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The ACFTU and Chinese Industrial Relations


Zhining Ma

In the context of China’s growing influence over the global economy, its newly developed labour market and the subsequent series of industrial relations issues have captured much attention. However, research on industrial relations and labour problems in China is relatively underdeveloped. The classic three-party industrial relations model, which was developed for western economies, has been difficult to apply to China’s circumstances.
In light of this, this book reviews the relevant existing industrial relations theories and explores their applicability to China. It then proposes a new six-party taxonomy for the analysis of China’s union system and industrial relations, taking into account distinctive industrial relations actors with ‘Chinese characteristics’ and their interrelationships at different social levels. This new taxonomy is then used to provide a broader picture of evolving industrial relations in China.


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Chapter One - A New Taxonomic Approach for Analysing Chinese Industrial Relations -1


Chapter One A New Taxonomic Approach for Analysing Chinese Industrial Relations Introduction The purposes of this chapter are to explain the general background of Chinese industrial relations and then to review existing industrial rela- tions theories to identify gaps in our knowledge. This enables us to pose a number of research questions which this book will answer. We first discuss the research background by presenting a bird’s-eye view of China’s labour market and discussing the significance of this research. We also brief ly review the achievements of scholars in the existing literature regarding Chinese industrial relations. We then take into account the knowledge gaps as identified in the literature review and point out, on the one hand, that there is a need to introduce western industrial rela- tions theories for analysis of the Chinese system while, on the other hand, western industrial relations theories need to be modified when applied to China. We continue by proposing the research questions, and argue that the answers to these research questions lie in the development of a new taxonomic approach for the analysis of Chinese industrial relations. 1.1 China’s Labour Market Since the release of Deng Xiaoping’s series of speeches during his 1992 “southern tour (南巡)”, in which he reaf firmed his determina- tion to clear the ideological obstacles to market-oriented economic 2 Chapter One reform,1 China’s reforms have been substantial. To name but a few, State- owned Enterprises (SOEs, 国有企业) began to be privatized in the mid to late 1990s; China finally entered...

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