The Legal Foundation for Changing State–Capital–Labor Relations

  • Elaine Sio-ieng HuiEmail author
Part of the Series in Asian Labor and Welfare Policies book series (Series in Asian Labor and Welfare Policies)


This chapter explains how the party-state has utilized the labor law system to promote the Chinese passive revolution. For example, it has helped create a rising capitalist class that was non-existent in the Maoist era, establish private property rights which are a prerequisite for the development of capitalism, legitimize the selling and buying of labor power‚ and endorse the market wage system which prioritizes wage flexibility and labor productivity. In addition, this chapter examines the party-state’s relative autonomy from capital, which is newly developed. In the reform era, it has stepped back from direct production and acted as an impartial mediator of industrial relations; but it is by no means classless. Similarly, the legal system has developed relative autonomy from the state and capital.


  1. Anderson, Perry. 1976. The Antinomies of Gramsci. New Left Review 100 (1976/1977): 18.Google Scholar
  2. Benney, Jonathan. 2013. Defending Rights in Contemporary China. Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Brandt, Loren, and Thomas G. Rawski. 2008. China’s Great Economic Transformation. In China’s Great Economic Transformation, ed. Loren Brandt and Thomas G. Rawski. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Breslin, Shaun. 2007. China and the Global Political Economy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burawoy, Michael. 1978. Toward a Marxist Theory of the Labor Process: Braverman and Beyond. Politics & Society 8: 247–312.Google Scholar
  6. Chan, Anita. 1998. Labour Relations in Foreign-Funded Ventures, Chinese Trade Unions, and the Prospects for Collective Bargaining. In Adjusting to Capitalism: Chinese Workers and the State, ed. G. O’Leary. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.Google Scholar
  7. Chan, Anita. 2005. Recent Trends in Chinese Labour Issues-Signs of Change. China Perspectives 2009 (20th March).Google Scholar
  8. Chan, Anita. 2008. China’s Trade Unions in Corporatist Transition. In Associations and the Chinese State: Contested Spaces, ed. Jonathan Unger. New York: M. E. Sharpe Inc.Google Scholar
  9. Chan, Anita. 2011. Strikes in China’s Export Industries in Comparative Perspective. China Journal 65: 27–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chan, King Chi Chris. 2010. The Challenge of Labour in China: Strikes and the Changing Labour Regime in Global Factories. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Chan, King-Chi Chris, and Sio-Ieng Elaine Hui. 2012. The Dynamics and Dilemma of Workplace Trade Union Reform in China: The Case of the Honda Workers’ Strike. Journal of Industrial Relations 54: 653–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chan, King-Chi Chris, and Sio-Ieng Elaine Hui. 2014. The Development of Collective Bargaining in China: From “Collective Bargaining by Riot” to “Party State-led Wage Bargaining. China Quarterly 217: 221–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chan, King Chi Chris, and Ngai Pun. 2009. The Making of a New Working Class? A Study of Collective Actions of Migrant Workers in South China. China Quarterly 197: 287–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chen, Feng. 1999. An Unfinished Battle in China: The Leftist Criticism of the Reform and the Third Thought Emancipation. China Quarterly 158: 447–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chen, Feng. 2003. Industrial Restructuring and Workers’ Resistance in China. Modern China 29 (2): 237–262.Google Scholar
  16. Chen, Feng. 2007. Individual Rights and Collective Rights: Labor’s Predicament in China. Communist and Post-Communist Studies 40: 59–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chen, Feng, and Mengxiao Tang. 2013. Labor Conflicts in China: Typologies and Their Implications. Asian Survey 53 (3): 559–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Clarke, Simon. 2005. Post-socialist Trade Unions: China and Russia. Industrial Relations Journal 36:1, 2–18 36 (1): 2–18.Google Scholar
  19. Clarke, Simon, Chang Hee Lee, and Qi Li. 2004. Collective Consultation and Industrial Relations in China. British Journal of Industrial Relations 42 (2): 235–254.Google Scholar
  20. Clarke, Donald, Peter Murrell, and Susan Whiting. 2008. The Role of Law in China’s Economic Development. In A Political Economy of China’s Economic Transition, ed. Loren Brandt and Thomas G. Rawski. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. CLB (China Labour Bulletin). 2006. Wal-Mart Unionisation Drive Ordered by Hu Jintao in March—A Total of 17 Union Branches Now Set Up.China Labour Bulletin.Google Scholar
