Anti-sweatshop Campaigns between China and Hong Kong

A new paper by Yi Xu of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou and Chris King-Chi Chan of the City University of Hong Kong is now available at the JCA publisher’s webpage. Conductive Activism: Anti-Sweatshop Campaigns across Hong Kong and Mainland China (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1359651) is an attempt to look at how anti-sweatshop campaigns have adapted activism for China, moving the centre of that activism from the international to the domestic arena.

The abstract states:

This study looks at trans-border, anti-sweatshop campaigns and the transformation of  cross-border activism between Hong Kong and mainland China. Examining two cases, it demonstrates the mechanism and processes of trans-border, anti-sweatshop campaigns and networks involving non-governmental agencies, student groups and workers. The study suggests that anti-sweatshop activism has been conductive and transferrable from Hong Kong to China in a way that has mobilised local civil society power, cultivated mainland activists and nurtured localised pro-labour activism. With Hong Kong activists acting as movement conveyers and mainland activists acting as adapters, anti-sweatshop activism has evolved. Once centred on marketplaces and consumers, it is now centred on production sites, and has moved domestic actors (including workers, students, scholars, media and consumers) from the margins to the centre. Anti-sweatshop activism has moulded itself to local contexts by rebuilding its strategies and tactics while coalescing with overseas networks to integrate strengths across the Hong Kong-Chinese border. Although the anti-sweatshop movement in China has its weaknesses, its evolution has the potential to gradually alter the power asymmetries between domestic and overseas activists.

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Youth in China

Kosmas Tsokhas has produced another review of a recent book on China. His review of Youth Cultures in China (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1359652) by Jeroen de Kloet and Anthony Y. H. Fung is at the the JCA publisher’s website. The book is from Polity Press.

Tsokhas says this is “a sophisticated and erudite account” of the ways that Chinese youth experiment with identities and navigate the world of modern China. Sexuality, feminism, politics, rock music and social media all play a role.

Looking forward, de Kloet and Fung “surmise that Chinese youth can think, feel and act imaginatively and critically so as to anticipate and aspire to a politics of the future as difference…. So, before they are beset by the duties and obligations of adult family life, if their rebellions inclinations do not evolve into tacit acceptance or into active approval of things as they are,” Chinese youth can undertake “small interventions, piecemeal changes, occasional resistance and locally specific alternative subjectivities” which could have political consequences.

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Communal violence and transition in Myanmar

JCA readers in Copenhagen may be able to attend this event. It includes two authors – Nick Cheesman and Gerard McCarthy – from our recent special issue Interpreting Communal Violence in Myanmar:

Communal violence and transition in Myanmar

Tuesday 22 August 2017, 13.00-16.30
DIIS ∙ Danish Institute for International Studies
Gl. Kalkbrænderi Vej 51A
2100 Copenhagen

After decades of military rule and civil war, Myanmar has embarked on a comprehensive transition towards democracy, market economy and sustainable peace. While much has been achieved in terms of opening up political and economic life, the transition remains neither complete, nor ensured. The early optimism and high hopes are increasingly giving way to concerns over the inclusiveness of the process and the extent to which reforms will benefit all groups in society, including ethnic and religious minorities.

Focusing on the conflicted politics of identity and change in Myanmar, this seminar zooms in on two distinct processes: the recent rise of communal violence and anti-Muslim sentiments, especially but not exclusively in Rakhine State; and the peace negotiations aimed at settling the decade-long armed conflicts between the military and ethnic armed organizations. The seminar asks why violence remains a recurrent feature of everyday political life in Myanmar and explores – with a particular focus on the youth – the prospects and promises of peaceful and inclusive development in Myanmar.


  • Nick Cheesman, Fellow, Department of Political & Social Change, Australian National University
  • Gerard McCarthy, Associate Director, Myanmar Research Centre, and Doctoral Fellow, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University
  • Justine Chambers, Associate Director, Myanmar Research Centre, and Doctoral Fellow, Department of Anthropology, Australian National University
  • Mikael Gravers, Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, Aarhus University
  • Helene Maria Kyed, Senior Researcher, DIIS
  • Louise Riis Andersen, Senior Researcher, DIIS
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Issue 4 for 2017 published

Issue number 4 in Volume 47 (2017) of the journal has gone to print and is available electronically. It is available at the publisher’s site.

