corruption. Although it is hard to tell how many companies are truly...

China Labor Strife Rises; Death of a Foreman

Chun Han Wong
Wall Street Journal
As the Lunar New Year homeward migration approaches, workers press for back-wages.

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...

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. 

As Wal-Mart Swallows China’s Economy, Workers Fight Back

Esther Wang
American Prospect
As Wal-Mart expands in China, activists and academics have found that along with “Wal-Mart culture,” the company has also imported abuses familiar to those who follow Wal-Mart in the United States.

Reports

03.07.13

Between the Lines: Listening to Female Factory Workers in China

BSR
Women are crucial to China’s manufacturing sector. While women comprise more than 44% of the overall workforce, they represent about 60% of workers who migrate from rural areas to cities to work in factories. These female workers are diverse, with...

The Persistence of Problems in China’s Factories

Stanley Lubman
Wall Street Journal
A riot involving 2,000 workers at a factory in the northern Chinese city of Taiyuan on Sunday night once has once again shined a light on conditions at factories owned by Apple Inc. supplier Foxconn. The cause of the riot appears to have been a...