First Person Account From Inside The China Protests

Tyler Durden's picture

Over the past two days we reported (here and here) on the Shanghai trucker protests over high has prices and low wages, which from peaceful promptly turned violent as more people joined the clashes against police (it appears only in America do people not protest these things). Today we present a first person recount of what is really happening in China, as unfortunately nothing coming out of the world's "fastest growing" economy can be relied upon.

The protests are very contained, as the gov is obviously powerful enough to stop it before it gets out of hand. My best friend was up in Beijing back in the beginning of March, though, and happened to be there on protest day and she said there were guards, policeman, military and they even brought a tank in! (like Tiananmen Square part II). She got out of Beijing asap as it was quite scary. I have yet to see a protest here in Shanghai, but that's because they have military dressed up as street cleaners and such in proposed protest spots to keep things in order. There are rumors that the gov itself is organizing the protests to catch anyone who shows up (those who have, have been detained and the talk is that they are likely sentenced to death or life in prison). The gov has also heightened its lockdown on the internet, blocking even more sites and the interest is sooo slow sometimes from all the blocking activity. Not sure if you've seen the disputes with Google, but without my VPN that connects me to the US, I typically can barely access gmail because the gov reads all incoming and outgoing mails from the China server. 

Other than the internet, though, my life hasn't been affected and I actually forgot the protesting was going on. Yep - that's how well they hide it. My western Chinese friends (those born in China with western citizenship and thinking) say that the people will eventually overtake the gov. My local friends are basically loyal to the gov and brain washed into thinking that their gov is great and they don't understand the protesting. I personally don't think much will come from the protesting. The gov has too tight of grip on its people and its communication (monitoring phones, interest, ect), they've instilled way too much fear into the people by making it clear that the punishment for protesting is severe (including death) and while there are a lot of people protesting more publicly now, there are, on average over the years, some 150 protests per day around China that no one even knows about because the gov keeps it so well under wraps. And while in absolute terms it seems like there are a lot of protests, a large percentage of the 1.3+ billion people here don't even understand what a protest is. 

And if all else fails, the government has a back up plan to blast American Idol on every Chinese TV 24/7, and remove the Turn Off option. Who says we never export anything.

In the meantime, however, as Reuters reports, things are a long way from being back to normal:

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.

As many as 50 police officers were at the area on Friday, and at least two people were arrested after throwing rocks at trucks. Plainclothes officers also briefly detained some foreign reporters and manhandled a Reuters photographer.

The crowd thinned out after a policeman said authorities planned to meet representatives of the truck drivers on Monday for talks aimed at ending the strike.

"Please disperse and go back," he said through a megaphone to truckers who had gathered near a road junction. "We are already talking to your representatives. There will be an answer for you on Monday."

But two truck drivers told Reuters that they would continue their campaign for the government to offset the rising cost of fuel.

"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."

It has gotten to the point where it will likely affect the broader economy.

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.

An official reached by telephone at Shanghai International Port (Group) Co, which runs the Shanghai port, told Reuters the strike "has not affected operations," though would not comment further.

But one executive said the action was already starting to affect the port's operations, at least for exports.

"The strike has delayed exports and many ships cannot take on a full load before leaving," said Wei Yujun, assistant to the general manager at China Star Distribution Center (Shanghai) Co.

"For example, if one ship carries 5,000 containers en route to Hong Kong and the U.S., now they can only carry 1,000 or 2,000 containers," Wei said, adding that such containers typically carry goods such as textiles and machinery.

Traders said that the strike had caused only minimal disruptions to refined copper flows. Waigaoqiao, together with two other bonded areas in Shanghai, hold about 80 percent of China's bonded copper stocks.

"There is more than enough stocks in the bonded warehouses to offset any short-term impact on supplies," said Bonnie Liu, a Macquarie analyst based in Shanghai.

Shanghai's most active copper futures contract closed flat at 71,440 yuan at midday.

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66Sexy's picture

Powder Keg. Look for drastic economic action. China government cannot affford to have union style protests over wages.

Try buying gold or silver in CHina... it's much more expensive than in the U.S.

The peg is what's killing 'em. About that rumor of Yuan upward valuation this weekend? Possible....

