China in Revolt | Jacobin:
Today, the Chinese working class is fighting. More than thirty years into the Communist Party’s project of market reform, China is undeniably the epicenter of global labor unrest. While there are no official statistics, it is certain that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of strikes take place each year. All of them are wildcat strikes – there is no such thing as a legal strike in China. So on a typical day anywhere from half a dozen to several dozen strikes are likely taking place.
More importantly, workers are winning, with many strikers capturing large wage increases above and beyond any legal requirements. Worker resistance has been a serious problem for the Chinese state and capital and, as in the United States in the 1930s, the central government has found itself forced to pass a raft of labor legislation. Minimum wages are going up by double digits in cities around the country and many workers are receiving social insurance payments for the first time.
Labor unrest has been growing for two decades, and the past two years a-lone have brought a qualitative advance in the character of worker struggles.
But if there are lessons for the Northern left in the experience of Chinese workers, finding them requires an examination of the unique conditions those workers face – conditions which, today, are cause for both great optimism and great pessimism.