  22. Cooney, Sean. 2007. China’s Labour Law, Compliance and Flaws in Implementing Institutions. Journal of Industrial Relations 49: 673–686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Cooney, Sean, Sarah Biddulph, Kungang Li, and Zhu Ying. 2007. China’s New Labour Contract Law: Responding to the Growing Complexity of Labour Relations in the PRC. University of New South Wales Law Journal 30 (3): 786–801.Google Scholar
  24. Friedman, Ellen David. 2009. US and Chinese Labour at a Changing Moment in the Global Neoliberal Economy. Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society 12 (2): 219–234.Google Scholar
  25. Friedman, Eli, and Ching Kwan Lee. 2010. Remaking the World of Chinese Labour: A 30-Year Retrospective. British Journal of Industrial Relations 48 (3): 507–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gabel, Peter and Harris, Paul. 1982. Building Power and Breaking Images: Critical Legal Theory and the Practice of Law. N. Y. U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change, 11, 369–411.Google Scholar
  27. Gallagher, Mary E. 2004. “Time is Money, Efficiency is Life”: The Transformation of Labor Relations in China. Studies in Comparative International Development 39 (2): 11–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gallagher, Mary E. 2006. Mobilizing the Law in China: ‘‘Informed Disenchantment’’ and the Development of Legal Consciousness. Law & Society Review 40 (4): 783–816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ge, W. 1999. Special Economic Zones and the Opening of the Chinese Economy: Some Lessons for Economic Liberalization. World Development 27 (7): 1267–1285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gordon, Robert W. 1984. Criticial Legal Histories. Standford Law Review 36: 57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gramsci, Antonio. 1971. Selections from the Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G.N. Smith. New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
  32. Harvey, David. 1985. The Marxian Theory of the State. Antipode.Google Scholar
  33. Heston, Alan, and Terry Sicular. 2008. China and Development Economics. In China’s Great Economic Transformation, ed. Loren Brandt and Thomas G. Rawski. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Holbig, Heike. 2006. Ideological Reform and Political Legitimacy in China: Challenges in the Post-Jiang Era. In Program: Legitimacy and Efficiency of Political Systems, ed. G.I.G.A. Research. Hamburg: German Institute of Global and Area Studies.Google Scholar
  35. Hui, Sio-Ieng Elaine, and King-Chi Chris Chan. 2015. Going Beyond the Union-Centred Approach: A Critical Evaluation of Recent Trade Union Elections in China. British Journal of Industrial Relations 53 (3): 601–627.Google Scholar
  36. Hunt, Alan. 1976. Law, State and Class Struggle. Marxism Today 2: 178–187.Google Scholar
  37. Hunt, Alan. 1986. The Theory of Critical Legal Studies. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 6 (1): 1–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hunt, Alan. 1993. Explorations in Law and Society: Toward a Constitutive Theory of Law. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Hutchinson, Allan C., and Patrick J. Monahan. 1984. Law, Politics, and the Critical Legal Scholars: The Unfolding Drama of Americal Legal Thought. Standford Law Review 36: 199–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hyman, Richard. 1975. Industrial Relations: A Marxist Introduction. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  41. Josephs, Hilary K. 1995. Labor Law in a “Socialist Market Economy”: The Case of China. Columbia Journal of Transnational Law 33: 559–582.Google Scholar
  42. Klare, Karl E. 1978. Judicial Deradicalization of the Wagner Act and the Origins of Modern Legal Consciousness, 1937–1941. Minnesota Law Review 62: 265.Google Scholar
  43. Lau, Raymond W.K. 1997. China: Labour Reform and the Challenge Facing the Working Class. Capital and Class 21: 45–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lee, Ching Kwan. 2002. From the Specter of Mao to the Spirit of the Law: Labor Insurgency in China. Theory and Society 31: 189–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lee, Chang-Hee. 2006. Recent Industrial Relations Developments in China and Viet Nam: The Transformation of Industrial Relations in East Asian Transition Economies. Journal of Industrial Relations 48: 415.Google Scholar
  46. Lewis, John Bruce, and Bruce L. Ottley. 1981. China’s Developing Labor Law. Washington Univerity Law Quarterly 59: 1165–1220.Google Scholar
  47. Li, Jingjie. 1994. The Characteristics of Chinese and Russian Economic Reform. Journal of Comparative Economics 18 (3): 309–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Li, Minqi. 2011. The Rise of the Working Class and the Future of the Chinese Revolution. Monthly Review 63 (2): 38.Google Scholar
  49. Li, Cheng. 2012. The End of the CCP’s Resilient Authoritarianism?  A Tripartite Assessment of Shifting Power in China. China Quarterly (211): 595–623.Google Scholar
