18-20 August 2022

Regulating the platform economy in China: a two-level governance approach

Hong Yu Liu

Abstract:The paper investigates how China’s government policies respond to the labour unrest in the platform economy. It shows that the state has adopted a two-level governance approach: while the central government focuses on supervising the development (i.e., competition and financialisation) of the platform economy, local governments initiate occupational safety and social protection measures to workers. It begins with a discussion of the ambiguous legal status of platform labour in China and explains why platform workers are ill-protected under the current labour regulatory framework. Then, it presents what policy efforts have been made by both the central and local government to improve the protection of workers and neutralise the risk of labour unrest, and what the challenges are in reality. This paper suggests that the post-Covid economy recovery in China could provide new hopes to improve the labour conditions; but further policy efforts must be taken by the central government to deal with the root causes.


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