Truckers protest for third day in Shanghai over rising fees, fuel costs, disrupting port work

SHANGHAI (AP) – Truck drivers protested Friday for a third day over rising fuel costs and fees, disrupting the flow of goods in China’s busiest port city.

The protests that began Wednesday are the latest sign of rising public anger over surging inflation that communist leaders have failed to tame despite repeated promises.

The work action has delayed deliveries of cargo at Shanghai ports, though the extent of the slowdown was unclear, trucking company employees said.

In the latest protest, several hundred truck drivers gathered on a road by a cargo-handling center in Baoshan district in Shanghai’s northeastern outskirts and intimidated others to prevent them from going to work, said Yan Maoguo, a trucking company owner whose office is nearby.

Yan said his company suspended operations even though it’s not involved because he heard that some protesting drivers have been trying to smash vehicles belonging to other drivers picking up shipments during the protest.

Police blocked off the intersection but there was no violence, he said.

The protest comes as China’s communist leaders try to defuse mounting public frustration over inflation that spiked to a 32-month high of 5.4 percent in March, driven by an 11.7 percent jump in food costs. Inflation is politically dangerous for the ruling party because it erodes economic gains that help to support the communists’ grip on power.

Chinese leaders have said that taming prices is a priority this year. Cities have raised minimum wages by 10 to 20 percent, but that has failed to keep pace with climbing living costs in many areas.

An employee for a company moving clothing, auto parts and machinery said the protests have caused some delays.

“For the last few days, dozens of our trucks haven been grounded, making us unable to take new business,” said Xu Xiaoling of Shanghai Continental Logistics Co.

“Cargo shipments will be delayed at ports for a while until the situation gets better,” Xu said.

Taiwan’s largest shipping company, Evergreen Marine Corp., was warning customers to expect delays, said an employee who asked not to be identified further because she was not authorized to talk to reporters.

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