Cornell University

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Student Profile

Mingwei Liu, ILR Ph.D. Candidate

Mingwei LiuMingwei Liu has been awarded an International Experience Grant to do field research in China. His dissertation research looks at "Chinese Trade Unions in Transition: Changing Roles, Challenges and Opportunities."

Faced with a serious survival crisis, unions have been trying to adapt to the new economic and political environment through reform. Recent changes and developments, especially at the local levels, suggest that Chinese trade unions may be beginning the transition toward more representative organizations suitable for an increasingly market-based economy. This study is the first step in an effort to understand just how the Chinese Trade union movement is changing. Mingwei’s current and future research attempts to accomplish the following:

  1. analyze and evaluate the function and role of trade unions at various levels—national, provincial, city, county/district, town/village, and the enterprise, with the focus on how city and county/district unions translate policy guidelines given from ACFTU (All China Federations of Trade Unions) into strategies for implementation and the effectiveness of these strategies;
  2. add case studies on the organizing initiatives and innovations of both the workers and unions, and evaluate their vitality and lasting effects to analyze and evaluate the role of government in Chinese trade union movement, particularly, the emphasis will be placed on legislation and public policy orientation, and the attitudes and strategies of government especially local governments on union organizing;
  3. analyze the relationship between ACFTU and the Party/State especially its evolving trend, with the focus on the competing tensions between the formal role of ACFTU and the economic goals and political principles of the Party/State.

Mingwei will focus on unions in four cities Changchun, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Shenzhen. These cities ranging from northernmost to southernmost of China, are all significant industrial cities in China, but differ greatly in histories, economic structures, labor market conditions and union strength. In addition, he will examine unions in several typical enterprises including state owned, private owned and foreign invested. Mingwei writes, "In-depth examination and comparison of these benchmark cases, both the whole picture and specific regional characteristics of the changing Chinese trade unions can be gained."

Professor Sarosh Kuruvilla chairs Mingwei’s dissertation committee.

- Mingwei Liu

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