China’s truck drivers on strike again in protest at government emissions policy
Hundreds of truck drivers in the northern city of Xi’an went on strike on 9 November protesting new government regulations that banned China 3 and 4 diesel trucks from the city’s third ring road during the daytime.
Since most of Xi’an’s logistics stations, shopping malls and construction sites are located inside the third ring road, the ban effectively prevents truck drivers from working during the day. Some drivers told local media that they had already spent nearly 100,000 yuan to purchase their current vehicle and said that buying a new truck would be impossible given the minimal amount they could get for their old vehicle.
It is estimated that around 85 percent of Xi’an’s truck drivers participated in the strike as well as drivers from nearby towns. Their protests, staged at the traffic police bureau and the municipal government building in Xi’an, gained widespread support on social media. The government was eventually forced to withdraw the policy, and drivers can now obtain permits to enter the city’s third ring road regardless of their vehicle’s diesel standard.
Truck drivers in Zhengzhou staged a mass protest on 26 November after government regulations, announced a few days earlier, imposed a strict ban on all China 3 trucks. The owners of China 4 trucks were given some space to operate but had to upgrade their vehicle’s pollution control systems.
Many of the owners of China 3 trucks said they had already paid in full for their trucks, which were now worthless because they were essentially out of a job. Other drivers complained that they could no longer deliver goods on time to companies in Zhengzhou because the government restricted them to entering the city on every other day.
Significantly, the drivers chose to stage their protest at the central plaza commemorating the bloody suppression of the train drivers’ strike on 7 February, 1923. Riot police seized banners and reportedly beat some the drivers when they attempted to break through police lines. This time, the drivers did not force the government to reverse its policy but rather, in an echo of 1923, they were beaten back by police.