Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, June 18, 2018

Civil unrest on Chinese roads

When public protests become visible to outsiders, I'd assume that we're just seeing the surface of the situation.

Chinese truck drivers, activists warn of more protests over fuel, fines and cutthroat rates
Thousands of truck drivers are believed to have taken part in protests in a dozen places – including Shanghai and Chongqing…

Footage and photos posted online showed drivers honking horns, driving slowly, chanting slogans and holding up banners.

As well as complaining about high fuel costs and random traffic fines, the drivers were protesting over changes to an Uber-like online truck logistics platform that pairs owner-drivers with freight shippers.

Long-distance truck drivers have protested before but the action this time is significant for breaking through the heavy censorship of China’s media to show the impact of internet companies on Chinese workers…

“We are struggling just to survive,” one driver based in Yantai, Shandong province, said, refusing to rule out similar action later this year.

“We did not plan the strikes, there is no leadership or organisation. We speak out from time to time.

“We can’t make a living any more now that haulage rates are under fierce competition and the diesel price is 7 yuan (US$1.09) a litre ... We are also often randomly fined for traffic violations.”

Diesel prices have climbed steadily – this time last year the price was 5.6 yuan per litre.

In the online videos, a number of trucks were also vandalised after their drivers refused to take part in the protests…

According to Ministry of Transport, there are 18 million long-distance truck drivers but other estimates put the number at 30 million – a sizable group whose growing grievances the authorities cannot afford to overlook…

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