In recent years, China’s global push has presented the international community with new opportunities and challenges. In particular, the rapid influx of Chinese outbound investment into a variety of industries has been seen as either a blessing or a curse. Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative has been especially controversial since its announcement in 2013. If, on the one hand, this one-trillion-dollar development initiative received a warm welcome from political elites and interest groups in many of the over 70 countries involved, on the other hand scholars and civil society organisations have expressed concern over this new wave of Chinese investment.
Ongoing debates and attempts to map China’s investment activities abroad have largely taken a top-down perspective, depicting the issue through the lens of governance and industry, while attempting to provide a bird’s-eye view of the macro-level impacts of China’s global push. What is missing from the current picture is a clear and systematic understanding of the role that Chinese outbound investment is playing at the grassroots, particularly with regards to how Chinese-invested projects impact on local societies, economies, environment, and labour relations.
To promote a better understanding of what China’s increasingly prominent international footprint means for societies in the Global North and South, we are holding the third installment of the Made in China Summer School—‘Global China: Resistance and Adaptation’. The event will take place at the CISL Study Centre in Florence, Italy, from 13 to 17 July 2020 and will bring together scholars from all over the world for five days of discussions with trade unionists, international NGO activists, and students. The initiative will serve to lay the foundations for an international network of concerned scholars and civil society representatives with the aim of fostering international solidarity and knowledge sharing with regard to the social challenges emerging from an increasingly Global China.
Global China: Resistance and Adaptation
A detailed programme of the classes, workshops, and events will be released in the coming weeks. Here follows a list of the speakers who have confirmed their attendance thus far:
Tom Baxter – Panda Paw Dragon Claw
Tom Baxter works at China Dialogue, a website focused on quality analysis of environmental issues in China, and co-edits Panda Paw Dragon Claw, a blog looking at the environment, media and civil society along the Belt and Road. He is also involved in various strategic communication initiatives with climate NGOs and has worked at the intersection of the media and NGO worlds in China for the last six years. His work focuses mostly on energy policy and investments on the Belt and Road, as well as analyses of media reporting on China’s ever increasing presence overseas.
Stefan Brehm - Lund University
Stefan Brehm is a Researcher at the Centre for East and South East Asian Studies, Lund University, and co-founder of Globalworks Lund AB, a start-up specialising in big data analytics for social and environmental governance. Stefan is an economist by training and has studied modern Chinese in Germany and Taiwan. He has worked on a wide field of China-related issues such as financial market regulation, fiscal policies, innovation systems, technology, leadership, environmental governance, and labour rights. As an advisor to the private and public sector he gained practical insight into social auditing practices in Chinese factories.
Darren Byler - University of Colorado, Boulder
Darren Byler is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His book project titled Terror Capitalism: Uyghur Dispossession in a Chinese City focuses on the effects of digital culture production and surveillance, new forms of capitalism, and mass internment in the lives of Uyghur and Han migrants in the city of Ürümchi, the capital of Chinese Central Asia (Xinjiang). He writes a regular column on these issues for the website SupChina and edits the art and politics repository The Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia, hosted at livingotherwise.com.
Antonella Ceccagno - University of Bologna
Antonella Ceccagno teaches Sociology of East Asia at the University of Bologna, Italy. For more than ten years she worked as the Managing and Research Director of the Center for Immigration Research and Services in Prato, Italy. She is interested in the emergence of new labour regimes and the role of migrants in processes of urban, regional, and industrial restructuring. She has written extensively on the Chinese migrants in the Italian fashion industry and is the author of City Making and Global Labour Regimes (2017).
Kelly Wanjing Chen - University of Wisconsin-Madison
Wanjing (Kelly) Chen is a PhD candidate of Geography at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her dissertation examines labour relation and diaspora politics in the making of Chinese capitalism in Lao PDR. Drawing on long-term ethnographic fieldwork, she demonstrates how various groups of Chinese businessmen and workers tirelessly endeavour for advantageous positions in the rapid changing landscape of global political economy. Their discrete and improvisational activities constituted the grounded manifestation of ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ outlined by Chinese state. She is also interested to explore gender relation in the globalisation of Chinese capitalism, and the politics of knowledge production on ‘China’ in an era when it becomes a global controversy.
