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The Price of Uber in China: Mobile App Faces Government Crackdowns, Increasing Tension

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China seems to have mixed feelings about the ridesharing app Uber.

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On the one hand, the government has banned drivers of private cars from offering taxi services through apps. The government has led two different raids on Uber offices in the cities of Guangzhou and Chengdu, during which they seized iPhones and other equipment on suspicion of running an illegal taxi service (Side note: oddly, Uber said that the second of these incidents in Chengdu was a “routine visit” that did not disrupt their operations).

On the other hand, though, the app has gained some popularity, leading to protests as the government has cracked down more and more. The most visible of these protests included a song written by a 21-year-old engineering student known as Melo, who vented his frustration in a gangster rap that went viral on Chinese social media (although it was quickly blocked by censors). Melo was later questioned by the Public Security Bureau.

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Uber faces a daunting problem in the future, trapped between a public that seems to be rallying their discontent over existing taxi services around ridesharing apps like Uber, and a government that seems to increasingly be viewing Uber as a company sowing discontent among the people.

Below is a small excerpt from Melo’s song that outlines current frustrations:

This is freaking Chengdu,
But 80% of drivers aren’t even from here.
I get in your taxi and you tell me you don’t know the way,
I want to kill you.
I just like taking Uber.
Uber drivers offer me bottled water.
You still can’t find the way?
I might as well walk.