China’s strike wave

Issue: 107

Simon Gilbert

Lots of small incidents have already occurred. There were lots of little incidents [involving worker protests] last year. Whenever a dynasty is ending it is like this. You can put down 99 out of 100 disturbances, but if you don’t put down the last one it lights a fuse and there’s an explosion.
Wei Jingshen1

In March last year demonstrating workers in China’s Lanzhou city carried a banner reading ‘You want to be “moderately well-off”, we just want to survive’.2 This rejection of the government’s claim that China will soon become a ‘moderately well-off’ (xiao kang) society neatly captures the widening gap between the image of increasing prosperity and the harsh reality of working class life. It also shows a growing willingness by workers not only to protest or strike, but also to challenge the priorities of headlong economic growth.

There have also been widespread protests by peasants and laid-off workers. These are generally seen, even by sympathetic observers, as ineffective gestures of despair. But workers’ struggles have the potential to develop into a mass labour movement that would be far more threatening to the regime. The purpose of this article is to examine the strengths and weaknesses of this embryonic labour movement, and to argue that a powerful workers’ movement offers the best prospects for real democratic change.

The unique history of industrial development in China means that, while one working class is being ‘unmade’ in the state sector, particularly in the heavy industries of the north east and south west, another is being born in the booming consumer industries of the south eastern coastal provinces. This has led to the emergence of ‘two new labour movements’.3 State sector workers have protested and struck to defend their jobs, while in private and foreign-owned factories, dismal conditions and despotic management are the issues that have provoked revolt.

Resistance to restructuring in state-owned enterprises

The largest and most dramatic labour protests in China have been by laid-off workers against the frequently corrupt and illegal ways in which their enterprises were sold off, or for unpaid benefits to which they were entitled. But their ‘radicalism occurs at the moment of exit from the working class’ when they no longer have the power to stop production.4 However, there has been a growing trend for workers to take action before they are laid off, or against the corrupt conditions under which their enterprises are privatised.

The depth of corruption involved in the restructuring process is staggering. Chinese state industry is universally portrayed in the West as hopelessly inefficient and essentially bankrupt. But many enterprises are being helped on their way by management who sell state assets and pocket the proceeds, deliberately running the companies down so that they can buy them at knock-down prices.

A typical example is the Shuangfeng Textile Factory in Dafeng, where managerial corruption caused a 2,000-strong strike and occupation. Workers had been forced to buy what turned out to be worthless shares in the company, using a significant part of their savings. Five years later the company was declared bankrupt and the old management became the new owners, perhaps using the manager’s connections in the local party organisation. The workers ‘immediately suspected they had been victims of a “fake bankruptcy”, a common phenomenon in China in which corrupt managers hide a factory’s assets, declare bankruptcy and then purchase the firm themselves at a reduced price, often with money they have embezzled’.5

When the new management insisted on pay cuts, the workers struck. The strikers were astute enough not to name representatives, knowing they would be arrested. However, the strike was eventually defeated by mass arrests and the violent eviction of the remaining factory occupiers by the police.

Others have been more successful. When workers at the SL Group in Luoyang, Henan, learned of the conditions they would face under a prospective new owner – extremely long working hours, military style discipline and a series of fines for the most minor mistakes and misdemeanours – they demonstrated and blockaded the factory entrance. Management conceded a referendum which rejected the deal. This case shows how the move towards privatisation means that state employees are beginning to face the same issues as their private sector counterparts.6

Just last year, over 6,000 workers at the Tianwang textile factory in Xianyang, Shaanxi, staged a partially successful seven-week strike against the conditions under which their factory was to be privatised. The workers put up a 24-hour picket line which was even defended against an attempt to break it by 1,000 police armed with water cannon.7

For many commentators, Chinese workers are seen as a formerly ‘privileged’ layer or even a ‘labour aristocracy’, desperately trying to cling on to their privileges.8 What they ignore is that the cheap housing, medical care and education provided by the danwei or work units were poor compensation for their pitifully low wages. And this system of ‘low wages and good benefits’ only applied to the 42 percent of workers employed in the state sector.9

What is more, real wages and average housing space stagnated or declined in the 20 years after 1957.10 So by the 1960s workers were creating a surplus for the state that was four times what they were paid.11 In other words, ‘by guaranteeing lifelong security…the state could appropriate the bulk of the surplus produced by workers at a very low cost, essentially by promising them a future”.’12

Resistance was largely prevented by a complex system of factory administration and party penetration:

