Since 2017, the Chinese authorities have detained hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities in 'reeducation camps' in China's northwestern Xinjiang autonomous region. While the official reason for this mass detention was to prevent terrorism, the campaign has since become a wholesale attempt to remould the ways of life of these peoples—an experiment in social engineering aimed at erasing their cultures and traditions in order to transform them into 'civilised' citizens as construed by the Chinese state. Through a collection of essays penned by scholars who have conducted extensive research in the region, this volume sets itself three goals: first, to document the reality of the emerging surveillance state and coercive assimilation unfolding in Xinjiang in recent years and continuing today; second, to describe the workings and analyse the causes of these policies, highlighting how these developments insert themselves not only in domestic Chinese trends, but also in broader global dynamics; and, third, to propose action, to heed the progressive Left's call since Marx to change the world and not just analyse it.
Although much has been written about China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), so far little attention has been paid to how Chinese investment is affecting workers in BRI-targeted countries. To explore this dimension of global China, this paper examines the labor rights situation at Chinese-owned construction sites in Sihanoukville, a city on the Cambodian coast that in recent years has been described as embodying the worst excesses of Chinese foreign investment. Based on extensive interviews with Chinese and Cambodian workers, this paper argues that while Chinese-owned construction sites in Cambodia are grounded in a labor regime as exploitative as those in mainland China, workers' agency in the former case is further undermined by their employers' adoption of a policy of labor force dualism that draws boundaries between Chinese and Cambodian workers. (Crit Asian Stud/GIGA)
In recent years, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), the only trade union legally allowed in China, has become increasingly assertive on the international stage. Successive amendments to its constitution demand that the ACFTU not only assist the Chinese authorities in pushing forward the Belt and Road Initiative, but also reshape the current order of the international labour movement. Through the testimonies of local trade unionists, this paper examines how the ACFTU is attempting to achieve these goals in Cambodia, a country with large inflows of Chinese investment. The article will show that the Chinese trade union in Cambodia consistently engages with local Cambodian government-aligned actors that are usually neglected by the international labour movement, providing them with material assistance and opportunities to travel abroad. It argues that the impact of these activities should not be dismissed, as their alignment with the illiberal agenda of the Cambodian authorities and the priorities of employers has the potential to drastically change the landscape of trade unionism in Cambodia. (China Perspect/GIGA)
What follows is a fictionalised account of the last days of Shi Yang (1889-1923) based on the prison diaries included in the commemorative volume Shi Yang jinian wenji (Museum of the 7 February Massacre, Wuhan 1988). Shi Yang was a weiquan lawyer ante litteram, and to this day he remains an inspiration to many labour activists in China. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) celebrates him as a martyr of the revolution, the irony of which will not escape those who are aware of the plight of human rights lawyers and labour activists in the country today. That in April 2018 the Chinese government passed a new law to protect the reputation and honour of 'its' heroes and martyrs can be seen as further adding to the irony.
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2018 was the year of the 'earthly dog'. In the middle of the long, hot, and feverish dog days of the summer of 2018, some workers at Shenzhen Jasic Technology took their chances and attempted to form an independent union. While this action was met by the harshest repression, it also led to extraordinary demonstrations of solidarity from small groups of radical students from all over the country, which in turn were immediately and severely suppressed. China's year of the dog was also imbued with the spirit of another canine, Cerberus—the three-headed hound of Hades—with the ravenous advance of the surveillance state and the increasing securitisation of Chinese society, starting from the northwestern region of Xinjiang. This Yearbook traces these latest developments in Chinese society through a collection of 50 original essays on labour, civil society, and human rights in China and beyond, penned by leading scholars and practitioners from around the world.
Since their appearance in the mid-1990s, Chinese labour NGOs have mostly focused on three kinds of activities: establishing workers' centres; carrying out outreach programs on labour rights; and conducting social surveys and policy advocacy. Some scholars have strongly criticised this approach, considering it excessively unbalanced towards an individualistic and narrowly legalistic view of labour rights and thus in line with the political agenda of the Party-state. Still, in the past few years, as labour conflict intensified, a handful of labour NGOs have moved forward to adopt a more militant strategy focussed on collective bargaining and direct intervention into worker collective struggles. Based on dozens of interviews with labour activists and workers and detailed analysis of two case studies of NGO-fostered collective labour mobilisation in Southern China in 2014-2015, this paper will outline the personal and political reasons that motivated these organisations to move beyond a narrow legalistic approach and turn towards collective struggles. It will also describe the strategies that Chinese labour activists have adopted in dealing with collective cases. We will conclude by examining the main challenges that labour activists in China have to face when dealing with labour unrest and by questioning the sustainability and feasibility of this new approach in the current political climate. (China Perspect/GIGA)