From Client to Challenger: Workers, Managers and the State in Post-Dengist China

  • Jackie Sheehan
Part of the Studies on the Chinese Economy book series (STCE)


This chapter looks at how workers in China’s SOEs have responded to the changing nature of those enterprises during the reform period since 1978, and in particular examines the causes of the rising incidence of labour unrest among SOE employees in the second half of the 1990s, as drastic restructuring of the state sector begins to take place and unemployment reaches its highest levels in China for decades. Protests over lay-offs, bankruptcies and unpaid pensions and wages have already reached the stage where parts of the present reform programme are threatened with delay as local and national governments seek to contain workers’ resentment. Yet, as will be seen below, sometimes these efforts to mollify workers succeed only in further stoking their anger at what they perceive as patronizing and token concessions which do not address their most important concerns.


Labour Unrest Chinese Industry South China Morning Independent Union Democracy Movement 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited  2000

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  • Jackie Sheehan

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