SheepDog-One's picture

Yuan revaluation seems to have a bit more legs in light of trucker strikes and riots over pay and taxes. Well this clownshow can only go on so much longer, its getting real flaky. 

MarketTruth's picture

Have went to buy gold and silver in China, the rate is about 3% over spot for standard bars. Would not call it huge premium as go try buying gold in Vietnam where premiums are higher as the people are smart and truly value gold over paper currency. The USA is the cheapest, as you can get kilo bars @ spot price and 10 oz Pamp Suisse bars in the USA for only $18/oz over spot. Was in Austria and their Philharmonic 1 oz coin is available at normal banks; about four years ago it sold for about $30 over spot and odds are it is probably a bit higher premium nowadays yet have not been back to check.

reader2010's picture

I heard some of the gold bars sold by the Chinese banks in China are actually fake. Buyers Beware!

TGR's picture

I think there is an additional 17% sale/VAT tax you have neglected to mention. Last time I bought physical in China (which is why I dont buy here) ICBC - a key bank - tacked on the 17% VAT, which you could call it a premium.

When you negotiate/price physical at gold outlets in China, they give you the spot price plus in-house premium. When you actually buy it though, the mandatory 17% surcharge is tacked on.

I will confirm it this weekend.

Did you actually go through with the purchase? I am guessing not as then you would have had the surcharge added.

Tail Dogging The Wag's picture

"Investors need to diversify, they need to own some real estate, they need to own some farmland, they need to own some equities, some cash, and some precious metals..."   Marc Faber —Investment analyst

Got real estate and farmland outside your home country yet?

tmosley's picture


I might remind you that truckers DID protest in 2008:

I can only speculate as to the reason they aren't protesting again.  My guess would be that all the independent truckers have gone out of business, and those working for companies don't pay for their own fuel.

cat2's picture

Yes, I think your reasoning is sound.  There are few independent truckers left.  (As there not much anything free market left in USA, just big government assisted/blessed business left.)

SheepDog-One's picture

The independant trucker I know sold his truck and said to hell with it, he's going fishing. He said his last 2 months of trucking were pointless and he made no money at all.

tmosley's picture

Yeah, we had a number of friends of the family who were truckers.  Some of them have disappeared, one joined the Army, and one is driving a dump truck (lots of road construction going on in Lubbock).

I only know one person who is still an over the road trucker, and she isn't independent.

LawsofPhysics's picture

I can confirm more of this as well.  I know one big-rig repair shop that was picking up trucks abandoned on the side of the road by independent truckers.  All their work is now coming from large corporate trucking.  The independent _____________ is dying in this country.

LawsofPhysics's picture

I can confirm more of this as well.  I know one big-rig repair shop that was picking up trucks abandoned on the side of the road by independent truckers.  All their work is now coming from large corporate trucking.  The independent _____________ is dying in this country.

farmer1's picture

Similar to what our independent truckers went through 30 years ago.  Now bought and paid for.  We got us a convoy...

farmer1's picture

Similar to what our independent truckers went through 30 years ago.  Now bought and paid for.  We had us a convoy...

farmer1's picture

Similar to what our independent truckers went through 30 years ago.  Now bought and paid for.  We had us a convoy...

farmer1's picture

Similar to what our independent truckers went through 30 years ago.  Now bought and paid for.  We had us a convoy...

tomster0126's picture

Sad to hear so many similar stories...American truckers are some of the most hard-working men in our great country, it's horrible that independents have been forced out of the industry.  i thought about becoming a trucker as a kid, but now kids today see the profession as something lower than what it should be seen as.

JailBank's picture

Independent truckers like Lincoln Hawk of "Over The Top" fame?

hognutz's picture

If it becomes to serious, look for a Tiannamen style event.

Sudden Debt's picture

1 guy that ignored the red traffic light and who was confronted by a oncomming tank that was just barely able to stop in time?

And instead of being thankfull to that driver, he compained a waived a flag sho the thankguys couldn't get home in time to watch The Simpsons...



All I know is that if something like that made the news, it only means that traffic must be real safe in China.

I've walked through a red light many times... and here in Europe, I didn't make the news because I did so.


66Sexy's picture

"it only means that traffic must be real safe in China"

kidding, right?

