Pension Systems and Labour Resistance in Post-socialist China and Vietnam: A Welfare Regime Analysis

Chris King Chi Chan, Elaine Sio Ieng Hui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Situated within the literature on welfare regimes, this article investigates workers’ contestation of pension arrangements in post-socialist, authoritarian China and Vietnam, and considers the effects of their actions. Scholars have highlighted economic, cultural, political regime type and political institutions as factors crucial to understanding the welfare regimes of China and Vietnam. However, the “labour factor”–that is, how worker resistance and mobilisation shape welfare provisions–has been under-explored. Focusing on pension provisions in China and Vietnam, this article contends that a labour perspective can deepen knowledge of pension systems and welfare regimes in these two countries. Based on case studies of two notable strikes, interviews and documentary research, this article illustrates that, against the background of transitioning from state socialism to market-Leninism, pension provisions and welfare regimes in China and Vietnam have been constantly contested by workers. It also shows that labour resistance has influenced welfare arrangements at various levels in both countries, and that the Vietnamese state was more accommodating to workers’ pension demands than the Chinese state, because of its more strongly redistributive orientation and, relatively, a less controlling political system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-252
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Contemporary Asia
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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