In January 2017, Apple celebrated the tenth anniversary of the launch of the first model of the iPhone. After a decade, has Apple’s extraordinary profitability been coupled with any greater social responsibility? Are the Chinese workers who produce the most lucrative product in the electronics world seeing improved working and living conditions? This essay provides some answers by focussing on two issues: freedom of association and the situation of student interns.
Edited by Ivan Franceschini, Kevin Lin, and Nicholas Loubere
The Made in China Yearbook series—published in collaboration with ANU Press—offers original articles in which scholars and activists analyse the latest trends in Chinese labour and civil society. With their unique blend of in-depth scholarly work written in a direct, accessible style, these books allow readers to situate current events and policies in a wider context, and therefore serve as an indispensable reference for international activists, practitioners, and policy-makers.
No expertise comes without constant doubt and a willingness to challenge established truths. Chinoiresie represents our attempt to question some of today’s understandings and certainties about China. It blends the image of a ‘chinoiserie’—a foreign interpretation and imitation of Chinese artistic traditions, a term that over time has come to assume the meaning of a clichè, a stereotypical view of China—with the concept of ‘heresy’—an unorthodox view aimed at challenging a given truth.
In today’s globalised and interconnected world, Chinese labour issues have become much more than merely a local matter. With China’s political and economic power increasing by the day, it is imperative not only to assess how this growing influence affects labour relations in other countries, but also to abandon an ‘exceptional’ view of China by engaging in more comparative research. In this sense, the study of Chinese labour indeed provides a powerful lens—or perhaps a mirror—to further our understanding of the contemporary world and our potential futures. With this aim in mind, in this issue we publish a series of essays that either frame Chinese labour comparatively or examine its transnational implications.