Miriam Driessen - Oxford University
Miriam Driessen is a Dutch anthropologist. She is the author of Tales of Hope, Tastes of Bitterness: Chinese Road Builders in Ethiopia and the essay The Restless Earth: Rural China in Transition. Her research explores a variety of themes surrounding labour in Ethiopian-Chinese encounters, including power and language. She has also written about migration within China and beyond. Miriam is currently a researcher within the China, Law, and Development Project, hosted by the University of Oxford. For this project, she examines the socio-legal dimension of Chinese involvement in the Ethiopian construction sector.
Ivan Franceschini - The Australian National University
Ivan Franceschini is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian Centre on China in the World, The Australian National University. A graduate of Venice University, from 2006 to 2015 he lived in China, where he worked as a consultant in the field of development cooperation and researched issues related to labour rights and civil society. His current research focuses on the impact of Chinese investment on Cambodian society. He published several books related to China, on topics ranging from human trafficking to digital activism, from labour struggles to civil society. In 2011, he co-directed with Tommaso Facchin the documentary Dreamwork China and is currently working on a second documentary on mass fainting in Cambodian garment factories. He co-edits the Made in China Journal.
Sam Geall - China Dialogue
Dr Sam Geall is Executive Director of China Dialogue, Associate Fellow at Chatham House, and Associate Faculty at the University of Sussex. He has a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Manchester, and edited China and the Environment: The Green Revolution, published by Zed Books in 2013. He is also Research Associate at the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS; Fellow of the RSA (FRSA); and Trustee of the EU-China NGO Twinning Exchange. His research focuses on climate and environmental politics in China, and China’s overseas impact through the Belt and Road Initiative, particularly in the Mekong region.
Jane Golley - The Australian National University
Professor Jane Golley is an economist and Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World (CIW) at The Australian National University (ANU). Her research over several decades has covered a wide range of Chinese transition and development issues, including industrial agglomeration and regional policy; demographic change and economic growth; rural-urban and gender inequalities in education and income; the Belt and Road Initiative. Jane is actively engaged in public policy and media debate regarding the Australia-China relationship. She is a co-editor of the China Story Yearbook series, including Power, published in 2019, and China Dreams, published in 2020.
Aaron Halegua - New York University
Aaron Halegua is the founding partner of Aaron Halegua, PLLC, and a Research Fellow at the New York University School of Law. He is an expert on labour and employment law, dispute resolution, human trafficking, and Chinese overseas investments. Aaron has represented dozens of Chinese immigrant workers, and recently assisted 2,400 construction workers on the island of Saipan to obtain 14 million USD in back pay. He has consulted for the International Labour Organisation, Apple, the Ford Foundation, and other groups on labour issues in China, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, and Mexico, as well as published numerous book chapters, journal articles, and op-eds. More information is available on his website: http://www.aaronhalegua.com.
Ching Kwan Lee - Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Ching Kwan Lee is Dr. Chung Sze-yuen Professor of Social Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Professor of Sociology at UCLA. Her award-winning monographs on China’s turn to capitalism through the lens of labour include Gender and the South China Miracle: Two Worlds of Factory Women (1998), Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt (2007), and The Specter of Global China: Politics, Labor and Foreign Investment in Africa (2017). Her recent co-edited volumes include The Social Question in the 21st Century: a Global View (2019) and Take Back Our Future: an Eventful Political Sociology of the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement (2019).
Kevin Lin - International Labor Rights Forum
Kevin Lin is China Programme Officer at the International Labor Rights Forum. His research interests focus on labour and employment relations in China’s state sector, and China’s labour movement and civil society.
Nicholas Loubere - Lund University
Nicholas Loubere is an Associate Senior Lecturer in the Study of Modern China at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University. His research examines socioeconomic development in rural China, with a particular focus on microcredit and migration. He co-edits the Made in China Journal.
Malin Oud - Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
Malin Oud is Director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute Stockholm Office, and also leads the Institute’s thematic work on Economic Globalisation and Human Rights as well as its China Programme. She headed RWI’s Beijing Office from 2001 to 2009, and has worked as a consultant and adviser to UN agencies, multinational companies, European governments, and international NGOs. Malin is a Member of the Advisory Boards of German think-tank Mercator Institute for China Studies and the Hong Kong-based NGO China Labour Bulletin. She studied Chinese language, Chinese law, and international human rights law in Lund, Kunming, and London, and has an MA in International Development from Melbourne University.
