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The Impact of Economic Reform on Industrial Labour Relations in China and Vietnam


  • Ying Zhu
  • Stephanie Fahey


Both China and Vietnam are undergoing a social experiment as they diverge from the path of their Soviet compatriots and attempt transition to a 'socialist market mechanism'. The economic reform in both countries aims towards the so-called 'third way' between the failed command economies and the capitalist alternative. However, after over a decade of reform, it is necessary to investigate whether China and Vietnam are locked into the cycle of reform and retreat which was characteristic of East European societies before 1989 or whether indeed the two countries are developing a stable system consonant with the notion of a 'socialist market economy'. This article tackles these issues by examining and comparing the changing labour relations systems in China and Vietnam in the wake of the changes in economic policies and enterprise regulation towards new forms of labour contracts, wages and welfare systems, worker representation and trade unionism, and legal frameworks. So far there have been significant changes in society and the two countries are still experimenting to find their way towards the 'socialist market economy' by following the philosophy of 'crossing the river by feeling the stones'. The new industrial relations lie at the heart of the reform and their successful management is the key factor determining the outcome of the further transition.

Suggested Citation

  • Ying Zhu & Stephanie Fahey, 1999. "The Impact of Economic Reform on Industrial Labour Relations in China and Vietnam," Post-Communist Economies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 173-192.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:pocoec:v:11:y:1999:i:2:p:173-192
    DOI: 10.1080/14631379995977

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    Cited by:

    1. Niklas Egels-Zandén, 2009. "Transnational Governance of Workers’ Rights: Outlining a Research Agenda," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 87(2), pages 169-188, June.
    2. Niklas Egels-Zandén, 2009. "TNC Motives for Signing International Framework Agreements: A Continuous Bargaining Model of Stakeholder Pressure," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 84(4), pages 529-547, February.


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