The ride-sharing app Uber has encountered more than its share of regulatory crackdowns during its international expansion. South Korean authorities have declared their intention to arrest the company’s CEO; French police recently raided its Paris offices; and local officials in Delhi are asking the Indian government to block the app outright. But when police in the Chinese city of Guangzhou raided the local offices of the company last Thursday, it added a new wrinkle to a familiar pattern.
China, like other countries, has a relatively new law that bans private cars from offering rides via apps. But it also has something else: thousands of taxi drivers across the country who, in recent months, have taken to protesting their working conditions, sometimes violently. China's crackdown on Uber, in other words, may have less to do with protecting the owners of politically powerful taxi services than placating the taxi industry's increasingly volatile labor force.