Friday, April 22, 2011
CHINA REVOLT - Third day of Shanghai strike threatens China exports
Striking truck drivers protested for a third day on Friday in Shanghai's main harbor district amid heavy police presence and signs the action has already started to curb exports from the world's busiest container port.
The strike is a very public demonstration of anger over rising consumer prices and fuel price increases in China.
It comes as the government struggles to contain higher inflation, which hit 5.4 percent in March, fearful that rising prices could fuel protests like those that have rocked the Middle East.
A crowd of up to 600 people milled about outside an office of a logistics company near the Baoshan Port, one of the city's ports. Some threw rocks at trucks whose drivers had not joined in the strikes, breaking the windows of at least one truck.
The strikers, many of them independent contractors who carry goods to and from the port, stopped work on Wednesday demanding the government do something about high fuel costs and what some called high fees charged by logistics firms, said the drivers, who clashed with police on Thursday.
China is especially wary about threats to social stability following online calls for Middle East-inspired "Jasmine Revolution" protests and has detained dozens of dissidents, including renowned artist Ai Weiwei.
"We are continuing our strike," said a 38-year-old truck driver surnamed Liu. "There has been no response from the government or anybody else. There's nothing we can do."
Workers organized the strike using word of mouth, said a driver.
China's tightly controlled state media has made no mention of the unrest, and the city's government, which is working hard to turn glamorous Shanghai into a global financial hub to compete with Hong Kong and London, has denied knowledge of the strike.
Duncan Innes-Ker, China analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said the strikes could inspire protests by workers in other transport sectors, given rising fuel prices.
"There are strikes in the taxi driver industry on a regular basis in numerous cities across China," he said. "These are happening and they will continue to happen, and if the oil price continues to rise they will get worse."
China said in early April it would lift retail gasoline and diesel prices by 5-5.5 percent to record highs.
Continue reading - Reuters - Third day of Shanghai strike threatens China exports
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