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China industrial unrest set to worsen?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - 01:35

Recent protests in in Shaungyashan City in northeastern China have cast a spotlight on how a radical push to make China a consumer-led economy is hitting millions of workers. As David Pollard reports, a rising unemployment rate may lead to more social unrest.

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There's still heavy security at the railway station in Shaungyashan City. Almost as many police cars as taxis after the weekend's protests here. This rare footage shows thousands of miners demanding back pay - and no wage cuts. Twenty-two-year-old Zhang filmed it. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 22 YEAR-OLD WITNESS AND SHUANGYASHAN RESIDENT, ZHANG GUANGDONG, SAYING: "I heard the police had caught some of the protest leaders, and the crowd said, 'you're not giving us our salaries, and we're not happy. You need to free them.' But they wouldn't let them go." The state wielding a knife over coal, steel and other primary industries means at least 1.8 million workers losing their jobs. That's the official figure - it's thought it may run to millions more as China forces through a shift from bloated, overproducing heavy industries to a consumer-led economy. Tough medicine perhaps, but China's economic pain is spreading. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, CEBR, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "The reason why we have deflation in some areas is really to a considerable extent because of what's happening in China. But it does mean that there has to be a very dramatic industrial restructuring in China and it is going to take quite some for that to happen." In the meantime, the state is spending around 15 billion dollars to relocate those hit worst. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, CEBR, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "What do you do with all the infrastructure you've built up - and, of course, all the people out there? What skills do you give them to move into the new type of economy you're trying to create. And during it, inevitably, you will have quite a lot of social tensions." And - it's feared - China's worst unemployment pressures in decades - as an official jobless rate of 5 per cent marches upwards.

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China industrial unrest set to worsen?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - 01:35