  50. Liebman, Benjamin. 2007. China’s Court: Restricted Reform. China Quarterly 191: 620–638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Lubman, Stanley. 1999. Bird in a Cage: Chinese Law Reform After Twenty Years. Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business 20: 383–424.Google Scholar
  52. Martin, James. 2008. Introduction. In The Poulantzas Reader: Marxism, Law and the State, ed. Nicos Poulantzas. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  53. Marx, Karl. 1990. Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy. London: Penguin Classics.Google Scholar
  54. Marx, Karl. 1993. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, vol. 3. London: Penguin Classics.Google Scholar
  55. Naughton, Barry. 2008. A Political Economy of China’s Economic Transition, ed. Loren Brandt and Thomas G. Rawski. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Ngok, Kinglun. 2008. The Changes of Chinese Labor Policy and Labor Legislation in the Context of Market Transition. International Labor and Working-Class History 73: 45–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Oksenberg, Michel. 2001. China’s Political System: Challenges of the Twenty-First Century. China Journal 45: 21–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Potter, Pitman B. 1994. Riding the Tiger: Legitimacy and Legal Culture in Post-Mao China. China Quarterly 138: 325–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Potter, Pitman B. 1999. The Chinese Legal System: Continuing Commitment to the Primacy of State Power. China Quarterly 159: 673–683.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Potter, Pitman B. 2000. Globalisation and Local Legal Culture Dilemmas of China’s Use of Liberal Ideals of Private Property Rights. Asian Law 2: 1–33.Google Scholar
  61. Potter, Pitman B. 2004. Legal Reform in China: Institutions, Culture, and Selective Adaptation. Law & Social Inquiry 29 (2): 465–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Poulantzas, Nicos. 1973. Political Power and Social Classes. London: New Left Review and Sheed and Ward.Google Scholar
  63. Poulantzas, Nicos. 1978. Classes in Contemporary Capitalism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  64. Poulantzas, Nicos. 2000. State, Power, Socialism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  65. Poulantzas, Nicos. 2008. The Poulantzas Reader: Marxism, Law and the State. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  66. Pringle, Tim, and Simon Clarke. 2011. The Challenge of Transition: Trade Unions in Russia, China and Vietnam. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. So, Alvin Y. 2013. Class and Class Conflict in Post-socialist China. Singapore: World Scientific.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Solinger, Dorothy J. 2006. The Creation of a New Underclass in China and Its Implications. Environment and Urbanization 18 (2): 177–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Taylor, Bill, and Qi Li. 2007. Is the ACFTU a Union and Does it Matter? Journal of Industrial Relations 49: 701–715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Taylor, Bill, and Qi Li. 2010. China’s Creative Approach to ‘Union’ Organizing. Labor History 51 (3): 411–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Thireau, Isabelle, and Linshan Hua. 2003. The Moral Universe of Aggrieved Chinese Workers: Workers’ Appeals to Arbitration Committees and Letters and Visits Offices. China Journal 50: 83–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Tushnet, Mark. 1991. Critical Legal Studies: A Political History. Yale Law Journal 100 (5 (March)): 1515–1544.Google Scholar
  73. Unger, Jonathan, and Anita Chan. 1995. China, Corporatism and the East Asian Model. The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 33: 29–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Warner, Malcolm. 1996. Chinese Enterprise Reform, Human Resources and the 1994 Lahour Law. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 7 (4): 779–796.Google Scholar
  75. Yueh, Linda Y. 2004. Wage Reforms in China During the 1990s. Asian Economic Journal 18 (2): 149–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Zhao, Yun. 2009. China’s New Labour Dispute Resolution Law: A Catalyst for the Establishment of Harmonious Labor Relationship? Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal 30: 409–430.Google Scholar
  77. Zheng, Henry R. 1987. An Introduction to the Labor Law of the People’s Republic of China. Harvard International Law Journal 28 (2): 385–432.Google Scholar
  78. Zhu, Sanzhu. 2004. Reforming State Institutions: Privatizing the Lawyers’ System. In Governance in China, ed. Jude Howell. Maryland, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Labor and Employment RelationsPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations