Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Intern Labor in China (中国实习劳工)

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Rural China

Internships have become integral to the development of vocational education in China. This article looks into the quasi-employment arrangements of student interns, who occupy an ambiguous space between being a student and being a worker at the point of production. Some employers recruit interns on their own, while others secure a supply of student labor through coordinated support of provincial and lower-level governments that prioritize investments, as well as through subcontracting services of private labor agencies. The incorporation of teachers into corporate management can strengthen control over students during their internships. While interns are required to do the same work as other employees, their unpaid or underpaid working experiences testify that intern labor is devalued. Exposés of abuses, such as using child labor in the guise of interns, have pressured the Chinese state and companies to eventually take remedial action. Reclaiming student workers’ educational and labor rights in the growing intern economy, however, remains contested.学生实习已经成为中国职业教育发展的重要组成部分。本文旨在探讨实习生面对的特殊雇佣关系,了解他们的工作处境,就是在劳动过程中占据了一个介于学生和工人之间的模糊位置。目前企业一般自行招募实习生,或通过地方政府和私人的中介机构进行大规模动员。校企合作之下,老师的介入加强了实习过程中对学生的劳动控制。当这些实习生被要求和其他工人一样工作时,他们的薪酬和福利待遇却往往低于一般工人,甚至是无酬的。近年来,以实习之名而使用童工为实的事件曝光以后,政府官员和剬司主管被迫采用了一些应对措施。然而,在快速发展的“实习经济”中,要实现实习劳工的基本教育和劳动权利仍是困难重重。 (This article is in English.)

Affiliations: 1: Department of Applied Social Sciences Hong Kong Polytechnic University,


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. BBC (2012) “Foxconn admits employing under-age interns.” Oct. 16. .
2. Earl V. Brown Jr.,, and deCant Kyle A. (2014) “"Exploiting Chinese interns as unprotected industrial labor".” Asian-Pacific Law and Policy J.Vol 15, 2: 15095. .
3. Butollo Florian,, and Tobias ten Brink (2012) “"Challenging the atomization of discontent: patterns of migrant-worker protest in China during the series of strikes in 2010".” Critical Asian StudiesVol 44, 3: 41940. [Crossref]
4. Chakrabortty Aditya (2016) “"Your new iPhone’s features include oppression, inequality—and vast profit".” The Guardian.Sept. 19. .
5. Chan Chris King-chi,, and Elaine Sio-ieng Hui (2014) “"The development of collective bargaining in China: from ‘collective bargaining by riot’ to ‘party state-led wage bargaining.’"” China Q.Vol 217: 22142. [Crossref]
6. Chan Jenny,, Pun Ngai,, and Selden Mark (2015) “"Interns or workers? China’s student labor regime".” Asian Studies (Official Journal of the Asian Studies Association of Hong Kong)Vol 1, 1: 6998. ; and, Asia-Pacific J. vol. 13, issue 36, no. 1, Sept. 7, .
7. Chan Jenny,, and Selden Mark (2016) “"The labour politics of China’s rural migrant workers".” Globalizations: 113. .
8. Chen Chih-Jou Jay 陈志柔 (2015) “中国威权政体下的集体抗议: 台资厂大罢工的案例分析” ("Popular protest in an authoritarian regime: a wildcat strike in southern China"). 台湾社会学Vol 30: 153.
9. China Labor Bulletin (2015) “Five years on, Nanhai Honda workers want more room from their trade union.” May 15. .
10. Chuang Julia (2015) “"Urbanization through dispossession: survival and stratification in China’s new townships".” J. of Peasant StudiesVol 42, 2: 27594. [Crossref]
11. DanWatch (2015) “Servants of servers: rights violations and forced labour in the supply chain of ICT (information and communications technology) equipment in European universities,” Oct. 5. .
12. de Peuter Greig,, Cohen Nicole S.,, and Brophy Enda [eds.] (2015) “"Interrogating internships: unpaid work, creative industries, and higher education".” tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & CritiqueVol 13, 2: 329602.
13. EICC and REAP [Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition and Stanford University’s Rural Education Action Program] (2015a) “Creating and evaluating a credentialing system for vocational schools in China.” Phase 2 final report. .
14. EICC and REAP [Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition and Stanford University’s Rural Education Action Program] (2015b) “"A coalition for responsible vocational education".” 7-min video. .
15. EICC and REAP [Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition and Stanford University’s Rural Education Action Program] (2016) “Electronics industry recognizes vocational schools in China for excellence.” .
16. Evans Peter,, and Sarah Staveteig, (2009) “"The changing structure of employment in contemporary China".” Pp. 6982 in Davis Deborah S., and Feng Wang (eds.), Creating Wealth and Poverty in Postsocialist China. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.
17. Foxconn Technology Group (2010a) “Foxconn is committed to a safe and positive working environment.” Oct. 11. .
18. Foxconn Technology Group (2010b) “‘合作.共赢’: iDPBG召开实习生总结暨表彰大会” ("“Win-win cooperation”: iDPBG convenes the intern appraisal and awards ceremony".) 鸿桥 (Foxconn Bridgeworkers) Vol 183, Dec. 31. Print edition.
19. Frazier Mark W. (2014) “"State schemes or safety nets? China’s push for universal coverage".” DaedalusVol 143, 2: 6980. [Crossref]
20. Friedman Eli (2014) Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.
21. Friedman Eli,, and Lee Ching Kwan (2010) “"Remaking the world of Chinese labour: a 30-year retrospective".” British J. of Industrial RelationsVol 48, 3: 50733. [Crossref]
22. Gallagher Mary E. (2005) Contagious Capitalism: Globalization and the Politics of Labor in China. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.
23. Harvey David (2005) A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
24. Hoffman Lisa, (2001) “"Guiding college graduates to work: social constructions of labor markets in Dalian".” Pp. 4366 in Chen Nancy N.,, Clark Constance D.,, Gottschang Suzanne Z.,, and Jeffery Lyn (eds.), China Urban: Ethnographies of Contemporary Culture. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press. [Crossref]
25. Hope Sophie,, and Figiel Joanna (2015) “"Interning and investing: rethinking unpaid work, social capital, and the ‘human capital regime.’"” tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & CritiqueVol 13, 2: 36174.
26. Huang Philip C. C. (2011) “"The theoretical and practical implications of China’s development experience: the role of informal economic practices".” Modern ChinaVol 37, 1: 343. [Crossref]
27. Ip Iam-chong (2015) “"Negotiating educated subjectivity: intern labor and higher education in Hong Kong".” tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & CritiqueVol 13, 2: 5018. .
28. Kuczera Malgorzata,, and Field Simon (2010) “"Learning for jobs: OECD reviews of vocational education and training—options for China".” OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). .
29. Kuruvilla Sarosh,, Lee Ching Kwan,, and Gallagher Mary E. [eds.] (2011) From Iron Rice Bowl to Informalization: Markets, Workers, and the State in a Changing China. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.
30. Lee Ching Kwan (2016) “"Precarization or empowerment? Reflections on recent labor unrest in China".” J. of Asian StudiesVol 75, 2: 31733. [Crossref]
31. Ling Minhua (2015) “"‘Bad students go to vocational schools!’: education, social reproduction and migrant youth in urban China".” China J.Vol 73: 10831. [Crossref]
