Chinese Taxi Driver Mass Suicide Bid

A group of taxi drivers in China were found unconscious and frothing from the mouth outside a shopping centre after they tried to poison themselves by drinking from bottles of chemicals as part of a mass anti-government protest.

Photographs posted on social media showed stunned crowds staring at the collapsed drivers from behind police cordons.

More than 30 drivers apparently took part in the protest but ten were seriously affected and could be seen frothing from the mouth in the pedestrian mall at the busy Wangfujing shopping centre.

Police said the drivers were taken to hospital but none was seriously injured.

A police statement said the drivers were all from a city in the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang, which borders Russia. It said they were “individual” drivers, suggesting they did not work for taxi companies but were required to obtain contracts from government agencies.

The drivers travelled to Beijing to petition against a four-year-old reform affecting taxi company leasing renewals, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.

A driver, who spoke to the newspaper before police intervened, said: “We arrived by train on Monday but got no response after taking our complaint to both the state bureau for letters and calls and the ministry of transport.” Labour and environmental disputes with government authorities are common in China and have occasionally involved self-harm or suicide, sometimes involving drinking chemicals.

Last July, a group of seven protesters travelled from a rural province to Beijing to attempt suicide outside a newspaper office. They were angry with the compensation paid after local authorities seized their land.

A separate group of petitioners attempted suicide after they were detained by police.

The Telegraph
Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney