Understanding China and Its Unions

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Abstract

There is much confusion in the world workers’ movement about unions in China, and
even more confusion about the class character of the Chinese state. This article compares a state
that arises from a socialist revolution, such as the Chinese state after 1949, to a “labor union
risen to state power.” Trade unions in such states are like a “subcommittee” of this union-instate-
power, with the important responsibility of defending workers’ interests in the workplace.
But the new state also faces many other important tasks, including assuring food supply,
economic development, equality for women, nationalities, and youth, environmental and other
necessary tasks. The article argues for developing the relative separation and effectiveness of
the “subcommittees” which are addressing each of those necessary tasks—and simultaneously
developing periodic “harmonizing mechanisms” (ranging from conferences to legislative meetings)
in order to achieve balance between those necessary tasks. Such balance is required because even
states formed by a socialist revolution must make “the best out of a bad situation,” just like labor
unions in capitalist countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-390
Number of pages6
JournalWorld Review of Political Economy
Volume2
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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Keywords

  • class character of the Chinese state
  • labor unions after a socialist revolution
  • relative

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