The strike started in Chongqing municipality in early November, and taxi drivers in cities including Sanya in Hainan province, Yongdeng in Guizhou province and Shantou and Guangzhou in Guangdong soon followed, protesting high rentals and unfair competition from unlicensed taxis.
It’s not the first time Chinese cabbies have launched a strike. Yet in the past, such cases were sporadic and isolated, going unnoticed by outsiders as the state-controlled media refrained from reporting on protests while the government covered them up.
But this time the authorities have not only allowed the state-run media to freely cover the strikes; they have also acted promptly to hold dialogue with the cabbies, a sign the government might be growing more tolerant of workers’ protests amid growing labor conflicts in an economic downturn.
After a series of riots this year, the government may have learned that crackdowns on protests do not reduce social conflicts. The issue now is how far the government is willing to go along this line.