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Media barred from reporting on taxi strike

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

IFJ Condemns Local Censorship of Industrial Action in China

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns restrictions placed on media outlets seeking to report a major taxi strike in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.

The IFJ has learned that the Guangzhou propaganda department ordered media not to report on a strike by thousands of taxi drivers in Guangzhou on December 1, on the grounds of "social stability".

Drivers who were protesting against a government cut in taxi rental rates told the IFJ that even public broadcast networks did not cover the strike.

According to reports, the strike was the largest industrial action in China since 1989. Industry sources estimate that some 20,000 taxi drivers in Guangzhou observed the strike, although most did not join demonstrations for fear of being arrested. In 2005, 11 taxi drivers were sentenced to prison terms for disturbing the public order after organising a strike.

Taxi strikes and protests over rental fees and unlicensed taxis have hit several Chinese cities in recent weeks, including Chaozhou, Chongqing and Sanya. The strikes have been covered by some national newspapers and agencies.

"The public interest is served only by a truly free flow of information," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

"The IFJ urges the Guangzhou authorities immediately to stop interfering in the media's role in reporting."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

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