Over the last year, the Chinese government has been tightening its grip on labor activism across the country. In the southern industrial hub of Shenzhen, factory workers of a welding machinery company were arrested after trying to form their own union in July 2018. Many of them remain in custody until today. But crackdowns on labor activists do not seem to discourage workers and employees. Recent social media protests against excessive working hours in the tech industry show that they are increasingly aware of their rights and actively oppose poor labor conditions. In our special Labor Day issue of MERICS experts, French researcher Chloé Froissart talks to Claudia Wessling about her field work with Chinese workers and explains the dilemma of official trade unions torn between workers’ demands and party loyalty.