Saturday, August 15, 2009
This report just in from the Associated Press provides another good example of how it's much harder for the Chinese government to manage things when the economy slows.
China steel workers trap official in 4-day protestCan you imagine the thoughts that were going through the head of the trapped government official, knowing that protesters had killed a steel plant manager just weeks before?
Hundreds of steel workers in central China trapped a government official in their factory's office compound for four days, angry at the official's role in the state-run plant's privatization, the local government said Saturday.
A local official denied a report in state-run media that armed police were dispatched to clear out the workers, saying they left voluntarily after the government persuaded them to go.
Protests are common in China, especially as state-run companies are sold off and privatized, leading to layoffs. The government is also shutting down old, polluting steel mills to make way for more efficient plants.
A similar protest last month in northeastern China led to the general manager of a state-owned steel plant being beaten to death. That plant's merger was called off.
State media said the workers object to the restructuring and want higher compensation.
This is somewhat reminiscent of the U.S. in the early 1900s where protests at Pennsylvania steel towns oftentimes turned violent, however, the important distinction between the two is that the latest protests in China are related to layoffs rather than working conditions.