Caught On Tape: "Enormous Crowds" Of Unemployed Chinese Miners Take To The Streets, Clash With Riot Police

Tyler Durden's picture

In early November, we said that far from the traditional risk factors affecting China's economy, including the slowing economy, the stock market (and now housing 2.0) bubble, the soaring NPLs, and record debt, the most under-reported risk facing China is the "breakdown in recent "agreeable" labor conditions, wage cuts and rising unemployment, leading to labor strikes and in some cases, violence."

Some recent articles probing the severity of China's collapsing labor market were the following:

A clear indication of this was the exponential rise in labor strikes on the mainland as tracked by the China Labor Bulletin:

While so far most Chinese worker strikes had been largely peaceful, two weeks ago we said it was only a matter of time before these turned violent after Reuters reported that "China aims to lay off 5-6 million state workers over the next two to three years as part of efforts to curb industrial overcapacity and pollution."

All this changed overnight when as AFP reports, thousands of miners in China's coal-rich (or poor depending on one's perspective) north have gone on strike over months of unpaid wages and fears that government calls to restructure their state-owned employer will lead to mass layoffs.


Citing the video shown below, AFP reported that thousands of protesters were marching through the streets of Shuangyashan city in Heilongjiang province, venting their frustration at Longmay Mining Holding Group, the biggest coal firm in northeast China. Pictures showed enormous crowds filling the streets.

And here is why we said this is the biggest threat facing China:

"I'm on my knees, my family can't eat," an elderly woman pleaded with a man who appeared to be a government official. "Tell me, how can we live?" she shouted, before collapsing and being rushed away by fellow protesters.

In the video footage from Heilongjiang, dozens of police cars, lights flashing, lined the streets, and protesters complained of violence by authorities as tensions mounted. "Traffic in the centre of Shuangyashan city was halted," a witness told AFP, adding "some people were hurt".

Pictures from the scene showed what appeared to be police tussling with protesters, with one woman apparently thrown to the ground.


Striking miners held large banners demanding back pay. "Their main request is to get the delayed incomes from the past several months," the witness said.


The catalyst for the miners' anger spilling over into street was Heilongjiang's governor Lu Hao saying that the company owed employees no back pay. Over the weekend the provincial government admitted that workers' compensation was in "arrears" following "many years of accumulated problems". As a result, "not a few workers have encountered difficulties in their lives", it said.

The implication was clear: either the government gives another bailout, or no wages will be paid. The statement blamed the company's financial woes on inefficiency, saying that it "uses three times as much labour as the national average to produce 10,000 tonnes of coal", resulting in "heavy losses and diminished cash flow".

Incidentally, this is the same coal Longmay Group mining company we profiled back in September when we wrote "The "Hard-Landing" Has Arrived: Chinese Coal Company Fires 100,000." The firm said it was "resolutely battling" to implement reforms, it said. China's coal industry has been particularly hard hit as the country's growth slows. Consumption of the heavily polluting fuel fell 3.7 percent last year, according to China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), after a 2.9 percent decrease in 2014.

As the FT adds, there are no easy fixes to this problem:

Longmay also serves as a caution to those in Beijing who want to force state-owned firms to merge, create a bigger balance sheet and generate new loans to pay off old debt. It is the largest miner in its province only because it was formed from four state-owned miners 10 years ago, in the last round of restructuring whose bill is only now coming due.

AFP adds what we have been warning about for months: "the situation in Heilongjiang exemplifies the dilemma faced by Chinese authorities, who say they want to reform the world's second-largest economy and at the same time seek to avoid unrest."

China's state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are plagued by overcapacity and many are unviable, but the government has been loathe to kill off such "zombie" companies, fearing unemployment could lead to instability.

Instability such as the one described above, and shown in the video below.

* * *

This is just the beginning: China plans to lay off about 1.8 million workers in the steel and coal industries, a human resources and social security ministry official said last month, and millions more across all state-owned "zombie firms." 

Earlier this month Premier Li Keqiang again pledged to encourage "structural adjustments" in his opening speech to the annual session of China's Communist-controlled parliament. Judging by the predicted confirmation violenece, the only adjustments China has in place is a massive police force trained to break up precisely such protests, something we further showed back in May 2014 when we demonstrated how "Chinese riot police train for a "working class insurrection."