The significance of this network of political organisation is that it not only makes organised worker resistance and even informal coordination of action difficult, but it creates a cross-cutting organisation into which worker activity is absorbed.13

Only when there were splits at the top of the Communist Party did workers’ grievances erupt into open resistance. A wave of strikes broke out in Shanghai in 1957 at the height of the ‘hundred flowers’ movement.14 And during the confusion of the Cultural Revolution workers could press their own demands by disguising them in Maoist rhetoric.15

By the 1970s, under the relentless drive to accumulation, the proportion of output going to investment had risen to 36.5 percent, while productivity growth rates were declining.16 Workers’ demoralisation at their falling living standards had led them to ‘withdraw efficiency’.17 They were also starting to strike more often.18

Not surprisingly then, workers have not generally opposed reform in principle or sought a return to the past. Rather, it is the corruption and unfairness with which reform has been implemented that has angered them. As Han Dongfang put it, ‘Workers didn’t choose the command economy – it was forced on us without anyone asking our opinion, so why should we have to pay for the mistakes of the past?’19

Despotic management and unpaid wages in foreign-invested and private enterprises

At the same time as millions of workers are being laid off in the old industrial regions of the north east and south west, millions more peasants are being drawn into the booming consumer industries in the south eastern coastal provinces.

Working conditions in these enterprises are often compared with those in 19th century Europe.20 An equally valid comparison could be made with factories in 1920s China.21 Compulsory overtime means that working ten or 12 hours per day and seven days per week is not uncommon. Management is brutal and ‘despotic’, imposing military-style discipline and arbitrary fines that further reduce already meagre wages. It has also become customary for wages to be withheld for long periods of time. And the work is often extremely dangerous with very high accident rates.22

These are the result of what Anita Chan calls a ‘race to the bottom’ in labour standards as China competes with other developing countries to attract investment. She also compares the hukou system, which denies rural migrants permanent urban residence, to South African apartheid.23

But this doesn’t tell the whole story. Recent reports have described a labour shortage in Guangdong, the province that attracts the largest share of foreign investment. Wages are so low and conditions so bad that migrants are looking for work elsewhere or returning to farming. In order to attract workers, companies are promising to improve conditions and pay wages on time.24 More importantly, workers are prepared to go on strike even in the face of vicious intimidation.

Many of these strikes involve two groups, migrants and women, who are often seen as the most vulnerable and powerless. Two fascinating and relatively detailed reports from the early 1990s illustrate this.25 Workers at a Taiwanese shoe factory in Fujian struck when a female worker accused of petty pilfering was beaten and locked up with the dogs kept to guard the premises. At a Guangdong textile factory the workers went on strike over unpaid wages, despite some of the strikers being threatened with their lives.

Though the disputes were caused by the workers being pushed to the limit on one particular issue, once the strikes began other grievances were aired, such as low pay, sexual harassment and safety. Clearly in both factories a lot of resentment and frustration had built up, and came pouring out once given an outlet.

In both cases the local authorities sided with management, but the workers were able to get some satisfaction by appealing to higher level authorities. This tactic was more successful in the urban shoe factory, where the city and provincial authorities may have carried more weight and been nervous about the example the strike might set, than in the rural textile factory.

A number of these features have also been seen in other strikes and protests. A manager of the Japanese-owned Ricoh factory was forced to apologise for verbally abusing female employees after they struck in protest. The workers were also reported to be working long hours for low pay which may have helped to fuel their anger.26

In 2001 a group of female workers from the South Korean owned Baoyang Industrial Corporation in Shenzhen protested after being illegally body searched on management orders. This case also illustrates another feature of recent labour unrest: the workers called for the company to be punished for violating China’s labour law, enabling them to get support from the Shenzhen Federation of Trade Unions, the deputy mayor and the local media.27

Unpaid wages are a frequent cause of industrial unrest. In 1998 workers from the Chong Xing Qiu spectacle factory in Guangdong protested outside government offices after failing to get support from local labour officials. A protest earlier the same year had successfully secured them a month’s owed wages.28

Migrant construction workers are a common sight in China’s major cities, but they too are often unpaid for long periods. In 2002 they were owed 2.2 billion yuan (£14.5 million) by construction contractors in Beijing alone. As the 2003 New Year festival approached, a group of several hundred of these labourers staged a protest outside a luxury compound in the capital, claiming to be owed a full year’s pay. The difficulties faced at this time of year by workers who had been away from their families for long periods was poignantly described by one of them: ‘I feel frustrated, baffled and humiliated. What can I tell my wife and son now? They are expecting me to bring home enough cash for the whole family.’ Another explained that he no longer had the money to phone home to talk to his children.

