Global Recession, China Dream and New Workers: the Political Economy of Labour Relations in China
Abstract: This paper adopts a political economy approach to analyse the transformation of labour relations and its implication to social development in China from 2008 to 2017. Within this decade, China has experienced changes on two fronts: economically, it transforms from the export-driven high GDP growth to the closing down of factory, the withdrawal of FDI, and the promotion of innovation and industrial upgrading; politically, it changes from the ‘leftist’ policy of ‘harmonious society’ under the Hu-Wen administration to the rightwing agenda of ‘China dream’ under Xi Jingpin. Against this background, the social and labour policies have turned against workers, evidenced by lowering the standard of social insurance, arresting and criminalising strike and NGO leaders. However, the socio-economic change has also led to the turn of workers’ demand from a focus on production (e.g. wage and workplace representation) to reproduction (e.g. pension and housing provident fund).The presenter will elaborate on how global recession as an economic tension and workers' protests as a political tension have shaped China’s labour relations and development strategies in the past decade.
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