Government’s Role

Han Dongfang on Chinese Labour Rights

Podcast, 01 May 2019

By Salil Tripathi, Senior Advisor, Global Issues, IHRB

Download Filetype: MP3 - Size: 13.49MB - Duration: 9:49 m (192 kbps 44100 Hz)

China has prospered enormously in the last four decades, since Deng Xiaoping came to power and made changes to open the Chinese economy to global trade and investment. Today, China is an economic power. But China offers little protection to workers' rights, and trade unions in China face significant challenges. Wildcat strikes have become more common, and Chinese workers are demanding the rights to form unions and collective bargaining. In this podcast, Han Dongfang discusses how Chinese workers have become more empowered to protest lack of labour rights, but they are still greatly limited.

Han Dongfang is Executive Director at China Labour Bulletin in Hong Kong. He has been a prominent advocate for workers' rights in China for several decades. He formed China's first independent labour union - his union was disbanded during the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, and he was jailed for 22 months. He fell ill during his prison term, and was allowed to leave for the US for medical treatment. He returned to China, when he was arrested again and expelled to Hong Kong, where he now lives. Han remains optimistic of the challenges ahead. Unions seek solutions, he says, in this conversation marking May Day with IHRB's Salil Tripathi.

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