32. Liu Genghua (2014) “"Private employment agencies and labour dispatch in China".” SECTOR Working Paper No. 293. Geneva: International Labour Office. .
33. Lyddon Dave,, Cao Xuebing,, Meng Quan,, and Lu Jun (2015) “"A strike of ‘unorganised’ workers in a Chinese car factory: the Nanhai Honda events of 2010".” Industrial Relations J.Vol 46, 2: 13452. [Crossref]
34. Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China 中华人民共和国教育部 (2010a) 国家中长期教育改革和发展规划纲要 2010–2020年 (Outline of China’s national plan for medium and long-term education reform and development, 2010–2020), July 29. .
35. Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China 中华人民共和国教育部 (2010b) 关于应对企业技工荒进一步做好中等职业学校学生实习工作的通知 (Circular on further improving the work of secondary vocational school student internships regarding the skilled labor shortage of enterprises), Mar. 10. .
36. Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China 中华人民共和国教育部 (2015) 高中阶段学生数的构成 (Composition of students in senior secondary schools), Aug. 18. .
37. Ministries of Education and Finance of the People’s Republic of China 中华人民共和国教育部、財政部 (2007) 中等职业学校学生实习管理办法 (Administrative measures for internships at secondary vocational schools), June 26. .
38. Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the State Administration of Work Safety, and the China Insurance Regulatory Commission 教育部、财政部、人力资源社会保障部、国家安全监管总局、中国保监会 (2016) 职业学校学生实习管理规定 (Regulations on the management of vocational school student internships), April 11. .
39. Ministry of Education, National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Ministry of Agriculture, and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development 教育部、国家发展改革委、财政部、人力资源社保障部、农业部、国务院扶贫办 (2014) 现代职业教育体系建设规划2014–2020年 (Modern vocational education system construction plan, 2014–2020), June 16. .
40. National Bureau of Statistics of the People’s Republic of China 中华人民共和国国家统计局 (2016) 2015年农民工监测调查报告 (Investigative report on the monitoring of rural migrant workers in 2015). .
41. Naughton Barry (2014) “"China’s economy: complacency, crisis & the challenge of reform".” DaedalusVol 143, 2: 1425. [Crossref]
42. Otis Eileen M., (2009) “"The labor of luxury: gender and generational inequality in a Beijing hotel".” Pp. 5468 in Davis Deborah S., and Feng Wang (eds.), Creating Wealth and Poverty in Postsocialist China. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.
43. Perlin Ross (2012) Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy. Updated ed. London: Verso.
44. Pun Ngai,, and Chan Jenny (2012) “"Global capital, the state, and Chinese workers: the Foxconn experience".” Modern ChinaVol 38, 4: 383410.
45. Pun Ngai,, and Koo Anita (2015) “"A ‘world-class’ (labor) camp/us: Foxconn and China’s new generation of labor migrants".” Positions: Asia CritiqueVol 23, 3: 41135. [Crossref]
46. Rodino-Colocino Michelle,, and Berberick Stephanie N. (2015) “"‘You kind of have to bite the bullet and do bitch work’: how internships teach students to unthink exploitation in public relations".” tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & CritiqueVol 13, 2: 486500.
47. Rozelle Scott,, Loyalka Prashant,, and Chu James (2013) “China’s human capital challenge and what can be done about it.” Presentation on “Responsible electronics 2013: student workers.” Oct. 2. .
48. Schmalz Stefan,, Sommer Brandon,, and Xu Hui (2016) “"The Yue Yuen strike: industrial transformation and labour unrest in the Pearl River Delta".” Globalizations: 113. .
49. Yuan Shen 沈原 [ed.] (2013) 清华社会学评论 — 社会转型与新生代农民工 (Tsinghua sociological review—social transformation and the new-generation migrant workers), vol. Vol 6. Beijing: 社会科学文献出版社.
50. Smith Chris,, and Chan Jenny (2015) “"Working for two bosses: student interns as constrained labour in China".” Human RelationsVol 68, 2: 30526. [Crossref]
51. Standing Guy (2011) The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
52. Su Yihui (2010) “"Student workers in the Foxconn empire: the commodification of education and labor in China".” J. of Workplace RightsVol 15, 3–4: 34162.
53. Fayun Wang, 王发运 and Yu Li, 李宇 (2011) “2010年中国社会保险制度建设新进展” ("New progress in the development of a social security system in 2010"). Pp. 4859 in Ru Xin, 汝信, Lu Xueyi, 陆学艺, and Li Peilin 李培林 (eds.), 2011年中国社会形势分析与预测 (Analysis and forecast of the social landscape in China, 2011). Beijing: 社会科学文献出版社.
54. Tongxin Wang, 王同信 and Yujuan Zhai 翟玉娟 [eds.] (2013) 深圳新生代农民工调查报告 (Research report on the new generation of rural migrant workers in Shenzhen). Beijing: 中国法制出版社.
55. Warhurst Chris,, Carré Françoise,, Findlay Patricia,, and Tilly Chris [eds.] (2012). Are Bad Jobs Inevitable? Trends, Determinants and Responses to Job Quality in the Twenty-First Century. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
56. Woronov T. E. (2016) Class Work: Vocational Schools and China’s Urban Youth. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.
57. Xu Feng, (2014) “"Temporary work in China: precarity in an emerging labor market".” Pp. 14363 in Fudge Judy, and Strauss Kendra (eds.), Temporary Work, Agencies, and Unfree Labor: Insecurity in the New World of Work. New York, NY: Routledge.
58. Zhan Shaohua,, and Huang Lingli (2013) “"Rural roots of current migrant labor shortage in China: development and labor empowerment in a situation of incomplete proletarianization".” Studies in Comparative International DevelopmentVol 48: 81111. [Crossref]
59. Zhang Lu (2015) Inside China’s Automobile Factories: The Politics of Labor and Worker Resistance. New York, NY: Cambridge Univ. Press.
60. Zhou Ying (2013) “"The state of precarious work in China".” American Behavioral ScientistVol 57, 3: 35472. [Crossref]

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Rural China — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation