Working Conditions in China

June 17, 2010

The Editors in Room for Debate express varied opinions about “What Do China’s Workers Want?”

Worker strikes at Honda plants and suicides at a PRC Foxconn facility, a Taiwan owned company, have made splashes in the global media lately. I read what the five editors had to say and sided with Leslie T. Chang, author of Factory Girls. Her experience speaks for itself and lends weight to her opinion. Chang spent three years following the successes, hardships and heartbreaks of two teenage girls, Min and Chunming, migrants working the assembly lines in Dongguan, one of the new factory cities that have sprung up all over China.

Chang says, “It is important not to interpret the recent spate of worker suicides as protests against factory conditions. In my experience, the greatest pressure on workers comes from interpersonal and emotional concerns rather than conditions inside the factory, which workers tend to take for granted.” 

I recommend clicking on the link for “Room for Debate” and reading what Chang and the others editors say. I agree with Chang’s assessment because of the importance of family in a culture heavily influenced by Confucianism.

See Middle Kingdom Wages Rising


Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning My Splendid Concubine and writes The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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China’s Labor Laws

April 29, 2010

The “China Law Blog” compared China’s employment laws to those of the United States. Reading this post was a revelation, because I did not know that Chinese workers had more job protection than U.S. workers did.  I wondered how this came about.

The reason came about due to the transition from state controlled to private owned businesses.  Since 1978, when China implemented its open-door policy, the country went from no privately owned small businesses to more than 10 million small to medium-sized private enterprises that represent about 90 percent of all businesses.

Waiting for a bus after a day’s work.

Prior to this transition, state workers didn’t have to worry about a job. Once the transition began, significant numbers of workers started losing jobs. Since China’s constitution says the government’s role is to serve the people, the government changed the laws to make it more difficult to fire a worker offering better job protection.

“China’s employment law system is quite different from the U.S. The main difference is that the U.S. is an employment at will system, which means you can terminate employees at any time for pretty much any reason. China’s system is the opposite. The Chinese system is a contract employment system. … An employee can only be terminated for cause and cause must be clearly proved. … This whole situation makes the employment relationship and the employment documents much more adversarial than is customary in the U.S.” Source: China Law Blog

Discover China’s Health Care During Mao’s Time


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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