And, as can be seen in the video below, that preparation is finally being put to "good" use.

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Haole's picture

Baby steps to breakdown.  Transitioning from a smokestack economy is going to piss a lot of people off?

SuperRay's picture

Guess they didn't get the memo from party leaders that everything is great

nuubee's picture

Remember, chaos is a ladder, and Soros loves chaos. He actually has a lot of similarities to Littlefinger now that I think about it.

zeronetwork's picture

what is happening in USA is more important then what is happening in China.

FeloniousLoans's picture

Im curious why you would say that.

Is is because you live in the US and not China or is there another reason?

mygameon's picture

Hunger Games has transitioned from dsytopian fiction for young adults to reality.

LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) mygameon Mar 14, 2016 11:25 AM

How is it that they are unemployed?  Under the communist utopia everyone is employed even if you have to fill the mine back in then dig it all out again.

And, as a bonus.... FREE GUBMINT $HIT FOR EVERYBODY!!!

roddy6667's picture

China hasn't been communist since 1978. Maybe you didn't get the memo. 65% of the Chinese economy is private enterprise, good ole capitalism.

undertow1141's picture

No it is private enterprise controlled by the central government. Which would make it Facist.

Element's picture

Counter revolutionary bastards!

Soul Glow's picture

Just remember the Chinese government isn't going to fire anyone.  

Move along!

eforce's picture

They tried Communism, tonnes of people died, moved to Fascism, less people die.

However moving people to new industries before killing off old ones might have been a better approach...

Theosebes Goodfellow's picture

The relevant fact here is that China's migrant population exceeds that of the entire United States. This is what keeps Chinese social planners up at night. Added to this is that in living memory China has seen its citizens starve. The way things are going, they may again.

Four chan's picture

enormous crowd of slaves of the state. the powers that be hope they never wake up. 

roddy6667's picture

China is few years into a 20 year plan to move 300 million rural citizens into the cities. Already, 200 million are living in the cities in barracks style housing with their families staying back home. There is a push to make manufacturing serve a domestic base instead of an export one. China dragged 800 million from starvation and a feudal system into the 20th century in 60 years. I think they can handle this.

Shadow1275's picture

In Socialist Country, You pretend to pay me and I Pretend to work.

Tarjan's picture


Not so. China has little to no "safety nets". In China if you don't work, you don't eat.


Divided States of America's picture

I like how the rich Chinese are trying to bring their money abroad hands over fist while the rest of their countrymen are starving and getting screwed. If these rich morons re-invested this money back within their countries, that would be more helpful.


Its true what one poster said and I have this view from way back. If there is ever another WW3, China may still get their ass kicked by Japan because the country is still far from being united.


The coming to age generation of single child are the most spoiled and clueless kids you can find. They wouldn’t fight to the death for their country.


Yeah keep trying to bring out all your money you and load up on housing in Vancouver.

undertow1141's picture

The money disease hits all equally. It just shows the innate greed in the human psyche.

BeansMcGreens's picture

I read this paper article from a professer from Chapel Hill's UNC about fifteen years ago where he stated mankind was slowly but surely evolving from being a greedy individual. A couple of more billion years and wham-o, no more greed.

techpriest's picture

Look at it this way: after 1989 and the reforms there were lots of opportunities, and some people seized them. There were corrupt folks also, but for many it was really a matter of getting into the right position when the economy was finally coming out of the dark ages.

But now, you've built up 30 years of savings, and wouldn't you know it, but President Xi is starting to sound a lot like the old Chairman. And wouldn't you know it, there is a long history of the government taking everything it can get its hands on when the money dries up.

Of course you want your money out. Sooner rather than later everything not nailed down will be seized, and the proceeds will be used to buy crowbars to rip up and take everything that is nailed down. Most of the folks sending their money overseas remember when the Chairman stole everything from their grandma, and they don't want it to happen again.

847328_3527's picture

I've read in some people there are calling xi "the Second Meow."


Scary. Luckily, our media is focused on impotant matters like ... Kim Kardashians butt size, self-righteous radical left violence at Trump Rallies, and campus whiners screaming about changing names of buildings.


techpriest's picture

I went over there for Chinese New Year, and yes, the people I talked to are all terrified of the possibility. Interesting enough, the week after we left, a major financial agency in the area who specialized in moving money overseas was shut down. The wife also noticed that at the big government convention happening right now, they are looking to start regulating WeChat.

