Thousands of Chinese coal miners have taken to the streets in a city near the Siberian border to protest against unpaid wages, in the first direct challenge to Beijing's plan for orderly downsizing and job cuts in the state-owned coal sector.
Beijing has said it would lay aside Rmb100bn ($15.4bn) to "resettle" coal and steel workers as part of a plan to cut unproductive capacity in both sectors, but local governments and the companies themselves are supposed to bear a portion of the costs.
Slowing Chinese growth and the end of the commodities supercycle have turned overcapacity into a pressing economic issue for Beijing. Data published this weekend showed that in the first two months of this year, Chinese production of thermal coal and steel both fell 6 per cent while output of metallurgical, or coking, coal — the steel ingredient produced by the protesting miners — dropped 10 per cent.
Miners at state-owned Shuangyashan Mine, one of four mines that make up ailing Longmay Coal, began a third day of protests holding banners that read "We want to eat, we want our wages" and "Lu Hao lies with his eyes open" referring Mr Lu, the provincial governor of Heilongjiang province.