Carlos Oya - SOAS, University of London
Carlos Oya is a Professor of Political Economy of Development at SOAS, University of London, and development economist by training. His main research interests include labour relations and employment, agrarian political economy, development policy, poverty, and research methodology. Carlos has done extensive field-based research on contemporary labour market dynamics in various African countries, especially in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola, and Senegal. He has recently led a project on structural transformations and employment outcomes in infrastructure construction and manufacturing sectors in Ethiopia and Angola, with a special focus on Chinese firms.
Maria Repnikova - Georgia State University
Maria Repnikova is a scholar of China’s political communication and an Assistant Professor of Global Communication at Georgia State University. Her research focuses on domestic and global public opinion management, including critical journalism and internal propaganda, and most recently, China’s soft power in Africa. Maria’s book, Media Politics in China: Improvising Power under Authoritarianism (2017) won the Book of the Year award from the International Journal of Press and Politics. She is currently finalising research on two projects: China’s global soft power and China’s public outreach to Ethiopia. Maria has a doctorate in politics from Oxford University where she was a Rhodes Scholar.
Alessandro Rippa - Tallinn University
Alessandro Rippa is a social anthropologist working on borders, infrastructure, and the environment in China and Myanmar. Alessandro completed his doctorate at the University of Aberdeen and held postdoctoral positions at LMU Munich and at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is currently Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at Tallinn University. In September 2020 he will begin a new five-year research project at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, focussing on the environmental components of Chinese investment in Southeast Asia.
Christian Sorace - Colorado College
Christian Sorace is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Colorado College. He is the author of Shaken Authority: China’s Communist Party and the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake (2017). He is also the co-editor of Afterlives of Chinese Communism: Political Concepts from Mao to Xi (2019). His current research focuses on the crisis of democracy, air pollution, and urbanisation in Mongolia.
Marina Svensson - Lund University
Marina Svensson is Director of the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies at Lund University. Her main fields of research include: human rights debates and struggles; legal developments and struggles; cultural heritage debates and issues; investigative journalism, journalism cultures, and China’s media ecology; documentary film and visual cultures; and China’s digital society.
Liang Xu - Peking University
Liang Xu is an Assistant Professor at the School of International Studies of Peking University in Beijing, China, with research and teaching interests in social and gender history of Africa, Chinese diaspora, and China–Africa relations. Liang received his PhD in African History (2017) from Harvard University, a PhD in International Relations (2010) and a BA in International Relations (2005) from Peking University. Liang is now working on a book project that examines the history of labour-intensive industrialisation in South Africa’s former homeland areas with a particular focus on ethnic Chinese garment factories and Zulu women workers.
Yu Zheng - Royal Holloway University of London
Yu Zheng is a Senior Lecturer in Asian Business and International Human Resource Management at the School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London. Yu’s research focuses on work organisation and employment relations in multinational firms, particularly those from China and Japan.
The Summer School will be held at the Centro Studi CISL located on the hill rising from Florence towards Fiesole, close to S. Domenico. The Centre was founded in 1951 by CISL, the second largest union confederation in Italy, with the aim of offering its staff a professional and cultural training programme appropriate to the needs of the union. The beauty of the Centre derives not only from its proximity to the historical centres of Florence and Fiesole, but is also due to its position in the middle of Tuscany’s green countryside. All in all, it is a calm, peaceful, and attractive environment for study and discussion.
Costs and Scholarships
There is no enrollment fee for the Summer School, but participants will have to pay for their own transportation and lodging. Free lunch will be provided and we are able to assist with the arrangement of accommodation at the CISL Study Centre for the duration of the Summer School (ideally, check-in should be on 12 July and check-out on 18 July). The price is 68 euros per night in a single room, breakfast included, or 100 euros per night in a double room (if available). Upon confirmation, participants will be required to pay half the total sum as a non-refundable partial payment.
Scholarships to cover part of the costs for flights and accommodation will be available for selected participants. Preference will be given to applicants from the Global South whose work has a strong focus on Global China and/or environment and labour issues.
How to Apply
Up to 20 participants will be admitted to the Summer School. Applications can be submitted until 8 March through this online form. If you have further inquiries, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants will be notified whether or not they have been admitted by the end of March, then will be given until mid-April to confirm their attendance.
The Summer School is jointly sponsored by the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University, the Global China Center at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.