Made in China is an open access quarterly (ISSN 2206-9119) on Chinese labour, civil society, and rights. In the last few years, the Chinese labour movement has witnessed significant developments, not only with the occurrence of some of the largest strikes in decades but also the emergence of grave challenges for workers and activists. We believe that this calls for more serious analysis from both scholars and practitioners, as well for a critical engagement with a broader international audience interested in forging international solidarity. It is with these aims in mind that we started this new venture.
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.PDF
In June 2017, the government of the United States announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Accords, severely undermining the global effort to contain climate change. Since then, China has entered the fray, attempting to portray itself as a world leader on environmental issues. While global attention has focussed on China’s top-down environmental efforts, this issue considers the engagement of Chinese citizens with state policies on the environment, and looks into their potential for articulating workable grassroots alternatives. In particular, we consider the management of public resources—the so-called ‘commons’.PDF
With the arrest of yet another activist, the airing of yet another public confession, the closure of yet another NGO working for the weak and disenfranchised, and the passing of yet another repressive law, the world has come to view Chinese civil society as if it were on its deathbed. But maybe what is dying is just a dream of civil society with little basis in reality. While we mourn the death of an ideal, it is imperative that we overcome our sorrow to look at the momentous changes that are currently taking place in the realm of Chinese civil society. In this issue, we offer a series of perspectives on these developments.PDF
In this issue, we present three distinct perspectives on how the party-state manages and controls Chinese society. First, we consider the role of labour law in China as a vehicle for reinforcing capitalist hegemony. We then look into the limitations of the welfare system in relation to migrant labour. Finally, we challenge some widely-held assumptions about the political nature of land-related social movements in the Chinese countryside. The issue also includes a forum on how precarisation has impacted the Chinese workforce and an article that reflects on the role of poetry as a form of resistance.PDF
The core of this issue is dedicated to a special section on Chinese labour and investment in Africa, with a specific focus on Ghana and Zambia. You will also find an analysis of the current situation of the Chinese working classes and the prospects for the political representation of labour in China, as well as an examination of the struggles that Chinese workers face when they attempt to access the legal system. The issue also includes an overview of recent worker struggles in India and an essay on Zhao Liang’s Behemoth.PDF
Besides the usual summaries of recent events in China, in this issue you will find articles on the struggles of Walmart workers in China, the limits of the ‘rights awakening’ of Chinese workers, and the political implications of resorting to microcredit to alleviate unemployment. Included is also a Forum in which prominent legal experts put the concept of the ‘rule of law’ in China in a wider historical and political perspective and a compendium of the new Law on the Management of Foreign NGOs’ Activities within Mainland China.PDF
In this first issue, you will find summaries of recent events that have taken place in China, as well as a series of columns on specific topics, such as the recent wave of protests in the Chinese state sector and the expected impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on labour rights. We devote the core of the first issue to the plight of Chinese labour NGOs, contextualising it through a debate between three prominent international labour experts. Finally, we celebrate the award of the prestigious Joseph Levenson Prize to Luigi Tomba, a long-standing researcher of Chinese labour.PDF