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Special Feature

The Chinese Trade Union Goes Abroad: Evidence from Cambodia

Ivan Franceschini
p. 29-37


In recent years, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), the only trade union legally allowed in China, has become increasingly assertive on the international stage. Successive amendments to its constitution demand that the ACFTU not only assist the Chinese authorities in pushing forward the Belt and Road Initiative, but also reshape the current order of the international labour movement. Through the testimonies of local trade unionists, this paper examines how the ACFTU is attempting to achieve these goals in Cambodia, a country with large inflows of Chinese investment. The article will show that the Chinese trade union in Cambodia consistently engages with local Cambodian government-aligned actors that are usually neglected by the international labour movement, providing them with material assistance and opportunities to travel abroad. It argues that the impact of these activities should not be dismissed, as their alignment with the illiberal agenda of the Cambodian authorities and the priorities of employers has the potential to drastically change the landscape of trade unionism in Cambodia.

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Editor's notes

Manuscript received on 28 April 2020. Accepted on 9 September 2020.


Full text document will be published online on December 2021.


The Chinese trade union
Trade unions in Cambodia
The ACFTU in Cambodia

First lines

In international affairs, Chinese trade unions uphold the policy of independence and autonomy, mutual respect, seeking common ground while acknowledging differences, reinforcing cooperation, and boosting friendship. On the basis of the principles of independence, equality, mutual respect, and mutual non-interference in internal affairs, they broadly establish and develop friendly relationships with union organisations at the international level and in every country, actively join in the establishment of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), advance the friendship between the working class in our country and the working classes in every country, and together with the unions and workers in the whole world strive for world peace, development, cooperation, worker rights, and social progress by playing a role in building up a community of shared destiny for mankind.

Statute of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), as amended in 2018

As a mass organisation of Leninist imprint and ...

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Bibliographical reference

Ivan Franceschini, « The Chinese Trade Union Goes Abroad: Evidence from Cambodia », China Perspectives, 2020/4 | 2020, 29-37.

Electronic reference

Ivan Franceschini, « The Chinese Trade Union Goes Abroad: Evidence from Cambodia », China Perspectives [Online], 2020/4 | 2020, Online since 01 December 2021, connection on 11 May 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Ivan Franceschini

Ivan Franceschini is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian Centre on China in the World, The Australian National University, and Co-editor-in-Chief of the open access quarterly Made in China Journal. China in the World Building #188, Fellows Lane, The Australian National University Canberra ACT 2601,

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