In the Made in China Yearbook 2016: Disturbances in Heaven—available as a free download—we have outlined the main developments that took place in the fields of labour and civil society in China over the past year. The situation is dire. Although the Chinese government has never been reluctant to repress dissent, in 2016 we have witnessed an authoritarian drift that only a few years ago would have been unthinkable. Not only have labour activists fallen victim to regular intimidation from the party-state, but new laws and regulations have also been passed in order to cut off labour and rights NGOs from any international sources of funding. This happened in concomitance with an economic slowdown that pushed local governments in China to freeze minimum wages and lower the rate of social security contributions shouldered by companies in order to prevent capital flight. Chinese workers have been restless, as they see their very livelihoods threatened by these new developments, but in absence of any meaningful representation they have been largely unable to resist these trends.
In such difficult times, it is more important than ever to take a closer look at the challenges that Chinese workers and citizens are facing today. At the same time, it is also important to give credit to those in positions of authority who are currently going to great lengths to address the grievances and call for justice of many ordinary Chinese citizens. Such understanding is a necessary precondition to build those bridges of international solidarity and mutual comprehension so important in the period of global turmoil that we all now face, as the entire world seems to be descending into provincialism, xenophobia, and worse.
These are the goals of the inaugural Made in China Summer School ‘Labour and Rights in an Era of Global Precarity: Views from China’, that will be held on the Island of San Servolo, Venice, from 17 to 21 July 2017. This event will bring together prominent scholars from all over the world for a series of presentations and discussions with students, trade unionists, and NGO activists. The Summer School will be structured in two parts. The first three days will consist of masterclasses given by prominent scholars on topics related to contemporary Chinese politics and society, including the latest developments in labour rights, political discourse, land, trade unions, and labour protests in China. The last two days will be structured as an interactive workshop in which the speakers will present and discuss specific case studies collected during their fieldwork. The first day of the workshop will be dedicated to presentations related to ‘precarity’ in the Chinese context, the second to presentations on various aspects of ‘Chinese labour in a global perspective’, with case studies from Cambodia, Mongolia, Vietnam, and other countries.
A detailed programme of the classes and workshop will be published shortly. Here follows a list of the Summer School speakers; further information about the topics they will cover in their classes can be found here.
Stefan Brehm – Lund University
Anita Chan – Australian National University
Chen Feng – Hong Kong Baptist University
Francesca Coin – Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Ivan Franceschini – Ca’ Foscari University and Australian National University
Mary Gallagher – University of Michigan
Nicholas Loubere – Lund University
Fabio Perocco – Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Andrea Enrico Pia – London School of Economics
Dorothy Solinger – University of California, Irvine
Christian Sorace – Australian National University
Marina Svensson – Lund University
Luigi Tomba – University of Sydney
Jonathan Unger – Australian National University
More information: http://www.chinoiresie.info/summer-school/