Thousands of Chinese coal miners have taken to the streets in a city near the Siberian border to protest against unpaid wages, in the first direct challenge to Beijing’s plan for orderly downsizing and job cuts in the state-owned coal sector.
Beijing has said it would lay aside Rmb100bn ($15.4bn) to “resettle” coal and steel workers as part of a plan to cut unproductive capacity in both sectors, but local governments and the companies themselves are supposed to bear a portion of the costs.
Slowing Chinese growth and the end of the commodities supercycle have turned overcapacity into a pressing economic issue for Beijing. Data published this weekend showed that in the first two months of this year, Chinese production of thermal coal and steel both fell 6 per cent while output of metallurgical, or coking, coal — the steel ingredient produced by the protesting miners — dropped 10 per cent.
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