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The rust-belt cities of northeast China bear the brunt of China's economic slowdown. Heilongjiang's economy grew the second slowest of any Chinese province last year at 5.6 per cent, well below the national 7.4 per cent growth rate. Late last year as many as 20,000 teachers in the province went on strike to demand greater pension benefits.
Financial magazine Caixin on Saturday quoted a protestor as saying the taxi drivers had submitted complaints to the transport ministry and the petition bureau—the traditional last resort for citizens to file all manner of grievances against local governments—but had received no response. By Sunday Caixin's story was no longer accessible and had been replaced by the same official police statement published on Weibo.
Government statistics show that China experiences 90,000 "mass incidents" every year, typically sparked by specific grievances like land seizures, pollution, and local corruption.
In a separate event, the official Xinhua news agency reported late on Friday that police detained 22 protestors who stormed a high-speed rail station in Mazha village in Guangdong province, the southeastern export hub, to draw attention to "issues with land, money, irrigation and housing" in the village.
"Large areas of land were sold cheaply, and many villagers were never properly compensated," Xinhua quoted a villager as saying.
Additional reporting by Li Wan in Beijing