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Last Updated: Friday, 24 September, 2004, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Spanish fury over Chinese shoes
By Katya Adler
BBC, Madrid

Spain once had a flourishing footwear industry
Several hundred people have taken to the streets for a second day in the Spanish town of Elche to protest against Chinese-owned shoe firms.

Elche is the capital of Spain's footwear industry and has been hard hit by Asian competition.

Some protesters held banners reading "Chinese out" - others smashed windows.

Last week, the protest took a more menacing turn when two Chinese-owned warehouses and a lorry belonging to a Chinese entrepreneur were set on fire.

The attacks caused damage estimated at hundreds of thousands of euros.

Several arrests were made, but the Chinese government has asked the Spanish authorities to compensate the businesses for their losses and to safeguard Chinese citizens and their property in Spain.

Elche, located in the south-east of the country, is the capital of Spain's once flourishing footwear industry.

Many Spanish manufacturers blame their current crisis on cheap Asian imports.

The protesters in Elche say the unfair competition is not just a matter of cut-price products. A significant proportion of Chinese-imported goods in Spain is untaxed and sold on black markets, making it impossible, they say, for legal businesses to compete.

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