This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book examines two recent bodies of literature that have sought to examine labour beyond the national comparative framework, namely the labour and globalisation literature, as well as the literature on international strike waves. China's 2010 strike wave took place amidst a longer-term upsurge of social restiveness that has compelled the country's political elites to rethink the viability of an export-oriented developmental model based on labour subordination. The book provides a more comprehensive explanation of the constitutive role of labour in East Asian development and establishes a theoretical framework for elucidating the relationship between the social and the geopolitical, as well as how that relationship affects the processes of state formation. Neoliberalism itself is largely seen as external in origin and as separate from ongoing domestic processes of social contestation.