Traffic in china is suicidal.... its who blinks first.

dogbreath's picture

bullshit.   I've seen a guy on a bicycle (la la la) cross a major intersection diaganolly, stopping all traffic.  It was astonishing for me the westerner that there were no blaring horns and him not getting run over.  Afterwards I thought the guy on the bike had a great sense of humor.

tomster0126's picture

traffic is great in China compared to New York City...considering Beijing is like a can of sardines compared to the Apple I'd say they've done a pretty good job of facilitating their transportation infrastructure.

Ethics Gradient's picture

I've told you before about the traffic in Belgium! Traffic lights merely indicate suggested behavior.

duo's picture

I got the riot act for jaywalking in Belgium from a cop.  Kortjik, IIRC.

msamour's picture

The Simpsons were not out during the incident at Tianamen Square in 1989, unless you are referring to The Tracy Ulmann Show, where they first appeared, then i'd say perhaps.

Sudden Debt's picture

There's always one smartass...



Ivanovich's picture

Sorry to interrupt this important bulletin, but did anyone notice a $1, 10 second jump in silver just a moment ago or is my seemingly screwy feed broken.??

tmosley's picture

I don't think silver is trading right now.

66Sexy's picture

they are just getting ready to post those 8's and 9's next week.....

Sudden Debt's picture

It's broken. Markets are closed.


Ivanovich's picture

That's what I thought.  I'm in a forex platform, and just happened to look at XAG/USD and it showed a $1 spike up.  So it must be bogus.  I'm hoping it's real, but oh well.

Sudden Debt's picture

Today is a fucking boring day...

27 degrees outside...

All the smart people took the day off and I'm sitting here like all alone at the office...

I didn't do shit today...

Markets are closed today...

Tyler is sleeping it off...

And I still need to "work" 1 hour before I can take off...


Hephasteus's picture

Don't worry about the boredom. Things are going to get fully fucking barnum and bailey real quick.

pazmaker's picture

tell me about it sudden....I'm sitting in a 630,000 sq ft warehouse with only 2 other people here....(on the other side of the warehouse at that)

breezer1's picture

markets are open in asia...

Sudden Debt's picture

I was talking about the grown up world.



pazmaker's picture

It went from 46.81 to is now back down to 47.28

pazmaker's picture

yes I saw it on oanda platform

SheepDog-One's picture

Still just a BIT too comfortable in america right now, 50 million still eat a bit due to food stamps and mass numbers of fired can contribute to their parents grocery bill and house payment since they moved back in with their whole family...for now. 

But give it another $1 buck up in gas prices and things will start to get squirrelly. 

66Sexy's picture

And that $1 up is coming.... hard and fast.

It still hasnt sunk in yet. $4.00+ gas here in nevada is already armaggedon. We're in the middle of nowhere, and now we aint GOING anywhere.... let alone people coming here!

FullFaithAndCretin's picture

I speet on your $4.00 gas. Try the UK where it equates to about $8.16. Ow

j0nx's picture

Don't count on it. Americans are neutered and petrified of their government. They will piss and moan on the internet just like they have been doing for the past 3 years and that will be the extent of it.

alien-IQ's picture

If ever Americans do rise up to will be a flood not a trickle..

But I ain't holding my breath.

Things would need to be OBVIOUSLY (to all not just the informed) well beyond the point of no return and no hope. Then MAYBE people will get it together. MAYBE.

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing...but only when it's too late.

Vendetta's picture

yep.  They'll vote in the next globalist republican or democrat and think it is going to get better.  Fact is US govt wants to be totaltarian like China and China wants what was America's wealth production.  The two govt's are totaltarian whether communist or fascist ... flip sides of the same coin

downwiththebanks's picture

When people protest for basic economic rights here in Babylon, Tyler, they're vilified on ZeroHedge.

Tyler Durden's picture

Are people protesting for change or for retrenchment of encroaching communism?

alien-IQ's picture

"Just who are these goddamn reds, anyway? A goddamn red is anyone who wants 30 cents when I am paying 25." -- John Steinbeck

downwiththebanks's picture

Your comment was that people in 'America' do not protest.  The material basis of their demands is irrelevant to this thread.  People on Uncle Sam's Plantation DO protest against the economic warfare launched against them.  

From your little perch, you just ACT like they don't because you actually support the attack of liquidationist capitalism when it happens "here".