The reform of Chinese state-owned ship crewing agencies and implications for China’s seafaring labour export
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© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. With the economic reform in China, the international shipping industry and some academics anticipated, as early as the 1990s, that Chinese seafarers would flood the world’s seafaring labour market. However, China’s seafarer export has been far lower than these expectations. This article seeks to explain this lack of development through research into the management strategies of two major ship crewing agencies in China, which have been reformed to different degrees, and the experience of the seafarers who work for them. To examine this question, 86 interviews of managers and seafarers were conducted in two Chinese state-owned crewing agencies (SCAs) between 2008 and 2013. The studies demonstrate that despite the economic reform in China, the SCAs were still supported and constrained by institutions at higher levels, instead of becoming independent, market-oriented economic entities, which constrained the development of foreign manning business. This partly explains the limited rate of increase of China’s seafarer export.
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