Emergence of Shop-Floor Industrial Relations in China

  • Bill TaylorEmail author


Throughout the history of China’s industrial relations, the state has played a dominant role. Employers, although diverse in forms of ownership, size, and history, have tended to be rather passive players in shop-floor industrial relations, making the relationship between workers and the state of primary importance. Workers, who have often been characterized as passive prior to the twentieth century, have pushed for improvements through widespread and escalating conflicts, which bypass employers and ‘negotiate’ directly with the government. The Chinese Communist Party has mobilized or suppressed workers through direct government apparatus to promote changes meant to maintain hegemony. The planned period’s use of ritualized workplace participation has given way to a combination of simple wage labor relations and high turnover of insecure labor, interposed with labor struggles.


China Migrant workers Staff and Workers Representative Committees All-China Federation of Trade Unions State-labor relations Chinese Communist Party State-owned enterprises Foreign-invested enterprises International labor standards Planned period 


  1. Anonymous. (1951). The Trade Union Law of the Peoples Republic of China Together with Other Relevant Documents. Peking: Foreign Languages Press.Google Scholar
  2. Boston, W. (2014). VW Labor Officials to Push for Works Council at Tennessee Plant. Asia – Wall Street Journal. Available from Accessed 7 May 2015.
  3. Chan, A. (1995). Chinese Enterprise Reforms: Convergence with the Japanese Model? Industrial and Corporate Change, 4(2), 449–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chan, C. (2010). The Challenge of Labour in China. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chang, D. (2012). The Neoliberal Rise of East Asia and Social Movements of Labour: Four Moments and a Challenge. Interface, 4(2), 22–51.Google Scholar
  6. Chesneaux, J. (1968). The Chinese Labour Movement. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Chow, W. (1998). A Study of Worker’s Livelihood [sic] in China: Case Study of Guangzhou, M.Phil. Thesis, City University of Hong Kong.Google Scholar
  8. CLB. (2008). Speaking Out: The Workers’ Movement in China (2005–2006). China Labour Bulletin Research Report No. 5.Google Scholar
  9. CLB. (2010). The Hard Road: Seeking Justice for Victims of Pneumoconiosis. China Labour Bulletin Research Report.Google Scholar
  10. Constitution of the People’s Republic of China. (2004). Accessed 4 July 2018.
  11. Dore, R. (1973). British Factory – Japanese Factory: Origins of Diversity in Industrial Relations. London: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  12. Fan, W. (2011). My 20 Years with a State Enterprise. Hong Kong: Globalization Monitor.Google Scholar
  13. Fang, F. (1931). Chinese Labour. Shanghai: Kelly & Walsh Ltd.Google Scholar
  14. Frazier, M. (2002). The Making of the Chinese Industrial Workplace: State, Revolution and Labor Management. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Friedman, E. (2014). Insurgency Trap. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. GM. (2012, June). The Chinese Battery Industry: The Truth Behind the Charge, Globalization Monitor. Accessed 4 July 2018.
  17. Harney, A. (2008). The China Price: The True Cost of Chinese Competitive Advantage. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  18. He, K. (2006). China’s Township and Village Enterprises. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press.Google Scholar
  19. Huang, Y. (2008). Voices from Below. Hong Kong: Asia Monitor Resource Centre.Google Scholar
  20. ITUC/GUF Hong Kong Liaison Office (IHLO). (2010). A Political Economic Analysis of the Strike in Honda and the Auto Parts Industry in China. An Investigation Report of International Hong Kong Liaison Office of ITUC/GUF. Accessed 5 June 2012.
  21. Labor Law. (1995). Labor Law of People’s Republic of China. Accessed 4 July 2018.
  22. Ladany, L. (1988). The Communist Party of China and Marxism 1921–1985. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Leung, A., & Pratap, S. (2011). China’s Capitalist Development and Its Implications for Labour with Special Reference to the Shenzhen SEZ. Hong Kong: AMRC. Accessed 28 June 2016.
  24. Lüthje, B., Luo, S., & Zhang, H. (2013). Beyond the Iron Rice Bowl. Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag.Google Scholar
  25. Meng, J. (2012). Occupational Structure of CPC Members (2011). China Development Gateway. Available from Accessed 7 May 2015.
  26. Olesen, A. (2016). Leaked Files Offer Many Clues to Offshore Dealings by Top Chinese. Panama Papers. Accessed 28 June 2016.
  27. Perry, E. (1993). Shanghai on Strike: The Politics of Chinese Labour. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Pun, N. (2012). Gender and Class: Women’s Working Lives in a Dormitory Labor Regime in China. International Labor and Working-Class History, 81, 178–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. SACOM. (2016). No Wonderland for Workers. Investigation Report of Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour. Accessed 28 June 2016.
  30. Sargeson, S. (2012). Why Women Own Less, and Why It Matters More in Rural China’s Urban Transformation. China Perspectives, 4, 35–42.Google Scholar
  31. Sheehan, J. (1998). Chinese Workers: A New History. Abingdon: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Solinger, D. (2015). China’s New Urban Poverty. China Policy Institute Blog. Available from Accessed 7 May 2015.
  33. Su, W. (1989). China Tackles Reform. Beijing: Beijing Review Publications.Google Scholar
  34. Taylor, B. (1999). Japanese Employment System and the Development of China: A Critique of Anita Chan’s Claims of Convergence. Ritsumeikan Journal of Asia Pacific Studies, 2, 108–132.Google Scholar
  35. Taylor, B. (2012). Supply Chains and Labour Standards in China. Personnel Review, 41(5), 552–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Taylor, B., & Li, Q. (2009). The ACFTU’s Changing Role in China’s Tumultuous Development. In C. Phelan (Ed.), Trade Unionism Since 1995 (Vol. 2). Oxford: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  37. Taylor, B., Chang, K., & Li, Q. (2003). Industrial Relations in China. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  38. Tsai, K. (2007). Capitalism Without Democracy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Walder, A. (1986). Communist Neo-Traditionalism: Work and Authority in Chinese Industry. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  40. Wong, M. (2008). Voices from Below. Hong Kong: AMRC.Google Scholar
  41. Worldbank. (2015). GDP per Capita (Current US$)|Data|Table. World Bank Group. Available from Accessed 7 May 2015.
  42. Xie, Y. (2010). Protest Politics. Shanghai: Shanghai Education Publishing House.Google Scholar
  43. Young, J. (2013). China’s Hukou System. Houndmills: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zhai, K. (2014). President Xi Jinping Seeks His Place in History – Among the Party Great. South China Morning Post. Available from Accessed 7 May 2015.
  45. Zhang, X. (1992). Enterprise Reforms in a Centrally Planned Economy. New York: St. Martin’s Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zheng, Y. (2007). Discussion Paper 22 ‘Is Communist Party Rule Sustainable in China’. University of Nottingham: China Policy Institute. Accessed 25 Apr 2017.
  47. Zheng, G., & Wong, L. (2006). The Issue of Rural-Urban Migrants in China: Theoretical Judgment and Policy Frame. Journal of Renmin University of China, 20(6), 2–13.Google Scholar
  48. Zhu, X., & Chan, A. (2005). Staff and Workers Representative Congress. Chinese Sociology and Anthropology, 37(4), 6–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public PolicyCity University of Hong KongKowloon TongHong Kong

Personalised recommendations