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Special Frature: The Changing World of Chinese Labour

“NGOs” Defending Migrant Workers’ Rights

Semi-union organisations contribute to the regime’s dynamic stability
Chloé Froissart
Translated by N. Jayaram
p. 18-25


In the absence of trade union freedoms, “NGOs” have emerged to defend migrant workers’ rights. This article takes a close look at the mobilisation of such organisations, assesses their short-term impact, and examines their role in China’s political system. NGOs display a new form of activism based on pragmatic positioning and technical knowhow, especially in legal matters, all the while testing political boundaries. While such organisations act as a real counterweight within the system whose dysfunctions they seek to correct, their mobilisation is struggling to become institutionalised. They thus reflect the growth of a social form of democracy that helps the authoritarian system adapt, and hence contributes to preserving it.

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Bibliographical reference

Chloé Froissart, « “NGOs” Defending Migrant Workers’ Rights », China Perspectives, 2011/2 | 2011, 18-25.

Electronic reference

Chloé Froissart, « “NGOs” Defending Migrant Workers’ Rights », China Perspectives [Online], 2011/2 | 2011, Online since 30 June 2014, connection on 16 December 2019. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/chinaperspectives.5549

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About the author

Chloé Froissart

Assistant Professor in Chinese studies at Rennes 2 University and Associate Researcher at CNRS-CRAPE (

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