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Auto Strikes in China, Signs of a Maturing Market

AP

Remember when the world's automakers started building and selling cars in China about 15 years ago?

As that happened, we would usually hear from U.S. labor leaders, American manufacturing firms, and the general public how China would take American jobs and dominate the global auto industry by exporting cars built with cheap labor.

These days, those complaints have given way to a new reality.

China is going through the labor unrestand growing pains that you would expect in a country that pass up the U.S. in auto sales last year. In the last two months there have been strikes and labor unrest at different auto plants in China. Compared to some of the doozies in the past here in the U.S., these are mild. But I suspect this is just the beginning.

Automakers are finding that building in China is not about cheap labor. The workers there are standing up and saying they want more. They are not going to simply crank out model after model or auto part after auto part. Sound familiar?

We've seen the same scenario play out in the past here in the U.S., in Europe, and in practically every major base of auto manufacturing. China, while clearly different because it is communist, will likely see this type labor unrest continue as its auto industry grows.

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