China Director Jennifer Richmond examines new protests in Shanghai over fuel prices, low wages and the fear of growing incidents.
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We received news of the trucker strike in the Waigaoqiao zone in Shanghai on the morning of April 20. This is just the latest in large-scale protests in Shanghai that further illustrates rising social unrest. The protests the morning of April 20 were in one of Shanghai's busiest container ports and they were the result of rising fuel prices and low wages. In 2008, we saw similar strikes over fuel prices as taxi drivers took to the streets across China, highlighting how inflation can easily translate into social issues. These protests come a week after residents gathered in the Sonjiang district in Shanghai on April 13 in protest of cheng guan officials, also known as urban management officials, were said to have beaten a pedestrian in a traffic dispute and Shanghai is also the area where we saw the largest gathering during the Jasmine Movement on February 27. Shanghai is one of China's most international cities but, despite its foreign exposure, the government has clamped down on local media reports of the protests, where there have been rumors of several deaths. While all these issues were sparked by different grievances, combined they show the desire of people to take these issues to the street. Ultimately the biggest fear of the Chinese Communist Party is that these issues can collide, leading to ever bigger demonstrations that could be both harder to contain and control.