The police did not intervene to break up this protest, while similar protests were also reported in a number of other cities. The government seemed to be tolerating the protests in order to put pressure on local officials to be stricter with property developers. This had opened up a space for one of the most exploited groups of workers.29

Another strike by construction workers at the state-owned No 4 Bureau of China Railway Engineering Corp had similar features to the private sector conflicts. The migrant workers, who were building a new underground line as part of developments for the 2008 Olympics, explained that they had ‘no choice’ but to strike after being unpaid for over six months.30

A strike at the Xinxiong shoe factory in Dongguan, Guangdong, was caused by a change in overtime arrangements which would reduce the salary of most workers. However, a local official described the working conditions as ‘very harsh’ and thought that ‘the strike was an almost inevitable outbreak of collective anger against the management’.31

An earlier dispute at Canon’s Zhuhai factory in 1993 illustrates the potential for a much higher level of industrial unrest should the economic situation change. Despite being relatively well paid, workers went on strike for more pay after the high inflation of the early 1990s had undermined their standard of living.32

Containment and the role of the trade unions

With few exceptions, however, these disputes have remained at the level of individual enterprises and have not yet created anything that could be called a national labour movement. The government has so far managed to contain labour unrest by showing some tolerance to enterprise-level strikes while acting to prevent generalisation or independent organisation.

After the shock of 1989 the Chinese leadership moved to regularise industrial relations. The Trade Union Law of 1992 and the Labour Law of 1994 defined minimum conditions for workers and gave the unions a role in enforcing them.33 The point was to ‘institutionalise conflict resolution’ through the official grievance procedure and ‘pre-empt labour agitation’.34

Where this fails, enterprise-level protests and strikes, though in a legal grey area, often gain concessions.35 This toleration is often combined with punishment of the organisers.36 But actions which involve more than one workplace or attempts to form independent organisations are ruthlessly repressed.37 The most obvious examples are the mass protests in Daqing and Liaoyang.38

In other words, the regime has realised that it is impossible to prevent all labour protests and would probably be counterproductive to try. So protests that remain fragmented and specific are tolerated, while anything that threatens to lead to a mass movement is suppressed.

The official trade unions have played a central role in this process. Although a number of writers on Chinese labour believe that the unions are moving towards a more genuine representative role, this seems to be little more than wishful thinking.39 With the withdrawal of the state from direct economic control, the unions have moved from promoting production to implementing the government’s containment policies on the factory floor.

In order to do so, they have at least to appear to address their members’ problems. For instance, at a mine in Liaoning province ‘siding with the workers was critical in order to win their trust, and only with their trust could the union persuade them to channel their discontent into the official grievance procedure’.40 During enterprise-level strikes they usually try to mediate. But they firmly oppose any signs of wider generalisation or attempts to form independent unions. Not surprisingly workers seldom turn to the unions when they take action.

The failure to effectively implement labour legislation and the often blatantly illegal behaviour of managers in both the state and private sectors has led to the emergence of ‘legal activism’ by workers. Many protests explicitly or implicitly demand greater compliance with the law by management. But this is a ‘double-edged sword’ for the government.41

On the one hand, it can channel workers’ activity into legal avenues that fit with its stated aim of moving to the rule of law. And in several cases the workers found that, although the local authorities sided with management, they could get more sympathy from higher level authorities. On the other hand, it requires what in China is essentially extra-legal protest or strike activity for the law to be enforced. This has a clear risk for the government of leading to greater unrest, while encouraging cynicism about the law. One victim of a forced share-buying scheme thought that ‘the law is just a means by which the dictatorship controls ordinary people’.42

A strike by over 10,000 workers at the Japanese-invested Uniden Electronics factory in Shenzhen was aimed at enforcing their entitlement to a union under the trade union law. At the same time they demanded sick pay, paid maternity leave and permanent contracts for long term employees. This was just the latest phase in an ongoing struggle to improve their lives involving four or five strikes since 1987.43 Workers are clearly learning the lesson that ‘a small disturbance leads to a small solution, a large disturbance leads to a big solution. No disturbance leads to no solution’.44

Workers and democracy

The official trade unions’ role as ‘an arm of the party state’ means that ‘few workers seek union help’ with their problems.45 Strikes and protests are always organised by the workers themselves without union involvement.46 So the question of independent unions inevitably arises.

