They are old, angry and have mobile phones, and they worry China’s protest-wary leaders.
Teachers across rural China, many long retired or forced from classrooms, have joined a recent surge of protests, with hundreds, sometimes thousands, besieging local governments to demand better treatment and denounce official privilege.
This week teachers in Xinning county in the central province of Hunan signed a petition demanding wages, pensions and health care, and decrying government officials’ repeated pay rises, said Xu Disu, one of the organisers. In December, hundreds besieged the county government office there, he said.
“The officials promise to solve our problems but they never do, so we’ll keep petitioning and petitioning until they do,” said Xu, a retired elementary school teacher in his late sixties.