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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 Five - Interactions among the Party-state, ACFTU and Employers’ Associations -129


Chapter Five Interactions among the Party-state, ACFTU and Employers’ Associations Introduction In the previous three chapters we considered six major actors in China’s con- temporary industrial relations system, namely, the party-state, the ACFTU, employers’ associations, grass roots unions, employers, and employees. We focused on the specific circumstances of each actor individually rather than the interactions between them. In this and the next chapters, we shall consider the interactions, respectively, above the workplace level, at the workplace level, and across dif ferent levels. In this chapter, we analyse interactions between the party-state, ACFTU and employers’ associations above the workplace level. We first analyse the interactions between the party-state and the ACFTU during various historical periods, demonstrating that even though the ACFTU was an extension organization established by the party-state, the relationship was not always simply a “subordinate obeying the superior (下级服从上 级)”. Second, we show that the various employers’ associations, including CEC-CEDA, ACFIC and the Civil Chambers of Commerce, have a dis- tinctive relationship with the party-state. Finally, we analyse the National Tripartite Conference on Labour Relations Co-ordination (NTCLRC), and conclude that this is not a tripartite mechanism in the real sense but yet another quasi-bureaucratic organization. 130 Chapter Five 5.1 Party-state and ACFTU How the party-state and the ACFTU interact is the main focus of the Chinese study of industrial relations. Our study is helped by a large volume of academic literature and historical material.1 In subsection 2.2.1, “Brief History of the ACFTU”, we explained brief ly the profound historical linkage between...

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