For instance, Cao Maobing, an electrician at the Funing County Silk Mill, Jiangsu, explained why they had petitioned (presumably unsuccessfully) to form their own union: ‘The factory does have a union, but it exists in name only… The current union takes no responsibility for the workers… So we told them we’d set up a trade union ourselves’.47

The high point of recent labour organisation in China came in 1989 with the formation in several cities of Workers’ Autonomous Federations. Their experience suggests that there is a direct link between workers’ economic struggles, independent organisation and political reform. As Walder and Gong explained of the Beijing WAF:

From its earliest pronouncements, gongzilian [the Workers’ Autonomous Federation] focused heavily on bread and butter economic issues, and its demands for political reform were invariably ones that would allow workers to pursue their interests more effectively in the future.48

Most writers on China either look to gradual change from within the regime or the pressure of an emerging ‘civil society’ to produce democratic reform. While there has been political change since the economic reforms began in 1978, it has been geared towards maintaining the dominant position of the Communist Party as it loosens its control of the economy, not to greater democracy.

The term ‘civil society’ usually refers to the new private business class. But this group has done well out of the reforms, and their dislike of Communist Party rule is generally outweighed by fear of ‘chaos’ if it were removed.49 At the same time the opportunities offered by a booming economy and the far greater options for foreign study have helped to defuse student opposition. Indeed the recent anti-Japanese demonstrations highlighted a growing class divide in protest activity. While students joined the protests against Japan, tolerated if not encouraged by the government, peasants in the Zhejiang village of Huankantou were fighting a pitched battle against 3,000 riot police.50

That is not to say that students may not return to pro-democracy protests in the future, but at the moment it is the losers in China’s economic boom, peasants and workers, who are on the streets. If these demonstrations, riots and strikes are to develop into a mass movement, workers will be central. The working class has both a vested interest in democratic change and the economic muscle that derives from its productive role in the new workshop of the world. In other words, it has the potential to play the same galvanising role that its counterparts in South Africa and South Korea did in the 1980s.


Deng Xiaoping understood, as many western academics apparently do not, that not only is there no necessary connection between economic and political liberalism, but the success of China’s economic boom has been dependent on political repression to suppress the inevitable discontent. When the tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square in June 1989, he described the chilling logic behind the decision: ‘Even if we sacrifice ten to 20 thousand people, we must exercise control over the situation of the whole country and get 20 years tranquillity in return’.51

However, workers proved to be far more resilient than Deng anticipated, with strikes reported even in the second half of 1989.52 The most significant aspect of the growing industrial unrest is that for the first time since 1949 strikes have become a permanent feature of Chinese society. And, unlike in the past, this has happened at a time of consensus among the Communist Party leadership.

There is every sign that the pressures leading to labour unrest, restructuring of state industry and the promotion of China as a cheap labour economy will continue for the foreseeable future.

In the export sector the competitive pressures that force down wages and conditions are also being felt within China, so that, ‘as a region becomes more prosperous, it violates the national guidelines and seeks to maintain its attractiveness to foreign capital by keeping its minimum wage level low’.53

Some argue that the development of a social security net to assist laid-off workers could defuse labour unrest.54 However, attempts to implement social welfare measures have been largely ineffective because the decline in state-owned industry is simultaneously reducing government revenues and increasing the numbers of unemployed.55 While central government can set welfare policies, it is up to local government to implement them, and they simply do not have the funds. The endemic corruption in the restructuring process is also undermining attempts at reform as the embezzlement of Xiangfan workers’ premiums shows.56

Meanwhile, the prospects for laid-off workers are not getting any better. As the economy has continued to grow, the rate at which it creates new jobs has slowed.57 In fact, the problems may be about to intensify. Having restructured many of the smaller State Owned Enterprises, the government now needs to deal with the bigger ones, whose ‘large number of workers are more able to stage resistance’.58

The high points of Chinese labour activity in the past have occurred when the ruling group was divided. Should these sorts of cleavages emerge again, perhaps as a result of an economic crisis, then ‘those forms of unobtrusive struggle and public resistance’ could be transformed into a ‘Chinese labour movement powerful enough to challenge the government’s monopoly of power’.59


