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Monday, 18 March, 2002, 14:40 GMT
Chinese labour protests spread
Chinese appliance factory
Reforms to state-run industries have led to protests
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By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
BBC Beijing correspondent

A second city in north-east China has been hit by large-scale labour protests.

Thousands of unemployed workers have taken to the streets in the city of Liaoyang, demanding that the government come to their aid.

The latest outbreak follows two weeks of protests by thousands of laid-off workers at China's largest oilfield, Daqing.

According to eyewitness reports, as many as 30,000 unemployed workers from 10 different factories have taken to the streets of Liaoyang.

The city lies at the heart of north-east China's industrial rust belt.

One former factory worker says more than half the city's population is now out of work - many of the factories they once worked in are bankrupt, leaving the former workers with absolutely no source of income.

Police are reported to have detained at least one of the protest leaders.

Dying industry

Meanwhile, thousands of oil workers are continuing to protest outside the headquarters of China's biggest oilfield in Heilongjiang Province, close to China's border with Russia.

At its height last week, close to 50,000 workers had joined the sit-in.

Paramilitary troops are reported to have been brought in on at least two occasions to disperse the protesters.

China's north-east was once its heavy industrial heartland, but 10 years of economic reform have left most of the old state-run plants on the scrapheap and millions of workers on the unemployment line.

See also:

13 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese oil workers in massive protest
21 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese labour activist jailed
19 Sep 01 | Business
Inside China: Workers on the move
11 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
China unveils huge welfare plan
07 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Rising child labour in China
03 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
China's state industries cut losses
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