The ongoing general strike by most businesses in all major cities of Liaoning province, Northeast China, continues. The government's assurance that there is no large scale campaign to root out counterfeit products, and warnings that businesses should not spread and believe rumors and should open their doors, have not had much effect. Meanwhile, some of the leaders of this strike have come forward, semi-anonymously, and presented their political demands.
Details after the fold.
Update: There are stories on Chinese microblogs that some shopowners have been arrested for distributing information about store closings and talking to reporters.
Update II: A different take at Tea Leaf Nation. Note the comment by a reader (Shenyang laowai, which means a foreigner in Shenyang) after the article:
The rumor mill cranked up and most of the shops didn't open on Monday or Tuesday until well after dark. Many kept their metal shutters closed over doors and windows, and those without (like the 24 hour convenience store near my house) pasted newspaper over the windows and hung a sign that said "under construction". Never did actually see any unusual police presence, but the shut down was very widespread. It's now Wednesday and a quick look out my window tells me that things are getting back to normal.
There are photos and a video of the striking businesses in my two previous diaries here and here. At the time when I posted those two diaries, it was not clear whether this was an organized general strike or merely a spontaneous business shutdown that reached a critical point due to panic. Most people believed that it was a spontaneous shutdown, for a good reason. In a totalitarian regime, any leaders who organize such a strike would likely face severe punishment.
But yesterday's report by South China City News (南方都市报) as quoted by this blog, if true, should confirm that this was an organized general strike. This report is also unusual that it used the Chinese word "general strike" (罢市), which implies political action, instead of "shutdown" (关店). The report says
A head of a business association told the reporter, we are angry and disapporinted by the social and business environment in Liaoning. ...... We are asking our members not to open their businesses and continue to pressure the government, until their leaders begin to respect market rules, respect businesses, and improve the business environment.While the demands in these quotes are still vague, the same article reported that 96 members of the Chinese People's Congress from Liaoning province have asked the head of Liaoning government to resign.
A boss of a famous cosmetics chain told the reporter, this morning, I personally called every member store and franchise store and asked them to stay closed, until we tell them to open. All the losses during this time will be reimbursed by our headquarters. ...... We cannot endure (the government) any more. This time the central government must respond to us. If the provincial leadership does not pay a price, we will continue the protest indefinitely.
South China City News is located in Guangdong in southern China, and is probably the most liberal newspaper in China. So far it is has had more extensive reporting on the strike in Liaoning than the local newspapers in Liaoning itself. However, I went to the web page of South China City News but was not able to find any report that contains the above content. A search through google found thousands of web blogs quoting this report, but many of the entries have already been removed.