The shift in factory locations has had major implications for companies sourcing from China, according to Maplecroft's latest Labour Standards and Environment Report for China.
Strikes in the manufacturing sector have increased dramatically across China, most notably in coastal provinces where workers' grievances over factory closures are now the primary cause of labour unrest.
Factory worker strikes are far less common in the inland provinces, although labour unrest is expected to increase in the next 5-10 years, says Maplecroft.
Although many aspects of China's labour legislation meet international standards, enforcement is often weaker in inland areas than in coastal areas. As a result, there is a significant risk that basic labour laws and health and safety regulations will be less stringently enforced.