The United States and China signed two Memoranda of Understanding in 2011 to strengthen and deepen bilateral cooperation in labor law enforcement, worker rights, and workplace safety and health. The following activities build on a decade-long cooperation and collaboration between the two countries:
U.S. - China Labor Dialogue
In the spring of 2010, the two governments brought their cooperation on labor and employment to a new height, with the creation of an annual labor dialogue between the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS). The topics under current discussions include worker rights, labor law enforcement, and social safety net programs.
U.S. - China Workplace Safety and Health Dialogue
In November 2012, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and China's State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) launched an annual dialogue focusing on workplace safety and health challenges, strategies, policies and programs. This dialogue complements the Labor Dialogue with MOHRSS. Together, these two dialogues represent U.S. and Chinese efforts to improve worker rights and working conditions globally.
U.S. - China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED)
The Secretary of Labor participates in the U.S. - China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). DOL contributes to the S&ED discussions in the area of rebalancing growth and leads the discussion on policies tools — such as enforcing minimum wage standards, promoting collective bargaining and improving social safety net programs — to raise household income and increase domestic demand.
U.S. - China Exchange and Cooperation on Workplace Safety
DOL and SAWS are currently conducting a technical exchange project focusing on workplace dust control, toxic and hazardous substances, personal protective equipment and injury and accident prevention.
DOL and China's National Coal Association Work to Improve Compliance in the Coal Industry
The Department of Labor (DOL) and the China National Coal Association (CNCA) signed an MOU in February to improve the coal industry's compliance with safety and health regulations in China. Having worked with the Chinese government to improve mine safety regulations and strengthen inspection and enforcement efforts for over a decade, DOL seeks to expand bilateral cooperation to include the coal industry through a partnership with the CNCA. Under the MOU, DOL and CNCA will develop exchange and technical cooperation projects and plan to engage mine workers and mine operators directly to address safety and health challenges in coal mines.
Congressional-Executive Commission on China
The U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor, when nominated by the White House, serves as a commissioner on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC). The CECC publishes an annual report on China's human rights practices.
May 16, 2016: U.S.-China Labor Dialogue
Deputy Secretary Christopher Lu chaired the 2016 United States-China Labor Dialogue on May 16 in Washington, DC. Vice Minister Zhang Yizhen led the Chinese delegation. They reviewed employment and labor challenges at the national level and discussed opportunities for collaboration in the area of apprenticeship, entrepreneurship, and worker rights protection. They also reaffirmed a mutual commitment to continuing the dialogue and to exploring additional cooperation on labor market statistics and on the work of the G20 Employment Working Group. This year’s dialogue featured a discussion with representatives from the AFL-CIO, U.S. Council for International Business, and the Fair Labor Association.
December 9, 2013: Annual U.S. - China Workplace Safety and Health Dialogue — Washington, DC
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main and his Chinese counterpart, Vice Minister Wang Dexue, co-chaired the 2013 session of the U.S.-China Workplace Safety and Health Dialogue on Dec. 9 in Arlington, Va. The annual gathering, launched in November 2012, provides senior officials in both countries a forum to discuss policies and programs to improve worker rights and working conditions. During the meeting, Main and Wang focused on ongoing challenges in the United States and China and exchanged information on proposed rules and regulations and the newest technologies being developed to enhance mine emergency rescue operations. Main also highlighted recent work by the Mine Safety and Health Administration to promote miners' rights and responsibilities. "Our laws give our workers rights in the workplace, and we enforce them," he said. "Regardless of whether they have a union, workers have the right to speak out about their safety."
November 5, 2013: Annual U.S. - China Labor Dialogue — Washington, DC
Since 2001, the Bureau of International Affairs (ILAB) has worked to develop and maintain cooperation with the Chinese government on labor and employment issues. That effort continued on Tuesday, Nov. 5, when Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris hosted the 2013 session of the annual senior dialogue with a delegation from China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) at the department's headquarters in Washington, D.C. Vice Minister Qiu Xiaoping of MOHRSS led the Chinese delegation. The dialogue was established in 2010 under the Obama Administration's U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Mr. Qiu, who Deputy Secretary Harris called "an old friend of the Department of Labor," previously worked with ILAB on a labor rule of law project in his role as director-general of Labor and Wages Department of MOHRSS. On the agenda for this year's dialogue were wage and hour enforcement strategies, methodology, performance measures to evaluate program results, and latest development in both countries in the area of legal reform, dispute resolution, and collective bargaining. Representatives from ILAB and the Wage and Hour Division joined Deputy Secretary Harris in welcoming the delegation, discussed each country's priorities in labor and employment and explored directions for future cooperation. The dialogue provides a venue to better understand the challenges and policies in each country and share good practices.
December 7, 2012: Annual U.S. - China Labor Dialogue — Beijing, China
DOL's Associate Deputy Undersecretary for International Labor Affairs Mark Mittelhauser and Deputy Director for International Relations Zhao Li conducted the 2012 session of the USDOL-MOHRSS annual dialogue in Beijing. They discussed with Chinese officials issues ranging from worker rights to employment forecasting.
November 14, 2012: Annual U.S. - China Workplace Safety and Health Dialogue — Beijing, China
DOL's Associate Deputy Undersecretary for International Labor Affairs Mark Mittelhauser, Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Joseph Main and Assistant Secretary Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels launched the annual safety dialogue with China in Beijing. They also attended a senior official meeting with their Chinese counterparts to commemorate the tenth anniversary of bilateral cooperation on mine safety and health.
November 21-25, 2011: Chinese Delegation Met with U.S. Officials to Discuss Mine Rescue Standards and Training — Washington, DC and Prosperity, PA
The delegation was headed by Deputy Director-General Guo Zhiwu of China's National Work Emergency Management Center, State Administration of Work Safety and was on a one-week study mission focusing on U.S. mine rescue standards, practices and equipment. After meetings in Washington with senior ILAB and MSHA officials and with MSHA technical experts, the delegation traveled to Pennsylvania to visit the Mine Technology and Training Center (MTTC) of the United Mine Workers of America.
October 24-26, 2011: 5th International Mine Rescue Conference — Beijing, China
DOL's Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Joseph Main delivered a keynote speech at the 5th International Mine Rescue Conference held in Beijing. He called for greater cooperation among nations to improve mine safety and health. He also visited a Chinese coal mine in Shanxi and discussed technology used for atmospheric monitoring.
October 19-21, 2011: DOL and MOHRSS Bilateral Meetings — Washington, DC
MOHRSS Vice Minister Sun Baoshu visited USDOL in October and discussed bilateral cooperation and wage and hour law enforcement strategies with Deputy Undersecretary Sandra Polaski and Acting Wage and Hour Administrator Nancy Leppink.
October 10, 2011: Adoption of the CECC Annual Report on China — Washington, DC
Deputy Secretary Harris voted in October 2011 to adopt the 2011 CECC Annual Report on China.
May 10-11, 2011: USDOL - MOHRSS Annual Dialogue — Washington, DC
Deputy Undersecretary of Labor Sandra Polaski and Chinese Vice Minister of Labor Wang Xiaochu conducted the second annual labor dialogue between the two countries in Washington, DC. They focused the discussions on minimum wage policies and enforcement, labor market projections and analysis, and China's current efforts in integrating the rural and urban social security systems.