Tens of thousands in China's southwestern city of Linshui marched May 16, to be attacked by riot police, leading to street clashes that continued long into the night. The protest was called to demand that a proposed rail line linking Dazhou to Chongqing pass through the city in central Sichuan, which currently has no rail access or airport. Authorities recently announced that the route will instead go through Guangan, seemingly chosen because it is the birthplace of Deng Xiaoping. Epoch Times puts the number of demonstrators at 30,000, and Hong Kong's The Standard reports that five are dead—including a schooolgirl. Radio Austrailia has amazing video footage of brutal police charges, which have apaprently been making the rounds on Weibo and other social media in China. Photos at Revolution News (similarly taken by citizen journalists) show the march filling the streets—with big professionally made banners. Even the most complete English-language account, at South China Morning Post, does not make clear who called and organized the march.
Unrest in China is now practically ongoing. More wildcat strikes hit the mining sector last month. Several thousand coal miners from the state-owned Longmei Group walked off the job and took to the streets in Qitaihe, Heilongjiang, to demand payment of three months wages in arrears. Clashes with police broke out as workers refused to disperse, and the protest continued sporadically for at least one week. On April 25, more than 600 coal miners near the Shandong city of Jining staged a protest over four months' wage arrears and the non-payment of pension contributions. Coal is apprently the sector worst hit by China's slowdown, with output declining 3.5% this year to 850 million tons in the first quarter. (China Labour Bulletin, April 29)
In March, at least 5,000 went on strike at the Stella Shoe factory in Dongguan, Guangdong, which produces for Nike, Timberland and other popular brands. Workers were demanding the company pay its government-mandated monthly housing allowance. (China Labour Net, March 15)
ChinaWorker.info warns "China is in a hard landing now"…
For China's one-party dictatorship (CCP), 2015 is turning into quite a dangerous year. After years of rapid debt-driven growth and the world's biggest construction boom, China's economy faces a multitude of serious problems. Overcapacity, deflation, a housing slump and local government debt crisis are all acting as a drag on economic growth which by several measures has slowed to a crawl.
The repression in Linshui may signal fear of a social explosion on the part of China's rulers. And leaders thusly motivated often end up creating exactly what they fear.