Recently there have been reports on the introduction of the “direct election” (zhi xuan) of trade union officials in some enterprises in China, mainly in Shenzhen city. This article seeks to address the following questions. Firstly, is this a breakthrough for trade unions in China, which for a long time have been regarded as part of the state apparatus? Secondly, how should we evaluate this attempt at carrying out direct elections in enterprises? Thirdly, in what ways does it transcend the old way of doing business? Finally, how should the new practices be critically assessed?
Written by Elaine Sio-ieng Hui, a PhD candidate at Kassel University, Germany and a labour activist in Hong Kong and China.
Published by Global Labour Column and edited by CSID at Wits University.