The Fury of the Chinese Cabbie

The Fury of the Chinese Cabbie

Bloomberg’s Dexter Roberts examines the wave of taxi strikes that have struck several Chinese cities this year amid growing pressure on labor activism:

Government media have said the fees taxi drivers pay are too high, but at the same time police have done their best to break up the cabbies’ demonstrations. In their intensity, high visibility, and persistence, the strikes offer the regime a new challenge. The protesters are relying on social media, including the short-message service WeChat and online bulletin boards, to organize. They’re also getting encouragement from a handful of longtime drivers who’ve become full-time activists, says Wang Kan, a professor at the China Institute of Industrial Relations in Beijing. “This is a nationwide underground network of activist taxi drivers that is growing,” he says. “And the new activist drivers know how to use technology, the media, and the public to support their claims.”

Authorities remain especially leery of rights-conscious cabbies because of their prominent role in cities. “For factory strikes, no matter how big, the government can censor news and usually no one knows about it, because most are located outside of cities,” says Wang, who has studied labor movements in China. “But with taxi strikes, everyone in the city feels it. Now with social media, they can tweet about them, and it has a snowball effect. This is bad for social stability, they think.” The strikes could also provide inspiration for future protest movements by workers who want to organize large-scale, multicity demonstrations. [Source]

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