Keywords: Chinese Communist Party; Trade Unions; Political Crisis.
Established in Guangzhou in 1925 and re-organized at the end of the 1940s as a «transmission belt» between the Party-State and the workers, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (Acftu) remains the only trade union whose existence is allowed in the People's Republic of China (Prc). Although the existing literature generally focuses on the structural limits of the Acftu, often describing it as a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party (Ccp), the history of the relations between the union and the Party in China since 1949 has been marred by disagreements and confrontations. In particular, this paper will delve into three conflicts that took place in 1951, 1957 and 1989. Resorting to the concept of «institutional conversion», it will be argued that even a relationship of substantial subservience as the one that binds the Acftu to the Ccp hides tensions that explode in periods of political or economic crisis.