This article reviews three recent books on labour politics in Vietnam and China: Angie Tran's Ties That Bind: Cultural Identity, Class and Law in Vietnam's Labor Resistance; Jeffrey Becker's Social Ties, Resources and Migrant Labor Contention in Contemporary China: From Peasants to Protesters, and Eli Friedman's Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Post-Socialist China. These three books capture the changing patterns of labour unrest and labour institutions in Vietnam and China, which are accounted for by the social foundation of resistance as well as the political economy of capitalist development. Their main contribution to the existing literature is that they draw out the new dynamics and new venues within the state that can both enable and constrain labour resistance and struggle in these countries. However, this article also argues that these works have not adequately theorised the nature of change within the state and the role of the law in labour resistance. It therefore suggests that bringing in the law to socio-political institutions is essential to a research agenda that explores continuity and change in labour politics in Vietnam and China as transitional economies.