Durable Subordination: Chinese Labour Regime through a South Korean Lens

Ching Kwan Lee

in East Asian Capitalism

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199643097
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741944 | DOI:
Durable Subordination: Chinese Labour Regime through a South Korean Lens

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Crucial institutional changes have taken place in the Chinese labour market regime over the past three decades, primarily in the processes of commodification and informalization. The global ideological crusade against unionized labour, the development imperatives of the Chinese government, and the marketizing forces unleashed by sustained economic reforms have combined to reshape industrial relations in China. While market and systemic factors are causally important, their impact has been mediated through the dominant developmental coalition that has centred round CCP elites and corporate capitalists, both state and private. This coalitional structure has also underpinned the continuation of the hukou system and a weak civil society that has in turn kept labour poorly organized and politically impotent — with important consequences for both China’s economy and that of the world. The impact of coalitional dynamics is revealed even more forcefully in the brief yet illuminating comparison of the cross-country variation in the organization and power of labour forces in China and South Korea.

Keywords: China; labour regime; commodification; informalization; industrial relations; labour organization; civil society; South Korea; coalition

Chapter.  9182 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Economy

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