1: Quoted in J Miles, The Legacy of Tiananmen: China in Disarray (Ann Arbor, 1996), p211.
2: ‘Hundreds of Chinese Textile Workers Protest Over Lay-off Threat’, Agence France Presse, 31 March 2004.
3: A Chan, ‘The Emerging Patterns of Industrial Relations in China and the Rise of Two New Labor Movements’, China Information 9:4 (1995), pp36-59.
4: C K Lee, ‘From the Specter of Mao to the Spirit of the Law: Labor Insurgency in China’, Theory and Society 31:2 (2002), p219.
5: P P Pan, ‘High Tide of Labor Unrest in China’, Washington Post, 21 Jan 2002.
6: F Chen, ‘Industrial Restructuring and Workers’ Resistance in China’, Modern China 29:2 (2003).
7: Several reports relating to this strike can be found on China Labour Bulletin
8: See for instance Lee, ‘From the Specter of Mao’ in A Liu, Mass Politics in the People’s Republic: State and Society in Contemporary China (Boulder, 1996), or M Blecher, ‘Hegemony and Workers’ Politics in China’, in China Quarterly 170 (2002).
9: A laid-off worker interviewed by Dongfang Han, in ‘Reform, Corruption and Livelihood’ (1998), available on the China Labour Bulletin website at
article.adp?article_id=1008. This is a fascinating collection of interviews conducted by Han on a phone-in programme for Hong Kong based Radio Free Asia.
10: A Walder, Communist Neo-traditionalism: Work and Authority in Chinese Industry (Berkeley, 1986), p194.
11: B Naughton, ‘Danwei: The Economic Foundations of a Unique Institution’, in Xiaobo Lu and E J Perry (eds), Danwei: The Changing Chinese Workplace in Historical and Comparative Perspective (Armonk, 1997), p174.
12: Wang Yi, ‘From Status to Contract?’ in Chaohua Wang (ed), One China, Many Paths (London, 2003), p192.
13: A Walder, as above, p95.
14: Some workers struck against their companies being taken into state ownership as it actually threatened to worsen their conditions. See E Perry, ‘Shanghai’s Strike Wave of 1957’, The China Quarterly 137 (1994).
15: J Sheehan, Chinese Workers: A New History (London, 1998). This is the best book on labour in the Communist era, covering the whole period from 1949 to the early 1990s.
16: C Riskin, China’s Political Economy: The Quest for Development Since 1949 (Oxford, 1987), pp261-271. I disagree somewhat with Charlie Hore’s emphasis (‘China’s Century?’, International Socialism 103 (summer 2004), p6). There is a consensus in popular writing on China that the Communists’ economic policies were a complete failure before being rescued by free market reform from 1978. But, with the exception of the disastrous Great Leap Forward period, China’s economy grew at historically high rates from 1949 right up to the 1970s, including the Cultural Revolution period. Reforms were initiated because those policies were increasingly ineffective, and were provoking discontent. For the growth figures see A Eckstein, China’s Economic Revolution (Cambridge, 1977), pp204-205 and p219.
17: A Walder, as above, pp197-201.
18: Strikes were reported in 1974, in Hangzhou in 1975, the April 5th movement in 1976 was dominated by young workers and that summer saw another strike wave. See J Sheehan, as above, pp144-154.
19: D Han, ‘Reform, Corruption and Livelihood’, as above.
20: See for example B Taylor, Kai Chang and Qi Li, Industrial Relations in China (Cheltenham, 2003), p163.
21: J Chesneaux, The Chinese Labor Movement, 1919-1927 (Stanford, 1968), pp71-112.
22: A number of the worst cases reported in the Chinese press are translated in A Chan, China’s Workers Under Assault: The Exploitation of Labor in a Globalizing Economy (Armonk, 2001). See also C K Lee, as above, and B Taylor et al, as above, p98.
23: A Chan, ‘A “Race to The Bottom”: Globalization and China’s Labour Standards’, China Perspectives 46 (2003).
24: T Johnson, ‘China’s Factories Go Short on Labor’, Charlotte Observer, 10 September 2004. The labour shortage is also giving workers more confidence to strike: ‘Female Workers at Wal-Mart Supplier in Shenzhen Demand Union’, China Labour Bulletin, 21 December 2004
25: A Chan, as above.
26: ‘Insulted Workers End Strike After Japanese Manager Apologizes’, Kyodo News Service, 14 June 2004.
27: ‘Workers Humiliated by Body Searches’, China Labour Bulletin, 3 Aug 2001
28: H Luk, ‘Protest at HK-run Factory Over Pay’, South China Morning Post, 16 July 1998.
