The city of Nanchang, site of the first major battle between Communist forces and the Kuomintang in 1927, has recently been in the news for a different kind of insurgent: the taxi driver. Underpaid and overworked, more than 500 of them went on strike on Jan. 13, attempting to drive in a convoy to the provincial government office before being stopped by police.
Nanchang is one of at least 10 municipalities hit by taxi strikes across China already this year. Drivers are angry about the monthly fee—as high as 5,000 yuan ($804)—they must pay to lease a cab. They put in 13-hour days. They have to compete with heiche or “black cars,” unregistered vehicles that often use ride-hailing apps such as Uber or the Alibaba-backed Kuaidi. In some cases the cabbies have halted traffic by stopping their cars in the middle of the road and not budging. Sometimes they just stay home. The strikes have hit Changchun and Shenyang in the northeast, the coastal city of Ningbo, and Chengdu in the southwest. According to the state press, a massive protest in Nanjing, in Jiangsu province, turned violent when fights broke out between strikers and other drivers. On Jan. 12 the official China Daily urged the city’s cabbies to keep picking up fares.