It appears that most of the businesses in the cities of Shenyang and Liaoyang, in Liaoning province of China have shut down over the weekend. The reason given by the businesses is that the government is carrying out a campaign of rooting out "counterfeit products". However, instead of just the affected businesses being shut down, it appears that almost all businesses have voluntarily shut down, in effect accomplishing an unorganized general strike. The video below was taken by someone in the city of Liaoyang over the weekend and shows the unusual lack of crowds on the street and very few shops open:
the dialogue in the video was
man: Why are the stores closed?Unconfirmed report swirling on the Chinese internet saying that the business closings have spread to other cities in northeast China, including Shenyang, Liaoyang, Dandong, Lushun, Dalian. I have not been able to find any media report about this in China or overseas.
woman: It's the campaign against counterfeits.
The trigger of the general strike apparently was the unreasonable requirements by the local government that all businesses must present paperworks for every merchandise they are selling, or face fines of tens of thousands of yuans. For example, for a conveniance store selling toothpicks, they would be asked for tree-cutting license, or be fined 5000 yuan. Many shop owners have been arrested for failing to obtain these licenses.
Another unconfirmed report was that the local TV station in Liaoning (Liaoning Satellite TV) had made the statement that there was no government action on counterfeit products, and that the businesses were advised not to believe or spread rumors, and should keep their shops open. If this statement in fact was made by the local government, then it would indicate that the action was indeed a general strike rather than just businesses shutting down due to inspections.
If the local government in Liaoning province indeed initiated such an action, it would be very destructive to China's economy, and the impact could be global.
Update: I am finally able to find one article in the English newspaper Global Times. It says:
Small shop owners across Northeast China's Liaoning Province have been told to open their doors for business after many staged a shutdown to avoid snap inspections by local authorities.
Entrepreneurs feel the campaign is little more than a ticket-issuing spree that in some cases includes huge fines that they say are aimed mainly at replenishing city coffers.