29: ‘Hundreds of Workers Protest at Luxury Compound in Beijing’, Agence France Presse, 17 January 2003, and ‘China’s Unpaid Migrant Workers Vent Anger as New Year Approaches’, Agence France Presse, 28 January 2003.
30: ‘Several Hundred Rural Workers Strike in Beijing for Back Wages’, AFX News Limited, 4 August 2004.
31: ‘More than Ten Workers Detained after Rowdy Protest Against Unfair Overtime by Several Hundred Guangdong Shoe Factory Employees’, China Labour Bulletin, 30 April 2004
32: K Chen, ‘Canon Unit in China Provides Picture of Workers Chafed by Market Economy’, Wall Street Journal, 9 April 1993.
33: D Z Ding, K Goodall and M Warner, ‘The Impact of Economic Reform on the Role of Trade Unions in Chinese Enterprises’, International Journal of Human Resource Management 13:3 (2002), and G White, ‘Chinese Trade Unions in the Transition from Socialism: Towards Corporatism or Civil Society?’, British Journal of Industrial Relations 34:3 (1996). The Labour and Trade Union laws are available online at
34 F. Chen, ‘Between the State and Labour: The Conflict of Chinese Trade Unions’ Double Identity in Market Reform’, The China Quarterly 176 (2003), p1012. The number of official dispute cases has grown exponentially from 19,098 cases involving 77,794 employees in 1994 to 184,116 cases involving 608,396 employees in 2002. More than three times as many disputes were resolved in favour of the employees than the employers. These ‘dispute’ figures are sometimes confused with strike figures: there are no national strike statistics for China. See C K Lee, ‘Pathways of Labor Insurgency’, in Elizabeth J Perry and Mark Selden (eds), Chinese Society: Change, Conflict and Resistance (London, 2003), p75, and Zhongguo Laodong he Shehui Baozhang Nianjian [China Labour and Social Security Yearbook] (Beijing, 2003).
35: The ‘right to strike’ was removed from the constitution in 1982, although strikes are not explicitly illegal either. In practice it is probably easier for workers to strike now than it was before 1982.
36: M J Blecher, ‘Hegemony and Workers’ Politics in China’, China Quarterly 170 (2002), p286.
37: C K Lee, ‘From Organized Dependence to Disorganized Despotism: Changing Labour Regimes in Chinese Factories’, China Quarterly 157 (1999), p68 and ‘Pathways of Labor Insurgency’, as above, p85.
38: These were probably the most significant labour protests in recent years, but they were covered by Charlie Hore, as above, and my focus here is on employed workers. For more details see T Leung, ‘The Third Wave of the Chinese Labour Movement in the Post-Mao Era’, China Labour Bulletin 5 June 2002
article.adp?article_id=2397 and T B Weston, ’”Learn From Daqing”: More Dark Clouds For Workers In State-Owned Enterprises’, Journal of Contemporary China 11:33 (2002).
39: A Chan, ‘Revolution or Corporatism? Workers and Trade Unions in Post-Mao China’, The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 29 (1993). Chan’s article became a reference point for several other writers arguing in the same vein. However, Chan herself has more recently described the unions as ‘an arm of the party-state’ – see A Chan, ‘A “Race to the Bottom”,’ as above, p48.
40: K Chen, ‘Between the State and Labour’, as above, p1021.
41: C K Lee, ‘From the Specter of Mao’, as above, pp219-220.
42: Quoted in D Han, ‘Reform, Corruption and Livelihood’, as above.
43: ‘More Than 10,000 Striking Workers At Japanese-Invested Wal-Mart Supplier Firm In Shenzhen Demand Right To Set Up Their Own Trade Union’, China Labour Bulletin, 22 April 2005
44: E Rosenthal, ‘Workers’ Plight Brings New Militancy In China’, New York Times 10 March 2003.
45: A Chan, ‘A ‘Race to The Bottom’, as above, p48; C K Lee, ‘From Organized Dependence’, as above, p59.
46: B Taylor et al, as above, p176.
47: E Eckholm, ‘Silk Workers In Standoff With Beijing Over Union’, New York Times, 15 December, 2000.
48: A G Walder and Xiaoxia Gong, ‘Workers in the Tiananmen Protests: The Politics of the Beijing Workers’ Autonomous Federation’, The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 29 (1993).
49: This attitude was reflected in Zhang Yimou’s recent film Hero, where a plan to depose a despotic emperor was abandoned for fear that lack of a strong leader would plunge