A collection of diverse articles and book reviews. This issue includes the following Articles:

Islamic Militias and Capitalist Development in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1336564) by Abdil Mughis Mudhoffir

Of Soldiers and Citizens: Shallow Marketisation, Military Service and Citizenship in Neo-Liberal South Korea (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1269264) by Hee Jung Choi and Nora Hui-Jung Kim

Demystifying the Park Chung-Hee Myth: Land Reform in the Evolution of Korea’s Developmental State (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1334221) by Jong-Sung You

UNESCO’s Tangled Web of Preservation: Community, Heritage and Development in China (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1296174) by Robert J. Shepherd

Social Classes and the Neo-Liberal Poverty Regime in Turkey, 2002–2011 (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1325919) by Serdal Bahçe and Ahmet Haşim Köse

Neo-Liberalism, Mining and Labour in the Indian State of Odisha: Outlining a Political Economy Analysis (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1277252) by Matilde Adduci

Acute and Everyday Violence in Sri Lanka (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1336783) by Vidura Munasinghe and Danielle Celermajer

This issue also carries a Review Article and several reviews:

The Global Capitalism School Tested in Asia: Transnational Capitalist Class vs Taking the State Seriously (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1282536) by Sean Kenji Starrs

Colossal Deception: How Foreigners Control Our Telecoms Sector. A Case Study of Corruption, Cronyism and Regulatory Capture in the Philippines. Reviewed by Frances Mae Ramos

Living in a Time of Deception. Reviewed by Peter Limqueco

Mobilizing Labour for the Global Coffee Market: Profits from an Unfree Work Regime in Colonial Java. Reviewed by Alec Gordon

Unequal Thailand: Aspects of Income, Wealth and Power. Reviewed by William J. Jones

Governing Cambodia’s Forests. The International Politics of Policy Reform. Reviewed by Frédéric Bourdier

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Production Politics and Migrant Labour

In a new review, labour specialist Andrew Brown reviews Production Politics and Migrant Labour Regimes: Guest Workers in Asia and the Gulf by Charanpal Singh Bal (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1355407), published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Brown states that this “excellent book” helps us to understand “the nature, changing forms, and political consequences of labour unrest among … precariously employed and disempowered workers.”

Focused on the experiences of Bangladeshi workers in Singapore, Bal also makes comparative observations of workers in the Gulf. Brown considers that Bal “develops a sophisticated theoretical framework to offer a probing and insightful examination of the dynamics that lie behind the struggles of migrant workers and their politics.”

Bal’s attention is to production politics. In considering “conflicts between workers and their employers over the terms and conditions of work” the author looks at different forms of struggle as challenges to state-sponsored regimes of control are developed.

Brown argues that Bal develops an innovative theoretical framework and creatively applies it to the analysis of the struggles of migrant workers and their politics.

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From Patrimonialism to Profit

Kee Cheok Cheong

The sixth and final substantive article that will appear in a special issue that remembers the late Professor Lee Poh Ping is one that he co-authored. The article is “From Patrimonialism to Profit: The Changing Flow of Funds from the Chinese in Malaysia to China” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1347696).

Lee Poh Ping

This paper was in process with JCA when Professor Lee passed away in late 2016.

The article is co-authored with Kee Cheok Cheong and Kam Hing Lee, two of his long-time collaborators at the Institute of China Studies at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur.

The abstract for the paper states:

Kam Hing Lee

Unlike the period before World War II, the Malaysian Chinese no longer look towards China as a home they will ultimately return to. This is seen in the flow of funds to China from the Malaysian Chinese. Before the war the motivation was patrimonial. The funds were in the form of patriotic bonds and collections and remittances that went to the home provinces of the Malaysian Chinese mostly in Fujian and Guangdong. Since the 1990s the funds flow has mainly been in the form of investment meant for gaining profit. This motivation was not different from that of business investors from other nations investing in China. It is important to demonstrate this motivation in order to allay suspicions by indigenous Southeast Asians that the Chinese who live in Southeast Asia are diverting funds meant for Southeast Asia to China.

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Chinese investment in Malaysia: Huawei and ZTE

The fifth article to appear in a special issue that remembers the late Professor Lee Poh Ping is by Ran Li and Kee-Cheok Cheong, both of the Institute of China Studies, University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. Their paper is available at the JCA publishers’ website. It is “Huawei and ZTE in Malaysia: The Localisation of Chinese Transnational Enterprises” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1346697).

The abstract for the paper states:

While much research has been undertaken on firms’ internationalisation, much less has been written on internationalisation’s other side, localisation. Yet with the rise of emerging economies, especially Chinese transnational corporations, localisation has become an increasingly significant. This article examines the localisation experience of two Chinese telecommunications enterprises – Huawei and ZTE – in Malaysia. By holding these factors constant (the ceteris paribus assumption), several dimensions of localisation are revealed. They are product, workforce, technology, organisation and management. Firm-specific factors matter both in accounting for inter-firm similarities and differences in the manner they localised. Enterprise ownership is also important in explaining firm performance and host countries’ perception of these firms. Leadership styles of these enterprises’ founders also matter. Together, these factors affect the differential pace of firms’ internationalisation and localisation.

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