Looks like the doors are about to close over there. Better get out quick.

CJgipper's picture

I hear tulip bulbs are where the big money is moving.

3Wishes's picture

Well what would you do with Trillions printed out of thin air, Buy everything thats not nailed down and in another Country. Welcome to the NWO.

roddy6667's picture

Despite what you read on ZH, nobody is starving in China. The unemployment rate is much lower than in America. The poor have come the farthest. The middle class is growing and is 52% of the people now. And the overwhelming majority of Chinese citizens know they are better off than 10 or 20 years ago and will tell you that their leaders are making the right decisions.

Why don't you focus on your own failed American economy and its millions of angry citizens whose lives get worse every year?

Seek_Truth's picture

There are always more railroads to be built, right?


Shed Boy's picture

I upvoted you for being real and telling it like it is.

I'm giving up on ZH and the readers here. I've beeen a fan for a while and now I see that most of the ZHer's are really no different then the main stream media sheeple. Some of the comments here scream: "I'm clueless, but have to say something."

Nobody here knows anything about China. Most of them think Moa is still at the helm.

I came to China to learn about the country and see the many interesting things that 5,000 years of culture has produced. In the process, I also learned that Americans don't know dick about this place. i'm still learning, but let me tell you guys....your really, realy wrong about China. In the 3 months I've been here I've covered about 2/3 of the country. It's a big place. I've got 2 months to go and a lot to see and do. I'm really glad most Americans think so poorly of this place and don't have the balls to come see first hand. To many Americans would ruin this place. I like being the only white guy in town. I'm interesting to everybody and polite and courteous to all that want to know more about America. Too bad I'm so honest and have to tell them how big of a shit hole America is becoming, it really bursts their bubble of what they think.

NoVa's picture

pictures look like a Trump rally near St Louis !




Father Thyme's picture
Father Thyme (not verified) NoVa Mar 14, 2016 11:42 AM

Fists of Righteous Harmony!

redd_green's picture

Barrump, bump!

Show at 11.

Don't forget to tip your waters and waitresses.

Antifaschistische's picture

when .gov insists on being the solution to every problem.....eventually, they get blamed for every problem.

ps.  Washington, you're in line for the same boomerang affect

KnuckleDragger-X's picture

No problems here, because they have a 5 year plan that'll fix everything.......

Element's picture

Reminds of the MAD TV skit, "Lowered Expectations".

orez65's picture

These striking coal miners are obviously "peddling economic fiction".

RaceToTheBottom's picture

They need to read Trumps book, Art of the Deal....

Antifaschistische's picture

one more insist on pulling millions of farmers out of their remote villages where they were farmers and where they lived the life every day of America's "doomsday prepper".  They grew their own food, educated their own young, needed very little electricity, and lived otherwise happy lives.

Now...they're in the "big city" where you have no plan 'B' in any SHTF scenario.  Another lesson learned.  In my discussions with my numerous Chinese friends here in Houston we call this going from the 3rd world, to the 1st world....while skipping the 2nd world.  There are consequences.

zeronetwork's picture

I'm glad that has a plan for when SHTF. And that is FEMA camp.

undertow1141's picture

The only people in FEMA camps will be sheeple. I'd rather take a few with me and die on my feet on my terms.

Lordflin's picture

Nothing here that a good war won't fix...

dimwitted economist's picture

Nevermind.. it means nothing.

the Dow is back up here in the ussa

thank you president obama..

Newbie lurker's picture

Did you hear about Blake and Gwen are splitting up after only a 125 days?!?! I can't believe it, I'm so sad for them. If they can't make it, what hope do we have?

undertow1141's picture

Everything about entertainment is a lie, why would failed fake relationships surprise you?

Not My Real Name's picture


Um ... Link please.

cossack55's picture

Send MacArthur, Patton and Eisenhower over.  They have experience in this sort of thing.

headhunt's picture

Their problem is they need a 'free-shitter' class - problem solved. That is until the rest of working Chinese get sick of the ever escalating confiscation of their paycheck.

J Jason Djfmam's picture

"Free-shitter's full, Clark."